PENNE ALLA VODKA: Simple + Easy Recipe


Whether you are entertaining family, friends, or that special someone, this recipe is sure to satisfy the taste buds and keep them coming back for more.  

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4-6 people

Difficulty of recipe: Moderate

This simple recipe is a go-to pasta dish whose end product is so much greater than the sum of its parts.  The acidity of the tomatoes would normally make the fatty oils in the cream separate, however the Vodka acts as an emulsifier, bringing all of the ingredients together into this rich, velvety sauce.  The exact origins of this recipe have been debated for decades, however one thing is for certain: it is absolutely delicious!


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces pancetta

  • 1 medium sized onion

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • kosher salt (to season pasta water and sauce, to taste)

  • 1/2 cup Vodka

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, broken down into a smooth consistency by hand

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • 500 grams penne pasta

  • 5 fresh basil leaves (extra to garnish if desired)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, to garnish

  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese (ideally parmigiano reggiano, extra to garnish if desired)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley (to garnish if desired)


  1. Dice the onion, pancetta, and mince the garlic
  2. In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil and pancetta and saute on medium heat until the pancetta begins to render and turn golden brown (7-10 mins).
  3. Add the onions and saute until they are soft and translucent (approx. 5 mins), add salt.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the minced garlic, stir to prevent burning.
  5. Pour in the Vodka and ignite with a lighter or torch just above the surface of the liquid (be careful as the vapors will ignite quickly, and be sure to stand clear and remove the pan from the stove if you have a low-mounted range hood or cabinetry above your stove).
  6. Let the flames continue to burn off the alcohol in the vodka while gently swirling the pan to prevent scorching the ingredients.
  7. When the flames subside, place back on the stove and stir in the tomatoes. Simmer on low eat, partially covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil and add your pasta. Cook to desired consistency.
  9. Add basil to the sauce after 25 mins of simmering and remove after 5 minutes before adding the heavy cream and parmesan. Stir to incorporate evenly.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss so all of the pasta is coated.
  11. Plate the pasta and sprinkle desired parmesan, parsley and/or basil.

About the Author

Brandon Benvenuto

I was born in Hamilton, Ontario and grew up in Ancaster before settling down in Burlington to pursue my career. I work as an Operations Manager for an apartment property rental company, but a large part of my spare time is spent in the kitchen. Food was definitely a priority in my household growing up, and I’ve always been surrounded by tremendous culinary influences in my immediate and extended families. Food is a passion of mine that I hold deeply, and I will continue to cook, research, explore, and create in a lifelong goal to fulfill the hunger I have for all things delicious.

You Would Also Like

Have a question?

our customer service team will be with you shortly