This is the incredibly easy and always popular vodka sauce. There are certain flavors in tomatoes that are only brought out if you introduce alcohol into the sauce.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
50 mins
additional:
5 mins
total:
1 hr 10 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 servings
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cook and stir bacon and rosemary sprig with olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until bacon renders its fat but is not crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour vodka into the skillet, standing back to avoid any flare-ups. Raise heat to high and continue to cook until the vodka reduces to about 2 tablespoons.

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  • Pour heavy cream into skillet, stir briefly, and add black pepper; bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until sauce has slightly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix marinara sauce and water into cream mixture and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and simmer sauce 20 to 25 minutes to blend flavors.

  • Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and return to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but still chewy, about 10 minutes; drain and return to pot. Pour sauce over penne and stir to combine. Turn off heat, cover pot with a lid, and let stand 5 minutes for pasta to absorb sauce. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Cook's Note:

Feel free to use bacon if you don't have pancetta.

Nutrition Facts

602 calories; protein 15.9g; carbohydrates 68.4g; fat 25.1g; cholesterol 48.2mg; sodium 790.9mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (50)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
06/09/2014
Yay, I get to be the first again to rate another one of Chef John's masterpieces. This was outstanding!! I quadrupled this partly because we had company and the other part is we all love pasta! This was so very easy to make and using the bacon really made it stand out. I never would have thought about putting bacon in this sauce but it really adds a richness that I have never had in a vodka sauce. I made a dandelion green salad and had some garlic bread. It was so tasty and everyone was eating and so quiet that you could here a penne drop, lol!! Thanks again, Chef John :) Read More
(25)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 1 stars
04/17/2015
Very very bland. Read More
(5)
72 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 57
  • 4 star values: 13
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
06/09/2014
Yay, I get to be the first again to rate another one of Chef John's masterpieces. This was outstanding!! I quadrupled this partly because we had company and the other part is we all love pasta! This was so very easy to make and using the bacon really made it stand out. I never would have thought about putting bacon in this sauce but it really adds a richness that I have never had in a vodka sauce. I made a dandelion green salad and had some garlic bread. It was so tasty and everyone was eating and so quiet that you could here a penne drop, lol!! Thanks again, Chef John :) Read More
(25)
Rating: 5 stars
07/15/2014
My husband is out of town for a couple of days so I cut this recipe in half with the plans of having it tonight and tomorrow night...all I can say is I cannot wait until tomorrow night to have it again. I made it using Chef John's "tomato sauce", which is also on this site ----which is amazing in and of itself. The only changes I made were dried rosemary and half and half versus fresh and heavy cream. It is restaurant quality if not better. Read More
(19)
Rating: 5 stars
02/02/2015
Fixed this for dinner except I put it in a casserole dish and covered the top with mozzarella cheese and melted in the oven and browned the cheese. some home made garlic bread and Bam! Im a hero in my house :D great recipe thanks. Read More
(10)
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Rating: 5 stars
09/13/2014
I made this recipe last night for me and my hubby - relatively simple recipe yet full of flavor. I used about half a teaspoon of dried rosemary because I didn't have fresh on hand. Also, we like things on the spicier side so I added a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes in to the 1/2 cup of vodka about an hour before I used it in the recipe. Another Chef John keeper! Read More
(8)
Rating: 1 stars
04/17/2015
Very very bland. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
04/12/2016
Chef John is the man! (As usual). Soooo good, easy to make, quick and comes out gourmet. AKA prefect! Read More
(4)
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Rating: 2 stars
09/25/2014
Very very bland. I was looking forward to this dish very disappointing definitely not making this again. Read More
(4)
Rating: 4 stars
09/26/2015
I would give this five stars if it contained the changes I made (which aren't for everybody). I added a teaspoon of crushed chili pepper, a thinly sliced jalapeno, used red wine instead of water, and cottage cheese instead of cream (it melted and made the sauce nice and cheesy). I know, no longer authentic but it really turned out well! I was pleasantly surprised how little time it took to reduce the vodka, and how rich it tasted before adding the sauce. I think the vodka/rosemary/olive oil/bacon combo would make a nice shrimp scampi sauce. Read More
(4)
Rating: 4 stars
08/29/2016
I was surprised by how easy this recipe was. That being said, I would not use a prepared marinara sauce again, as it gave the sauce a canned taste, almost like spaghetti-o's. I added a bit more cream than the recipe called for and didn't use the panchetta (veg). Would make again with a few subs. Read More
(3)
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