Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka is the ultimate impressive dinner that's ideal for company, yet easy enough for an affordable weeknight meal!

Cook Time:
20 mins
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

This penne alla vodka recipe is quick, easy, and incredibly delicious. It's the perfect impressive weeknight dinner!

close up on a bowl of pasta alla vodka, garnished with basil
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How to Make Penne Alla Vodka

You'll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the recipe below, but let's go over the basics:

Penne Alla Vodka Ingredients

These are the ingredients you'll need to make this penne alla vodka recipe;

· Tomato products: This pasta alla vodka calls for both a can of whole peeled tomatoes and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.
· Pancetta and oil: Cook pancetta in olive oil.
· Onion: You'll need ½ cup of finely diced onion.
· Seasonings and herbs: This flavorful penne alla vodka is seasoned with garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and fresh basil.
· Vodka: Of course, you'll need vodka – use whatever brand you have on hand.
· Pasta: Opt for penne or rigatoni.
· Cream: Heavy cream is the key to a rich, decadent vodka sauce.
· Cheese: Make sure to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead of the pre-shredded stuff.

How to Make Homemade Penne Alla Vodka

Here are some tips and tricks for making the perfect pasta alla vodka from the chef herself:

· You can skip the pancetta if you want to make this a meatless meal, according to culinary producer and recipe creator Nicole McLaughlin (a.k.a. NicoleMcmom). But, if you want to go in the opposite direction, Italian sausage would also work well.
· Don't skip the tomato paste! It adds a deep, rich flavor that makes this penne alla vodka impossible to resist. Make sure to cook it until it takes on a brownish color.
· Nicole uses whole canned and peeled tomatoes because she finds they have better flavor than pre-crushed tomatoes. She also crushes them with her hands the old-fashioned way!

What to Serve With Penne Alla Vodka

In need of serving inspiration? Try pairing your homemade penne alla vodka with one of these top-rated side dishes:

· Classic Restaurant Caesar Salad
· Toasted Garlic Bread
· Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli
· Italian Leafy Green Salad
· Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Classic Restaurant Caesar Salad
Deb C

How to Store Penne Alla Vodka

Store your leftover penne alla vodka in a shallow, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. We don't recommend freezing this dish, as the pasta will become mushy.

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced

  • ½ cup finely chopped onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • cup vodka

  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

  • cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Pour tomatoes in a medium bowl and crush well with hands or chop in a food processor. Set aside.

  2. While water heats, prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat oil and pancetta over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has taken on a slight brownish color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vodka and cook until reduced by at least half. Stir in reserved tomatoes and juices and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

  3. While sauce reduces, add pasta to boiling water and cook, according to package directions until al dente, 11 to 12 minutes.

  4. Once sauce is reduced, stir in heavy cream and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese, parsley, basil and pasta until well combined. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

  5. Serve, sprinkled with remaining cheese and more herbs if desired.

    close up on a bowl of pasta alla vodka, garnished with basil
    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

647 Calories
30g Fat
65g Carbs
18g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 647
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 14g 69%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 844mg 37%
Total Carbohydrate 65g 24%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Protein 18g
Potassium 579mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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