Classic Penne Alla Vodka

Penne alla vodka is a classic Italian dish. Bursting with tomatoes and perfectly offset with vodka and cream, this will be a family favorite!


  • 450g dry penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 strips bacon, sliced
  • 1/2 large white onion, sliced (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced into wedges and halved (approximately 4 cups)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges and halved (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 237ml container of heavy cream
  • grated parmesan and sliced basil, for serving


  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and sliced bacon.  Cook until bacon is starting to crisp a little, approximately 4 minutes.  At this point, start boiling the salted water for the pasta in a separate pot.
  2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until soft, approximately 3 minutes.  Turn heat to medium-low and add the vodka, cook until the vodka starts to evaporate, approximately 3 minutes.  Add penne to the boiling salted water in the pot.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and return heat to medium.  Cook the tomatoes until they start to disintegrate into the ingredients in the pan, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes and cream to the skillet and stir to combine.  Check the sauce to see if it needs salt or pepper to be added.  Cook until the cream starts to thicken, approximately 4 minutes.  At this point, the penne should be cooked to just before al dente.  Save approximately 1 cup of pasta water (you likely won’t use it all).  Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.
  5. Cook the pasta in the sauce in the skillet until the pasta is ready, approximately 2 minutes if cooking to al dente, more if you want soft pasta.  Add a small amount of reserved pasta water if needed to help the sauce stick to the pasta.  I typically add 1/3 cup at first and then will add more if needed.
  6. Scoop into a bowl, top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil and serve.