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Penne alla vodka without vodka

Penne alla vodka without vodka

Introduction to Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka is a popular Italian pasta dish which is a lot more American than you might think. It’s a creamy, tomato-based pasta that is cooked with vodka.

What is Penne alla Vodka?

Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish made with a sauce of vodka, cream, and tomatoes. It’s typically made with penne pasta. Despite its name, it’s not traditionally Italian but is believed to have been invented in America in the 1980s.

The Origin of Penne alla Vodka

The exact origin of penne alla vodka is not clear. Some believe it was a marketing ploy by vodka companies in the 1970s to sell more vodka in America. Others believe it was created by a chef in Bologna, Italy.

The Classic Ingredients

The classic penne alla vodka recipe includes penne pasta, vodka, heavy cream, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes meat like prosciutto or sausage.

The Role of Vodka

In the classic recipe, vodka is added to the sauce to enhance the flavors and help emulsify the sauce, giving it a smooth and creamy texture.

Making Penne alla Vodka without Vodka

While vodka plays a role in the traditional recipe, it’s possible to make a delicious version of penne alla vodka without it.

Why Skip the Vodka?

There are many reasons you might want to skip the vodka in this dish. You might not have it on hand, you might be serving someone who doesn’t consume alcohol, or you might just be curious to try a version without it.

Alternative Ingredients

You can replace the vodka with chicken or vegetable broth to add flavor without the alcohol. You could also use a non-alcoholic vodka substitute.

Recipe for Penne alla Vodka without Vodka

Cooking Method
Courses ,
Difficulty Intermediate
Prep Time: 60 min Total Time: 1 hr
Best Season Suitable throughout the year
  • 1 pound penne pasta (450 gr)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 ml)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz / 800 gr)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (250 ml)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (250 ml)
  • Salt and pepper (To taste)
  • Fresh basil leaves (For garnish)
  1. Cook the penne pasta as written on the package. Drain and set aside.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a big pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until the onion becomes translucent.

  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and broth to the skillet. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the heavy cream. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

  5. Add the cooked penne to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce. Cook for a couple more minutes, until the pasta is cooked well.

  6. Serve the pasta garnished with fresh basil leaves.


For a full dinner, pair this dish with a green salad and a side of garlic bread. It’s also great with a glass of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage.