Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka

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

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


  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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  • 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.


  • Harold Richardson

    Made this for dinner tonight, added 1/2 cup bell pepper. In all it was very good. The lemon was a little over powering. Will make it again, but will cut the lemon by 1/2.

  • Donna

    Overall, we loved this dish. Since others commented that it was bland, I added chopped bell pepper and garnished with basil. I also added a little honey to the tomatoes (always do) which cuts the acid a bit. Very good.


  • Lindsay

    It was ok. I think the sauce would be more bland if I didn’t use crushed tomatoes with basil. Also, the shrimp flavor dominated. I added a ton of parmesan and parsley to take away from that. Next time I make the sauce I won’t use shrimp…maybe serve on the side of chicken topped with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.


  • Jalil

    Too much sauce for just 12 ounces of pasta. Did you mean 1 – 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes instead of a 28 oz can?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Jalil! We prefer this recipe with a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, but if you prefer less sauce, then you can absolutely use a 14-ounce can. Enjoy!

  • Hermien

    This is one of my favorite recipes on the site. It is so delish! Tonight I used a mix of a fresh heirloom tomato and some homemade tomato sauce. My favorite cream is bell weather creme fraiche. And of course wild caught Mexican shrimp. Doesn’t come any better! I love your website Elise! Thank you for your inspiration!


  • Maureen

    I would like to serve this at a dinner buffet. Should I put it on a big serving platter or individually plate it?

  • Jonesy

    I made this tonight and I loved the taste! I accidentally used diced tomatoes so I felt it came out a little watery. Is the sauce supposed to be thick or watery consistency?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Jonesey! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. When you make it with crushed tomatoes, the sauce is on the thinner side, but should still be thick enough to coat the pasta (similar to the consistency of tomato soup?). If you used diced tomatoes from a can, then yes, I think it probably would turn out a little more watery. Glad you liked the flavor either way!

  • Laura

    Made this meal last night and it was easy, quick and DELICIOUS. I’ve recently cut out milk from my diet so I used Full Fat Coconut Milk (1:1 ratio) as a substitute for the heavy whipping cream and it turned out wonderfully! I cannot wait to make this again. Next-day leftovers were just as, if not more, delicious. I also used Bucatini pasta but that’s just because I have a weird love for Bucatini. Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!

  • Bonnie

    I made this tonight and did my best to follow the recipe as written. It was excellent! My entire family enjoyed it – even my picky 7 year old. Everyone raved! Will definitely make it again.

  • Jim Zee

    Add grated parmesan and/or romano at the last minute when tossing…at least a couple tablespoons

  • threek

    Sounds delish! Would this be safe to eat if reheated and kept in a thermos for lunch the next day?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Threek, my guess is that it is probably not a good idea.

    • ed hogg

      Leftovers would be totally safe to eat for lunch the next day provided the leftovers were properly refrigerated overnight and kept in airtight container. I would let it rise to room tempthe next morning so use use less reheat time. The issue won;t be a health hazard as much as rubber shrimp when reheating

  • Trish

    I made this for a dinner party last night to rave reviews. It is that perfect balance of “special” and “small time investment” that I seek out as a hostess. I would not change a thing about the recipe! (Oh, and be sure to make enough for leftovers!)

  • Kathy

    The first time I had vodka sauce was at a Italian restaurant on my daughter’s b day. I loved it. I followed your recipe some what. The garlic, I used shallots to replace the onions. I bought a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce, with tomato and basil. Then added the vodka and cream. It was like homemade, but less time.

  • Willis Teoh

    I tried this recipe last week. Oh boy my family and I enjoyed it so much…. I used diced fresh lobster tail instead of shrimps…the vodka did the trick.. Thank you for this recipe :)

  • Chris

    In my house I would have to spoon out the cooked shrimp before tossing the pasta with the sauce. Then carefully add back the cooked shrimp making sure that each plate gets the exact same number of shrimp. This helps to avoid hearing the “petty” person say, “Hey! He got more shrimp than I did!” (note: I’m usually that person!) Yeah, I actually do that will all shrimp and pasta dishes.

  • Nikki B

    I just sat down to try my own. I halved the recipe, but I think I put just a bit too much red pepper. However, I think it cuts the sauce nicely and I’m noticing the lemon zest is creating a wonderful depth of flavor. I will make this again!

