Easiest Penne Vodka Ever is a pasta recipe made with tomatoes, cream and vodka

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever

The Easiest Penne Vodka Ever is going to become your new favorite pasta dinner! Follow a few key steps to making this sauce better than from a restaurant!

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever om a board form the top with parmesan cheese

Our son had his friend over a couple of weeks ago to hang out, play video games…more video games…and more video games.

I’m sure you all know the Fortnite craze if you have kids. Who else is looking forward to school starting so we can end the saga for a bit?

Desperate to come up with something for them to do besides sitting and playing video games for a million hours, we all got in the car and went to the grocery store.

Here’s the thing.

Kids can cook. They really can. While I wouldn’t expect a fancy Beef Tip Stew or anything crazy, just take a turn. Take a night and make ME a meal for once.

So they picked penne with vodka sauce – you can find the Instagram Story about this on our page – it was pretty hilarious. AND they did a great job.

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever in a bowl with cheese and basil

Even more hilarious was listening to them eat the pasta. All of the sudden they were food critics, rating their meal and talking about how they could make it better next time.

Because for sure there was going to be a next time.

I’m telling you, if you have a picky eater get them cooking. It really works. Get them to make something they want to eat and put it in front of them.

Hands down the best way to get a kid to eat a meal, let them invest some time on the process and they’ll appreciate it much more.

I took their notes and their comments to this very basic dish and came up with the Easiest Penne Vodka Ever. An easy recipe with a few key steps that you can’t skip if you want the best flavor.

A key step in this recipe is the take the time to caramelize the onions (try our favorite Caramelized Onion Chicken Salad recipe).

Caramelizing the onions totally changes the flavor, making them super sweet and also – because no one wants a crunchy onion in their meal.

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever caramelized onions in pan

Right? I mean unless you’re eating a raw onion in a salad or on a burger…there’s no need for crunchy onions.

Now let the vodka reduce almost completely so you’re left with just the flavor of the vodka and not the alcohol.

Yes, I let my boys measure out the vodka and pour it in. Yes, I was right there watching…drinking a martini while I was watching but I was supervising.

Simmering the sauce is key, too so the flavors can blend together, it only takes about 15-20 minutes. You can shake up a nice cold martini while you’re waiting.

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever spiced in tomato sauce

Next you’re going to add a good amount of heavy cream. We’re talking a full cup here people – and don’t skimp on it.

This pasta is going to serve like 6 grown adults, so do the math. It’s not really that much.

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever with a swirl of cream in sauce

But the last most important part in this Easiest Penne Vodka Ever recipe is to toss your pasta properly.

Please don’t put a pile of penne into a bowl and spoon this sauce on top. Because I see people do ALL the time, even in restaurants and it makes me nuts.

The sauce and the pasta need to get friendly with each other before serving. Otherwise you’re just tasting the sauce and the pasta separately.

Trust me. There’s a difference.

I like to drain the penne, put it back in the pasta pot and then pour the sauce over the top. Add a couple handfuls of parmesan cheese and toss it all together.

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever in a pot with cheese

It might seem like more sauce than you need at first but trust me, it’s not.

If you want the perfect ratio of sauce to penne in my opinion, use it all. Especially when you go to heat up the leftovers if there are any…no dried out pasta here.

Now get a fork and dive on in there!

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever with a fork taking a bite

Maybe I’ll try this again and see what else they can come up with for dinner! Another meal I don’t have to cook!


Easiest Penne Vodka Ever is a pasta recipe that can be served with parmesan cheese on top

Easiest Penne Vodka Ever

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


The Easiest Penne Vodka Ever is going to become your new favorite pasta dinner! Follow a few key steps to making this sauce better than from a restaurant!


1 pound penne pasta (16 ounce box)

3/4 cup onion, diced small

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on the level of spiciness you want)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/3 cup vodka

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese


Start a large pot of water over high heat to boil the pasta. Cook according to package directions and drain.

While the pasta is cooking start the vodka sauce by heating a large skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the oil and onions, stirring to coat the onions in the oil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the onions have cooked down add the crushed red pepper flakes and the garlic. Stir and cook for a minute longer then carefully pour in the vodka.

Let the vodka reduce until the liquid is almost gone then stir in the tomato paste.

Pour the crushed tomatoes in the skillet and whisk until smooth.

Add the oregano, basil, salt and pepper, stir and simmer partially covered with a lid for 15 minutes.

Pour in the cream, whisk and remove from the heat.

Add the drained pasta back to the pot and then pour in the vodka sauce.

Toss together with the parmesan cheese and test for seasonings.

Serve immediately.


*When adding the vodka, it’s best to turn the heat off first!

Keywords: pasta, spaghetti, vodka sauce, penne, pasta dinner, dinner recipe, easy penne vodka recipe, how to make vodka sauce


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