This vodka tomato ricotta pasta is the best of all worlds pasta, with classic vodka sauce combined with the creaminess of ricotta cheese. A great weeknight pasta recipe!

Vodka tomato ricotta pasta in skillet.

A great weeknight pasta, this vodka tomato ricotta pasta is ready to enjoy in less than 30 minutes! A nice cheesy twist on classic vodka pasta.

What you’ll need

Ingredients for vodka tomato ricotta pasta.

Pasta – This pasta works well with any short pasta. I’ve used Cavatappi here, but penne or rigatoni work nicely, too.

Vodka – The role of vodka is simply to heighten the flavour of the tomatoes, which makes it a great addition if you have vodka on hand. If not, you can the same amount of white wine, chicken broth or water.

Tomato Paste – The quality of the tomato paste can make a huge difference in this dish. For best results, start with the double-concentrated tomato paste that comes in the tubes. Regular concentrated tomato paste in the tubes would be a good second choice. Finally, in a pinch, the small can of tomato paste will work, though with less tomato flavour in the finished sauce.

Whipping Cream – This is the 35% b.f. cream, which is highly recommended for a nice, thick, creamy sauce. While a lower-fat cream will work here (such as 10% half-and-half cream) the sauce will be thinner and less creamy.

Ricotta Cheese – Any ricotta cheese will work just fine here. I like to season the ricotta cheese with some salt and pepper, for added flavour.

Basil – it’s hard to beat the flavour of fresh basil in pasta, so I recommend it if you have some on hand. If not, some dried basil is fine, too.

Red Pepper Flakes – This is the crushed chili flakes and they are responsible for a bit of spicy heat in this dish. Tweak the amount added to your taste.

How to make this tomato ricotta pasta

Adding pasta to boiling water.
Softening onion and garlic in skillet.
Add vodka to the skillet.
  1. Start by boiling a large pot of water, salt it generously then add the dried pasta to cook.
  2. In a skillet, soften the onion and garlic together with the red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook briefly, then add the vodka and allow it to cook off.
Adding the cream to the skillet.
Finished sauce in skillet.
Draining cooked pasta.
  1. Add the cream to the skillet.
  2. Stir to combine and keep warm until the pasta is cooked.
  3. Remove the cooked pasta from the water using a slotted spoon or spider strainer and add it to the skillet with the sauce.
Reserving some pasta cooking water.
Adding Parmesan cheese to the skillet.
Adding basil to the skillet.
  1. Scoop out 2 cups of the pasta cooking water to add to the skillet later, as needed.
  2. Add the Parmesan cheese to the skillet.
  3. Add some chopped basil to the skillet. Stir it all together, drizzling with the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to keep the sauce loose.
Adding ricotta cheese to the skillet.
Adding additional basil to the skillet.
Finishing the dish with red pepper flakes.
  1. Place dollops of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta.
  2. Sprinkle with some more chopped basil.
  3. Finish with a sprinkling of additional red pepper flakes.

Recipe video

Recipe tips!

  • I love to spoon the pasta right from the boiling water into the pan with the sauce. Simply use a spider strainer to drain over the pot. It’s fine if it isn’t perfectly drained, as we will be adding pasta water anyway. The bonus is that all the pasta-cooking water is preserved and handy to add to the sauce. (It also saves you from transporting a big heavy, hot pot across the kitchen to drain).
  • If you prefer to drain your pasta, be sure to reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking water before draining.
  • Add as much pasta-cooking water as is needed to keep the sauce loose. I generally find I need to add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of pasta-cooking water.
Vodka tomato ricotta pasta in skillet with spoon.

Storing and freezing

This pasta holds up pretty well in the refrigerator as leftovers, as the ricotta cheese helps to keep it moist. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months for longer storage.

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Vodka tomato ricotta pasta in skillet.

Get the Recipe: Vodka Tomato Ricotta Pasta

Classic vodka pasta with the added deliciousness of ricotta cheese. A great weeknight pasta recipe!
5 stars from 2 ratings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons tomato paste, preferably double-concentrated
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1/2 lb fusilli, penne or rigatoni or similar short pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Finely chopped basil, for serving

For garnish:

  • Additional chopped basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Additional Parmesan cheese


  • Boil a large pot of water. When boiling, generously salt the water, then add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions, just until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook together briefly. Add the onion, season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add a bit more olive oil if the pan is dry. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darker in color, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat under the pan to medium-high. Add the vodka to the pan and allow to cook off for about 1 minute, then reduce the heat slightly and cook the sauce, stirring constantly until the sauce is reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn heat off under sauce until pasta is ready.
  • Spoon the pasta out of the boiling water with a spider strainer or large slotted spoon. and add to the pan with the sauce. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and the Parmesan cheese. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce coats the noodles, about 3 minutes. Add more pasta water if the sauce looks dry. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Spoon dollops of ricotta onto the pasta to warm and sprinkle with chopped basil and red pepper flakes. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Pasta
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 572kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 74mg, Sodium: 425mg, Potassium: 469mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1153IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 324mg, Iron: 2mg
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Inspired by an Erik Kim recipe via NYT