This easy spicy sausage vodka sauce in it for tons of flavor and spice! The recipe is simple and has just 12 ingredients including the pasta. Feel free to mix this up with different styles of sausage or types of canned tomatoes. To serve, I love a loaf of no-knead bread and side greens salad. YUM.
Are we ready for a delicious, amazing, foolproof, use-everytime-we-entertain pasta? Yes, yes we are.
I love love love vodka sauce pasta. I mean, REALLY I love all pasta that has a creamy sauce, and vodka pasta is almost always creamy. This version is simple and uses bulk sausage for a meaty, spicy addition. Vegetarian vodka sauce pasta is delicious, to be sure, but there's just something about the addition of sausage that amps it up even more, you know? I love it.
This sausage vodka sauce recipe is one of my favorite weekend/holiday meals, and it's perfect for the colder months of the year - maybe even for New Year's Eve if you're staying in! It takes a bit of time because the sauce gets roasted in the oven, but the steps are simple and the results are SO worth it.
Quick Vodka Sauce FAQ
Nope! It's not necessary. The starch on pasta helps the sauce stick to the noodles better, so it's usually preferable to NOT rinse pasta before adding sauce.
I use all the sauce for all the pasta in this recipe. But, if you prefer a smaller batch you can cook half the amount of the pasta and toss it with half the sauce, then freeze the leftover sauce for another dinner! This sausage vodka sauce will last in the freezer for months.
Um, YES. Vodka sauce on its own is pretty mild (tomatoes, vodka, garlic, cream), and sausage, ground beef, or shredded chicken all work really well in it if you'd like to add a bit more protein.
For the sauce, we have spicy sausage, tangy vodka and tomatoes. Onions and garlic, absolutely. After the sauce roasts we pink it up with heavy cream and toss it with pasta or zoodles if you like a gluten free or lower carb version! Honestly the sauce is so good I could eat it plain.
- Sausage - I use spicy sausage but feel free to use mild, either bought in bulk or with casings removed.
- Onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and oregano add flavor.
- Vodka, tomatoes, and heavy cream make the sauce. I like to use crushed tomatoes that are canned in puree for extra sauciness, but any canned tomatoes you have and like to work with will do great here - even tomato puree or tomato sauce.
- I serve this with any short pasta I have in the cabinet and parm on top. Jay douses his with extra crushed red pepper flakes because he doesn't like to taste his food, but I think the spice from the sausage and red pepper flakes in the sauce is perfect.
Step By Step Instructions
Choose a large ovenproof skillet for the sauce with a lid, and preheat it to medium-high. This is my favorite Staub braiser! At the same time, preheat the oven to 375F.
Add the sausage and brown it in the skillet, breaking it up as you go with a spoon. While the sausage is cooking, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
When the sausage is cooked through and crumbly (8 minutes or so), add the onion, garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Stir the veggies and spices into the sausage for 5 minutes to soften the onion.
Add the vodka, and let it reduce by about half. This removes most of the alcohol from the sauce and intensifies the flavor.
Next, add the tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar to the skillet. Stir the sauce together (it'll be thin at this point), cover the pan, and place the whole thing in the oven.
Roast the sauce for an hour at 375F. During this time I prep the pasta by cooking it to al dente, saving some of the cooking water, and measuring the heavy cream. That way, when the sauce is done roasting I can EAT.
Pro Tip: The point of saving some of the cooking water here is to be sure that we have something starchy to add back to the sauce in case it reduces too much in the oven. This isn't a bad thing at all; it actually intensifies the flavor of the sauce, but having that extra pasta water ensures that we'll have enough sauce for all the pasta. Scoop out some of the water with a mug or ladle right before you drain the pasta.
When the sauce has roasted, the liquid will have reduced a good bit and the tomatoes will be dark in color. This is where the magic happens, too: the flavors meld together and are just so savory and comforting after this hour in the oven.
Taste the sauce and add a few pinches of salt if needed - it may absorb some of the flavors in the oven. Add the pasta and cream to the sauce, stir to combine everything, and done!
Taste one more time and add more salt if you'd like, or a few splashes of pasta water if the sauce is overly thick. It should coat the pasta with just a bit leftover in the bottom of the skillet.
Yeah yeah yeah DINNER IS SERVED.
Parm + crushed red + any herbs for sprinkling if you'd like. Garlic bread for dunking obviously because that sauce allllll needs a home.
Make Ahead and Serving Notes
Because of the cream, this is perfect served right away. It's great heated up too, but really the most perfect immediately out of the oven. The sweet tomatoes and cream are perfect with the spicy sausage, and heartiness of the sauce from the fatty sausage is just so perfect this time of year.
To make this in advance, make the entire sauce right up to the end, leaving out the cream. The roasted sauce can be frozen for months or kept in the fridge for about 4 days. Before serving, reheat in a skillet, add pasta water and the cream, then finish the dish with freshly cooked pasta and parmesan cheese.
I want this for NYE, the Super Bowl, and every snow day for the rest of my life. And then once on that random weekend in spring that gets cold one more time before real warm weather.
Enjoy this! It is so simple but really special and yummy.
Spicy Vodka Sauce with Sausage
- 1 pound bulk spicy sausage
- ½ onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup vodka
- 28 ounces canned crushed or diced tomatoes 1 large can
- 14 ounces water fill the tomato can halfway
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces short-cut pasta cooked to al dente with some of the pasta water reserved before draining
- Preheat the oven to 375F and a large ovenproof skillet with a lid to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 8 minutes, crumbling it as you go.
- When the sausage is browned, crumbly, and cooked through, add the onion, garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir into the sausage for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. If the skillet seems dry, add a drizzle of olive oil.
- When the onion is soft, add the vodka to the skillet. Stir to deglaze the pan, and allow the vodka to bubble for a few minutes and reduce in volume by half.
- Add the canned tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar to the skillet. Turn the heat OFF and stir to combine. Cover the skillet, and place in the oven. Roast the sauce for thirty minutes to one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so to ensure the sauce doesn't burn. During this time I cook and drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and get out parmesan, fresh herbs, bread, etc.
- When the sauce has roasted, it should be dark in color with some of the moisture reduced. Remove it carefully from the oven and stir + taste + add a few pinches of salt. Add the pasta and cream to the sauce, stir to combine. If the sauce has reduced too much, add some splashes of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Taste the dish one more time and add more salt if needed.
- Serve immediately with parmesan, extra red pepper flakes, and anything else you'd like. Enjoy!