Pasta Alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka - American pasta dish.made with vodka and penne pasta often made with heavy cream crushed tomatoes onions and sometimes sausage or bacon.


Pasta alla vodka is one of my favorite dishes. Here’s a recipe that you can make at home that will easily rival or surpass your local Italian joint. It’s also a hearty fall meal, especially when paired with a salad and some crusty bread. Pancetta adds a added note of smoky flavor, but you can substitute bacon, Canadian bacon, or just leave it out altogether. Enjoy! 


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta, optional
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup vodka
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt to about 7 quarts water). Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a deep 12-inch skillet or pot over medium. Add the pancetta, if using, and fry until crispy, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the vodka and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and then fill the can halfway with water and swish it around to loosen up any leftover tomatoes; add a quarter to half of the water to the pan. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. If you prefer your sauce a little looser, go ahead and add the remaining water and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more. Reduce heat to low, add the cream and cook, stirring, until the sauce becomes an even pinkish-rust color, about 1 minute.

4. Stir in the cooked pasta and 1/4 cup cheese; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls, top with additional cheese, if desired, and sprinkle with the oregano and parsley.