Test Kitchen: Vodka Cream Sauce

Welcome to my Test Kitchen! Test Kitchen is a series of posts where I test out recipes found by searching the web or browsing through books. I’ll share my thoughts through the entire cooking process and whether or not the recipe is worth keeping.

So, one of my favorite pasta sauces is a vodka cream sauce. I’ve never made it from scratch, however. I found one recipe on delish that looked quick and easy to do. What appealed most to me was that they used tomato paste over any style of canned tomato. As much as I like a good tomato sauce, I’m not a big fan of the actual fruit.

Ingredients I Used

Over 1cup of mini farfalle
Half a can of tomato paste
1 tbsp of butter
Minced Garlic
1 tbsp of vodka
Heavy cream
Pasta water
Pecorino Romano

The ingredients without measurements are ones that I just eyed. I most likely used a 1/4 cup of pasta water in total, and a fourth of a 1/4 cup heavy cream. The recipe also called for shallot and red pepper flakes. Sadly, I didn’t have a shallot on hand and don’t see the appeal of using red pepper flakes in this style sauce, so they were skipped.

The Cooking Process

This is a quick sauce to put together. Without having to sauté shallots, that shaves off a good chunk of the cooking time. I almost burned the garlic. Getting the temperature right was a little tricky. You need it warm enough to melt the cheese when it’s added, but you don’t want it to cook down too fast. A finer grated cheese would melt easier, which I need to remember for next time.


The sauce has a nice, strong tomato flavor, but is a bit one note. A shallot or even a regular onion really would add a nice dimension to the flavor. I would also up the amount of garlic I used. The recipe had called for parmesan which I didn’t have on hand. As I did not add any salt, the saltier flavor of parmesan would have offered a little more seasoning to the sauce.

The sauce thickens up very fast, so be very generous with the pasta water if you prefer a thinner sauce. And it gets thicker as it cools down. I liked how it coated the pasta – I made just enough sauce for the amount pasta I cooked. A shaped pasta, like farfalle or rigatoni (the type used in the recipe), or a wide pasta noodle would be best. I think the sauce would be too heavy for something like angel hair.

This vodka cream sauce recipe is great but really needs to be generous with the seasoning. I’m determined to make sure the next Test Kitchen post will not be a pasta dish. I’m on the hunt for wild rice as I found a recipe for chicken and wild rice soup that I’m dying to try. As winter is so close, I’m looking for stews and heartier recipes to try. Please share suggestions in the comments below!