Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (2024)

Jump to recipe

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (1)

There’s just something about vodka sauce that’s undeniably irresistible, with that creamy tomato sauce supported by aromatics like garlic, shallots, or onions to coat your chosen pasta shape with lip smacking goodness. And when it comes to vodka sauce, it seems to be consensus that Carbone’s spicy rigatoni vodka is king. After all, people (myself included) are willing to shell out upwards of $30 for a small portion of their famous pasta (though that price does bake in the unmatchable experience of actually dining at the excellent restaurant).

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (2)

With so many of us stuck at home these days, it’s only natural to seek out comforting dishes like Carbone’s spicy rigatoni vodka, but right now the only people with ability to get the real deal from the restaurant are those in New York (by ordering delivery through Caviar or dining outdoors) or in Hong Kong (as we’re lucky to still be able to dine in at the restaurant itself).

For everyone else, here’s a recipe for it is based on how they make it in Carbone Hong Kong’s kitchen. It’s based on a version in the cookbook Flavours of Hong Kong tells the stories of Hong Kong’s best restaurants and sources recipes directly from their chefs. I adapted the recipe because the one written in the book is very vague. There are no explanations for how long to cook things or at what temperatures (that way the kitchen can still keep SOME secrets), so I added all of that in based on my knowledge of cooking other sauces.

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (3)

The true KEY to making that smooth, tangy, luscious spicy vodka sauce with those delicious bites of melted onions and chunky tomatoes just like Carbone’s is ingredients. Calabrian chili paste will give you the unique heat and sweet yet acidic pepper taste that’s unique to Carbone’s vodka sauce. It’s available online, or try local gourmet markets (my Hong Kong followers can visit Pantry Centrale or some City Super locations to buy the version pictured below). If you can’t find it, you can try to use a blend of roasted red peppers and chili flakes, but it simply won’t taste the same as Carbone’s. Different brands of Calabrian chili paste may be saltier (mine was quite salty), so my recipe keeps the salt on the lower end so you can always add more salt to taste.

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (4)

Instead of tomato paste like a typical vodka sauce, using San Marzano tomatoes gives you that strong tomato taste with some sweetness, as well as the chunks of juicy tomato that are found in the restaurant dish. Finally, onions melted with butter and water creates a sweet and savory onion soubise that brings Carbone’s version of vodka sauce to the next level. All of these combine to create a dish that you won’t believe you made yourself since it will taste JUST LIKE the real deal! You can even splurge on the same plates and serving platters used at Carbone to bring the restaurant right into your home. Give it a try and tag me so I can see how you like it!

Ready to recreate another restaurant dish? Try making Bucatini all’Amatriciana just like they serve at another NYC favorite, Emilio’s Ballato.

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (5)

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka

This irresistibly spicy, tangy, and creamy pasta dish is as close as you can get to the original Spicy Rigatoni Vodka from world-famous Carbone



Cook Time

25 minutes

Total Time

30 minutes

Rate this recipe




For the onion soubise:

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • 2-3 yellow onions, thinly sliced*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt

For the spicy rigatoni vodka:

  • 28 oz. whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed (drain the liquid for a thicker sauce before crushing)
  • 1.5 tbsp. salt (more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Calabrian chili paste (more to taste)
  • 3 tbsp. vodka
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • 1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream** (substitute with oat milk like OATSIDE for plant-based)
  • 1 lb. rigatoni or pipette


  1. Make the onion soubise: heat the butter over low heat in a saucepan, then add the onions and water and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for ~15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, to melt the onions – you want them soft and translucent but you do not want to add any color or browning to them. Optional: blend the onions if you prefer a smoother sauce.
  2. While the onions are cooking, combine the tomatoes, salt, sugar, olive oil, Calabrian chili paste, vodka, butter, and cream (or oat milk) in a large skillet, heat to a boil then lower to medium-low heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, boil pasta in a pot of well-salted water and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.
  4. Add the onion soubise to the sauce and stir until well combined, taste and add more salt, chili paste or cream as desired.
  5. Add the cooked pasta and 2 tbsp of pasta water, tossing to coat and if needed, adding more pasta water 2 tbsp at a time to achieve desired sauce consistency.
  6. Serve in warm bowls and enjoy!

©2024 Copyright Indulgent Eats – Dining, Recipes & Travel


*I’ve gotten some feedback that some people find it’s too much onions, or that the sauce ends up too wet for some folks. If you’re not the biggest fan of onions, then reduce the amount to start, or try adding in half the final onion soubise at the end of cooking and adding more to taste. I’d also suggest starting with a 1/2 cup of cream, and you can add more cream after the sauce is done simmering to adjust to your own preference
If you leave a rating, please let me know in the comments what you liked/didn’t like about the dish so I can make improvements.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see the final product. Tag your stories and posts on Instagram with #IndulgentRecipes and @IndulgentEats so I can see them!

Carbone Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe | Indulgent Eats - Dining, Recipes & Travel (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Trent Wehner

Last Updated:

Views: 6268

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Trent Wehner

Birthday: 1993-03-14

Address: 872 Kevin Squares, New Codyville, AK 01785-0416

Phone: +18698800304764

Job: Senior Farming Developer

Hobby: Paintball, Calligraphy, Hunting, Flying disc, Lapidary, Rafting, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Trent Wehner, I am a talented, brainy, zealous, light, funny, gleaming, attractive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.