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Penne alla vodka in a large skillet with a wooden spoon.

Classic Penne alla Vodka

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Marinara, Pasta, Penne
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 296kcal
This Classic Penne alla Vodka is just that:  Classic, vintage and perfectly Italian-American at it best.  Make the Homemade Marinara to ensure the best taste you could ever imagine. This is pasta comfort heaven. 
Print Recipe


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (use 1/2 tsp for more heat)
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 4 cups homemade marina sauce (click link below for complete recipe)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz dried penne
  • 1 cup Romano cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper


  • Make the homemade marinara sauce and set aside (can be made up to 3 days in advance, stored in the refrigerator). 
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is just starting to smoke, add the onions and lower the heat to medium.  Cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the basil, parsley, and red peppers (to taste), cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vodka (stand back when doing this).  If the vodka does not flame, very carefully light a long match and ignite.  (again, stand back).  
  • Once flame has died down, return the pan to the heat and add the marinara sauce and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the cream and bring to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Meanwhile, cook the penne in a salted pot of water for 8 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta.  Bring the sauce to a simmer again and stir in 1/2 cup of the Romano cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well over low heat until penne is fully coated. Serve with remaining cheese on the side.


Calories: 296kcal