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Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe

Penne pasta with vodka sauce is a classic Italian dish that's as delicious as it is simple. With the right ingredients and a little patience, you're never too far away from a plate of creamy, hearty pasta that's packed full of flavor.

Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe

Photos of Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe

The key ingredient that may not be a staple in your pantry is pancetta, an Italian bacon made from pork belly that is salt-cured and spiced. It's available at most supermarkets in the deli section, and it adds a fantastic depth of flavor to the sauce. The other ingredient you might need to pick up is vodka. Though it might sound unusual, the vodka works to release the flavors trapped in the tomato paste and cream, creating a more robust and complex sauce.

Ingredients for Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Penne pasta: A type of pasta with cylinder-shaped pieces. Its ridges and hollow center perfectly hold the creamy sauce.

Butter: Adds richness to the sauce and helps in sautéing the pancetta.

Pancetta bacon: Gives the sauce a meaty, smoky flavor.

Vodka: Helps to bring out deeper flavors in the sauce. The alcohol will cook off, leaving no residual taste.

Heavy whipping cream: Adds a creamy texture to the sauce.

Tomato sauce: Provides a tangy base for the sauce.

Parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty and salty flavor - the perfect finishing touch.

One reader, Cher Fay says:

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This penne pasta with vodka sauce recipe is a game-changer! The creamy vodka sauce perfectly complements the al dente penne, creating a delightful burst of flavors. It's a simple yet elegant dish that's sure to impress. I highly recommend trying this recipe for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Cher Fay

Mastering the Techniques for Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

How to cook penne pasta: Boil a large pot of lightly salted water and add the penne pasta. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain.

How to make vodka sauce: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned. Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cream, and simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

How to serve penne pasta with vodka sauce: Stir the cooked pasta into the vodka sauce and heat through. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

How To Make Penne and Vodka Sauce

This recipe for penne and vodka sauce is an easy dish that’s full of flavor from the added pancetta, cheese, tomato sauce, and cream.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • 16ozpenne pasta
  • 2tbspbutter
  • ¼lbpancetta bacon,thinly sliced, chopped
  • cupvodka
  • ½cupheavy whipping cream
  • cupstomato sauce
  • ½cupgrated parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

  2. Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta, and saute until lightly browned. Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir every few minutes.

  3. Stir in pasta, and heat through. Serve with Parmesan cheese.


  • Calories: 830.20kcal
  • Fat: 34.81g
  • Saturated Fat: 17.67g
  • Trans Fat: 0.27g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 11.25g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.31g
  • Carbohydrates: 91.35g
  • Fiber: 5.01g
  • Sugar: 7.56g
  • Protein: 26.78g
  • Cholesterol: 87.37mg
  • Sodium: 898.01mg
  • Calcium: 279.22mg
  • Potassium: 623.18mg
  • Iron: 2.64mg
  • Vitamin A: 232.65µg
  • Vitamin C: 6.61mg

Elevate Your Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce: Pro Technique Tips

When making the vodka sauce, it's crucial to let the vodka reduce by half. This process, known as reduction, intensifies the flavor of the vodka and removes the harsh alcohol taste. It's important not to rush this step. Keep the heat at medium and stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning. This will ensure your sauce has a rich and balanced flavor.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop vegetables, measure ingredients, and prepare anything that can be done in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonders: Opt for recipes that allow you to cook everything in a single pot or pan to minimize cleanup time.

Use kitchen tools: Utilize kitchen gadgets like food processors, blenders, and mandolines to speed up prep work and cooking.

Batch cooking: Make larger quantities of certain components, such as sauces or grains, and freeze them for future use to save time on busy days.

Organize your workspace: Keep your kitchen organized and clean as you cook to avoid wasting time searching for ingredients and utensils.

Substitute Ingredients For Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe

  • penne pasta - Substitute with rigatoni: Rigatoni is a similar tube-shaped pasta that can hold the vodka sauce well and provide a satisfying texture.

  • butter - Substitute with olive oil: Olive oil can add a rich flavor and works well as a substitute for butter in this recipe.

  • pancetta bacon - Substitute with prosciutto: Prosciutto offers a similar salty and savory flavor that complements the vodka sauce.

  • vodka - Substitute with white wine: White wine can provide a similar depth of flavor and acidity to the sauce.

  • heavy whipping cream - Substitute with coconut cream: Coconut cream can add a creamy texture and a hint of sweetness to the sauce, while also catering to dietary restrictions.

