Baked Bucatini with Vodka Sauce.
This baked vodka pasta is comfort food heaven! Tender bucatini is swirled in silky vodka sauce, topped with ground beef and mozzarella and baked until melty. It’s so delicious and easy!
Cozy comfort food is here for the weekend!
This baked vodka pasta is so cozy, tastes amazing and is easy to throw together on a weeknight. It’s also a perfect weekend meal with a big greens salad. Bucatini pasta, vodka sauce that is silky and smooth, melty cheese, fresh basil, tons of parmesan – what more could we want?!
Baked spaghetti has been a go-to meal for us for years. It’s something I make a few times a month because we all love it so much. And it’s simple.
Spaghetti noodles, ground beef or turkey, marinara sauce and cheese.
EASY! It’s so comforting and wonderful. And it seems like a no brainer, but the nice thing is that it just tastes different from regular “pasta and sauce.”
You know? Sometimes we just need a meal like that. Something with familiar flavors that we enjoy, but not the exact meal we are used to.
That is how I develop most recipes and even how I cook dinner.
“What can I make that tastes the same but… isn’t the same?”
Welcome to my life.
I’m pretty sure the best part of the baked spaghetti is the melty cheese. I also love how some parts of the noodles peek out from the sauce and end up crunchy and crisp from the oven. I steal those pieces. Of course.
So this meal is just like that, but with my vodka sauce. Think lots of fresh mozzarella. Herbs. Oh, and bucatini!!
I love bucatini a lot more than spaghetti. The long, tender tubes swirl into sauce much better than other noodles. I cook them al dente so they still have a bit of chew and they’re just perfect.
One of my favorite things about vodka sauce is how silky it is. It coats noodles beautifully – I love that it’s smooth and not chunky. And that it covers every bit of noodle, without any bald spots!
So this is how it comes together:
First, I brown some ground beef. Or turkey! Whichever you’d like to use. Then I remove it and set it aside in a bowl.
Then I make a double batch of my vodka sauce in that same pan. Of course, this is an extra step when you’re used to pouring a jar of marinara in a baking dish. But if you’re a lover of vodka sauce like I am, then you know how important this is!
I also boil the pasta while starting the sauce, because I need some starchy pasta water for it all to come together.
Once the sauce is done, I add a bit of it in the bottom of a baking dish. Then swirl the bucatini into pasta piles in the dish on top. Sprinkle the ground beef mixture all over. Pour the rest of the sauce over the bucatini and do a few twirls so the noodles are mostly coated.
I love this sauce so I want my pasta swimming in it. No lie.
Next, I throw some mozzarella all over the top. I take a ball of it and tear it into pieces.
Into the oven it goes! Bake for 20 minutes or so. Maybe a little longer. You want the cheese a little bubbly and brown.
Before serving, I shower it with parmesan, fresh basil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
Comfort food to the max. Curl up on the couch, grab a bowl and enjoy.
Baked Vodka Pasta
Baked Bucatini with Vodka Sauce
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 pound bucatini pasta
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 shallot, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup vodka, I like Tito’s
- 1 ¾ cups reserved pasta water
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- crushed red pepper, for topping
- fresh basil, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the ground beef. Cook, breaking it apart, until the beef is browned and cooked through. Break it into small pieces. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the ground beef to a bowl.
- To the same pot, add the butter. Once it is melted, add in the shallots and garlic with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft.
- In the meantime, bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil to cook the bucatini.
- Add the tomato paste into the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, so the tomato pasta can toast and get a deeper flavor.
- Deglaze the pan with the vodka, streaming it in and stirring the entire time. Make sure you’re scraping the brown bits and flavor from the bottom. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Whisk in the remaining pasta water. Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan, stirring until the cheese melts. Taste and season the sauce with more salt and pepper if needed. It may need it!
- Spread ¼ cup of the vodka sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add the cooked bucatini to the dish, swirling it into piles or nests. You can make large ones or small ones!
- Sprinkle the ground beef on next. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the pasta, coating all the noodles as you go.
- Pull apart the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it over the pasta.
- Bake the pasta for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the sauce on the edges is bubbly.
- Top with parmesan cheese, fresh basil and crushed red pepper. Serve!
Fork twirl of my dreams.