Penne alla Vodka | Penne with Vodka Sauce

penne alla vodkaToday I’ll show you how to make one of the most famous Italian dish of the 80s: Penne alla Vodka. It is a first course of pasta topped with Vodka Sauce, made with bacon, vodka, tomatoes, onion and heavy cream.

Penne alla Vodka is the celebratory dish of World Pasta Day 2016 which is celebrated in Moscow on October 25. Nowadays this recipe is considered out of fashion in Italy, but the Italian pasta makers of the Associazione delle Industrie del Dolce e della Pasta Italiane (AIDEPI) have decided to retrieve the recipe in this occasion.

According to Aidepi- reads a note- the plate establishes the closeness between two worlds and their culinary cultures. It tells the story of a spontaneous exchange, which combines Pasta, icon of the Italian cuisine, with Vodka, one of the symbols of Russia.

Are you ready to cook Penne alla Vodka classic recipe? Frying pan in hand and read the recipe!

Penne alla Vodka Classic Recipe

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
Yields : 4


  • 350 g (12 oz)- penne
  • 200 g (7 oz) – bacon
  • 1/2 – plastic cup of classic white vodka
  • 1 – shallot
  • 400 g (12 oz) – tomato puree
  • 2 – tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) – heavy cream
  • coarse and fine salt


penne alla vodka

Cut the piece of bacon into small pieces (1). Meanwhile slice finely the shallot and put it to fry gently for 2 minutes in a large pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (2). Add the bacon and cook it over low heat until it becomes slightly crispy (3).

penne alla vodka

Raise the heat and pour in half a plastic cup of vodka (4). Let evaporate the alcohol while maintaining the medium-high heat for a few minutes. When alcohol is completely evaporated, add the tomato puree (5). If the tomato puree is too concentrated, add 1/2 cups of water. Season with salt, stir and cook for 8-10 minutes over high heat without a lid, stirring occasionally (6).

penne alla vodka

Meanwhile, put on fire the pot with salted water. When the water boils, pour the penne and cook them according to the cooking time written on the packaging. When the sauce is cooked, add the heavy cream (7). Raise slightly the heat and cook a few minutes, until you get a fairly thick cream (but not too much), then turn off and let it sit. Drain penne when they are al dente and put them into the sauce in the pan (8). Stir with care, over medium heat, making them creamy and serve hot (9).

Penne alla Vodka Origins and Variants

Reading the name, Penne alla Vodka, one would wonder if this recipe comes just from Russia or not. The only certainty you have on Penne alla Vodka is that it’s not a Russian dish. There are two hypotheses about the origin of this recipe: the first is that it was born in mid 70s in a restaurant in Bologna, the Dante and it was prepared flambé in front of diners. The second says it would have been invented by a chef in New York. In any way it has been for many years a recipe very much in fashion in Italy during the 70s and 80s.

Penne alla Vodka Variants

The original recipe would like to have, as main ingredient, bacon and not speck, although at times it is used.

Many people add garlic to the ingredients, which is absent in the original recipe, just because garlic has a strong flavor that would divert attention from the taste of the vodka, bacon and cream.

The addition of Parmesan cheese is to taste but is not recommended because the creamy effect is already given by the heavy cream. Parmesan would be an excess that could make very dense in texture the dish.

Today’s more nostalgic gourmet have revisited Penne alla Vodka recipe, adding, in many variants, pumpkin, nutmeg or chives, to make more modern and fragrant this dish.

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Penne alla Vodka | Penne with Vodka Sauce
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Penne alla Vodka | Penne with Vodka Sauce Ingredients Box

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Yields: 4


  • 350 g (12 oz)- penne
  • 200 g (7 oz) - bacon
  • 1/2 - cup of classic white vodka
  • 1 - shallot
  • 400 g (12 oz) - tomato puree
  • 2 - tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) - heavy cream
  • coarse and fine salt

Additional Info


I love all red things, reading novels, Milan football team, spaghetti and dark chocolate. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother who Involved me in the kitchen from a very early age. She was kind and patient and generous with her time. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve being in the kitchen with her while she was cooking Risotto alla Milanese or Polenta. And the bonus of it was that she always made me taste everything.