  • tomato sauce - Substitute with crushed tomatoes: Using crushed tomatoes can provide a chunkier texture and a fresher taste to the sauce.

  • grated parmesan cheese - Substitute with grated pecorino romano cheese: Pecorino romano cheese offers a similar salty and nutty flavor, which can enhance the overall taste of the dish.

Elevate Your Plate: Presenting Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

  1. Elevate the pasta: Cook the penne pasta to al dente perfection, ensuring it is not overcooked. The texture should be firm to the bite, providing a delightful mouthfeel.

  2. Garnish with pancetta bacon: Crisp up the pancetta bacon to perfection, ensuring it adds a delightful crunch and savory flavor to the dish.

  3. Drizzle with vodka reduction: Create a rich and flavorful vodka reduction, adding a touch of sophistication and depth to the sauce.

  4. Swirl the heavy whipping cream: Incorporate the heavy whipping cream into the sauce, creating a luxurious and velvety texture that will impress the most discerning palates.

  5. Finish with a sprinkle of parmesan: Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top, adding a salty and nutty note that enhances the overall flavor profile of the dish.

  6. Plate with precision: Carefully arrange the pasta on the plate, ensuring an elegant and visually appealing presentation that showcases the vibrant colors and textures of the dish.

  7. Add a touch of fresh herbs: Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley, adding a pop of color and a hint of freshness to the dish.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

  • Large pot: A large pot is essential for boiling the pasta.
  • Skillet: A skillet is used for sautéing the pancetta and preparing the vodka sauce.
  • Colander: A colander is used for draining the cooked pasta.
  • Grater: A grater is used for grating the parmesan cheese.
  • Stirring spoon: A stirring spoon is used for mixing and stirring the ingredients while cooking.

Preserving Perfection: Storing and Freezing Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

  • Let the penne pasta with vodka sauce cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • To store in the refrigerator, transfer the cooled pasta and sauce to an airtight container. It will keep well for up to 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the penne pasta with vodka sauce:
    • Divide the cooled pasta and sauce into individual serving-sized portions in freezer-safe containers or resealable bags.
    • Squeeze out any excess air from the bags before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and contents for easy identification.
    • Frozen penne pasta with vodka sauce will maintain its best quality for up to 2-3 months.
  • To reheat the refrigerated pasta, place it in a microwave-safe dish and heat in the microwave until warmed through, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • For frozen pasta, you can either thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or reheat it directly from frozen:
    • To reheat from frozen in the microwave, place the frozen pasta in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high power, stirring every 1-2 minutes until heated through.
    • To reheat from frozen on the stovetop, transfer the frozen pasta to a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of water or cream to help loosen the sauce as it reheats.
  • When reheating, ensure that the pasta reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it's safe to consume.
  • Keep in mind that the texture of the pasta may change slightly after freezing and reheating, but the flavor should remain delicious.

How To Reheat Leftover Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

  • Reheat the penne pasta in the vodka sauce on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. This method allows the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken slightly, creating a deliciously creamy texture that coats each pasta noodle perfectly.
  • For a quick and easy reheating option, microwave individual portions of the penne pasta with vodka sauce in microwave-safe bowls. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to prevent the pasta from drying out, and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the desired temperature is reached.
  • To reheat larger portions of the penne pasta with vodka sauce, transfer the dish to a large, oven-safe baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to allow the top to brown slightly and develop a delightful crust.
  • For a crispy twist on reheated penne pasta with vodka sauce, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leftover pasta to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and slightly crispy on the edges. This method creates a delightful contrast of textures between the creamy sauce and the crispy pasta.
  • To maintain the best quality and flavor when reheating penne pasta with vodka sauce, always store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. When reheating, be sure to heat the pasta thoroughly to ensure food safety and optimal taste. If the sauce appears too thick, add a splash of heavy cream or pasta water to help loosen it up and restore its original consistency.

Surprising Facts About Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is a popular Italian-American pasta sauce, known for its unique combination of vodka, tomato sauce, and cream. It is believed that the use of vodka in the sauce helps to release certain flavors in the tomatoes that are not soluble in water or fat alone. This sauce is a versatile and flavorful addition to pasta dishes, adding a creamy and slightly tangy element to the meal.

Budget-Friendly Cooking: Is Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce Economical?

This penne pasta with vodka sauce recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The ingredients, such as pancetta bacon, vodka, and parmesan cheese, are relatively affordable and can be used in various other dishes. The overall verdict for this recipe is 9/10, considering the delightful flavors and ease of preparation. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $20, making it a budget-friendly option for a satisfying meal.

