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Penne Alla Vodka is an easy delicious dish with a defined kick! Tender pasta is coated in a thick and creamy vodka-infused tomato sauce; an simple restaurant meal to make at home.
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This Penne Alla Vodka recipe makes a hearty pasta meal that is full of Italian flavors and tastes deliciously divine. It is so easy to create the creamy, rich vodka-infused sauce that quickly comes together in the time it takes to boil the pasta; add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and you’ve prepared the perfect restaurant-quality dinner in the comfort of your own home.

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Perfect & Creamy Vodka Penne Pasta

Penne Alla Vodka is a very simple dish with an easy “from scratch” sauce full of complex flavors. The perfect blend of Italian American cooking.

It’s amazing how the most basic ingredients can create a homemade vodka sauce that’s seasoned with fresh herbs and parmesan and subtly exudes elegance! It tastes like a powerhouse of vibrant tomato that is smoothed over with the silky richness of heavy cream with a little spicy kick from the red pepper flakes.

This is a family-friendly meal even suitable for toddlers since the alcohol is cooked off and merely intensifies the flavors of the tomatoes.

Penne Alla Vodka pairs perfectly with Cheesy Pull-Apart Garlic Bread and Olive Garden Salad for a quick and delicious dinner that is deemed worthy of a fine dining restaurant!

What is Penne Alla Vodka?

Penne Alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish made with penne pasta, a creamy tomato-based sauce, and vodka. The sauce is typically prepared by combining tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, garlic, and herbs to create a rich and flavorful dish.

Why we love this Penne with Vodka Sauce

  • Quick and easy to make no food processor needed.
  • Uses basic ingredients to create a flavorful “from scratch” sauce.
  • Simple recipe of tender pasta that’s coated with an ultra-rich and creamy tomato sauce.
  • Sauce comes together in the time it takes to boil the pasta.
  • A quick weeknight dinner that’s family-friendly.
penne alla vodka

Creamy Vodka Penne Ingredients

  • Penne pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Minced garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes: If you prefer a little extra heat in your penne alla vodka, you can increase the amount of red pepper flakes used in the recipe according to your tastes.
  • Chicken broth
  • Vodka
  • Can crushed tomatoes
  • Can tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil
  • Heavy cream
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese: I love freshly grated parmesan cheese in this recipe, but you can use pecorino-romano as well.

Vodka Penne substitutions and additions

  • Pair With Protein: Add grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken, diced prosciutto or pancetta, bacon, shrimp, or sausage to this dish for an extra boost of protein.
  • Pick A Pasta: This dish is made with penne pasta, however, if you are in a pinch, any short pasta will work in this recipe. Just make sure to cook your pasta according to the package directions for an al dente pasta. Some other options include rigatoni, ziti, rotini, or fusilli.
  • Vodka-free Version: If you prefer an alcohol-free sauce, you can use water and a squeeze of lemon instead of the vodka. You can also use water and splash of white vinegar.
  • Veggie Version: Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to this dish, such as zucchini, peppers, mushrooms or olives.
penne alla vodka
  • Large stockpot
  • Large, deep-sided skillet
  • Measuring tools

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How to make Penne Alla Vodka

This Penne Alla Vodka recipe creates a restaurant-quality meal made in the comfort of your home. It is so easy to prepare the perfectly tender pasta that’s coated with a creamy, tomato-based vodka sauce, and seasoned with fresh herbs and parmesan before serving.

  1. Cook and drain your pasta and set aside.
  2. Saute the onions, garlic, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes in olive oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
    Pro-Tip: Try to use fresh herbs and garlic if possible because it adds so much extra flavor to the homemade vodka sauce.
    saute ingredients
  3. Add the chicken stock and vodka to the cooked onions, and cook for another 30 seconds to cook off some of the alcohol and deglaze the pan.
    Pro-Tip: Be sure to let the sauce simmer long enough to cook off most of the alcohol or you’ll taste alcohol and it will really overpower the dish.
    add vodka to the pan
  4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Pro-Tip: I like the combination of the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce in this recipe, but if you prefer a very smooth vodka sauce, you can substitute the 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce in the recipe.
    add tomato sauce to the pan
  5. Turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
    add heavy cream to the pan
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, stir to coat, simmer for a final 5 minutes before removing from the heat.
    Pro Tip: Your sauce will be thin at first, so be sure to allow your penne alla vodka to rest for 5-10 minutes to thicken. It will thicken as it cools.
  7. Transfer your penne alla vodka to a large serving dish, or leave it in the skillet, and garnish with fresh chopped basil and fresh grated parmesan cheese.
    penne all vodka
  8. Serve and enjoy!

