Penne with Vodka Sauce

Total Time:
30 min
5 min
25 min

6 servings

  • 1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce, blended until smooth
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound penne

Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Simple Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

4 to 6 basil leaves

2 dried bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.

Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

View All

Pairs Well With

Bright, fruity Italian red wine

  • Find easy pairings for your favorite recipes, Bobby's perfect picks and party ideas.
More Recipes and Ideas
Loading review filters...

    231 Reviews
    0/1000 characters
    Your Rating:
    Sort by: 
    Overall, this is a good recipe...But, do not use all of the vodka. A half of a cup would be enough. Mine was edible, but I had to add some sugar and cook a few extra minutes.
    I made her tomato sauce as is, omitting the bay leaf and butter. I added 1/4 cup of vodka as many suggested and pretty much followed everything else to a T. I did sauté some shrimps in olive oil and a touch of basil and tossed it into the sauce. DELCIOUS!
    I too should have read reviews before making. The vodka was overwhelming. I will need another quart of jar sauce and more pasta to make it good.
    i bought jarred vodka sauce so it has marinara vodka garlic onions and all the right spices....then followed the recipe with the heavy cream and cheese!!!!
    I wish I had read these reviews before making this sauce. I followed the recipe exactly and even after reducing the sauce for more than 20 minutes it still tasted like vodka. I agree with the other reviewers that there is too much vodka in this recipe. Next time I make this I will use 1/4 cup instead. Vodka sauce is not supposed to taste like vodka or make you feel buzzed from eating it!
    First time I made this or any or your recipes. This was fantastic. Easy to cook and all you have to do is follow the recipe and cook as directed. Smelled the sauce just after I added the vodka. The alcohol smell was strong, but let this cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. The flavor was really good. I will make this again and will use your recipes again. So yummy!
    This was absolutely delicious!! I did find the tomato sauce to be too acidic for my liking so I added a few tbsp of sugar and that really did the trick! My mom has always added sugar to her tomato sauce so I tried that instead of Giada's butter trick. 
    Adding the 1/2 up of grated cheese at the end really does give the sauce an extra layer of flavor! Do not skip this step!
    This recipe was excellent and easy I added some Italian seasoning to the sauce and let it cook for an extra 10 minutes before adding the cream! I used spaghetti sauce from the jar and put it in the food processor! Huge success with my 9 year! He asked for extra!
    WAY TOO MUCH VODKA. Use a 1/4 cup of vodka and you'll probably have more than enough. Wasted a heck of a lot of time, food, and money because I put an entire cup of vodka in the sauce. Giada, please amend the recipe, that must be a mistake.
    This is one of the best tomato based pasta recipes I have ever used. I serve it so often for dinner guests and it is always a huge hit. 
    I serve it with freshly grilled grilled king prawns.
    i loved it.i had this same dish at a local resturant witch i really liked this was better.the vodka sauce was perfect very tasty
    Excellent creamy, velvety and just the right amount of flavor. Better than most of the restaurants in my neighborhood who overcharge for their vodka sauce. This is one of my favorite variants to my homemade marinara which I make a lot of. Kudos to Giada. Will make many more times in the future.
    Vodka is basically a neutral spirit, i.e., grain alcohol diluted with water. There's really very little point to adding a cup of it, then cooking off most of the alcohol and most of the water. Instead, wait until after the sauce is done, turn off the heat, then add vodka to taste - I find that 2-3 TBL is about right. 
    Other than that, it's a decent recipe. 
    I didn't LOVE it, but I thought it was pretty good.  
    I've ordered this a lot at restaurants and definitely have had better, but this is a good recipe if you want to make it yourself. 
    Also, I've made her 'simple tomato sauce' many times now, and it's always delicious to go with any pasta...
    Delicious! I reduced it longer than the 20 minutes, added sauteed shrimp and mushrooms after cream, very tasty. I also liked the tomato sauce, froze some of both for future use.
