Cheesy Baked Pasta Alla Vodka

 All the important things are in the name. Veryyyy cheesy. Super saucy. & Perfectly cooked pasta tossed in a quick, shortcut Pasta Alla Vodka Sauce.

A cheesy baked pasta will always put a smile on my face. This is one of my favorite meals, and it is a crowdpleaser. It's perfect for a weeknight meal, a make-ahead dinner, or to serve to unexpected company. 

I love to serve this baked pasta alongside a a fresh Caesar salad or sautéed green beans. Plus, a slice of garlic bread is always the perfect addition.

Ingredients for Cheesy Baked Pasta Alla Vodka

- Olive oil

- Onion, diced

- Garlic, minced

- Ground beef, ground Italian sausage, or ground turkey

- Salt and pepper

- Italian seasoning - find my seasoning recipe here

- Fennel seed, optional

- Tomato paste

- Vodka 

- Marinara sauce or pasta sauce

- Half and half or heavy cream

- Large shaped pasta like rigatoni, penne, or cavatapi (I used a gluten free rigatoni)

- Mozzarella cheese, shredded

- Parmesan cheese, for topping

- Fresh parsley, for topping

Pro Tip: Use Homemade Italian Seasoning

One of my favorite ways to elevate this dish is by using a homemade Italian seasoning. It's so easy to throw together and adds so much more flavor than any blend you can find in the grocery store. Learn more on the recipe post here.


What Can I Substitute for the Vodka?

Feel free to use either water or broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef) in place of the vodka to make this alcohol-free. 

However, if you're wondering about the alcohol content - it cooks out in the simmering and baking process.

How to Make Baked Pasta Alla Vodka

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.

  2. In a separate pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and garlic. Break up the ground beef and cook until it’s no longer pink. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and fennel seed, if using.

  3. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the paste darkens in color. Add the vodka and deglaze, stirring to combine. Cook for 2 minutes.

  4. Pour in the marinara or pasta sauce and combine. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

  5. In the separate pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions.

  6. Toss the cooked pasta in with the vodka sauce and stir in the half and half or heavy cream.

  7. Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese, add the rest of the pasta, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.

  8. Remove the foil and broil the pasta bake until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Top with parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.

Tools for the Perfect Baked Pasta 

this staub ceramic dish: my favorite baking dish 

- grater with measuring cup: my favorite tool for grating a bunch of cheese

- microplane: the best tool for a finely grated parmesan cheese

- knife set: these are my favorite knives, and they are a great value

- cutting board: these cutting boards are one of my biggest must haves. They are dishwasher safe, antibacterial, and do not dull knives. 

Shop all of my favorites for baked pastas, casseroles, and anything in the kitchen

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Other No-Fuss Weeknight Meal Ideas

- Love Chinese Take-Out but you want something quicker, healthier, and much cheaper? This Honey Sesame Stir Fry with Chicken will be a new go-to recipe for you. It's so quick, delicious, and will satisfy all those cravings. It's packed with veggies and protein, plus you can make it with whatever fresh OR frozen veggies you have on hand. 

- Needing something to feed to the kiddos? These Sloppy Joes are the perfect recipe for you, and they'll be such a hit for your little ones and big ones, too. Even though they have bell peppers and onions, they're hidden and no one would suspect a thing. It's sweet, savory, and so perfectly classic. You can't go wrong.

- Looking for something to make to change up the routine? South African Babotie is delicious, healthy, and flavorful. It's just ground beef, tender onions, warm spices, a little bit of scrambled egg, and green peas - all served over rice. It is so warm and comforting, and it's not too exotic for those picky eaters. Give it a try.

- Are you a Mexican food lover like me? Well, this Jalapeño Corn Salsa is perfect when paired with these Stuffed Poblano Chicken Enchiladas that are packed with roasted green chiles, shredded chicken, cheese, and tons of delicious flavor.

- A cozy, fall night calls for a cozy, hearty, and warm meal. These Grits and Greens Bowls with Blistered Tomatoes are the perfect recipe to add to your next meal plan. A filling bowl topped with goat cheese, crispy bacon, and a fried egg. Yum, and yum. Plus, it’s pretty fast to pull together, but also nutritious.

made the recipe?

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