This Spicy Vodka Rigatoni is one of my all time favorite dishes. Not only do you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already, but it’s easy to make and it tastes delicious! The spicy Calabrian chilis adds the perfect amount of heat which makes it completely addicting! And best of all, the whole thing can be made in under 30 minutes!
Spicy Vodka Rigatoni
Back when I lived in Bushwick, I lived off of vodka sauce smothered on literally anything.
Every time I exited the L train on Montrose Ave, I would be blasted in the face with the most perfect sizzling garlic scent from Danny's Pizza. And although there was nothing special about Danny's, they made one hell of a vodka pasta dish.
Fast forward to life in Florida.. where I coincidently live two blocks away from another Italian restaurant. Except these days, I don't get penne alla vodka every night.
My 33 year old metabolism does not like that.
Instead, I make this version on special occasions when i can binge eat with no regrets. Because trust me, if you make this, you will overeat and because of that, I apologize in advance.
For some reason, the Calabrian Chilis make this pasta completely irresistible.
If you need a dessert, I highly recommend my Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Bars because they are straight up crack!
How to Make Spicy Vodka Sauce
Making spicy vodka rigatoni is super easy and it takes less than 30 minutes!
To begin, bring a pot of salty water to a boil. You want it to taste like the ocean which helps flavor the pasta perfectly!
Cook the pasta until it's al dente then strain - but remember to reserve two cups of pasta water for later!
Next, melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and sauté for a few minutes. You want them to be tender and fragrant but not browned.
Next, add in the tomato paste and the Calabrian Chili paste. I got the Calabrian Chilis on amazon and they're sooo good! Super spicy yet full of flavor and you can use them on everything from pizza to sandwiches!
However, if you don't have them you can always use red pepper flakes instead!
Once you cook this down for a few minutes, it's time to add the vodka and stir, stir, stir! You can either fill a shot glass up half way or you could measure out 2 tbsp -- whatever works for you!
Let the vodka deglaze the pan. That means you should scrape up any bits that are stuck on the bottom of your pan and reincorporate them into the sauce. Once you do that, cook out the vodka for a few minutes more then turn the heat to medium-low.
Now it's time to stir in the heavy cream! Once the heavy cream is in and simmering, add in the parmesan cheese and let it melt into the sauce.
Now it's time to add the al dente pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce pan and toss. It probably looks a little dry and that's ok! Simply add ½ cup of pasta water and stir. The pasta water will help loosen the sauce and create a luscious, creamy looking sauce.
If it's still dry, just add a some more of the pasta water, little by little, until the sauce is smooth and silky looking like in the picture above and below!
RECIPE: Spicy Vodka Rigatoni
Spicy Vodka Rigatoni
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 2 shallots minced (or substitute ½ sweet onion, minced)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 tsp Calabrian chili or substitute for ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ shot vodka
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated parmesan divided
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb. tubed pasta such as penne or rigatoni
- Add 1 lb of Rigatoni to salted water and cook pasta until it’s al dente. Strain and reserve two cups pasta water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat then add shallots and garlic. Cook down for a few minutes, stirring often, until the garlic and shallot are soft and fragrant but not browned.
- Next, add tomato paste and Calabrian chili paste to the pan and continue stirring until everything is incorporated and the tomato paste has darkened slightly; about 5 minutes.
- Now add the vodka and stir vigorously for another 3 minutes until the pan has been completely deglazed and the sauce has come together.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add heavy cream and stir until incorporated. Let it simmer on low for 3 minutes then add in ½ cup of parmesan cheese and continue stirring until it’s melted.
- Now add in the al dente pasta and toss it with the sauce. Then add ½ a cup of pasta water until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy! If it still looks dry, add more of the reserved pasta water, little by little, over medium-low heat until the sauce looks silky and smooth.
- Add a few scoops of the pasta to each bowl and top with remaining parmesan cheese!
And if you'd like to save this recipe for later, pin it below!