This easy penne alla vodka recipe can be made using canned or fresh tomatoes depending on what’s in season. The perfect quick and delicious weeknight dinner!
I’ve always loved penne alla vodka. In fact, the first time I tried it, I couldn’t believe it had vodka in it. It’s a taste that’s difficult to describe, but it’s a classic for a reason. It’s really, really good and so easy to make.
My version is lightened up a bit. I use half-and-half instead of heavy cream. You can definitely use heavy cream if you wish, but I think in this dish it does work to go a little lighter, especially on hot summer days.
Pro tip: It’s summer, so I used fresh tomatoes. If they’re not in season or you don’t have any on hand, simply substitute them with a can of diced tomatoes (I’d use a 14 fluid ounce can, juices and all).
Key ingredients in penne alla vodka:
My mom always put basil in this dish, so I do as well. It’s actually more traditional to put peas in here, but I prefer basil. I also have a ton of basil growing in my planter, so in it went. And not many things beat the taste or fresh basil amirite?
I’ve read that the origin of penne alla vodka isn’t clear. Apparently, it was a popular dish in the early 80s in Italy, and then it became popular in America shortly thereafter. The dish’s invention has been attributed to multiple people, including a chef who worked for a vodka company. Interesting.
How to make the best penne alla vodka
Sauté your onion in butter and olive oil. Add in the garlic and vodka. Let it bubble for a minute.
You then add the tomatoes and Italian seasoning and cook the sauce for another 5 minutes before adding in the half-and-half (or cream) and continuing to cook it until further reduced.
Before serving, add the fresh basil and season as needed.
If you wish, add some freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese.
This penne vodka recipe is super easy and flavorful.
I hope you will love this healthy penne alla vodka recipe!
Questions? Let me know in the comments below.
The Best Penne alla Vodka
This easy penne alla vodka recipe can be made using canned or fresh tomatoes depending on what's in season. The perfect quick and delicious weeknight dinner!
- 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 1/2 small onion chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 4 medium tomatoes chopped finely (the riper the better)
- 1 dash Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
- Handful of fresh basil chopped finely
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
- Boil a generously salted pot of water for the penne and it cook al dente according to package directions.
- Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 5-7 minutes or until softened (ok if it lightly browns).
- Stir in the garlic.
- Add the vodka and let the sauce bubble for a minute or so.
- Add in the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Continue cooking the sauce for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the half-and-half. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the basil and season as needed with salt & pepper. Toss with the drained pasta and serve with the grated parmesan.
- If you don't want to use fresh tomatoes, use an entire 14 fluid ounce can of diced tomatoes.
You may also like my quick & easy gnocchi alla vodka recipe.