Penne Vodka

overhead shot of penne vodka in a pan

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Penne vodka is an easy creamy pasta sauce recipe that’s ready to eat in less than 30 minutes! A rich tomato flavor enhanced with a little vodka, it will be one of your favorite easy pasta dinners.


3 cups penne pasta
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups half & half
6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup vodka (this is just the size of a mini bottle)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnishing your plate
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 ladle of reserved boiling pasta water (in case the sauce ever gets too thick)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the 3 cups of penne pasta according to box directions. As the pasta is cooking, carefully reserve 1 ladle of water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, begin making the vodka sauce. In a medium pan over medium heat melt the butter then add the grated garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until combined, cook about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate with the flour…cook another  minutes. Add the half & half and gently whisk to blend the tomato paste into the cream. Then, add the vodka and basil. Bring to light boil, then reduce heat and add the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. If the sauce begins to thicken too much, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time.

3. To serve, add the penne pasta a little at a time to the sauce until you have the consistency you like. Serve into bowls, top with extra chopped basil and extra Parmesan cheese.


I always say to add the cooked pasta a little at a time to the finished sauce. If you’ve made too much pasta and you add it all at once it would mean you don’t have enough sauce to cover all of the noodles. So add in stages and stir to make sure all the noodles get enough sauce. I’ve found 3 cups of penne pasta is just enough noodles!