How To Make Penne Alla Vodka

How To Make Penne Alla Vodka

Welcome to Vodka Doctors, your one-stop guide for everything vodka-related! Today, we bring you an enticing recipe that combines your love for vodka and your passion for pasta. Penne Alla Vodka, an Italian-American classic, is a creamy and delicious dish that will take your taste buds on a delightful journey. Here, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to make the perfect Penne Alla Vodka, whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen!

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Before diving into this mouthwatering recipe, let's provide a quick rundown of the ingredients you'll need to make this amazing pasta dish.


  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped onion, and cook until they become soft and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add vodka and tomato puree: Stir in the tomato puree, vodka, and red pepper flakes (if using). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes to thicken and allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Add the heavy cream: Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to combine. Cook the sauce for an additional 5-7 minutes until it has thickened and become creamy.
  5. Season the sauce: Add salt and pepper, to taste. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference. If you prefer a spicier sauce, feel free to add more red pepper flakes.
  6. Combine pasta and sauce: Add the cooked penne pasta to the skillet, stirring well to ensure each piece is coated with the creamy vodka sauce.
  7. Garnish and serve: Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!

How To Make Penne Alla Vodka Example:

Your Penne Alla Vodka is ready to serve! Imagine a steaming plate of perfectly cooked penne, generously coated with a rich, savory sauce made from tomato puree, vodka, and heavy cream. The sauce will be thick and velvety, with a warmth brought by red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion. Finally, the dish is sprinkled with grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves, adding the flavors that will keep you coming back for seconds. Buon appetito!

We hope you enjoyed this detailed guide on how to make the perfect Penne Alla Vodka! It's a simple, yet delectable recipe that is sure to impress your family and friends at your next dinner party. Don't forget to explore more delicious vodka-based recipes, helpful guides, and our extensive reviews of vodka brands on Vodka Doctors. Be sure to share this recipe with your fellow vodka lovers and pasta aficionados. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Penne Alla Vodka?

Penne Alla Vodka is a creamy, tomato-based pasta dish that is enriched with vodka and Italian seasonings. It is traditionally made with penne pasta, though other pasta shapes can also be used. The dish often includes ingredients like heavy cream, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and sometimes protein such as chicken or shrimp.

Does the vodka add flavor to the dish?

Yes, vodka does contribute a subtle flavor and enhances the taste of the tomatoes. It also helps emulsify the sauce, creating a smooth and silky texture. However, most of the alcohol content evaporates during cooking, leaving only the essence and richness behind.

Can I make Penne Alla Vodka without vodka?

While vodka is a key ingredient in this dish, it can be omitted if desired. The resulting sauce will still be creamy and delicious, though it may lack the unique flavor profile that vodka imparts.

What type of tomatoes should I use for the sauce?

Canned crushed tomatoes or high-quality canned tomato sauce work best for Penne Alla Vodka. They provide a consistent and rich tomato base that complements the other ingredients well.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?

Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes, but they should be ripe and possibly roasted or simmered until they break down into a sauce-like consistency. Keep in mind that the flavor may vary depending on the type of tomatoes and their ripeness.

Is there a way to make this dish dairy-free?

To make a dairy-free version, you can substitute the heavy cream with non-dairy alternatives such as coconut milk, almond milk creamer, or cashew cream. Be aware that these substitutes may slightly alter the flavor and texture of the dish.

How can I make a lighter version of Penne Alla Vodka?

You can lighten the dish by using half-and-half or a light cream instead of full-fat heavy cream. Another option is to use a smaller amount of cream and add some pasta water to maintain the creaminess without all the fat.

Is it possible to make Penne Alla Vodka gluten-free?

Yes, you can easily make this dish gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free penne pasta. Just ensure that all other ingredients are gluten-free as well.

What is the best type of vodka to use for this dish?

A standard, unflavored vodka is the best choice for Penne Alla Vodka. Since the flavor is subtle after cooking, there's no need to use premium or high-end vodka. The key is to use a vodka that you enjoy the taste of and would be comfortable drinking.

Can I add protein to this pasta dish?

Yes, proteins like diced chicken breast, shrimp, or pancetta can be added to create a more substantial meal. Ensure that these proteins are cooked properly before adding them to the sauce.

How long does it take to prepare Penne Alla Vodka?

Penne Alla Vodka typically takes about 30 minutes to prepare, which includes cooking the pasta and preparing the sauce.

Can I make Penne Alla Vodka ahead of time?

While the dish is best served fresh, you can make it ahead of time. Simply reheat it gently on the stove and add a little cream or pasta water if the sauce has thickened too much in the fridge.

How should I store the leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently to preserve the creamy texture of the sauce.

What is the best way to reheat leftovers?

The best way to reheat Penne Alla Vodka is on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of cream or pasta water if needed. You can also reheat it in the microwave, stirring occasionally to maintain an even temperature.

Can I freeze this dish?

Freezing Penne Alla Vodka is not recommended because the cream-based sauce may separate and lose its creamy texture upon thawing. However, if you choose to freeze it, reheat gently and stir well.

How do I know when the pasta is perfectly cooked?

Pasta is perfectly cooked when it is al dente, which means it is tender but still has a slight bite to it. Follow the package instructions for cooking times, and taste test a piece before draining.

What sides pair well with Penne Alla Vodka?

A simple green salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables complement Penne Alla Vodka nicely by adding freshness and balance to the creamy pasta dish.

Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for vodka in this recipe?

If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can try substituting with a bit of water or broth with a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar to add some of the sharpness that vodka would contribute. Keep in mind that this will not fully replicate the original effect of the vodka.

Can I use another type of pasta for this dish?

Yes, while penne is traditional, other pasta shapes like rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle can work well with the sauce too. The key is to choose a pasta that will hold onto the creamy sauce effectively.

Is Penne Alla Vodka kid-friendly?

Penne Alla Vodka can be kid-friendly since most of the alcohol cooks off during preparation, leaving the dish with no significant alcohol content. However, if you're concerned, you can omit the vodka or make sure to cook the sauce slightly longer to ensure that the alcohol has evaporated.

Can I add vegetables to Penne Alla Vodka?

Absolutely, vegetables such as peas, spinach, or mushrooms can be a delicious addition to the dish. Just be sure to cook them appropriately before incorporating them into the sauce.

What are some tips for making the best Penne Alla Vodka?

To make the best Penne Alla Vodka, use quality ingredients, ensure that you cook your pasta al dente, simmer the sauce until it's fully flavored and thickened, and don't rush the reduction of the vodka to achieve the most enhanced flavor without an overpowering alcohol taste. Lastly, adjust seasonings to your liking and serve hot, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil.

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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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