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Spicy Rigatoni Vodka on a platter

Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe (Copycat Carbone!)

  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x



3 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 4.5 ounce tube of tomato paste (128 grams)

1 tablespoon Calabrian chili paste

1/4 cup vodka

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 pound rigatoni pasta

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, for serving


To begin, cook rigatoni in well-salted water for 2-3 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 1-1 1/2 cups salted pasta water. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (not cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes. The onions should be tender and brown around the edges (think crispy-brown, not soft and caramelized-brown). Reduce heat to medium and add the minced or grated garlic and salt. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. 

Next, add the full tube of tomato paste and the Calabrian chili paste and cook, stirring for 5-6 minutes, until the paste turns deep red and slightly browning on the bottom of the pan. Add the vodka and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the tasty, sticky morsels on the bottom. Reduce heat to low.

Measure out 3/4 cup of heavy cream in a measuring cup. Using a ladle, scoop out 1/4 cup of the salted pasta water and add it to the cream to heat it slightly (our friends at Bon Appetit taught me this – it helps keep the cream from breaking when added to the tomato sauce).

Slowly add the cream to the pan of onion tomato sauce, stirring to form a silky smooth sauce. Add grated parmesan, stir and remove from heat. Add the al dente rigatoni (or pasta shape of your choice) to the sauce, along with another 3/4 cup of pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil, grated parmesan and fresh basil. 

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Category: Easy Recipes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Spicy Rigatoni, Vodka Sauce, Carbone's Copycat

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