How To Make Penne A La Vodka Sauce

How To Make Penne A La Vodka Sauce

Are you tired of the same old marinara sauce for your pasta dishes? Want to try something new and exciting that will elevate your pasta game? Look no further, as we have the perfect recipe for you: Penne a la Vodka Sauce! Creamy, rich, and with a touch of heat, this vodka-infused tomato sauce is a delectable treat for your taste buds. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to make a perfect Penne a la Vodka sauce, and by the time you're done reading, you'll be ready to impress your friends and family with this restaurant-worthy dish.

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  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vodka (choose a high-quality brand for the best flavor)
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your preference)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnishing (optional)


  1. First, prepare your ingredients by chopping the onion, mincing the garlic, and grating the Parmesan cheese if it is not already pre-grated.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they become translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  4. Carefully pour the vodka into the skillet, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes to evaporate some of the alcohol content. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, as these will add flavor to the sauce.
  5. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to the skillet, stirring well to combine with the onion and garlic mixture. Reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. After the sauce has simmered and thickened, it is time to add the heavy cream. Pour it slowly into the skillet while stirring continuously to create a smooth, velvety sauce.
  7. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and continue stirring until it is completely melted and incorporated. Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, or crushed red pepper as needed.
  8. Add the cooked penne pasta directly into the skillet, tossing gently to coat the pasta evenly in the sauce. Cook the pasta in the sauce for an additional 1-2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  9. Serve the Penne a la Vodka hot, garnished with fresh basil leaves and sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Pair the dish with a refreshing vodka cocktail from our Vodka Doctors' collection, and enjoy!

How To Make Penne A La Vodka Sauce Example:

Here is a realistic example of a Penne a la Vodka recipe with step-by-step photos and additional tips to help you make the most delicious sauce possible. Follow the link and learn from their expertise, then come back to this article and make this incredible dish for your next dinner party!

Congratulations, you now have all the knowledge needed to create a delectable Penne a la Vodka sauce, a dish that is sure to become a favorite in your cooking repertoire! We encourage you to share this article with fellow vodka and pasta enthusiasts, and remember to explore other guides and recipes at Vodka Doctors for even more culinary inspiration and vodka wisdom. Don't forget to pair your new dish with one of our signature vodka cocktails for an immersive and delightful dining experience. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Penne alla Vodka?

Penne alla Vodka is a rich, creamy pasta dish made with penne pasta and a sauce composed of tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, and other seasonings. It's known for its smooth texture and slightly tangy flavor profile.

Can I use a different type of pasta for this dish?

Absolutely! While penne is traditional for alla Vodka sauce, any tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or fusilli, can work well as it holds onto the creamy sauce.

Is the vodka necessary?

Vodka plays a key role in the flavor profile and helps to emulsify the sauce, but if you prefer to not use alcohol, you may omit it, understanding that the sauce may have a slightly different flavor.

Is there a non-dairy alternative that can be used instead of cream?

Yes, you can use coconut milk or a rich, unsweetened non-dairy cream alternative; however, this will alter the taste from the traditional sauce.

What does the vodka do in the sauce?

Vodka enhances the flavor of the tomatoes and helps to create a smoother sauce by emulsifying the oil and water. It also may release flavor compounds in the tomatoes that are alcohol-soluble.

Can I make the sauce ahead of time?

Yes, the sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

How do I thicken my vodka sauce if it’s too runny?

Allow the sauce to simmer longer so that it reduces and naturally thickens. You could also add a slurry of cornstarch and water or more cream to achieve desired thickness.

Can I add protein to this dish?

Yes, grilled chicken, shrimp, or Italian sausage are all great proteins to add to this dish for a more substantial meal.

My sauce curdled, what did I do wrong?

Curdling can happen if the cream is added to the sauce too quickly or if it is not warm enough when combined with the acidic tomato sauce. To prevent this, warm the cream before incorporating and add it slowly, whisking constantly.

Can I freeze Penne alla Vodka?

Yes, the dish can be frozen in an airtight container. However, the cream in the sauce may change texture slightly when thawed. To prevent this, you might consider freezing just the tomato and vodka base and adding the cream after reheating.

Why did my vodka sauce turn orange?

The sauce turns orange due to the mixing of the red tomato base with the white cream. This is normal and indicates that the sauce is well-combined.

How can I make this dish spicier?

You can add red pepper flakes or a bit of cayenne pepper to the sauce while it simmers to give it an extra kick.

Should I use fresh tomatoes or canned for the sauce?

Canned San Marzano tomatoes are often recommended for their consistent taste and convenience, but fresh, ripe tomatoes can also be used, especially when they're in season.

What's the best way to serve Penne alla Vodka?

Serve the pasta hot with grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and a side of garlic bread or a green salad.

How should I cook the penne pasta for the best results?

Penne should be cooked al dente, meaning it has a slight bite to it. Follow the package directions for cooking time and always taste a piece before draining.

Is Penne alla Vodka kid-friendly?

While the alcohol in the vodka should cook off during preparation, if you're concerned about serving it to children, you can leave out the vodka or look for a vodka-free version.

Can I make this dish vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, to make it vegetarian, ensure that the cheese used is rennet-free. To make it vegan, use a plant-based cream alternative and vegan parmesan-style topping.

What kind of vodka is best for this sauce?

A plain, quality vodka is the best option for this sauce; flavored or lower-quality vodkas may introduce undesired flavors into the dish.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes, you can use gluten-free penne pasta and ensure that all other ingredients are gluten-free.

How do I ensure my pasta dish doesn't become too dry?

To avoid dryness, ensure the pasta is properly coated with sauce and not overcooked. You can also reserve some pasta water to add to the sauce, which can help maintain moisture.

Do I need to use onion and garlic in the sauce?

While onion and garlic add depth to the sauce, if you are intolerant or dislike them, you can omit these ingredients or substitute with a bit of onion or garlic powder for a milder flavor.

Can I use low-fat cream in this recipe?

You can use low-fat cream, but the sauce may be less rich and slightly less thick than when using full-fat cream.

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Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

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