Penne Alla Vodka: Pasta For All Occasions

Penne alla vodka is a classic Italian pasta dish that is made with penne pasta, vodka, and a creamy tomato sauce. It is a simple dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner. This dish is made by cooking penne pasta in vodka and tomato sauce. The vodka helps to bring out the flavours of the tomato sauce and gives the dish a slight kick. 

If you are looking for a quick and easy pasta dish that is packed with flavour, then you need to try penne alla vodka. This dish is sure to become a new family favourite!

I typically use penne pasta for this dish, but any short pasta will work. If you're in a hurry, you can also use jarred pasta sauce. But if you have the time, I highly recommend making the vodka sauce from scratch. It's so much better than anything you can buy at the store!


  • 1 (28 oz) can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed finely with hands*
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 3 oz. proscuitto or pancetta, diced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 14 oz. penne pasta, plus reserved pasta water for thinning sauce as needed


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook pasta. Season water with salt.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and prosciutto saute 4 - 5 minutes, add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute longer.
  • Remove pan from heat and add tomatoes, vodka, season with salt and pepper to taste. Return to medium-high heat, bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until strong alcohol scent has cooked off, about 15 minutes**, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain pasta.
  • Stir cream into sauce and let just heat through, about 1 minute. Stir in parmesan, basil and oregano.
  • Add drained pasta to pot with sauce, toss to coat, while thinning sauce with a little pasta water as needed. Serve warm with more parmesan and garnish with more basil if desired.