Authentic Vodka Penne Recipe: A Must-Try Pasta Dish (VIDEO)

Vodka penne recipe

Looking for a delicious and easy pasta dish that will impress your friends and family? Look no further than this authentic vodka penne recipe! This Penne alla Vodka recipe is the perfect balance of creamy and tangy, with a touch of heat from red pepper flakes. It’s a crowd-pleasing dish that will make you look like a pro in the kitchen. Give it a try, and you’ll see why it’s a favorite among pasta lovers!

Penne alla Vodka is a classic pasta dish that gained widespread popularity in Italy and globally during the 1970s and 1980s. The origins of this recipe are debated—some sources attribute its creation to a restaurant in Bologna, Italy, while others credit a chef from New York City. Regardless of its exact point of origin, Penne alla Vodka remains a beloved recipe due to its rich, creamy, and balanced flavor profile.

I have provided a traditional recipe for Penne alla Vodka below. However, feel free to experiment with variations as many interpretations exist. Serve it immediately as an elegant weeknight meal or festive holiday side. The classic preparation remains a testament to Italian culinary tradition and global popularity.

Penne alla Vodka Ingredients

Vodka penne ingredients

In this easy Penne alla Vodka recipe, each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a harmonious and flavorful dish:

  • Penne Pasta (320 g – 11¼ oz): The star of the dish, penne pasta, provides the perfect base for the rich and creamy vodka sauce. Its shape allows the sauce to cling to its ridges, ensuring a delicious bite every time.
  • Onion (½): The onion adds a savory and aromatic depth to the sauce, enhancing its flavor profile and providing a solid foundation for the dish.
  • Diced Bacon (150 g – 5¼ oz): The diced bacon introduces a smoky and savory element to the sauce, infusing it with a rich umami flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly.
  • Vodka (80 ml – ⅓ cup): Vodka brings a unique and subtle kick to the sauce, enhancing the overall taste while adding a touch of sophistication to the dish.
  • Tomato Puree (300 g – 1 1/3 cup): The tomato puree forms the base of the vodka sauce, lending a rich and tangy flavor that balances the creaminess of the dish.
  • Heavy Cream (250 ml – 1 cup): The heavy cream provides a luscious and velvety texture to the sauce, creating a creamy and indulgent coating for the penne pasta.
  • Chili Pepper Flakes (to taste): The chili pepper flakes offer a hint of heat and spice to the dish, adding a subtle kick that elevates the overall flavor profile.
  • Salt (to taste) and Olive Oil (to taste): Salt enhances the flavors of the ingredients, while olive oil adds a touch of richness and helps sauté the components to perfection.

NOTE – Despite its name, this dish does not actually have an alcoholic component. The vodka is fully cooked off during preparation, resulting in a smooth, non-alcoholic sauce. This feature makes Penne alla Vodka suitable for all audiences, including children.

Vodka Penne Video Recipe

How to Make Vodka Penne

Tools You Will Need

To make this recipe, I used a nonstick frying pan like this Frying pan.

Cook Pasta

To begin preparation of our penne with vodka, first boil pasta. Place the penne into a pan containing vigorously boiling salted water. This process will ensure the pasta is properly cooked al dente.

Prepare the Vodka Sauce

While the pasta is cooking, we can work on developing the seasoning and sauce components. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a separate sauté pan over medium heat. Add finely diced yellow onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent. Next, incorporate diced bacon strips and continue cooking until the fat is rendered, and the meat is crispy.

Penne alla vodka instructions

Once the bacon is browned, deglaze the pan by adding vodka and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the vodka to reduce fully until nearly evaporated. Then, stir in prepared tomato sauce. Simmer the sauce for approximately five minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes to taste.

Shortly before the pasta has finished cooking, add cream to the sauce and cook until thickened slightly.

Penne alla vodka instructions


Drain the pasta when al dente and add it directly to the sauté pan. Toss thoroughly to coat penne in the flavorful sauce.

Penne alla vodka instructions

Plate individual portions of the penne alla vodka and garnish as desired. The meal is ready to be served.

Vodka penne recipe

Vodka Penne Wine Pairing

Pairing a wine with Vodka Penne can enhance the dining experience by complementing the flavors of the dish. Since Penne alla Vodka is a creamy and rich pasta dish with savory elements, it pairs well with wines that have certain characteristics.

For Vodka Penne, you can consider these wine pairing options:

  • Chardonnay: A buttery Chardonnay with a touch of oak complements the creamy sauce of the dish while balancing the richness of the pasta.
  • Pinot Grigio: A light and crisp Pinot Grigio can provide a refreshing contrast to the creamy sauce, with its citrusy and fruity notes enhancing the overall dining experience.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: A Sauvignon Blanc with its herbaceous and zesty flavors can cut through the creaminess of the dish, offering a vibrant and refreshing pairing.
  • Merlot: A medium-bodied Merlot with its soft tannins and red fruit flavors can be a good match for the bacon and tomato elements in the dish, adding a touch of fruitiness to the meal.

Vodka Penne Storage Instructions

Allow the Penne alla Vodka leftover to cool down to room temperature before storing it. It’s essential not to leave it out at room temperature for an extended period.

Transfer the leftover into an airtight container or a resealable bag. Place the sealed container in the refrigerator for around 3–5 days. Don’t freeze leftover.

When you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers, reheat the Penne alla Vodka either in a microwave-safe dish or on the stovetop until it’s heated through. You can add a little cream or a splash of water to revive the sauce if needed.

Vodka penne recipe

Authentic Vodka Penne Recipe: A Must-Try Pasta Dish

Penne alla Vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish featuring penne pasta in a creamy tomato sauce infused with vodka, complemented with bacon, onions, and heavy cream.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course First course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ white onion chopped
  • 150 g smoked pancetta diced (or bacon)
  • 80 ml Vodka
  • 300 g tomato purée
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 320 g pasta penne
  • 250 ml heavy cream


  • Cook the pasta according to the packaging instructions (about 8–10 minutes, depending on the brand).
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat a small drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5 minutes, until softened and translucent.
  • Add diced bacon and continue cooking until the fat is rendered, and the bacon is crisp, about 7–8 minutes.
  • Once the bacon is ready, add vodka to the pan. Allow the vodka to reduce by half, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Then, stir in tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Season the sauce with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes to taste.
  • Add the heavy cream and let it thicken on the heat a few minutes.
  • When the pasta is al dente, drain it thoroughly and add it directly to the pan with the sauce. Toss everything together over the heat until the pasta is fully coated.
  • Plate individual portions of the penne with vodka and garnish as desired.
  • Enjoy!

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