Penne With Vodka Sauce

We have been waiting impatiently for spring here in Western Michigan.  According to one of our local meteorologists, we received more snow in April than we did in December.  A lifelong resident told me that it has been known to snow as late in the year as Mother’s Day.  Hopefully, that will not be the case this year. In the years I have been living here, we have had the occasional early Spring.  Just two years ago, a pretty tree was blooming outside my home office window.

Blooming Tree

If you are looking for something to warm up any remaining cold days, this hearty Penne with Vodka Sauce is just the right recipe.

Penne with Vodka Sauce (Penne alla Vodka) has been around since the 1970s, however, the origins of it are unclear.  There are at least three claims as to its invention.  Cookbook author,  Pasquale Bruno, Jr., claims the recipe was invented at Dante a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.  Another possible inventor of the recipe is James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University in New York City.  My favorite claim is that Luigi Franzese prepared the first version of this recipe at the New York City restaurant Orsini when he used a nearby glass of Russian vodka to thin a tomato sauce.  Thanks to Wikipedia as source material.

Whoever invented the recipe, I’m just glad they did.  It is one of my favorites, and also really easy to prepare.  Typically, this pasta dish contains penne, crushed tomatoes, onions, heavy cream and vodka.  I love serving the sauce over other types of pasta, such as ravioli.


Penne with Vodka Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 basil leaves chopped
1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces dried penne pasta, cooked and drained

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions till translucent.  Remove from the heat and add the crushed tomatoes and vodka.  Return to the heat and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the grated cheese and stir until melted and combined.  Add the salt, pepper, basil and the cream to the tomato mixture.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Serve over the penne and garnish with basil and parmesan cheese.  


Makes for a great meatless Monday dinner.



  1. Beaton says:

    you had me at vodka…. so a ¼ cup vodka and I finish the rest of the bottle yes? Ha!

    looks yummy easy to make will try it

    looks yummy though

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