Thermomix recipe: Vodka Tomato Sauce

vodka tomato sauce recipe

About 35 years ago Vodka tomato sauce was all the rage in the American gourmet scene and there is evidence of its popularity in Italy before that time. Regardless of its origin, the online consensus seems to be that the alchemy of alcohol works to draw flavor from tomatoes for a subtle, overall “je ne sais quoi” result. It’s kind of a nebulous thing really cuz the more we read about vodka sauce, the more inconclusive our findings around its history, raison d’etre, and method of cooking.

For keeners who’d like to know more about vodka sauce there are good resources in two discussions found here and here on the Chowhound forum. There is some difference of opinion about whether to add the vodka early and allow it to cook off — or add it later, when it might imbue a hint of flavor. I say, “Why not compromise and do both?!”

vodka sauce Thermomix recipe

My own recipe below is loosely based on research but also builds on a deep-seated personal preference for the surprising savoriness that comes when tomato gets cozy with rosemary.  (As seen in this tomato soup recipe from 2009.) It’s best to have no expectations as you approach making this sauce. No, you won’t taste the vodka but it’s there, working its subtle charm on the tomatoes. Each ingredient works well with the others and there is no added liquid except for vodka. By following the recipe exactly we end up with a sauce that is thin enough to get into all the nooks and crannies of our favorite pasta or vegetables.

vodka sauce ingredients

This is how I prefer it: made from a bounty of soft, juicy, flavorful, sun-ripened garden tomatoes that results in a thinner more “soupy” sauce.  But you can of course achieve a thicker result by using firm Roma tomatoes or a mix of both types. And if you want it thicker than that, go ahead and cook longer to reduce it even further before adding cream.

vodka sauce recipe with zucchini noodles

Try with spiralized vegetable strands for a mock-pasta that is out of this world! It can also be eaten straight, right out of a bowl with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and thick slice of buttered Thermomix toast. I love it just the way it is, slightly tart, with citric notes enhanced by both the long and short presence of alcohol, and a slight edge of heat from the chili pepper. I thoroughly enjoy the soft chewy crunch of little tomato seeds every now and then, but if you prefer, blitz the sauce at a higher speed for a velvety creamed version.

Please play with your food. Try adding more or less vodka, more cream, or increase cooking time in the final step to reduce the sauce further before the addition of cream. Own it — and tell us all how you personalized this recipe in your Thermomix kitchen.

Vodka Tomato Sauce
makes about one litre
Cuisine: Thermomix
Recipe type: American
  • 3 large cloves garlic (about 20 g)
  • 1 large onion, quartered (about 150 g)
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter (make your own!)
  • 30 g (1 oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 800 g (28.2 oz) fresh tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large red pepper (capsicum) (about 150-200 g/5.3-7 oz) cut into large chunks
  • 1 dried red chili pepper about as long as your longest finger, cut into thirds (the chili, not the finger!)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary as long as a finger, leaves only
  • 130 g (4.5 oz) vodka 40% (90 g + 40 g)
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) light cream
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  1. Turn Thermomix on speed 6 and toss garlic cloves onto running blades, chop for about 4 sec.
  2. Add onion chunks and chop 5 sec/speed 4. Clear sides of TMX bowl with spatula, pushing food back down. Add butter and olive oil, cook on 5 min/Varoma/speed 1.
  3. Add in this order: the red pepper (capsicum), rosemary, chili pepper and lastly the tomatoes. Chop 5 seconds/speed 5.
  4. Add 90 g/3.2 oz vodka and cook on 20 min/Varoma/speed 1 — replace the measuring cap with the simmering basket placed on the lid to allow evaporation while preventing splatters. (It won’t splatter at the beginning of this cooking cycle but will do so after a few minutes. ) This is a good time to prepare zucchini if you are not using traditional pasta.
  5. Add remaining vodka and reduce temp to cook a further 20 minutes/100ºC/212ºF/speed 1 with measuring cap still removed and simmer basket on top. (Use this time – or part of this time – to steam spiralized zucchini ribbons in the Varoma if you are using a veggie ‘pasta’ variation.)
  6. Add salt, pepper and cream, put measuring cap into place and blend 4 seconds speed 4.


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See 18 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. Quirky Jo October 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    LOVE your photos, Helene, and that delicious looking zucchini pasta! Must get me one of those spiralizers…

  2. ThermomixBlogger Helene October 17, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Oh Jo, you AND your kids would LOVE the Benriner tool — it’s easy to use and makes heaps of healthy veg for more Thermomix fun. I would love to see your family have one of these, as I know it would inspire new recipes from you ;-) Glad you liked the photos, I took a lot this time because I had so many tomatoes and made this sauce several times in the past few weeks.

  3. Mara October 17, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    I love it when you post recipes. I especially enjoy two things: first, that our taste in food seems to be the same; second, that one can truly read your love for food and we enjoy it with you. That’s really, very nice.

    And now, just to check my spelling: In The Mix (yes, I think I got that right)

  4. ThermomixBlogger Helene October 17, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Oh I like the idea of making Limoncello Nora :) As for the booze in this sauce — you can’t taste it, but it does enhance the citrus notes of tomato sauce in a way that works — for my tastebuds, and hopefully for yours too.

  5. Nora October 17, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    This boozy version of the tomato sauce is very tempting! I thought of buying vodka to make limoncello as I wouldn’t drink the stuff otherwise. Good idea!

  6. Mara October 17, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    I just spotted your phone with on it and I love it.
    IN THE MIX!!!

  7. ThermomixBlogger Helene October 17, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Ha – yes, it occurred to me that the blog/phone was an easy way to ‘watermark’ a photo, so why not have fun with the idea. I won’t be doing this for every photo but maybe every now and then ;-)

  8. Gretchen October 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    If you mention that Benriner tool one more time!!!!!!

    And yes you are a clever girl to put your phone In The Mix.

  9. Monica October 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Yummo. This is something else Ms H :) I will have to try this soon!

  10. Lianna November 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    I recently got myself a thermomix (I refer to it as my thermo man whereas my friend calls hers “Arnie”). Everyday I am experimenting to understand and to appreciate this wonderful machine. I have a very basic question to which I do not seem to be able to find the answer: what is the difference between “mixing” and “chopping”. In both cases I use the blades in normal position; is this correct though? Cheers, Lianna

  11. ThermomixBlogger Helene November 21, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    This is a great question Lianna! Yes, you always use the blades in the forward rotation unless it specifically says REVERSE in a recipe. This applies to blog posts and recipe books both. The difference between ‘mixing’ and chopping is just how the writer has worded it. It say, you are cooking a sauce and stirring as you cook it on speed 2 or 3, you might call this ‘stirring’… but if you are mixing up pancake batter or something at a higher speed, you might call it “mixing”. If you put vegetables in the bowl and turn it up to speed 7 then they would get chopped up and most recipe writers would call it “chopping”. That’s my answer but I’m no expert. I am not a demonstrator, nor consultant, nor do I work for the company — they would know much better than I. So this is really just ‘my’ best answer…

    I hope this helps ;-)

  12. Lianna November 21, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Thank you very much for that Helen! I will be back with my contributions. Lianna

  13. Kalayra March 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Loved this recipe, have made it twice now. Did not see a need to change it up at all . Cheers!


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