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Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce


Serves 4

Looking for a new go-to weeknight pasta dish? This one is super simple and has intense, warming flavors. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of spicy foods—just use less crushed red pepper flakes than called for. 

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; more to taste
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. vodka
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb. rigatoni (about 4 cups)

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil until they’re fragrant and sizzle steadily for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the vodka, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a steady simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook to intensify the flavors and reduce the sauce slightly (by about one-quarter), 10 to 15 min.

Purée the tomatoes using a hand blender or a regular blender. If you used a regular blender to purée, return the sauce to the saucepan. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano, the parsley, cream, salt and pepper, and more red pepper flakes if you like. Simmer to incorporate the cream and reduce the sauce slightly, about 5 min. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until it’s just tender to the tooth, 10 to 12 min. Drain well and return the pasta to its pot. Add the sauce, set the pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring, to let the pasta absorb some of the sauce, 1 min. Serve immediately with a sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with garlic bread and a simple green salad.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings, Calories (kcal): 490, Fat (kcal): 13, Fat Calories (g): 120, Saturated Fat (g): 4.5, Protein (g): 14, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6, Carbohydrates (mg): 73, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1.5, Sodium (g): 850, Cholesterol (g): 20, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Delicious, easy pasta sauce. I am a novice cook, and had no problem making this. I made this with heavy whipping cream instead of heavy cream (that's all the grocery store had) and it turned out very well. A lot of reviewers warned about the spiciness/heat. I found that a little over 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes was perfect for me-- not too spicy at all. I added 3/4 red pepper flakes at first, then added some more at the end when I found it could be a little hotter. I also used closer to 1 lb. rigatoni instead of 3/4 lb, and I found that there was enough sauce for the extra pasta.

I LOVE spicy foods, but after reading the reviews, I cut back on the spice by 1/4 tsp I am glad that I did! It is plenty spicy. I would make this again.

Let me start by saying, I love spicy food. So reading through the reviews I was pretty excited that this would actually be spicy. Being a spice lover I followed the recipe almost to a T (okay, I added some grilled italian chicken sausage at the end, and didn't puree the tomatoes {I wanted the chunks}), when I finished it, I honestly thought it could use more heat. I ended up adding some pepper flakes to my dish. Now, I didn't have anyone else trying this so I don't know if my impossible expectations of heat are just that, impossible, or if honestly wasn't all that spicy. I'll make my boyfriend try it when he gets home and he can be the judge. But aside from the lack of spice it had a really decent flavor. Not at all alcohol-y like other sauces tend to be.

This was a quick and delicious meal, BUT much too spicy for me. I read reviews and started off with only 1/2 tsp. It was still much too spicy for me and even my BF thought it had a bit too much "kick." I should have listened to Pam's review and started off with just 1/4 tsp. Keep in mind the spiciness intensifies as you cook the red pepper so if you don't like spicy, start off with just a pinch of red pepper and slowly add more as the sauce cooks. It was still edible, but I found that the spiciness took away from the nice flavors of the tomato and cream...I actually added more cream, parm, and water to see if that would reduce the spiciness, but it didn't do much. I'll absolutely make this recipe again, but with less red pepper.

Another winner by Fine Cooking! This is quick and easy. I used the amount of red pepper flakes called for in the recipe and found it to be just right. Not at all too spicy. I am not a fan of spinach pasta but had some in the pantry that I wanted to use. So I used it with this sauce and it was perfect! The spicy vodka tomato sauce was a perfect foil for the spinach rigatoni.

I've been making this recipe for years and it's one of my favourites. When people say it's too spicy, keep in mind that red pepper flakes vary widely in intensity and everyone has very different ideas as to what "too spicy" is (and a lot of people who think they are eating hot food are mistaken). My family eats extremely spicy food and 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes isn't even close to spicy enough so it really is to taste.

This sauce was easy to prepare, especially with an immersion blender. But, "spicy" is an understatement! Warning on the amount of red pepper!! Based on other reviews (thank you!!), I used only 1/2 tsp, and even then, when I tasted it the first time, I was worried. My husband and I ate it - we can both tolerate some heat, and we did like it, but I don't see how it could be edible with 3/4 tsp, PLUS extra!? I will make it agin, but only use 1/4 tsp. Start with small amount and taste before adding more!

Easy & delicious! We found the spiciness to be spot on and loved the freshness that the parsley added. Great base recipe! BTW, the suggested pairing of Zinfandel---perfect.

Delicious! I am doing a "Meatless Monday" rotation right now and this is one of my favorite pasta dishes (meatless or otherwise!). It is VERY hot, and those who shared the dish with me could hardly stand the heat. I like hot food and it was almost too much for me. Start with a pinch and only increase after you've tasted it! Otherwise, absolutely fantastic and has definitely gone into my rotation!

The flavors are wonderful but be forewarned...this sauce is HOT!!! I love spicy food, as in really spicy food, but this recipe was almost too much. Next time I think I will only do a 1/2 tsp at most of pepper flakes. It's a fantastic sauce though...a keeper!

Very good! I reduce the amount of pasta a bit, sear-roast a couple of chicken breasts, slice them up and toss in.


great pasta dish. i added a few more sprinkles of the red pepper and added all the cheese into the sauce instead of sprinkling on top.

Another Tony Rosenfeld winner - so fast & delicious as others have commented. Tks again Tony & FC

Excellent meal and very easy to prepare. I have added once a few hundred gram of chicken prepared on the BBQ and it was a very nice addition.

Really easy & extremely tasty. This recipe immediately became a family favorite and a regular part of our weeknight repertoire.

I love this recipe! Very easy and fast. Just the right amount of vodka and spiciness. I have tasted this sauce in restaurants and not liked it nearly as much as this recipe. Freezes beautifully.

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