Penne Alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is a popular Italian-American dish that has its origins in the 1980s in New York City. The dish combines traditional Italian ingredients such as pasta and tomato sauce with a twist of vodka and cream, giving it a unique flavor and texture. Here’s a blog post that explores the origins of Penne alla Vodka, provides a detailed explanation of the dish, how to prepare it, popular ingredients and spices, health benefits, and nutritional values, as well as suggestions for what to eat it with and a recipe to try out.

About Penne alla Vodka

The dish’s origins are clouded in obscurity, with numerous persons claiming to have originated it. It is commonly assumed, however, that it was invented by a chef called James Doty while working at Orsini’s Restaurant in New York City in the 1980s. Doty was inspired to develop the meal after adding vodka to a tomato sauce he was cooking for a client, according to folklore. The client was so taken with the sauce that he begged Doty to name it after him; so, Penne alla Vodka was created.

It has now become a mainstay in Italian-American restaurants across the country, and it has even found its way back to Italy. The dish is popular for its creamy, tomato-based sauce with a delicate taste of vodka, and it is usually served with penne pasta, though other varieties of pasta can be used as well.

How To Prepare Penne alla Vodka

To make Penne alla Vodka, first, cook the Penne pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is boiling, heat a pot with olive oil and sauté some minced garlic until fragrant. Then add canned tomatoes, vodka, heavy cream, and red pepper flakes to taste. Allow the sauce to thicken and the alcohol to evaporate for a few minutes.

When the sauce is done, throw the cooked pasta in it and top it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

This meal is made using penne pasta, tinned tomatoes, garlic, vodka, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. These ingredients combine to make a creamy, somewhat spicy, acidic sauce that pairs well with the chewy and soft penne pasta.

Furthermore, this is a versatile meal that may be served as either a main course or a side dish. It’s delicious with a simple green salad or garlic bread. Because of its excellent flavor and creamy texture, it’s also a popular dish to offer at parties or gatherings.

Health and Nutritional Benefits

Penne alla Vodka is not only tasty but also nutritious. In terms of health advantages, this meal is rich and delicious and should be consumed in moderation. The tomatoes used in the sauce, on the other hand, are high in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants that help enhance the immune system and fight against the disease.

Due to the heavy cream in the sauce, it is also a pretty high-calorie meal, including roughly 400-500 calories, 15-20 grams of fat, and 50-60 grams of carbs. It may, however, be made significantly healthier by using low-fat cream or even Greek yogurt.

The tomatoes in the sauce are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, while the garlic and onion are anti-inflammatory. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory qualities and may help to lessen the risk of some forms of cancer.

Penne alla Vodka Recipe

Here’s a recipe to try out at home:


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Cook the penne pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, vodka, heavy cream, and red pepper flakes to the saucepan.
  5. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and the alcohol has evaporated.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the saucepan with the sauce.
  7. Toss the pasta with the sauce until it is evenly coated.
  8. Sprinkle the freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top and garnish with chopped basil leaves.
  9. Serve hot and enjoy!
A Plate Of Penne alla Vodka

Frequently Asked Questions

Sure, here are some frequently asked questions:

  • What does Penne alla Vodka taste like?

This dish has a rich and creamy tomato sauce with a hint of vodka flavor. The addition of heavy cream gives it a smooth texture and balances out the acidity of the tomatoes.

  • Is Penne alla Vodka a traditional Italian dish?

No, it is not a traditional Italian dish. Its origins are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been invented in the United States in the mid-20th century. Despite its non-traditional roots, it has become a popular Italian-American dish.

  • Can I make Penne alla Vodka without vodka?

Yes, you can make a non-alcoholic version of this dish by omitting the vodka from the recipe. You may need to add a bit of extra liquid to the sauce to make up for the missing vodka.

  • What type of vodka should I use in Penne alla Vodka?

You can use any type in making this dish, but it’s best to choose a good-quality vodka that you would enjoy drinking on its own. Avoid flavored vodkas, as they can overpower the other flavors in the dish.

More Info

  • What can I serve with Penne alla Vodka?

It can pair well with a variety of side dishes, including garlic bread, a simple green salad, or roasted vegetables. You can also serve it with a glass of red wine or a crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio.

  • How can I make Penne alla Vodka healthier?

To make the dish a bit healthier, you can use whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta and reduce the amount of heavy cream in the recipe. You can also add more vegetables to the dish, such as mushrooms, spinach, or roasted peppers.

  • Can I make Penne alla Vodka ahead of time?

Yes, you can make Penne alla Vodka ahead of time and reheat it when you’re ready to serve. Keep the pasta and sauce separate until you’re ready to reheat, and then toss them together in a pan or in the microwave. The sauce may thicken as it cools, so you may need to add a bit of extra liquid when reheating.


Penne alla Vodka is a classic Italian-American dish with a fascinating history and a unique flavor profile. With its creamy tomato sauce and hearty pasta, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser that will leave everyone asking for seconds. It is a dish that is easy to make and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. Whether you are a fan of Italian food or just looking to try something new, Penne alla Vodka is definitely worth a try.

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