Header shot of a pot of rigatoni alla vodka with burrata cheese and basil.

Easy Rigatoni Alla Vodka with Burrata and Basil

I’m a big fan of vodka sauce. Always have been. When I was a kid I wasn’t too keen on tomato based sauces, but this one won me over. I’ll chalk it up to the magic of cheese and cream. For whatever reason, though, I never see it on menus anymore. And the store bought jars always leave something to be desired. Thankfully, this rigatoni alla vodka was pretty easy to make at home! It also didn’t disappoint in the taste department. I added burrata because of course I did. It’s not essential but it definitely adds a touch of decadence.

So what exactly does the vodka do?

Listen, I’m no food scientist, but from my understanding adding a small amount of vodka to this sauce enhances and subtly changes the flavor of the tomato paste. Sort of like salt! To answer your other questions, no, it doesn’t actually taste like vodka, and the alcohol burns off when you cook it.

Do I have to use rigatoni for this?

Nope! Traditionally this dish is made with penne, actually. But I prefer rigatoni. Since they’re both tube shaped pastas they catch sauce similarly. I like the added surface space and chewy texture of the bigger rigatoni noodles, though.

I’m pretty lax when it comes to pasta shapes. Some people will yell at you and tell you you can only use the specific shapes that go with their designated sauces. And they may technically be right. But you’re the one eating this, so do what you will. Anyway, a tube shaped pasta is best here. A small shell shaped noodle would work fine, too. That said, I probably wouldn’t go with something long and thin like angel hair.

A note on sourcing ingredients.

The ingredients for this dish are all pretty common place (you’re welcome). Burrata can be a little bit tricky to find at a reasonable price, though. For this reason, I like to buy mine at Trader Joe’s. They sell a $5 container of it that includes two balls of cheese. Whole Foods, on the other hand, is about double the price for that same amount. And though I love it, the fancy cheese store in my neighborhood sells one ball for like $10. So Trader Joe’s it is.

Trader Joe’s also has a tube of tomato paste that’s perfect for this. I used the full tube when I made this, but I really like that they have an option that doesn’t come in a can because usually I don’t end up using the full can and then it goes to waste. Again, irrelevant for this rigatoni alla vodka because you’re using the full thing. But I was delighted when I found it so I figured I’d share that information!


Easy Rigatoni Alla Vodka with Burrata and Basil

Servings 4


  • 1 lb Rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Small yellow onion (Diced)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 4.6 oz Double concentrated tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Vodka
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (Finely grated)
  • 3/4 cup Heavy cream
  • 2 cups Pasta water (Reserved from rigatoni pot)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper (Freshly ground)
  • 1/2 cup Fresh basil (Sliced into strips)
  • 1 ball Burrata


  • Cook rigatoni per instructions on package. You'll want it to be al dente, so stick to the lower end of the cook time! When it's done, scoop 2 cups of water out and set to the side before draining.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, stirring frequently. This'll take about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and stir to coat the onion and garlic. Cook until the tomato paste has darkened and is starting to stick to the bottom on the pot. This'll take about another 5 minutes.
  • Once it's a deep dark shade of red, add the vodka to the pot to deglaze. Stir and scrape the burnt bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then reduce the heat to low.
  • Add 1/4 cup of your reserved pasta and 3/4 cups heavy cream to a measuring cup. Then pour into saucepan and stir until it forms a nice, smooth sauce. Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese as well as the salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce. Also add 1 cup reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and stir to coat the pasta! Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Top with fresh strips of basil and burrata and enjoy.

And that’s it! If this is your first time making pasta sauce from scratch, congratulations, you did it. It’s way easier than you thought, isn’t it? Store bought will never taste the same, but that’s ok.

If you give this a try, let me know how you like it in the comments or on Instagram! And if you’re looking for more pasta dishes, fear not. This balsamic and goat cheese pasta is packed with veggies and perfect for a weeknight meal. If you’d like to try your hand at homemade pasta, this beetroot cavatelli with sautéed beet greens, brown butter and crispy sage is an absolute dream.

4 thoughts on “Easy Rigatoni Alla Vodka with Burrata and Basil”

  1. Pingback: Stovetop White Cheddar and Lavender Mac and Cheese - Leisure Fan Club

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Persimmon Caprese Sandwich (Easy and Delicious) - Leisure Fan Club

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating