This Penne Alla Vodka recipe comes together in no time. It's made from penne pasta and a creamy tomato vodka sauce prepared from pantry and fridge staples.
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4.5 from 4 votes

Penne alla Vodka

This Penne alla Vodka recipe tastes incredible and comes together in no time! The creamy vodka sauce is prepared using basic kitchen staple ingredients.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Penne Alla Vodka
Servings: 6 - 8 servings (approximately)
Calories: 261kcal
Author: Jennifer Farley


  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see notes)
  • 8 ounces dried penne, or pasta of your choice
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 teaspoon has a kick)
  • 1/4 cup vodka (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving


  • Bring a large pot of salted water (around 2 tablespoons kosher salt) to a rolling boil. Cook the penne for 2 minutes less than recommended on the package instructions (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Drain and then rinse in cold water to prevent sticking.
  • Meanwhile, set a Dutch oven, saucepan or flat-sided skillet over medium-low heat (ideally you want to use a pot with a heavy-bottom). Add enough olive oil to create a thin coating on the bottom of the pan, then add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent and starting to lightly brown. Turn heat down to low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the vodka (away from any flames if you have a gas burner). Return the pan to the heat, and cook on medium-low until the liquid is reduced by around half, 3-5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the mixture begins bubbling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently (gently scrape the spatula on the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing burns). Don’t rush this step; you want to cook the canned flavor out of the tomatoes.
  • Add in the pasta, stirring to coat with the sauce. Simmer and stir for 1-3 more minutes, or until the penne is al dente. Add the cream and stir until the ingredients are completely combined. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To serve, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more chopped parsley. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy within 3-4 days.


You can use canned diced or whole peeled tomatoes (with the liquid) to add more texture. Crushed tomatoes will give you a smooth sauce similar to bottled vodka sauces, but many versions of Penne alla Vodka have texture from tomatoes.
If you use whole or diced tomatoes, I recommend pureeing around 1/3 to 1/2 of the sauce in a blender or food processor before adding the pasta. This will help the sauce coat the penne while still retaining texture. If you use whole peeled tomatoes, use a potato masher to gently crush them immediately after adding to the pan.
I like Tito’s vodka. However, any brand will work.
Serving Suggestions: Looking for a side dish to serve alongside this pasta recipe? Try my roasted broccoli or strawberry spinach salad!


Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 133mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 405IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 0.6mg