Vodka Sauce with Meatballs

A silver pan with the rigatoni and meatballs on a white marble surface.

This vodka sauce is perfect for rigatoni noodles and homemade meatballs. Creamy vodka sauce coats every noodle and pairs nicely with the easy baked meatballs. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


For the Meatballs
1lb ground beef
1 and 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

For the Vodka Sauce
3 cups rigatoni pasta
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 and 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups half & half
6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup vodka (this is just the size of a mini bottle)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnishing your plate
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 ladles of reserved boiling pasta water


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your baking sheet by lining it with tin foil, then placing a cooling rack or baking rack on top and spraying it with cooking spray so the meatballs don’t stick to it.

2. To make the meatball mixture, in a large bowl add the ground beef, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, egg, bread crumbs, and water. Mix everything together, but do not over mix or else you could end up with tough meatballs. Once everything has combined, form medium sized meatballs and place them on the baking rack on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes until no longer pink inside and cooked through.

3. While the meatballs are baking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the 3 cups of rigatoni pasta according to box directions. As the pasta is cooking, reserve 2 ladles of water.

4. While the pasta is cooking, begin making the sauce. In a medium pan over medium heat melt the butter then add the grated garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until combined, cook about 30 seconds. Add the half & half, tomato paste, vodka, and basil. Bring to light boil, then reduce heat and add the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. If the sauce begins to thicken too much, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time.

5. To serve, add the rigatoni pasta a little at a time to the sauce until you have the consistency you like. Serve into bowls, top with meatballs, extra chopped basil and extra Parmesan cheese.


I always say to add the cooked pasta a little at a time to the finished sauce. If you’ve made too much pasta and you add it all at once it would mean you don’t have enough sauce to cover all of the noodles. So add in stages and stir to make sure all the noodles get enough sauce.

Keywords: vodka sauce with meatballs

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