Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce

A zesty tomato sauce made with Italian herbs & spices, salty prosciutto & heavy cream tossed with fresh pasta! This dish is full of bold Italian flavors & perfect for a weeknight meal!

Bowtie pasta tossed in a homemade vodka sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese and sliced basil

You know those meals that remind you of home? Well this bow tie pasta with vodka sauce is one of them! (Not because I’m Italian…or have even been to Italy…yet!😉) But it was one of the first recipes I remember making with my mom and we made it all the time growing up. It’s rich. It’s creamy. Full of bold bright flavors AND super simple to make too! Honestly, what more could you want in a pasta dish?! Add a little shredded parm and fresh basil on top and *chef’s kiss* VIOLA! Dinner is served!

Ingredients used to make spicy homemade pasta with vodka sauce

Ingredients

  • Dry pasta: I love using farfalle (bow tie pasta) for this recipe! (I just think it’s such a fun shape.😉) You can also use penne, rigatoni, rotini or any medium length pasta you prefer.
  • Prosciutto: We’ll be cooking to prosciutto which adds texture and salty pops of flavor to your pasta sauce.
  • Onion: Use red onions for the best results. (Red onions are slightly sweet which pairs so well with your crushed tomatoes.)
  • Garlic: An essential ingredient to any pasta sauce recipe!
  • Canned crushed tomatoes: The basis of your sauce! (I usually look for one that’s marked low sodium or no salt added to keep the salt content down.)
  • Sugar: One tablespoon goes into the sauce to balance the acidity from your tomatoes. (This is a necessity – Do not skip this step!)
  • Heavy cream: Makes your sauce so rich & creamy!
  • Seasonings: Dried basil, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper are all you need for this recipe!

Wait…so there’s no actual vodka in this pasta sauce?! Nope not in this version! Not all vodka sauces have alcohol in them and honestly, it tastes just as good without it.

What is Vodka Sauce?

Traditionally, vodka sauce is made with tomato sauce, vodka, Italian herbs and heavy cream. It’s rich, creamy and slightly sweet and has a silky smooth texture to it.

Homemade vodka sauce made with tomato sauce, chopped prosciutto, Italian spices and heavy cream surrounded by a bowl of red pepper flakes and a parmesan cheese block
Fresh bowtie pasta poured into a skillet with spicy tomato sauce
Pasta with vodka sauce in a large skillet surrounded by fresh basil leaves, shredded parmesan cheese and a wooden bowl of red pepper flakes

How To Make Pasta with Vodka Sauce

  1. Cook your pasta. Boil your pasta noodles according to the package’s direction. Then drain the pasta and set it aside.
  2. Prepare the sauce. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat it over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add your onions and sauté them until they just begin to soften. Then add your chopped prosciutto and minced garlic and season them with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the prosciutto is cooked all the way through. (About 2-3 minutes.) Then add your crushed tomatoes, sugar, dried basil and dried parsley and give it a good stir. Generously season with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle your red pepper flakes. Give the sauce a good stir and let it simmer over medium low heat for 15 minutes. (The sauce will start to thicken and really infuse your spices together.)
  3. Finish the sauce. Turn your burner down to medium low and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. (Your sauce with thicken and intensify it’s flavor. Make sure tot taste the sauce occasionally and add more seasonings if needed.) Once reduced, stir in your heavy cream.
  4. Mix & serve! Add your cooked pasta and sauce to a bowl and stir until the pasta is fully coated. Serve immediately with grated parmesan and freshly sliced basil.
2 bowls of pasta with vodka sauce sitting next to a small wooden bowl of red pepper flakes and a plate of toasted bread slices

FAQ’s

  • Can I add vodka to my sauce? Absolutely! I would suggest adding a ¼ cup of vodka the same time you add your crushed tomatoes.
  • Does adding vodka to your pasta make you drunk? No. If you choose to add vodka, you’ll actually be cooking the alcohol out so only the flavor remains.
  • How do I reheat my pasta in vodka sauce? Heat your pasta in a pot over medium high heat until it reaches your desired temperature. (You might need to add a splash of water to thin out the sauce if it’s too thick.)

Why you’ll love this vodka pasta recipe

  • Perfect for a weeknight dinner! This pasta dish comes together in no time at all and uses simple ingredients!
  • Full of bold Italian flavors! A zesty tomato sauce seasoned with Italian herbs & spices mixed with salty prosciutto & tossed with tender pasta noodles! Sprinkle with parmesan cheese & freshly sliced basil for the ultimate Italian experience!

Need it gluten free? Swap out regular pasta for your favorite gluten free pasta.

Need it dairy free? Swap out the heavy cream for a dairy-free heavy cream. (Our favorite alternative is from Silk.)

More pasta recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments. I love seeing what you create!]

Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Fresh pasta is tossed in a zesty tomato sauce made with Italian herbs & spices, salty prosciutto & heavy cream! This dish is full of bold Italian flavors & easy enough for a weeknight meal!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dairy free, easy, gluten free, pasta, penne, prosciutto, vodka sauce
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dry farfalle (bow tie) pasta*
  • 2 8oz. packages prosciutto, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ a red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream**
  • 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp dried parsley
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta noodles according to the package's directions. Then drain the noodles and set them aside while you prepare your sauce.
  • Next, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat it over medium high heat. Once it's hot, add your onions and saute them until they just begin to soften. Then add your chopped prosciutto and garlic and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Saute again until the prosciutto is cooked through. (About 1-2 minutes.)
  • Then add your crushed tomatoes, sugar, dried basil and parsley and season with red pepper flakes to taste. Stir and turn the burner down to medium low. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occaisionally. Then stir in your heavy cream until it's fully incorporated.
  • Pour your cooked pasta into a large bowl and pour the sauce over the top. Stir your pasta and sauce together until it's completely coated. Serve immediately with sliced fresh basil and grated parmesan (if not dairy free).

Notes

*Pasta can be replaced with penne, rigatoni, rotini or your favorite medium length pasta noodle. (Gluten free pasta will work too!)
**Dairy-free heavy cream can be used to replace the original heavy cream. (We use one by Silk.)
Optional: Add a ¼ cup of vodka the same time you add the crushed tomatoes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*

Recipe Rating