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Penne alla vodka with basil and parmesan as garnish.

Penne Alla Vodka

Creamy and delicious penne alla vodka made from scratch. Don't forget to check out the step by step photos and tips above.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 - 8 servings
Calories 444kcal


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • cups diced yellow onion
  • tsp. kosher salt divided
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 16 oz. dried penne pasta
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for garnish
  • Chopped fresh parsley or basil for garnish


  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
  • Add vodka; cook, stirring to release browned bits from bottom of pan.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium low. Stir
  • in remaining 1 teaspoon salt; simmer until flavors meld, about 25 minutes.
  • Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until package directions for al dente.
  • Reserve 1 cup pasta water; set aside. Drain pasta in a colander.
  • Remove tomato sauce from heat. Stir cream and ½ cup Parmesan cheese until combined.
  • Add reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, to loosen sauce.
  • Garnish servings with grated Parmesan cheese and herbs.



  • Don’t have any penne? No problem! This recipe works with basically any pasta. It’s great with rigatoni, elbow macaroni, bucatini, or just regular spaghetti. Basically, if it’s in your pantry and labeled “pasta,” it’s perfect for this recipe.
  • Whether you use whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes try to use high-quality ones such as San Marzano for the best tasting sauce.
  • Fresh ingredients really take this vodka sauce to another level so make sure to use fresh garlic and herbs.
  • Use reserved pasta water to emulsify the sauce if it's too thick, it'll also add additional flavor.


Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 663mg | Potassium: 488mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1571IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 2mg