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Penne alla Vodka Recipe: A Classic Italian Delight with a Twist

Experience the rich and creamy flavors of our unique Penne alla Vodka recipe. A classic Italian dish with a twist, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a special occasion.

July 7, 2023
Penne alla VodkaPhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 4 people
Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 15 mins
Total 45 mins



  1. Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.
  4. Pour in the vodka, letting it simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan, stirring well to combine with the other ingredients. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the heavy cream, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked penne to the pan, tossing it well to ensure every piece is coated with the creamy vodka sauce.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy your homemade Penne alla Vodka!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Penne alla Vodka
Serves 4
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26 g33.3%
Cholesterol 76 mg25.3%
Sodium 538 mg23.4%
Protein 24 g48%
Potassium 690 mg14.7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • Use high-quality ingredients. This will ensure a flavorful and delicious sauce.
  • Use a lot of tomato paste. Tomato paste has a more concentrated flavor than canned tomatoes, and texture-wise, it makes for a smoother, almost velvety sauce.
  • Simmer for the right amount of time. Allow the sauce to simmer gently for a sufficient amount of time, around 20–30 minutes, to let the flavors develop and the alcohol evaporate.
  • Use crushed tomatoes. Opt for crushed or diced tomatoes rather than tomato sauce for a chunkier and more textured sauce. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
  • Vodka is important. While it’s not absolutely necessary, this sauce wouldn’t really be the same without it. It enhances all of the bright, sharp flavors in your creamy sauce and is what makes vodka sauce vodka sauce. No need to pull out the expensive vodka for this recipe—one that you have on hand will work just fine.
  • Choose your pasta wisely. As you can see from the picture, you don't need to use penne. In fact, rigatoni tubes are preferred because the middles catch more sauce. Feel free to add in your favorite pasta—just make sure it’s one that catches plenty of sauce.
  • Cook the penne pasta until al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly when combined with the sauce. This ensures a pleasing texture and prevents the pasta from becoming mushy.
  • Consider adding pancetta, bacon, or diced prosciutto. Starting with a cold skillet, cook 6 ounces of diced pancetta, bacon, or prosciutto over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the pork is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. You can also add rotisserie chicken or sautéed veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini.
  • If you end up not using all of your sauce, store it in the fridge for 4-5 days, then reheat and add it to freshly boiled pasta!
  • Sauté the aromatics. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent before adding the tomatoes. This helps to build a flavorful base for the sauce.
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Welcome to our kitchen, where we're about to embark on a culinary journey to Italy with our unique Penne alla Vodka recipe. This classic Italian dish, known for its rich and creamy tomato sauce, is a favorite among pasta lovers worldwide. Our recipe adds a twist to the traditional, infusing it with a burst of flavors that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Whether you're looking for a quick weeknight dinner or planning a special meal, our Penne alla Vodka is a dish that promises to impress.

What Is Penne Alla Vodka?

Penne alla Vodka is a popular Italian pasta dish that combines penne pasta with a creamy tomato sauce infused with vodka. It is known for its rich and indulgent flavors, making it a favorite among pasta enthusiasts. Vodka sauce is typically made by simmering tomatoes, garlic, and herbs in olive oil, then adding vodka and cream to create a velvety texture. The vodka adds a subtle depth of flavor to the sauce without being overpowering. This pasta dish is often garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for added taste and presentation. Penne alla Vodka is a classic comfort food that embodies the perfect balance of tangy tomato, creamy sauce, and a touch of warmth from the vodka.

Penne alla Vodka is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of ingredients. Whether you're craving a comforting weeknight meal or looking to impress guests at a dinner party, this dish is sure to please. It's a testament to the indulgence and sophistication of Italian cuisine.

What Is The Point Of Vodka In Vodka Pasta Sauce?

The addition of vodka in vodka pasta sauce serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, vodka helps to enhance the flavors of the sauce by extracting and intensifying the natural flavors of the tomatoes and other ingredients. It acts as a flavor enhancer, bringing out the richness and depth of the sauce.

Additionally, vodka has the ability to dissolve and carry flavors that are not soluble in water or oil. When added to the sauce, vodka helps to extract flavors from the other ingredients, resulting in a more well-rounded and complex taste.

Furthermore, the alcohol content in vodka helps to release certain flavor compounds from the tomatoes, which are alcohol-soluble. This can contribute to a smoother and more well-integrated sauce.

Lastly, vodka can also have a subtle tenderizing effect on proteins, such as meat or seafood, when used in pasta sauces that include these ingredients.

Overall, the inclusion of vodka in vodka pasta sauce adds depth, enhances flavors, and contributes to the overall balance and complexity of the sauce. While the alcohol content evaporates during cooking, the flavors it extracts and enhances remain, resulting in a delicious and satisfying pasta dish.

Can A Child Have Vodka Sauce?

Yes, children can safely consume vodka sauce. The alcohol in the vodka cooks off during the preparation of the sauce, leaving behind only the flavor. However, it's always a good idea to let anyone eating your food know that it contains alcohol, even if it has been cooked off.

Can Penne Alla Vodka Get You Tipsy?

No, penne alla vodka will not get you tipsy. The alcohol in the vodka evaporates during the cooking process, leaving behind no alcohol content, only flavor.

Does Penne Alla Vodka Taste Like Alcohol?

No, penne alla vodka does not taste like alcohol. The vodka in the sauce is cooked down, which causes the alcohol to evaporate. This process leaves behind a rich and creamy sauce with a depth of flavor, but it does not taste like alcohol.

Do They Eat Penne Alla Vodka In Italy?

While penne alla vodka is a popular dish in many parts of the world, it is not a traditional Italian dish. Its origins are debated, but it's generally agreed that it was likely created in the United States by Italian immigrants.

What To Serve with Penne Alla Vodka?

Penne alla Vodka is a delicious dish on its own. It can also be served with a variety of side dishes. To complement the rich and creamy flavors of the pasta, you can serve it with a crisp and refreshing green salad mixed with a tangy vinaigrette.

Garlic bread or Italian bread also goes well with this dish. You can serve Penne alla Vodka with grilled or roasted vegetables. The smoky charcoal and natural sweetness of vegetables like asparagus, zucchini or bell peppers add a refreshing element to the dish. Drizzle a little olive oil on them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fry or grill until they are tender and lightly caramelized.

You can pair Penne alla Vodka with a glass of your favorite wine. A clear white wine like Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay or a light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir can enhance flavors and create a harmonious balance.

By combining these complementary garnishes and choosing the right wine, you can create a versatile and hearty dish that perfectly complements the flavors of Penne alla Vodka. Enjoy the flavor and savor the exquisite harmony of flavors. Bon Appetit!

Here are our delicious recipes that you can serve with Penne Alla Vodka:

History of Penne Alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish that has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries. It's a simple yet flavorful dish that combines the richness of cream with the tanginess of tomato paste and the kick of vodka. The dish is believed to have originated in the Lazio region of Italy, home to Rome, in the 1980s. However, there are also claims that it was first created in the United States by Italian immigrants. Regardless of its true origin, Penne alla Vodka has become a beloved dish worldwide.

The secret to a great Penne alla Vodka lies in the quality of the ingredients. The tomato paste should be rich and concentrated, the cream should be fresh, and the vodka should be of good quality. The vodka, while not absolutely necessary, enhances all of the bright, sharp flavors in the creamy sauce, and is what makes vodka sauce, vodka sauce. No need to pull out the expensive vodka for this recipe—one that you have on hand will work just fine.

The pasta used in this dish is typically penne, but you can use any tubed pasta like rigatoni. The tubes catch more sauce, making every bite flavorful. The dish is often garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil leaves, adding an extra layer of flavor and freshness. Whether you're making it for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, Penne alla Vodka is sure to impress with its rich, creamy, and tangy flavors.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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