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How to Can Vodka Sauce – Step By Step

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If you love Italian, your mouth probably started watering at the mention of vodka sauce. This creamy delicious sauce is the perfect addition to your penne pasta dish. 

Vodka sauce does have vodka in it (hence the name) but it is packed full of herbs and cream and tastes absolutely delicious in those Italian dishes. Don’t be scared off by the title vodka sauce. The sauce is cooked prior to serving. 

Maybe you like to plan ahead and make large batches or maybe you simply just made way more than you needed, but you need a good preservation option to store up your vodka sauce. 

So how do you can vodka sauce? You can preserve vodka sauce by following a specific canning process and it is really quite simple. If you have any type of familiarity with canning then this will be a breeze, and if you don’t we will try to help you make it as breezy as possible. 

We’ve put together a simple guide to give you some valuable information on vodka sauce as well as walk you through the steps to canning vodka sauce. 

We hope that you will keep reading to learn how to can vodka sauce, and then some more. 

A Guide to Vodka Sauce

You can purchase pre-made vodka sauce but there is just something about homemade foods that is so much more appealing. Especially when you’re talking about your Italian food and sauces. 

making sauce

The best way to ensure you like the sauce you intend to use or serve is to make it yourself. This gives you the benefit of making it to your own tastes or maybe to a special recipe you found. While recipes are always similar, no two people cook it exactly the same. 

How Vodka Sauce is Made

Vodka sauce does have vodka in it. There are many recipes that call for wine or liquor of some sort when you cook them. This is because alcohol makes a great solution with cooking that pulls out natural aromas and flavors of the other ingredients in whatever you are making. 

This is the same with vodka sauce. The vodka helps pull out the Italian herbs and the tomato flavors but also makes the ingredients of the sauce more cohesive. These traits allow you to get a delicious creamy sauce that smells delicious and has outstanding flavor. 

If you skip the alcohol when you make vodka sauce, you will be sorely disappointed. Vodka is one of the key components. Here is a simple walk-through of how vodka sauce is made. 


  • Butter or olive oil
  • Onion
  • Vodka
  • Crushed tomatoes and tomato paste
  • Heavy Cream or half & half
  • Salt
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

You can also use an Italian seasoning rather than attempting to recreate the Italian flavor with various seasonings. The items shared here are just for general reference and can be adjusted for your own tastes and preferences. 

Here is a quick guide to making vodka sauce: 

  1. Sauté onions and minced garlic in olive oil or butter. If you are using red pepper flakes, add those at the end. 
  2. Add tomatoes and vodka and continue to sauté about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Stir in tomato paste, seasonings to taste, and balsamic vinegar. Reduce your heat and simmer the mixture partially covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Blend or puree your sauce mixture to a smooth consistency and then return it to the pan. 
  5. Pour in heavy cream or half & half. You should end up with a creamy sauce. Start with small amounts of cream and add additional if needed. 
  6. Continue to heat until full sauce mixture is warmed, stirring regularly. 
  7. The sauce is finished! Add to pasta and toss in some shredded cheese

As you can see, vodka sauce is not overly challenging to create. You can easily make large batches and store them away for when they’re needed. 

Canning Vodka Sauce

Canning vodka sauce is the perfect solution to make sauce ahead of time and have it prepared. It can take about 30-45 minutes to make vodka sauce fresh so making it ahead of time and canning it would be a huge time saver. 

Let’s cover some pros and cons of canning vodka sauce. 

Pros to Canning Vodka Sauce

  • Make ahead and save time on meals
  • A great storage option that preserves the flavor and consistency
  • You can make a large batch and set some away for next time
  • Vodka sauce is simple to make but takes a bit of time
  • Use as a gift or for a gift basket with a recipe and pasta

Cons to Canning Vodka Sauce

  • Cannot be water-bath canned
  • Must be pressure canned
  • The dairy in vodka sauce makes the canning process slightly more challenging
  • If you water-bath can, you leave your sauce susceptible to botulism and other bacteria
  • You may need to purchase or borrow a pressure canner for the process

The biggest challenge to canning your vodka sauce is that water-bath canning is not recommended. A pressure canner is the way to go and if you don’t have one on hand this could potentially be a costly investment. However, if you plan on putting it to good use you should go for it! 

How to Can Vodka Sauce

Don’t overthink the process, canning vodka sauce does not have to be difficult. The primary factor is that water-bath canning is not good enough for this process so you will need to use a pressure canner to accomplish the task. 

can vodka sauce

You will need your vodka sauce, a small amount of lemon juice or citric acid, and your canning supplies. Here are the steps to can vodka sauce perfectly. 

  1. Make the sauce – you should begin the canning process right away after making sauce. 
  2. Add either 1 tsp of citric acid or 2 TBSP of lemon juice – this makes the mixture acidic and protects it for longer from bacteria.
  3. Slightly warm or heat your jars.
  4. Fill jars, leaving about a ½ inch of space near the top.
  5. Try to get rid of bubbles, which may require adjusting the top space. 
  6. Clean off rims of jars and put lids on. 
  7. Place into canner and process for at least 40 minutes until sealed. Remember that various altitudes may require adjustment on processing time. 

It’s really that simple and there are no complicated processes when you’re ready to use your canned vodka sauce. You will simply open the jar and heat and use it as normal. 

You can potentially skip the step of adding citric acid or lemon juice but this is recommended for extra protection from botulism and bacteria. It should not affect the flavor or texture of your vodka sauce creation. 

Put that large batch of vodka sauce safely away so you can pull it back out at your convenience. Plan ahead and save some time on homemade pasta sauce. We’re quite sure your schedule and your taste buds will thoroughly thank you later. 

Related Questions

We hope that you have found this guide to be useful and informative and that you have all of the information you need to start making and canning your own vodka sauce. Happy canning! 

We’ve included some common question information below, we invite you to take a look and see if there is anything that might be helpful for you. 

Will You Taste the Vodka Flavor in Vodka Sauce?

Vodka can have a rather harsh flavor when mixed into a drink or drank by itself. Fortunately, that is not an issue when you use it for cooking. Vodka does affect the flavor of the sauce but it does not make the sauce taste like vodka. 

Rather, vodka pulls out the herbs and natural flavors and acts as a melding agent between the tomatoes and the cream, turning your sauce into a flavorful creamy mixture that you will love. 

How Can I Store an Open Jar of Vodka Sauce?

If you open a jar of vodka sauce and find you don’t need the entire jar you can seal the lid back on and store it in your refrigerator. You should only store the sauce about 1-2 weeks before using the rest of it. 

Be mindful not to dip a dirty spoon in the jar but rather pour directly out of the jar. This will reduce the likelihood of your vodka sauce growing mold before you finish using the sauce and gives you the best chances of preserving the sauce a bit longer. 

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