  • Laura

    DELICIOUS! So easy and quick to prepare.

  • Bebe

    We first had pasta in creamy vodka sauce a few years ago at an Italian restaurant at The Grove in Los Angeles. The pasta – large ravioli. No shrimp. But the sauce was fabulous.

    The closest I’ve come to it (for dinners in a hurry) is Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato and Basil Sauce. And I suppose I could add some vodka to that when I haven’t time to make from scratch.

    Just bought a 2# bag of frozen shrimp. Will be trying this recipe very soon…and the fettucini sounds better than penne.

  • Guy Coalneri

    Why 12oz of pasta? Have never seen a 12oz package. Why not a recipe with 16oz of pasta? What do you do with the other 4oz?

    • Carla

      I have also sometimes wondered why recipes use certain amounts that seem inconvenient to me. But on the other hand, why do they sell milk in a gallon jug? I can’t drink all that! :-)

      • Fork Lift Operator

        People with kids understand why they sell milk in gallon jugs.
        You can also buy a couple smaller containers. I found that milk easily lasts two weeks after the expiration date so long as it’s not opened. I may buy a quart just to see if it will last 1 month unopened.
        Conversely, if you have someone who drinks directly from the container, that milk will spoil rapidly due to the infusion of bacteria.

        • Carla

          My comment regarding the gallon of milk was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, so I wouldn’t have to mention the obvious: Don’t you think it would be impossible to size every recipe to use the exact amount contained in each package of ingredients you purchase? And it’s not like dry pasta will spoil in your cupboard until you use it the next time you want to cook some. That said… after making my earlier response, I messed around with the quantities in this recipe and discovered that it’s pretty forgiving. I typically try to be as true as I can be to recipes (at least the first time I make them), but sometimes a little flexibility is required.
          I had a 2 lb. bag of frozen shrimp and since we both love shrimp, I decided to make the recipe extra shrimpy. So I thought, why NOT use the whole 1 lb. of fettucini since I doubled the quantity of shrimp? But then I discovered I didn’t have as many crushed tomatoes as I thought I had, so I diced up some plum tomatoes to add to the one can of crushed tomatoes. I had half n’ half in the fridge and couldn’t see making a trip to buy whipping cream, so I polished off the half n’ half instead. So how’d it turn out? It was delicious! But then I suspect that anything with lemon zest, shrimp, and vodka would be a winner in my book! We had martinis before dinner, and maybe they also enhanced the flavor of this dish :-) My husband and I enjoyed this for 3 meals and still had a lot left over, so I’m not likely to cook an entire pound of pasta next time. But I guess this would make a good party dish, probably good for at least 10 or 12 servings if you use 2 lbs. of shrimp and 1 lb. of fettucine. Asparagus makes a great side dish with this. I gifted my next door neighbor with the rest of it, because she was complaining recently about how hard it is to work all day, pick up her toddler and then cook dinner. I remember those days all too well! So there’s another idea of what to do with too much food – share it!

    • Fork Lift Operator

      Use the 4 ounces as an add-on for something else instead of trying to make it the main part of the meal. When you add some chicken, alfredo sauce and mix in some veggies like green peas, you have a casserole for a main meal.

      I routinely split dry pasta into two 8-ounce portions. I throw on a jar of marinara sauce, add some ground beef, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and suddenly you’ve got something.

    • Julia S.

      This recipe looks great and I cannot wait to try it! As for the leftover pasta, Maria Liberati has an excellent recipe for spaghetti stuffed peppers you could use it for. Tastes amazing!

  • Carol Ann

    do you think I could substitute white cinzano for the vodka?

    • Elise Bauer

      Sure! It won’t taste the same, but I’m guessing it will still be really good.

  • Susan Walter

    If you don’t drink the vodka and are searching for other uses, painting a supermarket chicken with vodka and leaving it to dry unwrapped in the fridge is a good trick for improving the flavour of the chicken to more like farmhouse chicken. Eau de vie of any sort works.

  • Hannah

    I’d love to try it out tonight – but I just had shrimp pasta yesterday, with the standard creamy tomato and white wine sauce…so I guess I’ll keep the vodka in the freezer until next week :)