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Penne alla Vodka: A Savory Symphony in Your Kitchen

Penne alla Vodka is a timeless Italian pasta dish that effortlessly combines the richness of cream, the tanginess of tomatoes, and a subtle kick from vodka. Elevate your culinary experience with this step-by-step guide on crafting the perfect Penne alla Vodka in the comfort of your kitchen.


  • 400g (14 oz) penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 can (400g/14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil or parsley, chopped (for garnish)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Step 1: Cook the Penne

  1. Boil Water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
  2. Reserve Pasta Water: Before draining, reserve a cup of pasta cooking water. This may be used later to adjust the sauce consistency.

Step 2: Sauté Aromatics

  1. Sauté Onion and Garlic: In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté finely chopped onion and minced garlic until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add Red Pepper Flakes: Stir in red pepper flakes for a hint of heat. Adjust according to your spice preference.

Step 3: Deglaze with Vodka

  1. Pour in Vodka: Carefully add the vodka to the pan. Allow it to simmer and reduce by half, infusing the sauce with the essence of vodka.
  2. Be Patient: Let the alcohol cook off, leaving behind a subtle depth of flavor.

Step 4: Introduce Tomatoes

  1. Incorporate Crushed Tomatoes: Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stirring well to combine with the vodka-infused aromatics.
  2. Simmer: Allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, letting the flavors meld.

Step 5: Creamy Indulgence

  1. Add Heavy Cream: Pour in the heavy cream, stirring to create a luscious, creamy consistency.
  2. Season to Taste: Season the sauce with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust according to your preference.

Step 6: Combine and Garnish

  1. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the cooked penne pasta to the sauce, tossing until each piece is coated in the velvety goodness.
  2. Garnish and Serve: Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley. Optionally, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese for an extra layer of flavor.

Step 7: Enjoy the Culinary Symphony

Serve the Penne alla Vodka immediately, reveling in the harmonious blend of creamy, tomato-infused sauce coating each perfectly cooked penne. Pair it with a sprinkle of Parmesan, a touch of fresh herbs, and savor the culinary symphony you’ve created in your own kitchen.

Tips and Variations:

  • Vodka Selection: Choose a good-quality vodka for optimal flavor.
  • Spice Customization: Adjust the red pepper flakes to cater to your desired level of spiciness.
  • Vegetarian Twist: For a vegetarian version, omit any meat-based ingredients and enhance the sauce with sautéed mushrooms or spinach.
  • Make it Al Fresco: Take it outdoors and enjoy your Penne alla Vodka with a refreshing glass of chilled vodka or a light Italian white wine.

Now, armed with this recipe, you’re ready to impress your taste buds and those of your guests with a delightful homemade Penne alla Vodka. Buon appetito!

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