How to thicken Vodka Sauce

If you need to thicken your Vodka Sauce, there are a few options. You can simmer the sauce for a longer period of time to reduce and concentrate the flavors, which will naturally thicken the sauce. Alternatively, you can add a small amount of tomato paste, which will help thicken the sauce while also enhancing the tomato flavor.

penne alla vodka

Storage tips for this Creamy Penne Alla Vodka Recipe

  • To Store: This Penne Alla Vodka should be served warm. Any leftover pasta can be stored in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze vodka sauce?

Yes, you can freeze the vodka sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. It will also keep fresh in the fridge for about 3 days.

What to serve with Vodka Penne Pasta

Vodka Penne Pasta pairs well with various accompaniments. Some popular options to serve with Penne Alla Vodka include garlic bread, a side salad with fresh greens, or roasted vegetables such as asparagus or broccoli. Additionally, you can serve it with a protein of your choice, such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or Italian sausage, to make it a more substantial meal.

Creamy Penne Alla Vodka Recipe FAQs

Can Penne Alla Vodka get you drunk?

No, the vodka in this sauce will not get you drunk! Because of the low amount of alcohol, and the fact that so much is burned off during cooking, it is highly unlikely that someone could get drunk by consuming vodka sauce.

Can I make this dish in advance?

This vodka sauce can be made a day ahead and then reheated on the stove while you are cooking the pasta.

Can I use this sauce in other dishes?

Yes, I love to use this sauce in my other favorite dishes! This vodka sauce is so good that I often skip the penne altogether and use it in my Lasagna Roll Ups and Ravioli Lasagna Casserole.

Why does my penne alla vodka taste too much like vodka?

If your Penne Alla Vodka tastes too strongly of vodka, there are a few potential reasons. One possibility is that you added too much vodka or didn’t cook it long enough for the alcohol to evaporate. Another reason could be the quality or type of vodka used, as different brands and varieties can have varying intensities. To balance the flavors, you can try adding a bit more cream or tomato to mellow out the vodka taste, or adjust the seasoning by adding more herbs or spices to enhance other flavors in the dish.

penne alla vodka

More like this Vodka Penne Pasta Recipe

5 from 9 votes
Penne Alla Vodka featured image

Creamy Penne with Vodka Sauce

Serves — 8
Penne Alla Vodka is an easy delicious dish with a defined kick! Tender pasta is coated in a thick and creamy vodka-infused tomato sauce; an simple restaurant meal to make at home.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounce box penne pasta cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion fine diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • cups fresh grated parmesan cheese divided

Instructions
 

  • In a large stockpot, cook your penne pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside when done.
  • In a large, deep-sided skillet, on medium heat, saute the diced onions, minced garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  • Once the onions are soft, add the chicken stock and vodka, allowing it to cook for another 30 seconds, to cook off some of the alcohol, and to deglaze the pan.
  • Turn to heat down to medium-low add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce. Stir to coat and allow to simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Your sauce will be thin at first, so you will want to allow your penne alla vodka to rest for 5-10 minutes to thicken.  It will thicken as it cools.
  • You can transfer your penne alla vodka to a large serving dish, or leave it in the skillet, and garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil and ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage :
  • To Store: This Penne Alla Vodka should be served warm. Any leftover pasta can be stored in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
Tips:
  • Try to use fresh herbs and garlic if possible because it adds so much extra flavor to the homemade vodka sauce.
  • Be sure to let the sauce simmer long enough to cook off most of the alcohol or you’ll taste alcohol and it will really overpower the dish.
  • I like the combination of the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce in this recipe, but if you prefer a very smooth vodka sauce, you can substitute the 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce in the recipe.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1135mg | Potassium: 727mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1582IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 344mg | Iron: 3mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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