Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka

DinnerBudgetItalianShrimp

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

Photography Credit: 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

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 Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground black pepper to serve.

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Links:

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

Shrimp Pasta Alla Vodka

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

40 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. David

    The sauce tasted a little bland so I added 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, a tablespoon of smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons sugar and juice of 1 lemon.

  2. Charity

    I have found a new “go-to” family meal. Thank you so
    much! Added lemon juice since I didn’t have real lemons on hand, and we used angel hair pasta. It made a ton of food! I also added freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, & garlic powder to the sauce. Really yummy!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Louise Smith

    Loved the recipe and made several times. I always use fresh birds eye chilli and add sea salt. Sometimes I use red pepper too. Plenty of flavour and goes well with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

  4. Bettece

    Definitely cannot leave out the lemon zest because it adds to the flavoring. Overall, it was very bland. I would recommend adding about 3 tbs of brown sugar, 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of seasoning salt, and 1tsp of Slap Ya Mama seasoning.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Kobesmom

    Made a few alterations (substituted light cream for heavy, and used two pounds of shrimp) , but, for the most part I followed the recipe as written. It was great. Very simple to prepare.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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