Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka

Easy 30-minute Shrimp Pasta with creamy tomato vodka sauce, so rich and delicious!

Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka
Elise Bauer

Have you ever made pasta with vodka sauce? It's a velvety creamy tomato sauce that happens to be cooked with a splash of vodka, which remarkably makes this simple sauce taste simply sublime.

Typically pasta alla vodka is made with penne pasta. For this version we are adding in some fresh shrimp, to make the dish more of a main course, and using fettuccine pasta.

We've also added a touch of lemon zest because it works with so well with shrimp, and along with the vodka helps brighten this creamy sauce.

Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka
Elise Bauer

So, why the vodka?

According to Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats, quoting Harold McGee, low concentrations of alcohol enhance flavor aromas. Kenji did a full on test of vodka sauces at various concentrations of vodka and determined that yes, adding vodka does make a difference.

That said, it isn't absolutely necessary. You'll still have a lovely sauce without it.

So if no alcohol is how you roll, just leave out the vodka and enjoy this shrimp fettuccine with a creamy tomato sauce.

How to Make Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka

Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings


  • 12 ounces fettuccine pasta

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, about 4 teaspoons

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup vodka

  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 pound peeled, deveined raw shrimp

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put pasta water on to boil:

    Put a large pot of salted water (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water) on to boil for the pasta.

  2. Sauté onions, garlic, red pepper flakes:

    Melt butter in a large, thick-bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook a minute more.

  3. Add tomatoes, vodka, cream, zest:

    Add the crushed tomatoes to the onions. Stir in the vodka, cream, and lemon zest. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  4. Start cooking pasta:

    As soon as you start simmering the sauce, add pasta to boiling salted water. Pasta should be done in 10 minutes.

  5. Add raw shrimp to sauce:

    After the sauce has simmered for 5 minutes, about halfway through the pasta cooking time, taste for salt and add salt to taste (you'll likely need about 1 teaspoon). Add the raw peeled and deveined shrimp to the sauce.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Cook until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

  6. Add cooked pasta to sauce and shrimp:

    When the pasta is done, al dente, strain it and add it to the vodka tomato sauce and shrimp.

    Elise Bauer

    Sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground black pepper to serve.


Cheesy Cauliflower alla Vodka Casserole from I Breathe I'm Hungry

Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
664 Calories
17g Fat
90g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 664
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 183mg 61%
Sodium 1218mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 90g 33%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 28mg 141%
Calcium 193mg 15%
Iron 6mg 34%
Potassium 1096mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.