Recipes, Pasta

Penne with vodka sauce

Penne with vodka sauce

Penne with vodka sauce (penne alla vodka in Italian) is one of the most iconic dishes from the 70s and 80s.

The origin of this recipe is not clear, and as you can easily see the main ingredient is not typically Italian at all! So, why authentic vodka sauce recipe is the second most searched for pasta sauce after the undisputed #1 (i.e. bolognese sauce)?

It seems that even penne alla vodka recipe was created in Bologna, in the 70s, when at Dante’s restaurant the chef was famous for this flambé preparation, based on vodka. Success was that huge the recipe arrived to the USA and became very popular, mainly among the Italian Americans. Both in Italy and USA, discos started serving penne alla vodka during parties, making it an iconic food. The usage of cream as part of pasta sauces is a typical 80s thing, and this sauce is not an exception.

The particular flavor of this sauce comes from vodka. This ingredient is not only responsible for the name of the recipe, but also for making it not too fatty. Even despite the cream and the bacon.

If you will like this iconic recipe, just PIN IT to find it later 🙂 and of course visit my pasta recipes page!

But now let me guide you step-by-step with the authentic vodka sauce recipe!

Penne with vodka sauce
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4.50 from 2 votes

Penne with vodka sauce

One of the most iconic recipes from the 80s, penne with vodka sauce was created in Italy mixing some typical ingredients with the exotic flavor of vodka. You will love it!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course, Primo
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: creamy, delicious, easy, energetic, pasta, tasty
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 550kcal
Author: Roberto
Cost: $2


  • knife
  • pan
  • pot


  • 400 gr penne rigate "rigate" means ridged
  • half onion
  • 100 ml vodka my favorite: moskovskaya
  • 250 ml fresh milk cream
  • 200 gr smoked bacon
  • 400 gr peeled tomatoes tomato sauce can be an alternative
  • q.s. salt
  • q.s. extra virgin olive oil


  • Start cutting the onion in slices and browning it in the pan, with the extra virgin olive oil.
    Pennette with vodka sauce
  • When the onion is brown, add the diced bacon and make it gently fry.
    Penne with vodka sauce
  • Pour the vodka and rise the heat until it evaporates.
    Penne with vodka sauce
  • Add the tomato sauce (or peeled tomatoes), a pinch of salt and let it cook at low heat for about 20 minutes. Keep the pan covered.
    Penne with vodka sauce
  • Add the fresh milk cream and let the sauce gently cook for a couple of minutes. Pay attention not to dry it.
    Penne with vodka sauce
  • In the meanwhile you should have cooked the penne in salted water. Remove them from water when "al dente" and pour them into the pan. Mix the penne with the sauce for about one minute, with medium-high heat, until it's creamy. Now it's ready!
    Penne with vodka sauce

Suggested wine pairings

Penne with vodka sauce is usually paired with white, dry wines, like verdicchio, pinot grigio or colli orientali del Friuli Doc.

But, I must admit, my favorite drink is… the vodka I used to cook it 🙂


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Buon appetito!

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  • Reply Odi 10/11/2020 at 7:35 PM

    4 stars
    I wasn’t very convinced at the very beginning but I must say it’s worthy the try

    • Reply Roberto 10/22/2020 at 8:25 PM

      yea, this dish is often surprising!

  • Reply Max Bolondi 10/11/2020 at 4:45 PM

    5 stars
    A recipe that must be re-evaluated out of the 70’s aura that enveloped and relegated it to a remote limbo (and to discos, to be fair …) in common judgment.
    Even if it seems trivial to say, the difference lies precisely in the fact that when it is prepared with quality ingredients and with an adequate preparation (as in this proposal) the vodka sauce has a balance that deserves to be tasted. Btw, vodka (ok, in reasonable quantity) HAS to be the drink of choice with this pasta.

    • Reply Roberto 10/11/2020 at 4:48 PM

      totally agree, from the first to the last word 🙂 thanks!

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