penne alla vodka

The other day when I saw my friend wrote that she was going to make penne alla vodka, it immediately intrigued me as it was the first time I heard about this pasta dish, apparently this is one of the most popular Italian-American dishes. Without hesitation, I made it the a few days ago and all of us love it. It’s so easy, quick to prepare and yet very delicious. My hubby was feeling skepical and frowned, pasta with vodka. He was very impressed with it and liked it a lot and during dinner, he said several times very nice like haute cuisine. This is a great pasta dish if you want a nice quick fix meal.

Serves 2-3


  • 250g penne
  • 1 can whole tomatoes with juice (use pomodoro tomatoes if you can find them, they have the best taste)
  • 200g pancetta, cut into very small dices
  • 1/2 small sized red onion (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 small leek stem, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100ml vodka
  • 100ml full fat cream (or half-fat cream)
  • 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes (or more to suit your own taste or skip this if you do not like spiciness)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt to taste (if necessary)


  1. Empty the canned whole tomatoes into a large deep pan, break the tomatoes into smaller pieces with a wooden spatula and simmer at medium low heat.
  2. In the meantime, heat up another pan, add in the pancetta and pan-fry until they began to become crispy. Remove half of it onto a plate and set aside for garnish at the end. Transfer the other half into the pan of tomato sauce.
  3. No need to wash the pan, add a little olive oil into the pan and then add in the chopped garlic, stir fry for half a minute and then add in the finely chopped onion, stir fry for about 2 minutes then add in the leek. Pour a little vodka (about 10ml) and sauté at medium high heat until the onion becomes translucent and the leek becomes soft and loosens.
  4. Transfer the onion, leek and garlic to the tomato sauce. Pour the rest of the vodka into the sauce. Stir to mix. Simmer at medium high heat for 15 mins.
  5. Then add in the cream and simmer at medium heat for 10 mins or so until you get a thick sauce.
  6. If you have family members or friends that do not like spicy food, set some sauce aside separately before you add in the dried chili flakes.
  7. In the meantime, you can cook the penne to al dente in a large pan of salted water according to the instructions on the pack. Drain the pasta when cooked.
  8. Taste the sauce to see if you need to season with a bit of salt. (I did not need for mine due to the pancetta is already salty)
  9. Toss the penne into the sauce, add some hand tear some basil leaves. Toss until the penne is all coated and well mixed.
  10. Finally sprinkle some of the reserved pancetta on top, follow by Parmigiano-Reggiano and basil as garnish. Serve immediately when hot.




20 thoughts on “penne alla vodka

  1. I’ve always been intrigued by the addition of vodka to pasta, normally its just to me 😉 Looks really delicious though so think will have to spare some and make soon 🙂

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