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Flavor of the Week

Vodka sauce, a popular Italian sauce ideal for social media

Vodka sauce is a tomato-based pasta sauce for which vodka is used to deglaze the pan in which it’s cooked and add depth of flavor — alcohol is useful in releasing fat-based flavor components — and then the sauce is finished with a splash of cream.

The sauce’s hue, varying from reddish-orange to pink, draws consumers in for a simple dish that can still look impressive and makes for attractive photos on social media.

It’s a sauce that’s growing on restaurant menus as more consumers get better versed with what Datassential calls “New European,” which was named the cuisine of 2024 by the market research firm. Vodka sauce is part of consumers’ deeper exploration of Italian food, already their favorite cuisine, as they try new cheeses, pasta shapes, and sauces, including this one which is quite traditional in Italian-American cooking.

According to Datassential, vodka sauce is on 5.5% of menus in the United States, and 35% of the population has tried it.

Click through the gallery to learn more about vodka sauce and see how one restaurant is using it on its menu.

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