Perfect Penne alla Vodka will be on your table in under 30 minutes tonight. Create this flavorful dinner any night of the week. You’ll love every single bite.
Post Originally from 12/18/12, Pictures updated 2/21/19
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I always felt that ordering Penne alla Vodka was a big fancy move when I was out to dinner. It just felt so fancy to me. Alla Vodka. That sounded fancy when I was 15 or so. Plus, vodka… hello… it felt like it was a big deal to get it, even with all the alcohol cooking out of it.
Now, I know that it’s just a simple creamy and tomato sauce. It’s so simple that it can be whipped up in under 30 minutes.
Guys, this is the perfect weeknight dinner or a nice “the kids have gone to bed early, now let’s open the ‘good’ bottle of wine” date night at home dinner.
Pasta this good might seem that is needs to be a special occasion, but really, you deserve to ‘treat yourself’ any night of the week.
The exact origins of Penne alla vodka are unclear. It is said to have its roots in Italy, but became popular in the early 1980’s in the States. Ah, the 80’s… great food trends!
Normally, the acid from the tomatoes and the fats in the cream would cause the sauce to break, but the vodka acts as an emulsifier. So, YES, you need to put the vodka in it. Don’t worry, it cooks out so the whole family can enjoy it together.
This recipe uses panchetta, but if you can’t find that, then just use some bacon. Panchetta is just cured pork belly, but bacon is pork belly that is cured and smoked. So, if you use a bacon try to find one that has a pretty mellow smokiness to it.
Want to keep it meat free? Then swap out the panchetta for some peas. Serving Penne Alla Vodka with peas is traditional too. Just add the peas in at the end, right after you have incorporated in the cream.
Give Penna alla Vodka a try tonight. You’ll love how luxurious it is. Enjoy it with a fresh side salad. You’ll want to enjoy every bit of the sauce so be sure to enjoy some garlic bread to, so you can use it to wipe up your plate.
More Delicious Pasta Dinners
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 4oz diced panchetta
- 28 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 Cup vodka
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- 1 Cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- fresh basil, for serving
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and then add the penne. Cook until al dente, according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. In a very large skillet over medium heat, add the oil, onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Stir often so it doesn't burn.
- Once the onions are translucent, add the panchetta. Cook until golden brown.
- Add in the crushed tomatoes and turn the heat up to bring the sauce to a low boil. Add in the vodka and heavy cream and cook over high heat for 5-10 minutes.
- All the Parmesan cheese, mix to incorporate. Add the penne to coat the pasta with the sauce.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
You can't skip the vodka, as it is the emulsifier. The alcohol will cook off, so it's great for everyone to enjoy