Classic Penne alla Vodka [Video]

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
4.91 from 10 reviews

Pasta Recipes Vegetarian

Cook time Cook time: 30 minutes

Penne alla Vodka is a delicious dish that any pasta lover will enjoy! Adding vodka to the tomato-based sauce is a nice twist to a rather simple pasta dish.

Who does not love pasta? I have many recipes involving noodles because they are hearty and are pretty easy to cook. Check out our recipes for Cheeseburger Pasta, Pesto Pasta Salad, and Taco Pasta!

Penne alla Vodka Recipe

This is an Italian-American dish that has stuck around for years because it is simply delicious! It is creamy and hearty, and the sauce has a defined kick to it that is unique.

No wonder why restaurants all over the world feature this dish on their menus. This dish from the 1970s remains a popular choice among restaurant-goers.

But do not go to your favorite Italian restaurant just yet! Knowing this recipe has saved me a lot of trips to costly restaurants.

It is made with basic ingredients, nothing too fancy, and does not require special techniques but the taste is superb. Have this restaurant-quality dish at home with this easy recipe!

What is Penne alla Vodka?

It is made traditionally with penne as the pasta and the red sauce is made with tomatoes, cream, pancetta or bacon, and vodka. It is largely an American dish that has authentic Italian touches.

Both Italy and America claim to have invented this dish. The origin is not defined but it has grown popular in America in the disco scene of the 1980s.

Does Penne alla Vodka have vodka?

Yes, it does! Hence, it was called as such. If you are wondering if you will get intoxicated by consuming this, then, the answer is no. By the time it is served, you will no longer be able to discern the alcohol.

It is said that the vodka’s role is to release flavors from the tomatoes that are only possible with the addition of alcohol. This is a popular technique in Italian cuisine. Another function is to keep the cream and oil emulsified.

How to Make Penne alla Vodka:

  • Prep the pasta: Cook the penne according to the instructions in the package.
  • Make the sauce: Sauté the aromatics in butter. Add the red pepper flakes and other seasonings. Meanwhile, make a puree out of the tomatoes by using the blender or food processor then, add it in. Add the vodka, simmer for 10 minutes, then, add in the cream and cheese. Simmer further.
  • Combine: Pour the sauce on top of the cooked penne.
  • Serve: Top with more cheese, red pepper flakes, and basil leaves then, serve.

What goes well with it?

I suggest that you pair with any of the following equally tasty sides:

Can you make it in advance?

Yes! What you can do is cook the sauce and penne in advance, store separately in the fridge, then, reheat together on the stove.

How to Store:

  • Refrigerate: Penne can stay good in the fridge for 3 to 5 days as long as properly cooled and stored in an airtight container. Store the sauce separately for up to a week.
  • Freeze: This dish can be frozen with the sauce and penne combined. The dish can last for up to 2 months frozen in freezer bags.

Recipe Tips:

  • Add in bacon bits, grilled salmon bits, prosciutto, and grilled chicken breast strips to add protein to the dish.
  • Tomato paste is a nice substitute and it has a concentrated flavor making the sauce’s flavors deeper and richer.
  • Use other types of short pasta such as rigatoni and rotini if you like.

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4.91 from 10 reviews

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is a delicious dish that any pasta lover will enjoy! Adding vodka to the tomato-based sauce is a nice twist to a rather simple pasta dish.

Author: Serves: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Total time: 40 mins



Nutrition information

Calories: 489 Carbohydrates: 69 Protein: 19 Fat: 12 Saturated Fat: 5 Cholesterol: 19 Sodium: 516 Potassium: 557 Fiber: 4 Sugar: 10 Vitamin A: 556 Vitamin C: 15 Calcium: 304 Iron: 3
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Pasta Recipes Vegetarian

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This looks absolutely amazing!!!! I'm going to make it for my guys this weekend because they love a good pasta dish <3



Currently drooling over this recipe. I wish I had everything on hand to make this recipe right now.



Now that looks like a GREAT idea for dinner! I was trying to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner. I am going to try this!


GiGi Eats

Well now doesn't this look absolutely perfect!!!


Amber Myers

Oh yes please, I just love vodka penne. I haven't had it in so long, so I'll be making this.


Ruth I

I did not know vodka has other uses. It looks super good! Oh my, I got hungry



You know I love pasta but I have never tried penne! I'm not sure why...maybe I was waiting for a recipe that would include vodka!



Oh my. I saved this recipe. I am such a pasta eater and love this recipe. Thanks for sharing



Yes! This is one of my and my husband's favorite recipes. I love making it at home. We will be having it again this week!



My hubby loves pasta and I'm definitely going to give it a try! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!



This looks delicious! My family loves pasta, but we've never tried a vodka sauce.



Looks so yummy! I love Vodka sauce because of it spicy taste!


Kita Bryant

This is exactly how penne should be cooked. I have got to make a batch of this for the family!


Amy H

I love pasta based meals. I will admit, Penne doesn't get used as much as it should! Thank you for sharing this recipe.



This classic penne alla vodka looks delicious I need to give it a try perfect comfort food any day.


Tina Johnson

Absolutely delicious I used roasted red pepper as a substitute of half of the tomatoes excellent!


Love the roasted red pepper addition!


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