Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka with Pesto

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Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka with Pesto is silky, smooth, perfectly spiced and the easiest week-night dinner to whip up.

Pasta tossed in a spicy tomato vodka sauce, topped with dollops of homemade basil pesto is a recipe I come back to time and time again. It’s one of those dishes I whip up when I’m running low on groceries in the house because chances are I always have a box of pasta, cream, tomato paste, vodka, and cheese!

Every summer my Nonna gives me tons of homemade basil pesto, and over the years I’ve found different ways to incorporate it into my recipes. The spicy creamy tomato sauce pairs perfectly with the fresh basil pesto. I like to dollop it on the top of the finished pasta because I like to have a few bites with the pesto and a few bites without, but feel free to use it how you like in this recipe.

Looking for more pasta recipes?

I got you! Check out all of my Pasta Recipes right here on my blog! A few personal favs are:

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Here is a quick overview of the ingredients you’ll need to make my Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka with PestoFor the exact detailed measurements and ingredients, scroll to the bottom of this page to review my recipe card.

  • pasta of choice
  • chilli infused olive oil
  • butter
  • shallot
  • garlic cloves
  • vodka
  • tomato paste 
  • heavy cream
  • parmigiana reggiano
  • basil pesto
  • chilli flakes

Watch the recipe video

Watch the recipe video on Instagram

Storing & reheating

Have leftovers? Lucky you. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave for 30-50 seconds or add to a shallow pan and let simmer on your stove for 2-3 minutes. To thin the sauce, add a tablespoon or so of heavy cream.

Substitutions & FAQ’s

What other types of pasta work well in this recipe?
A few favourites are penne, fusilli or rigatoni.
Can I add vegetables to this dish?
I prefer it without the veggies, but feel free to add what you have on hand: peppers, broccoli, and onions would all work.
What proteins would work best with this recipe?
Chicken or shrimp would compliment the pasta well.

Did you like this recipe?

If you enjoyed my Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka with Pesto recipe, consider leaving me a 5 star rating and review in my recipe card provided below, it means so very much to me!

Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka with Pesto

By Sammy Montgoms
Pasta tossed in a spicy tomato vodka sauce, topped with dollops of homemade basil pesto is a 15 minute recipe, perfect to whip up during the week but impressive enough to serve your guests when hosting.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 people


  • 1/2 package pasta (200 grams) measure dry, I am using buccoli shaped pasta
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 tbsp chilli infused olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, salted
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ounces vodka, I used Tito's
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste, if needed
  • fresh basil, to garnish


  • Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.
    Cook pasta according to package instructions and be sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta cooks prepare the sauce.
    To a large pan set to medium heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and the chilli infused olive oil.
  • Add the shallot and garlic and let sauté for 2-3 minutes, until softened and translucent.
  • Add the chili flakes and let sauté for another minute or so.
  • Add the tomato paste and let cook for about 2 minutes, or until it has darkened slightly in colour.
  • Add the vodka and let simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until nearly evaporated.
  • Add the heavy cream and continuously stir until well combined.
    Lightly season with salt and pepper.
    Sammy's tip: since the parmigiano reggiano will add a good amount of salt, go easy with the salt here.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked pasta, last tbsp of butter, parmigiano reggiano and gently mix to combine.
  • Add the reserved pasta water (1/4 cup at a time) until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. Add more if you need to thin out the sauce.
  • Dish up and top with a few generous dollops of basil pesto, fresh basil, more parmigiano reggiano, and a drizzle chili infused olive oil.
  • Enjoy right away!

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Sammy Montgoms
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 2 people

About Sammy Montgoms

I am so glad you are here. I am a BIG foodie gal. I am one of those people who lives to eat, rather than eats to live. I love to create nostalgic Italian dishes (especially pasta), but I also love to whip up simple and quick recipes for my family. Hopefully, my page inspires you to do the same. Thank you for being here, and happy eating!

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