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Penne alla Vodka

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Penne alla Vodka is easy, elegant comfort food. Perfect for those busy weeknights, but delicious enough for company!!

If you’re concerned about the alcohol, most should evaporate during the cooking process, making this Penne with Vodka Sauce a family-friendly recipe!

Penne alla Vodka view from above in a white serving bowl

Penne alla Vodka

I have the world’s pickiest eater in my household. You loyal readers may know about my husband and how he feigns allergies to mushrooms, nuts, pineapple, etc. just to avoid eating those ingredients. But my daughter is even worse!

So when I find a dish she loves, it makes its way into our meal rotation. This simple and delicious Penne alla Vodka is a frequent birthday dinner request. Katie often picks a crazy complicated birthday cake, like the red velvet checkerboard number this year, so an easy main dish is welcomed.

Tips for Making Penne with Vodka Sauce

This Penne alla Vodka is creamy with a hit of heat, and a classic Italian pasta recipe that’s truly a winner.

  • PRO-Tip: Did you know alcohol is a flavor enhancer like salt? The vodka will evaporate during the cooking process, but magically intensifies the deliciousness along the way.
  • Modify the crushed red pepper flakes for your family’s palate. The 1/2 teaspoon in my recipe is perfect for our family, but if you’d like a spicier pasta, feel free to up the amount. 
  • Taste first, then add more seasonings if desired. You can always add extra, but if you make it too spicy, it’s hard to fix!
  • The heavy cream is key for a rich sauce with a delicious mouthfeel. Don’t be tempted to use milk instead. If you’re worried about calories, just practice portion control.
  • I like cooking pasta al dente, meaning to the tooth in Italian. You don’t want your pasta mushy, but instead, still firm and cooked through.
  • Make sure your pasta water is well salted (should taste like the sea!) and at a rolling boil before adding the penne.
  • PRO-Tip: Pull a noodle out of the boiling water at the shortest time listed on the packaging and bite into it. If it’s still hard in the middle, cook a minute or two longer.

Hunt’s: From Farm to Table

Days get crazy around the holidays, so it’s important to sit down as a family and enjoy a home-cooked meal. My goal is to prepare a simple meal, with quality ingredients, that will elicit smiles with every tasty bite.  Hunt’s tomatoes are grown in the rich soil of Oakdale, California, by dedicated farmers.  

Since 1888, Hunt’s has been bringing the purest tomatoes from farm to table; not all canned tomatoes can tout that! Peeled using FlashSteam instead of chemicals, Hunt’s products are good for the soil (no chemical by-products) and good for your health*.  Their method might not be the easiest way, but Hunt’s believes that it’s the right way, the natural way. 

Close up of Penne alla Vodka in a serving bowl

Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes

I picked up Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes at my local Walmart. Walmart has a large area of very reasonably priced Hunt’s products in the aisle with canned tomatoes. These tomatoes are easy to find, inexpensive, and nestled with a wide array of Hunt’s tomato products.

Petite Diced Tomatoes eliminate the need for chopping which helps streamline dinner prep. Just open the can and add the perfectly diced tomatoes and juices into the saucepan. It’s a hectic time of year, and we all need comfort food that takes little time to get on the table. Make sure to stop at Walmart and stock your pantry. I hope you’ll add this Penne alla Vodka to your menu!

Penne alla Vodka in a white ceramic bowl with a sprig of basil

 More Family-Friendly Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:

You may need these supplies to make the penne alla vodka recipe:

Penne alla Vodka photo and text collage
Penne alla Vodka | A simple, comforting pasta dish with tomatoes, cream and vodka!

Penne alla Vodka

A quick creamy tomato and vodka pasta sauce served with penne.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 6 servings


  • 2 14.5-ounce cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Start water boiling, add enough salt to make water taste briny and cook penne according to package instructions
  2. While pasta water is heating up, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic and shallots and cook till soft. Add tomatoes and their juices plus crushed red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes. Add vodka and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes (longer if you want to ensure all alcohol has evaporated). Stir in cream and basil, then add drained pasta. Mix in Parmesan. Gently heat until sauce is hot.
  3. Serve immediately. Pass extra Parmesan to top pasta if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 499mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g


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*Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which may be linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and age-related eye disorders.

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33 comments on “Penne alla Vodka”

  1. Great recipe Liz. We love Hunt’s tomatoes here too, and glad to learn about the minimal processing! And somehow I don’t think your husband will be feigning any allergies to this dish!

  2. Delicious and comforting! It has been ages since I had this penne alla vodka…now I really crave some.

  3. That is one gorgeous bowl of pasta. And I have about 6 cans of Hunt’s in my pantry. We are making a big batch of chili today!

  4. I am craving pasta so hard right now and this looks delicious!

  5. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes to order out, now I want to make it at home! love those tomatoes!

  6. I didn’t realize that alcohol was a flavor enhancer. The more you know! I do love a good vodka pasta sauce–it’s so comforting!

  7. One of my all-time favorite pasta dishes! I know how it is with picky eaters!! This is a pasta dish that would make everyone happy in my house. xx

  8. This is one of my favorite meals, Liz! Just perfect for the busy December season when I’m craving a cozy dinner 🙂

  9. That would be a perfect birthday dinner around here too! YUM!

  10. I can get behind any dish that looks like this!

  11. This has cozy comfort food written all over it! LOVE!

  12. Liz, I love that you published this recipe. We all tend to forget about this all-time favorite! It looks so scrumptious that I’m putting it on the menu… next week!

  13. I know what I want for dinner tonight.

  14. I love vodka sauce – I could eat this any time of the day!

  15. I’m pretty sure I have the pickiest eaters in my house lol. I will give this yummy looking dish a go and see if it passes their test!

  16. Thank you, liz. Looks great. I’ve pinned it.

  17. This looks like a great dinner dish! I’m loving the great flavors in this!

  18. This sounds so amazing! I will have to make it for dinner sometime soon!

  19. Delicious! looks so amazing!

  20. Very unusual with the vodka. Hope you are having a great weekend, Liz. 🙂

  21. So good! I can understand Katie! I love this kind of dishes also. Confort food is the best! x

  22. Didn’t realize Hunt’s was from California…Anyway, your combo of Hunt’s tomatoes with pasta and vodka is sublime. Just the right balance of tastes and textures =)

  23. Penne & Volka? What a treat, Liz! xoxo

  24. Piping hot pasta sounds perfect for this cold week we’re having! The sauce sounds delicious too. I can see why your daughter requests it!

  25. mmmm this looks like the perfect vodka sauce!!

  26. Mmm, this sounds like a fabulous weeknight meal!

  27. I love what cream does to a tomato sauce. Beautiful dish!

  28. We’re Hunts Tomato fans also and penne is my favorite variety of pasta. My picky hubby would probably need sausage or ground beef but I’m fine with it just as it is.

  29. One of my favorite pasta dishes! I love vodka sauce!

  30. Such a flavorful and tasty meal!

  31. I wouldn’t change a thing about this! It’s fantastic.

  32. This is my new go-to weeknight dish. Pasta never disappoints. And this sauce is just 100%. SO GOOD.

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