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Vodka Penne Pasta Recipe

Thelma is a former field editor for "Taste of Home" magazine and has a huge collection of recipes submitted to her from cooks across the US.

Penne Pasta Alla Vodka

Vodka penne pasta served with garlic sticks

Vodka penne pasta served with garlic sticks

A Favorite Family Recipe

Most cooks have their favorite pasta dishes they have prepared for years. This particular recipe goes back to when my Italian grandmother made it in the 1980s, and the sauce incorporates the unusual ingredient of vodka.

Don't worry about getting a little tipsy when you eat it. The alcohol burns off during the cooking process, leaving a delicious sauce with a great taste. However, the wine I recommend you drink with it might make you a little lightheaded!

Why Use Vodka in the Sauce?

Some of the tomato flavors are enhanced when cooked along with alcohol, such as wine or vodka.

For this recipe, it is not necessary to buy an expensive brand of vodka. The least expensive you can find will work just as well as some of the pricey ones on the market today.

If the thought of adding vodka in the sauce is not pleasing to you, try wine instead. However, definitely don't use both!

The recipe calls for heavy cream, which makes the sauce pink.

The recipe calls for heavy cream, which makes the sauce pink.

Not a Traditional Red Sauce

This is usually a meatless dish; however, you can serve cooked Italian sausage either on the side or sliced and added into the sauce. Baked chicken is also a good choice as an accompaniment.

My grandmother, and most Italians of her time, referred to the sauce as gravy. This gravy is not the traditional red, like the type that is served with spaghetti, but is a pretty reddish pink color due to the use of heavy cream.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

25 min

30 min

Serves 4 to 6 people


  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Basil, fresh or dried


  1. Cook penne pasta according to package directions while preparing sauce. Allow to drain well.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. When butter has melted, add garlic to pan and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Stir constantly to prevent garlic from burning.
  4. Add vodka and let it simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce and simmer on medium heat for 12 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from heat and add heavy cream. Mix well.
  7. Put cooked and drained pasta in a large bowl. Add the sauce mixture and mix together very well.
  8. Serve. Allow each guest to sprinkle basil and Parmesan cheese as desired.

Amo la pasta!

— I love pasta!

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© 2019 Thelma Raker Coffone