Pizza with Vodka Sauce is becoming insanely popular at many pizzerias here in New York City. So many people, myself included, just love the creaminess of vodka sauce. It's less acidic and even a little sweeter than regular tomato sauce. So it makes perfect sense to put it on pizza.
The best vodka pizza in NYC (in my opinion) is from Artichoke Basille's. Theirs is loaded with delicious tomato cream vodka sauce, the perfect amount of mozzarella, and it has an excellent crunchy crust.
But one slice of Artichoke's Vodka Pizza costs $7. A whole pie- $36. Don't get me wrong. It's excellent. But it's expensive.
Vodka Sauce Pizza is so easy to make and only calls for 9 ingredients, plus olive oil salt and red pepper flakes (optional). I should note that I almost never make my own dough. I simply buy pizza dough from Wegmans. You can even buy it from your local pizzeria and some bakeries. Or make your own!
- A roll of pizza dough
- Olive oil
- Fresh garlic
- Tomato Paste
- Crushed tomatoes
- Heavy Cream
- Fresh mozzarella
- Fresh Basil
- Grated Pecorino Romano
- Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
See recipe card for quantities.
Vodka Sauce for Pizza vs. Pasta
Now is a good time to note that vodka sauce for pizza is different from traditional vodka sauce for pasta. Vodka sauce for pasta is mostly just tomato paste and cream and requires pasta water to make it a true sauce.
If you try to put it on pizza, you won't have enough sauce to cover the pizza. And it will separate in the oven, becoming greasy due to the cream's high fat content.
Therefore, vodka sauce for pizza must have crushed tomatoes to make it a stand-alone sauce.
This Vodka Pizza comes together in a few simple steps, and takes about 45 minutes. (not including the time it takes the dough to rise or come to room temperature)
Steps to making Vodka Pizza
Step 1: If using store-bought dough, allow it to come to room temperature and expand a bit in a large bowl. Coat it in a little olive oil and cover the bowl with a towel for a couple hours.
Step 2: Make the vodka sauce. You can do this ahead of time or while the dough rests. Sauté 5 of the garlic cloves (sliced) for 1-2 minutes, then the tomato paste. Deglaze with vodka, then add the crushed tomatoes, and cook for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Turn off the heat, add the cream, and grate in 6th glove of garlic. This single garlic clove sets this vodka sauce apart from the rest. You really taste its freshness ice it's added at the end. It adds the perfect amount of extra garlicky flavor to the sauce.
Note: this recipe makes more sauce than you need to make the pizza. Store the rest in the fridge or freezer and use it again another time for pizza or pasta.
Step 4: Use your hands to gently stretch out the dough on an olive-oil-greased sheet pan. Be patient, it will take a few minutes. Then top with ¾ cup of the vodka pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella (tear by hand for a better texture), a dusting of pecorino cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Step 5: Bake on 425 for about 20 minutes, until the crust around the perimeter crisps up and the center cooks through. Top with fresh basil and slice.
Top Vodka Pizza-Making Tips
- Getting a crunchy crust: Use a well-greased sheet pan in order to achieve that crunchy New York- style pizza crust at home. You can check out my other sheet-pan pizza recipe, Lemon Ricotta Pizza with Calabrian Chili Oil.
- Don't let the garlic burn. Burnt garlic tastes really unpleasant and can ruin the taste of the sauce.
- Save 1 clove of garlic to grate into the sauce at the end. This gives the sauce layers garlicky flavor.
- Add basil to the finished Vodka Pizza, since basil rapidly loses its flavor when it cooks. This is the same reason we never cook pesto. It loses all of its flavor when it comes into contact with heat. (Per this article from Serious Eats)
- Slice the pizza with scissors. If you know me, you know I use my kitchen shears for everything, including cutting up a sheet pan pizza. No need to buy a pizza cutter.
There are a couple ways to make this recipe fit certain diets.
- Gluten free -use your favorite gluten free pizza dough instead of regular dough.
