Penne with Vodka Sauce

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Pasta is by far one of my favorite foods to eat.  I would much rather have a big bowl of pasta than meat and honestly I am not much of a meat eater;  quite different from my husband who could devour a sirloin everyday if he had it his way.  Sometimes it comes down to the battle of the meals when planning our dinners.  So I try to find a happy medium where I give him his meat on certain days and in turn I make my pasta.  

I love all varieties of pasta and I actually find it a bit shocking that I haven’t shared more pasta recipes.  I love everything from red sauces, to basil pesto, to simple pasta dishes tossed in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and cheese.  I could go on and on about all the varieties of pasta I love but if I were to name probably one of my favorites it would have to be Vodka Sauce.  

I first fell in love with Vodka Sauce at Joe’s Pasta Garage, a cute little restaurant in Skaneateles;  the same town where I discovered by love of Blueberry Scones and Rosemary Focaccia.   We would go there frequently and I would always order their Vodka Sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.  It was fabulous.  

Since then Vodka Sauce has always been a special pasta dish for me.  I always think of Vodka Sauce to be a pretty and elegant pasta dish.  Being made with cream I usually try to stay away from creamy sauces but in moderation and watching (or trying to watch) my portion control enjoying this delicious Vodka Sauce is a treat.

Making vodka sauce is extremely simple.  If you find yourself venturing down the pasta sauce aisle and grabbing a jar of vodka sauce try making this recipe instead sometime.  Once you try the homemade version, you will never pick up a jar of sauce again.  It is so fresh and you can control the ingredients you put into the sauce.  

The best part is this sauce only requires a few simple ingredients and doesn’t take that long to make.  While you are boiling water and cooking the noodles you can pretty much have this sauce done.  I often double a batch and freeze half so I have a batch in the freezer to thaw if I am in need of a quick dinner to toss together.   Toss with whole wheat penne pasta noodles, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a delicious and dinner is ready to serve.  

Penne with Vodka Sauce

1lb whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons vodka
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
Fresh chopped parsley (for garnish, optional)

In a large pot add water with a few pinches of salt and bring to boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain pasta and set aside.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, salt and pepper.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to a low.  Stir and cover to simmer for 20 minutes.  

Season sauce with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Toss pasta with sauce and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley.  

You can omit the vodka and make this as a Tomato Cream Sauce.  

Add in cooked chopped Italian Sausage.  


  1. I’ve been craving pasta like crazy lately and have all the ingredients to make this. Looks like I know what’s for dinner tonight! What a great recipe and pretty photos. Thanks, Jennifer!

  2. I love pasta too, so much! And this vodka sauce looks so perfect. Love it!

  3. Your sauce look beautiful. Not runny either, which is the way I like it.

  4. I’ve always wondered how to make vodka sauce — thanks for posting!

  5. Jennifer, this looks amazing! gorgeous photos per usual my friend! xoxo


  6. This looks so delicious :) I’ve never had vodka sauce but have a LARGE bottle of vodka lying around at home so I’ve gotta give this a go ~

  7. This looks like a perfect excuse to stock up on vodka. I’m with you – give me a bowl of pasta any day!

  8. I’m a pasta lover too. I could eat it every night if it wouldn’t increase my waist line! Vodka in dinner? How clever!

  9. I just love a good vodka sauce!! This one is so perfect! Maybe add a nice vodka cosmo with it?? ;-)

  10. I have never made a vodka sauce but that’s going to change here pretty quick! This sounds fabulous. I’m with you on pasta vs. meat. I’ll take the pasta any day!

  11. Beautiful photos and the sauce looks delicious!

  12. One of my favorites-Your version looks great!

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