This fast and easy Shrimp in Vodka Sauce is an amazing way to enjoy dinner! Shrimp are cooked in a bright tomato sauce that can stand on its own or be served over vegetables or pasta.
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Italian Shrimp Recipe
I love a good shrimp recipe like my Lemon Pepper Shrimp and finding amazing sauces to cook shrimp in.
Making vodka sauce is one of my favorite go-to Italian sauce recipes, and adding shrimp seemed like the perfect match.
You would think the sauce is much heavier than it is, but the flavors are rather bright!
When I make this for friends, it is always a hit. And they always think it is more complicated to make than it is.
Is pink sauce and vodka sauce the same?
Almost, but not quite.
A pink sauce is typically a tomato sauce with cream in it.
A vodka sauce also has the tomato sauce and cream, but it also uses vodka.
The vodka burns off so it is safe to serve for kids. If desired, you can skip it altogether however the flavor does change a little and lose some of its brightness.
If skipping vodka, I recommend adding a very small amount of lemon juice (1/2 Tablespoon or so). Not so much that it tastes like lemon, but just enough to lighten it up.
What is pink vodka sauce made of? – Ingredients
Here is what you need to make Vodka Sauce with Shrimp:
- Shrimp of choice (I like to use large, deveined, no shell)
- Diced Tomatoes
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Heavy Cream
- Basil (or dried basil) (optional)
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Parmesan Cheese (optional)
The basil and Parmesan cheese are optional because they are not a traditional part of the vodka sauce.
But I find that adding just a little of both is delicious!
Cleaning and Preparing Shrimp
You can use any size of shrimp that you want for this recipe. I prefer something in the large to jumbo range.
There are a few things you want to keep in mind any time you are cooking with shrimp.
Shells – I prefer to buy shrimp that have already had their shells removed, as I do not cook shrimp with them on. And it is one less thing for me to do.
Deveining – What does this mean? Well, if a shrimp is de-veined, it has been cut down the outer edge of the shrimp and the black “vein” has been removed.
The “vein” is really the digestive track of the shrimp. So if you are eating shrimp that still have the “vein,” you are essentially eating shrimp poop.
Tails – Leaving the tails on looks very pretty, and I find them commonly sold with tails on. But you do have to remove the tails before eating. So it is easier to have the tails removed prior to cooking, unless you don’t mind pulling them off as you eat.
Pre-Cooked vs Raw – I almost never buy pre-cooked shrimp because I like to cook them in sauces and recipes directly. Pre-cooked is handy for things like shrimp cocktail.
First, we make the sauce by layering ingredients in the skillet.
Layering the ingredients means adding them at different times. This is preferred over adding them all at once because the cream and vodka do not need as long to cook.
Get the spices cooking in some olive oil and then add the tomatoes and let them simmer. Canned tomatoes need a longer time to cook for flavors to melt into them and lose the canned taste.
Then add the vodka and simmer some more. This will cook off much of the alcohol and leave the flavor being.
Then add the cream for a few minutes and finally, cook the shrimp in the sauce. This way the shrimp absorbs more of the amazing flavor and makes it a one pot meal.
How to Know When Shrimp is Cooked
Shrimp cooks FAST and can easily become overcooked.
When shrimp is overcooked, the texture is very rubbery.
When I cook shrimp I watch for color changes.
First, watch for the bottom half of the shrimp on the pan to start turning white instead of the clear, grayish color of raw shrimp.
When I see it get up almost halfway, close to where the shrimp is split down the back from the de-veining process, I flip the shrimp.
Then continue cooking and watch that crevice down the back of the shrimp. As soon as the very bottom of that valley or cut in the shrimp is white and no longer gray, I remove them from the heat.
Don’t leave the shrimp in the pan too long, as it will keep cooking. If you need them to sit for a moment, remove from the pan and put in a bowl to get away from the hot metal.
Serving Shrimp in Vodka Sauce
This recipe is great on its own for a low carb, keto meal.
You can also serve it over vegetables or pasta. Mushrooms and asparagus would be great!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (one large can)
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes (one traditional can)
- ½ cup vodka
- 1 cup heavy cream
- black pepper
- 2 pounds shrimp peeled, deveined (large or medium is best)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or dried, see note)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the oil and when the oil is warm, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the vodka, stir, and let cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Mix in the cream and then add the shrimp in a single layer to cook in the sauce. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, flipping half way through.
- Season the salt to taste with salt and pepper. Add the fresh basil on top and serve over vegetables or pasta.