My rich Penne Alla Vodka Sauce Recipe will change how you feel about tomato sauce. With a splash of vodka, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese added in, you’ll love the extra creamy flavors!Jump to Recipe
Easy vodka sauce recipe
Pasta and tomato sauce is a classic, but if you’re looking to take your weeknight meals up a notch, make this Penne Alla Vodka Sauce Recipe instead. Made with fresh tomatoes, Italian herbs, a splash of vodka, and heavy cream, it’s a creamy and flavorful meal that’s sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Tomatoes are an essential piece of many Italian recipes, like Tomato Burrata Salad and Herb Ricotta Tarts. I knew using fresh tomatoes in this homemade vodka sauce was the right choice because homegrown, vibrant tomatoes are packed with amazing flavors on their own! They can only get better when mixed with the right ingredients.
Penne alla vodka is a simple recipe you can whip up in no time. Try it for date night at home or a delicious family dinner. The best part is you can make the vodka sauce ahead of time, freeze it, and reheat it when you need a tasty dinner in a pinch!
What does vodka do in vodka sauce?
Even though vodka is flavorless on its own, adding it to tomato sauce infuses a real punch of flavor. When the vodka sauce is ready, you’ll most likely notice that it tastes slightly sharp, almost spicy, and really bright. What it doesn’t do is make your pasta taste like alcohol!
What is penne alla vodka made from?
- Tomatoes – I recommend using Roma tomatoes or cherry tomatoes to make the sauce. Larger tomatoes have too much juice and can make the sauce watery, so try not to use larger beefy tomatoes.
- Onion and garlic – For savory flavors.
- Vodka – You don’t need an expensive bottle of vodka for this recipe! Use any kind of vodka you have at home or look for a low to mid-priced bottle.
- Heavy cream – Or coconut milk to make vegan vodka sauce.
- Seasonings – Fresh oregano and red pepper flakes are mixed into the sauce while fresh basil is used as a garnish.
- Pasta – For authentic penne alla vodka, use penne pasta. Otherwise, you can use any small pasta you like, such as rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, or farfalle.
How to make penne with vodka sauce
- Saute the onions and garlic: Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook until they’re soft, then add the garlic. Saute until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes: Place the tomatoes, oregano, chili flakes, and salt in the pan. Let everything cook until the tomatoes burst and soften.
- Puree the sauce: Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce in the pot.
- Add the vodka and cream: Stir the vodka into the smooth tomato sauce and let it cook for a few minutes so the alcohol can evaporate. Afterward, add the butter, salt, heavy cream, and parmesan.
- Combine with penne and serve: Stir the cooked pasta in with the sauce to coat the noodles. Serve with parmesan and basil on top, then enjoy!
Tips to make the best penne alla vodka recipe
- To puree the sauce with a regular blender, only blend ¾ of the tomatoes at a time.
- Add more into your penne alla vodka. It pairs nicely with Italian sausage, shrimp, vegetables, prosciutto, and shredded cheese.
- Want to make vodka sauce without the vodka? Simply replace it with lemon juice or water.
- Leftover vodka sauce stores well in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use canned tomatoes?
If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season or an option, replace them with a can of good quality whole tomatoes and crush them with your hands.
Can vodka sauce get you drunk?
Most, if not all, of the alcohol in the vodka sauce, should evaporate as it cooks. The sauce shouldn’t get you drunk and is safe to serve to kids!
Is it keto-friendly?
Yes, this recipe for homemade vodka sauce is keto-friendly and low in carbs. You can serve it with meatballs or add ground-sauteed beef or chicken to make it hearty and serve it over cauliflower mash.
What can I serve with vodka pasta sauce?
Penne alla vodka goes well with freshly shaved parmesan and basil on top. On the side, you can serve a Caesar salad, fresh bread, green bean salad, and roasted vegetables.
Freezing vodka sauce
You can have fresh pasta sauce at all times by easily freezing batches in airtight containers. It can stay frozen for up to 3 months and be thawed in the fridge.
Hungry for more Italian recipes?
- Creamy Garlic Tuscan Salmon
- Low Carb Caprese Chicken Bake
- Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo
- Bucatini with Tomatoes and Burrata
Did you try this Penne Alla Vodka Sauce Recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or share a picture on Instagram! I love to share all of your recreations on my page.
Penne Alla Vodka Sauce Recipe
- 8 cups tomatoes use a mix of fresh cherry and quartered roma tomatoes
- ½ medium red onion finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp oregano fresh preffered, chopped
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes add more if you like it spicy
- ½ cup vodka
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt more to taste if needed
- 1 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
- 1 lb pasta penne or any shorter pasta, cooked
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving
- ½ cup fresh basil roughly chopped for topping
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil, add chopped onions and cook over medium heat until onions have softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the fresh oregano, fresh cut tomatoes (keep cherry tomatoes whole), and chili flakes and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the tomatoes burst and become soft.Stir often to prevent burning. Remove from the heat.
- Using a hand blender and blend ¾ the tomatoes in a container or right in the pan. If using a blender, add ¾ of the tomatoes to the blender and blend until smooth, stir the blended tomatoes back into the skillet.
- Add ½ cup vodka to the tomatoes in the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat to evaporate the alcohol. Stir often to prevent burning.
- Add the butter, salt to taste, heavy cream and the parmesan. Simmer for another 5 minutes until creamy.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- Serve with a pound of your favorite cooked pasta with extra parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil.
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