If you’re from New York City chances are you know what “spicy rigs” is. If you aren’t from New York or have never heard of Carbone’s spicy rigatoni this post might change the way you look at vodka sauce. This spicy vodka rigatoni recipe is creamy, cheesy, a little spicy, and just addictive enough to keep you coming back for more.
When the pandemic hit, a ton of food blogs put out copycat recipes of Carbone’s iconic dish aka the spicy vodka rigatoni. I tried a few; some were good, and some not so much. I was surprised how many recipes were recipes for plain vodka sauce with some chili flakes in it. Nothing like the original. Also, some recipes called for multiple pots to make the sauce… nobody has time for that. This recipe is not only quick, and easy to make, but might just become your staple vodka sauce recipe.
Large Pot / Pan – This recipe yields enough sauce for 1 box of pasta so keep that in mind when you are picking your pot. I like to use a dutch oven for recipes like this, but whatever pot you have that will allow you to add the pasta to the sauce at the end and mix comfortably works just as well.
Cook Down Aromatics – In a large pot over low heat melt the butter. Once melted add shallots and cook until soft, fragrant, and translucent but not brown (approx. 10 minutes). Add the additional butter and the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Build the Sauce – Add the tomato paste and mix to combine it with the shallots and garlic. Deglaze the pan with vodka and allow the alcohol to cook off for 3 minutes. Add the Calabrian chilis followed by the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
Finish the Sauce – Add the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the Parmesan cheese and mix until incorporated. If eating right away, add the pasta and serve immediately. If making in advance see below for storing instructions.
Can I make this rigatoni alla vodka without vodka?
Absolutely! Keep in mind the flavor will change slightly, but the dish is still great without it.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! this is a great recipe to make in advance as well as double or triple the recipe it if you are cooking for a crowd. See below for storing and reheating instructions.
Can I replace Calabrian chilis for red pepper flakes?
Yes and no, the Calabrian chilis add not only heat but flavor to the dish. Remove them and you are making a spicy all vodka sauce and not a Carbone copycat. If you are okay with that then start with 1/2 tsp and add from there.
This is a fantastic sauce to make a day or two ahead and reheat when ready to eat. I love making this in bulk for family events, because of how well it can be stored. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days in the fridge. When ready to enjoy, pop the sauce in a sauce pan and heat on the stove until it is warm. Add pasta and enjoy!
Looking for more spicy pasta dishes? Check out the recipes below!