    Follow the recipe and you will love this. Used Giada's simple sauce recipe and full amount of vodka. You must cook it down after adding the vodka. The 20 minutes she suggests is just a suggestion. It has to reduce. That said: Family loved it! In addition to the listed ingredients, crisped 1/8 lb pancetta in the pan prior to adding tomato sauce. Perfect. If you are feeding 6 people, you should make a larger batch -- they will want large helpings of this! My family of three ate more than half of it, and one of them is only 7 yo!
    "OMG!!! I just made this tonight for the very first time and I cleaned my plate. lol My big brother loved it too. Besides adding some boneless chicken breast to it, I didn't subtract anything from the recipe. I followed it to the Tee and the vodka I used was diluted vodka, which was the only one I had in the house. And still, the result was sooo yummy!!! I absolutely loved the outcome. I have some sauce left over which I'm freezing for next week. It is sooo good, I'm gonna make it monthly now. Thank you!!!
    Super yummy! I reduced the vodka to half a cup. The sauce had a perfect consistency. I would add shrimp, chicken or sausage to it next time.
    WAY too much vodka. I'm a new cook so if I knew to boil vodka beforehand, I think I would have had much better results.
    I loved this sauce. At first I used only one can of crushed tomatoes, but that would have required me to cut the recipe in half. I didn't end up doing that and I added the full cup of vodka. That was way too much so after realizing my mistake I added another can of crushed tomatoes, then I let the vodka boil off. It didn't take long and the sauce came out so delicious. The way I make my simple sauce is with crushed tomatoes, basil, dried oregano, thyme, crushed garlic - I make it into a paste - , onion, sazon, and a little olive oil in the beginning to sweat the onions and garlic. It was so yummy and I was so happy to have made so much. I froze it and let the rest sit in the freezer for another dinner.
    The key is to burn off the alcohol in the Vodka before you add the tomotoes, the receipe that I use adds 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper to the vodka and let stand for a few hours, it gives the sauce a little kick
    Did Not like it at all thought it would be more of a light sauce and creamy and to much basil. Whould never make it again.
    I agree there is much too much Vodka ....I think its a misprint all other recipes call for a 1/4 cup vodka for the same amount of sauce......I really really hope its a misprint otherwise it a no-go .....Threw it all out inedible!!!!!!!!!!! 
    Inedible! Too much vodka. A waste of time and Ingredients.
    This recipe was good and simple. I used store-bought sauce - Hunts Traditional in the can and the consistency is such that there is no need to blend it like the recipe calls for. It came in 16 oz cans so I halfed all of the other ingredients. There was a perfect amount for 1 box of pasta (and I am a sauce fiend). I will make this again, but tweak it a bit... Next time I will add a bit more cream than the recipe calls for and be sure to add fresh grated parmesan or locatelli. I added 4C cheese and it didn't "melt", but stayed in little granules.
    I am a "novice" chef who only cooks for myself and my family but this is my son's new favorite Penne Ala Vodka recipe (next time I will add bacon, peas & chunks of tomato). Thank you Giada !!!
    Great recipe. I added shrimp asparagas and broccoli after adding the cream. the vegtables were blanched and shrimp was slightly cooked before adding them to the sauce. My husband loved it too!
    Wonderful base recipe. I used this to make shrimp with vodka sauce, and so the only main change was to saute some shrimp until par-coked before proceeding with the recipe. I then added the shrimp to the pot after the cream addition. I also used store bought tomato sauce. One thing i would caution it to be sure to cook the vodka off sufficiently for your taste, as it can be quite flavourful if your not wanting or expecting bold alcohol taste in your dish. The other thing to remember is that the cream will mellow out the vodka tast, and make it a lot smoother, so don't despair if your nervous about the flavours if you haven't yet added the cream. Shrimp or chicken would be great additions to this dish. Finish with fresh basil/parsley for a wonderful dish. Thanks Giada.
    Delicious, rich and creamy. This recipe is fantastic. We added some grilled chicken to the top to round it out a little. Wouldn't change a thing about this recipe, Giada has it perfect. As stated by other reviewers be sure to reduce the sauce like the recipe suggests so that you cook off the alcohol. This one's a keeper!
    Flag as inappropriate

    Thank you! your flag was submitted.

    Not what you're looking for? Try:

    Penne With Vodka Sauce

    Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen