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Easy Penne Alla Vodka in white bowl with gold spoon close up

Easy Penne alla Vodka

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  • Author: Aberdeen
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x


Coated in a creamy tomato vodka sauce, this classic vegetarian Italian pasta recipe whips in just 30 minutes.


Units Scale
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14 ounces diced tomato
  • 14 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, roughly minced
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, scalded*
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Coarse salt, ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped for garnish


  1. Make the pasta: Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne to al dente according to box instructions. Reserve obout 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside. 
  2. While pasta is boiling, add olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  3. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. 
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to brown, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Pour in the vodka and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 
  6. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and half of the fresh basil. Bring to a boil. 
  7. Reduce to a simmer and slowly pour in warmed cream, stirring as you pour to avoid curdling. 
  8. Let simmer until the sauce is somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked penne pasta and remaining basil. Use reserved pasta water as in single tablespoon increments to reach desired sauce thickness.*
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley to serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.*


To scald heavy whipping cream, heat on the stove in a small sauce pan over medium heat until steaming. Altternatively, heat in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments until steaming. Do not boil!  

Adding some of the reserved pasta water will help the sauce stick to the pasta!

I do not recommend freezing this dish as the sauce will break due to the cream. 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes