Spicy Rigatoni with Vodka – or spicy any pasta shape- As featured on BuzzFeed! This spicy rigatoni recipe with vodka has definitely taken the internet by storm. This is how I like to make it!
This dish is well known as being from Carbone, Jon & Vinny’s and even Gigi Hadid. It’s super easy to make and very delicious, but it definitely surprised me how obsessed everyone is with it.
Make sure to pick your favorite pasta. It doesn’t have to be rigatoni. For example, I like radiatore or fusilli. You also can adjust the spice to taste. I like it very spicy, so I add lots of red pepper flakes, but you can also err on the side of less if you are sensitive.
You also don’t need to add the vodka if you can’t have it for whatever reason. Just skip it and go right to the cream!
You don’t really need any special equipment, but since you do save pasta water for the recipe, I like to use a small strainer to scoop the pasta out of the boiling water, instead of straining it all out. Make sure not to throw away all that pasta water!
If you have trouble following the written recipe, the video tutorial below can be really helpful!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and if you have a chance to make it, make sure to leave a comment as to how it turned out!
Some Tips and Advice
- Make sure to let the onions cook down and caramelize a little. Don’t rush it if you want the best flavor!
Same goes for the spices and tomato paste; they don’t need to cook as long as the onions, but they do need to get toasted to unlock all the flavor.
- Don’t overcook the pasta! It will finish cooking in the sauce, so take it out a few minutes early.
- Don’t forget to save pasta water to make the sauce silky-smooth!
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Dried oregano, to taste
- Dried thyme, to taste (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 (4.5 oz) tube of tomato paste
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 lb rigatoni or penne pasta
- Generous salt for pasta water
- Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (at least a 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Chopped fresh parsley to taste
- Heat a large pot of water to cook your pasta. While it heats, start making the sauce.
- Cook your onion with the olive oil and salt in a large pan over medium heat until translucent and slightly golden. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and thyme and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add in the garlic.
- Add the tomato paste and continue to cook over medium heat for 2-3 more minutes. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
- Add the vodka; let it simmer briefly before adding the heavy cream. Turn off the heat once the cream simmers for a minute. Use a spoon to remove the garlic cloves that have now infused the sauce.
- Salt the pasta water once it's boiling and add in your rigatoni. Cook 2-3 minutes less than the lower number on the package. Use a mug to reserve at least a half cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Mix the drained pasta into the pan with the sauce, along with a splash of pasta water and a generous amount of parmigiano reggiano and the butter. Return the pan to heat, and let the pasta simmer in the sauce for the last couple minutes of its cook time. Add the parsley and enjoy.
Jeremy is a student at Cornell University double majoring in Spanish and Italian with significant coursework in classes such as nutrition, food science and culinary science. He has years of experience as a home cook, working at a local bakery, and teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. After starting a TikTok account in March 2020 while quarantined in his childhood home, Jeremy’s presence grew to over 1.5 million followers in the first 6 months. During that time, he was featured in People Magazine, Fox News, BBC Radio, BuzzFeed, Tasty, Spoon University, and USA Today, among other media outlets.