Vodka Mac and Cheese

Vodka Mac and Cheese @ Playful Cooking

What makes Macaroni and Cheese everyone’s favorite? Is it the tiny elbow pasta that sits effortlessly on a spoon or the velvety sauce that binds it all? Is it the quick-to-cook procedure or the comfort that comes along with it? Whatever the reason is, this pasta preparation has always managed to cheer up all of us, irrespective of the age group.


I don’t remember when or where I ate Mac and Cheese for the first time. It was definitely not my childhood meal. What I do know is that eventually like million other folks, it became my favorite too. It’s funny how something can randomly make a permanent place in one’s heart. As much as I love a light pasta salad with just a hint of parmesan on top, I can gobble up a plate full of creamy Mac and Cheese with equal pleasure and no guilt.


Mac and Cheese with Vodka Sauce @Sunshine and Smile


This grown up version is our current favorite and it’s the boozy sauce that uplifts the taste making it gourmet!


When I heard of vodka sauce for the first time, I dropped my jaw and thought the idea was bizarre. I like a vodka drink but to mix it with pasta for lunch or dinner was something that took a while for me to accept. Just how wine makes a sauce rich and more flavorful, vodka does a similar thing. And if you have never tried this sauce before, prepare it once. You might relish it as much as we did.


Vodka Sauce @Sunshine and Smile


Typically, this vodka sauce is used in a dish called Penne alla Vodka, and as the name suggests, Penne pasta is used. However, I wanted to try the same concept with baked Mac and Cheese, with less cheese, some greens and more of the sauce. It worked!


As the pasta baked in the oven, the crumbly feta cheese melted slowly spreading its tangy taste. The Parmesan cheese on top turned golden crispy adding a crunch at every bite and the spinach leaves that ware hidden in between wilted covering itself with the sauce.


Every spoonful of the vodka Mac and Cheese was hearty and flavorful.


Vodka Mac and Cheese @ Sunshine and Smile


Vodka Mac and Cheese @ Sunshine and Smile


Vodka Mac and Cheese @ Playful Cooking

Vodka Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Baked mac and cheese for grownups with vodka sauce, spinach, feta cheese and parmesan. Hearty and flavorful at every spoonful!


for the vodka sauce

  • 1-1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper

for the mac and cheese

  • 2 cups uncooked whole-wheat elbow pasta
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs


for the vodka sauce

  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté until it turns soft.
  2. Add salt, pepper, chili flakes and oregano. Give a mix.
  3. Now, add tomato puree and cook for 10 more minutes.
  4. Pour vodka and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Check for salt and add any if required.
  5. Add heavy cream and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  6. Keep the sauce aside to be used later.

for the vodka mac and cheese

  1. Rub some oil on the baking pan and preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Boil water in a saucepan, sprinkle little salt and boil the pasta for 4 minutes.
  3. Mix boiled pasta with the sauce and spinach. In the baking pan, pour half of the pasta and add half of crumbled feta cheese.
  4. Next, pour rest of the pasta, scatter rest of crumbled feta cheese and top it with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake it for 30 to 35 minutes or until it looks golden crispy on top.


Vodka Mac and Cheese (Recipe Card) @ Sunshine and Smile


Did you enjoy this Vodka Mac and Cheese? Share your creation by tagging @playfulcooking on Instagram with the #playfulcooking and I will re-share in my story!

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Comments are closed.

  • Nami | JOC
    Nami | JOC
    March 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    SUPER delicious. I can eat THIS mac and cheese everyday! Great yellow – blue contrast and so beautiful! Mac and cheese cannot be more beautiful than this, Kankana!

  • sangeeta khanna
    sangeeta khanna
    March 22, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    What wonderful colors. Such meals can be great conversation starters being exotic in it’s appeal, great appeasers and family bonding time. Loving this post.

    I would never have thought of vodka in my pasta sauce. May be now 🙂

  • Sarvani
    March 22, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    oooo.. vamping up good ole mac and cheese!! hahaa.. never tried vodka in a pasta sauce… am now intrigued!!

