Spicy Vodka Dipping Sauce

I know I say this a lot, but I would LEGITIMATELY eat this sauce with a spoon. I normally have to refrain myself from “tasting” the sauce two dozen times while I’m making it. It’s so flavorful and creamy and you can amp up the spice factor depending on your desired heat level.

Recipe adapted from one of my favorite restaurants.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped (optional, can remove seeds or omit entirely)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp vodka
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add more/less depending on spice preference)
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • Fine sea salt


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, habanero and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste is a dark brick red color, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vodka and cook, whisking frequently, until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cayenne pepper and half and half until everything is evenly incorporated.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and additional cayenne pepper to taste.