Penne alla Vodka

How to Make Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka was a very popular dish in the 80’s and 90’s and while it’s a little hard to track the true origin, one thing is for sure, it has been completely transformed outside of Italy so my aim is to bring it back to its roots! This creamy pasta dish is my Mums recipe with a small tweak from me – do you think this dish deserves a comeback on Italian menus? Try my authentic version for the OG and let me know what you think – and yes, for once I use CREAM! Ever noticed how many more ingredients are often in a fake recipe? This dish is a reminder of how very unnecessary they are!!

Watch the Penne Alla Vodka Video Recipe:

How to Make PENNE ALLA VODKA Like an Italian

vodka pasta recipe


Vincenzo’s Top Tips To Make Penne alla Vodka

Just the right spice!

You do not need garlic in this recipe since the pancetta is seasoned with  garlic and other spices which add extra flavor to the penne alla vodka sauce

All time favourite

Basil is optional but (as you know) it’s my personal favourite! The aroma literally transforms the entire dish to a superior level.

DON’T be too rough

Be gentle with crushing and mixing the ingredients by using you hand or you may use a masher utensil as well

vodka sauce pasta

Penne alla Vodka

Vincenzo's Plate
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • Large fry pan
  • Classic Wire Masher or your hands
  • Chopping-board
  • Mixing bowl
  • knife
  • Tablespoon
  • Mug
  • Strainer
  • wooden spoon
  • large pot


  • 300 grams Penne Rigate 10.5oz
  • 2 small cans of Italian peeled Tomatoes 800gm/28.21oz
  • 200 grams Cooking cream 7oz
  • 200 grams Cured Pancetta/Bacon 7oz
  • Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
  • Basil
  • ½ Onion Chopped
  • 3 tblsp Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tbsp Rock salt
  • 100 mL Vodka 3.3oz


  • Add 5L water to a large pot and put it on the stove to boil while you make your penne alla vodka sauce.
  • Now, cut the pancetta into small strips and be sure to keep some fat on every piece. The fat will render when you cook it and add that extra flavour to the sauce and make it more crispy.
  • Put the fry pan on the stove on low heat and add 4 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to the pan and toss in the chopped onion.
  • Add the pancetta and cook it for apporox 5-10 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden and the pancetta is nice and crispy.
  • While the pancetta and onions are cooking, pour the peeled tomatoes into a large mixing bowl and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper before gently crushing them by hand (or using a masher utensil) Don't be too rough!
  • Back to the pancetta and onions - pour the vodka in the pan, and cook it together for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the peeled tomato we crushed earlier into the pan with the pancetta, vodka, and onions. Mix the penne alla vodka sauce slowly using a wooden spoon and cook at a medium-low heat for at least 15-20 minutes.
  • Break the basil leaves using your hands and toss them into the pan. The sauce should start to slowly thicken.
  • Add a small amount of cream into the pan until the sauce turns pink.
  • Now, cook the pasta, letting it boil for the time indicated on your packet instructions. Once it is almost ready, scoop up some pasta water using a mug and put it aside.
  • Once ready, strain the pasta and add it to the sauce which should be on a medium-low heat while gently mixing it.
  • Add half a mug of the pasta water into it and mix everything together until every penne is immersed in the penne alla vodka creamy sauce.
  • Lastly, add pecorino on the top (as always, as much or little as you like!) and toss it again.
  • E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!


Keyword Creamy, delicious homemade pasta, delicious vodka sauce, homemade italian sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


How to serve Penne alla Vodka

Hot and fresh – Nothing less! Portion the Penne Alla vodka into flat plates and enjoy the creamy texture of this old-school sauce. I’m definitely going to get Nonna to try this one, it’s so much more delicious than I thought it would be!


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7 Responses to Penne alla Vodka

  1. Brandon November 27, 2022 at 11:23 AM #

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing. I did add extra onion by accident, but it turned out absolutely amazing. The Pecorino at the end, B. E. A utiful!

    • Vincenzo's Plate April 28, 2023 at 5:42 AM #

      I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the penne alla vodka and that it turned out amazing, even with the accidental extra onion! The addition of Pecorino cheese at the end is a great way to finish off the dish with a burst of flavor.

  2. David Carswell January 20, 2023 at 8:22 AM #

    Simple ingredients are so often the difference. Don’t be tempted to embellish (my worst talent). Good as can be. simple is authentic from my personal experience in Italy.

  3. Logan April 10, 2023 at 9:19 PM #

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe and video. I never knew the importance of pasta water before I started watching your videos. I also never knew the proper techniques like exactly when to add the right ingredients and the right consistency of the stages of the sauce before moving on to the next step.

    Today, I followed your recipe and instructions as closely as I could. I live on Saipan, a small island in the Pacific. We have very limited access to ingredients for Western food. One of the things we do have easy access to, though, is Pecorino Romano from Italy. I kept seeing it at the one shop on the island that has ‘cheese’ (almost all except for the Pecorino is processed American imitation stuff) and wondered what the hell I could use it for.

    Then, you showed up on an Uncle Roger video my son was watching. I started watching your videos and, once I got past the cringe factor of having butchered every single recipe in exactly the same ways you show how people butcher those recipes, I started to pay attention to your instructional videos.

    I don’t know if your Nonna would be proud of you, want to kill you for giving away all of the secrets, or be really proud of you as she’s killing you for giving away all of the secrets. The result is a major success at my house, anyway. The family loved your Penne alla Vodka.

    Variations due to unavailable ingredients: No cream, I had to use a bit of whole milk. No Pancetta, I had to use smoked American bacon. No fresh basil, I used some pesto. But, I was generous with the Pecorino Romano 🙂

    • Vincenzo's Plate April 18, 2023 at 5:22 PM #

      You’re very welcome! I’m so glad that you found my recipe and instructional video helpful. It’s always a pleasure to hear from someone who has been able to successfully recreate one of my dishes, especially when you had to make some ingredient substitutions due to living in a place with limited access to certain ingredients.

      Thank you for your kind words and for being a part of the Vincenzo’s Plate community! I hope you’ll continue to enjoy making and eating delicious Italian food at home.

  4. Charlie November 14, 2023 at 10:10 AM #

    5 stars
    It was a very achievable weekday pasta dinner, I paired with grilled chicken sausage. The only change was lactaid whole milk and I was stuck with bacon, so a dash of garlic was added. My wife and I truly enjoyed the meal and 5 out of 7 kids loved it, two said they like the regular Vincenzo red sauce better. Thank you

    • Vincenzo's Plate November 17, 2023 at 7:39 PM #

      Wow, your twist with grilled chicken sausage and lactaid whole milk sounds like a fantastic touch! I’m delighted you and your family enjoyed the Penne alla Vodka, even with a bacon and garlic dash. It’s all about making it your own.

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