Is Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce Healthy?

This penne pasta with vodka sauce recipe, while undeniably delicious, is not particularly healthy. The dish is high in calories, fat, and sodium due to the heavy cream, butter, pancetta, and parmesan cheese. The vodka, although mostly burned off during cooking, adds no nutritional value to the dish. The tomato sauce provides some vitamins and minerals, but the overall nutritional profile of the recipe is not balanced.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Swap the heavy cream for a lower-fat alternative, such as half-and-half or evaporated skim milk
  • Reduce the amount of butter used or replace it with a healthier oil, like olive oil
  • Use turkey or chicken bacon instead of pancetta to lower the fat and sodium content
  • Incorporate more vegetables into the sauce, such as sautéed onions, garlic, carrots, or spinach, to increase the nutrient density
  • Use whole wheat or legume-based pasta to boost the fiber content and provide a more complex carbohydrate source
  • Reduce the amount of parmesan cheese used or opt for a lower-fat cheese alternative
  • Serve the pasta with a side salad or steamed vegetables to balance out the meal and add more nutrients

Editor's Take: Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce Recipe Review

This penne pasta with vodka sauce recipe is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The pancetta adds a rich, savory element, while the vodka and cream create a luscious, indulgent sauce. The dish is elevated by the addition of tangy tomato sauce and nutty parmesan cheese, resulting in a harmonious blend of tastes. The recipe's simplicity makes it accessible for home cooks, yet the final dish is elegant enough to impress guests at a dinner party. Overall, it's a winning recipe that promises to satisfy and impress.

Enhance Your Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: Slices of crusty bread slathered with garlic-infused butter and toasted to perfection
Caesar Salad: Crisp romaine lettuce tossed in a tangy Caesar dressing, topped with crunchy croutons and shaved parmesan cheese
Grilled Asparagus: Fresh asparagus spears grilled to tender perfection and drizzled with a zesty lemon vinaigrette

Discover Delicious Alternatives to Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy and indulgent pasta dish is perfect for a cozy night in. The combination of tender chicken and rich alfredo sauce will leave you wanting more.
Mango Salsa Chicken: Add a tropical twist to your chicken dinner with this vibrant and flavorful mango salsa. It's the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and pairs perfectly with grilled chicken.
Butternut Squash Soup: Warm up with a bowl of comforting butternut squash soup. The velvety texture and earthy flavors make it a perfect starter for any meal.
Berry Cobbler: Indulge in the sweet and tangy flavors of a homemade berry cobbler. The juicy berries and buttery crumble topping make for a delightful dessert that's perfect for any occasion.

Appetizers and Desserts: Completing Your Penne Pasta With Vodka Sauce Meal

Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with this classic bruschetta, featuring toasted baguette slices topped with a vibrant mixture of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and tangy balsamic glaze. A refreshing and satisfying start to any gathering.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Berry Parfait: Layered with fresh berries, creamy yogurt, and crunchy granola, this berry parfait is a delightful combination of sweet and tangy flavors. It's a light and refreshing dessert that's perfect for any time of day.

Why trust this Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful combination of penne pasta and a rich, flavorful vodka sauce. The use of pancetta bacon adds a savory depth, while the addition of vodka and heavy whipping cream creates a luscious and indulgent sauce. The marriage of tomato sauce and parmesan cheese brings a classic Italian touch to this dish. Trust in the quality of these ingredients to elevate your culinary experience.

Have you tried making this Penne and Vodka Sauce Recipe? Discuss your experience and share your tips with fellow pasta lovers in the Recipe Sharing forum section!
How can I make this recipe vegetarian?
To make this recipe vegetarian, you can substitute the pancetta bacon with vegetarian bacon or omit it altogether. You can also use vegetable broth instead of vodka for a flavorful alternative.
Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer. The vodka sauce pairs well with a variety of pasta shapes such as spaghetti, fettuccine, or rigatoni.
Is it possible to make this dish ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can prepare the vodka sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat the sauce and toss it with freshly cooked pasta.
Can I substitute the heavy whipping cream with a lighter alternative?
Yes, you can use half-and-half or whole milk as a substitute for the heavy whipping cream. Keep in mind that the sauce may be slightly less rich, but it will still be delicious.
What can I serve as a side dish with this pasta?
This penne pasta with vodka sauce pairs wonderfully with a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette, garlic bread, or a side of roasted vegetables for a well-rounded meal.

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