  • Lail | With A Spin
    Lail | With A Spin
    March 22, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    I don’t drink or use alcohol on food but I am sure this mac and cheese tasted great. Love the photos.

  • carey
    March 22, 2013 at 5:30 AM

    Oh my word, this sounds AMAZING, Kankana! I can’t remember the first time I tried vodka sauce, but it instantly struck me as being far superior to tomato sauce, at least for my tastes. A little bit creamy, a little bit tangy from the booze. So good. I have never made my own, though, and that is something that I would like to remedy. Especially now, so I can put it in mac & cheese!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      March 22, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      Thanks Carey 🙂 My husband doesn’t like any kind of tomato sauce but this one, he too agreed to be not ‘tomato-y’ and more creamy! Glad you liked it too.

  • Kerry
    March 22, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    Looks beyond delicious!! Do you think you could sub in ff cream for the heavy cream??

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      March 22, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      Thanks Kerry and yes, you can use ff cream too. The taste might differ a tad bit since heavy cream in general is richer than FF cream 🙂

  • Soma
    March 22, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    For some unknown reason I am not a big fan of macaroni and cheese. Don’t know why though. But I love vodka sauce and your pictures are to drool over as usual.

  • Reem
    March 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Beautiful! !!
    Anything little boozy is good but boozy mac n cheese is great!!!
    I am loving the beautiful blues. ..

  • Colette @ JFF!
    Colette @ JFF!
    March 22, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Vodka marinara is a new gig for me.
    You’ve made a good sell here – I’m going to try your recipe!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    March 22, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    I love vodka sauce! This mac and cheese looks mouth-watering!

  • Prerna@IndianSimmer
    [email protected]
    March 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Absolutely love your take on Mac n Cheese! This goes into my book of a total must try recipe. Impeccable images as usual K.

  • Shumaila
    March 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I love penne a la vodka. Definitely bookmarking this recipe for future use! And as always the images speak a lot!

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.c
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.c
    March 22, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Vodka mac & cheese?!? I’m game!!

  • nipponnin
    March 22, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    I wish I had elbow macaroni or other pasta tonight but I didn’t. If I did I’m having this dish instead of the left over. This looks awesome! I will make this soon.

  • Angie@Angiesrecipes
    [email protected]
    March 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Such a beautiful and comforting meal!

  • Rosie
    March 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Vodka mac and cheese sounds so good, thanks for sharing this recipe! Your photos are gorgeous too!

  • Sylvie @ GitK
    Sylvie @ GitK
    March 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    What a great idea, I’ve always liked creamy vodka sauce.

  • Jacqueline @HTBAG
    Jacqueline @HTBAG
    March 24, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    What an amazing twist on traditional Mac ‘n’ Cheese – I would love to take a fork and dive in!

  • Peg
    March 24, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I am making this right now! Sauce smells wonderful! Wish me luck!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      March 24, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      That is wonderful! Did you like it ? I am curious 🙂

  • Reese@SeasonwithSpic
    [email protected]
    March 24, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    This is comfort food made gourmet. Brilliant! I make my mac & cheese with an adult version too, but your addition of using vodka makes it sounds even more tempting…definitely one of those dishes where you invite a bunch of good friends (may on a Friday’s ladies night) over and enjoy all the luscious spread without guilt! Bring on the red wine please.

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      March 24, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      Thanks Reese 🙂 I so agree with you on the ladies night meal. It will be a hit for sure!

  • Annie
    March 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Hello~ I just came across your blog and absolutely love it. You’re such an inspiration!

  • Shema George
    Shema George
    March 25, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Your post are not only a treat to the eyes but they also have such beautiful recipes – Everything here looks gorgeous- cant name one!!!

  • deepa
    March 26, 2013 at 5:29 AM

    Love Mac and cheese but vodka addition is something beyond words…Love the plates and all props here.. You rock girl

  • Kitchen Belleicious
    Kitchen Belleicious
    March 26, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    now this is the kind of mac and cheese I am talking about:) WOW! I mean could life get any better

  • Marie|Little Kitchie
    Marie|Little Kitchie
    March 29, 2013 at 4:36 AM

    WOW! This looks over the top delicious. Definitely going to try this one. Pinning!

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