- Vegan - There are a couple replacements needed to make this vodka pizza vegan. You could leave the cream out of the sauce, or use cashew milk. I find it to be the creamiest dairy-free alternative. You can also use a dairy free/vegan mozzarella OR simply leave off the cheese. Some pizzerias here in NYC are known for their cheese-free pizzas. (such as the tomato pie from F&F Pizza)
Additionally, you can modify your vodka sauce pizza to make it extra spicy, or "deluxe" if you wish.
- Extra spicy - add Calabrian chili paste to the vodka sauce at the same time you add the tomato paste. This is similar to my process for making my Spicy Calabrian Chili Vodka Sauce.
- Deluxe - add a couple dollops of ricotta cheese and cooked ground sausage for a loaded pizza pie.
Equipment needed to make Vodka Sauce Pizza
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. And I rely on a few of the following tools for this Vodka Sauce Pizza Recipe and many other recipes:
- Nordic Ware Sheet Pans: Inexpensive but good quality. You can buy them on Amazon with my affiliate link here.
- An oven thermometer. I recently learned that my oven temperature fluctuates a lot. Sometimes it runs hot, and other times it runs cool. My cheap oven thermometer always lets me know whether I have to bump up or lower the heat.
- A microplane: If you don't have one, buy one here. It's such a handy tool for zesting and grating garlic and ginger. You can also finely grate cheese with it.
- A 3-quart All-Clad sauté pan. This one piece of cookware is a work horse in my kitchen. I use it almost every day to make sauces, sautéed vegetables, pasta dishes, and even stir fries. And All-Clad is simply the best brand out there and is well worth the money.
Wrap leftovers in foil. When ready to re-heat, place on the foil in a toaster or oven set to 400F. The toaster heats things more quickly since the heat is closer to the food. It may take 5-10 minutes.
If you want to make this vodka sauce pizza for a dinner party or group of friends, make the sauce ahead of time to save yourself time. You can make the sauce in the morning or even a couple days before.
You can also assemble the pizza up to a couple hours before your guests arrive, and pop it in the oven as son as they arrive or right before.
Have one of your guests slice it for you! Dinner guests love to help.
Scaling the Recipe
This recipe makes enough sauce for ~3 pizzas. So if you want to double or triple the recipe, only do so to the other ingredients.
If only making 1 pizza, store leftover sauce in the refrigerator. Leftover vodka sauce makes an excellent pasta sauce, topping for Italian Chicken Cutlets, or dipping sauce for grilled cheese or Panzerotti.
Vodka Pizza RecipePrint
- A roll of pizza dough (12-16 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves of fresh garlic
- 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
- 1 28-ounce can of Crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup of vodka
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
- Fresh Basil
- ¼ cups sof Grated Pecorino Romano
- Crushed Red Pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- If using store-bought dough, allow it to come to room temperature and expand a bit in a large bowl. Coat it in a little olive oil and cover the bowl with a towel for a couple hours.
- To make the vodka sauce, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauce pan or pot along with 5 of the garlic cloves (sliced) and heat over medium heat. Cook for for 1-2 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Saute 1-2 more minutes and deglaze any burnt on bits with vodka. Once the vodka has mostly evaporated, add the crushed tomatoes, and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.
- After the sauce has been simmering for 20 minutes, add the heavy cream, salt, and grate in the 6th glove of garlic using a microplane or zester. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
- To make the pizza, grease a sheet pan with the other 2 tablespoon of olive oil. use your hands to gently stretch out the dough over the whole area of the sheet pan. Be patient, it will take a few minutes. Then top the pizza with ¾ of a cup of the sauce. Tear the fresh mozzarella by hand and spread it over the pizza. Sprinkle on the pecorino cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Bake on 425 for about 20 minutes, until the crust around the perimeter crisps up and the center cooks through. Top with fresh basil and slice with a scissor, just like the Italian Grannies do.