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Chef John's Penne with Vodka Sauce

Chef John

"This is the incredibly easy and always popular vodka sauce. There are certain flavors in tomatoes that are only brought out if you introduce alcohol into the sauce."
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1 h 10 m servings 602 cals
Original recipe yields 6 servings


  • Calories:
  • 602 kcal
  • 30%
  • Fat:
  • 25.1 g
  • 39%
  • Carbs:
  • 68.4g
  • 22%
  • Protein:
  • 15.9 g
  • 32%
  • Cholesterol:
  • 48 mg
  • 16%
  • Sodium:
  • 791 mg
  • 32%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

See full nutrition

Nutritional Information

1 Serving
Servings Per Recipe:
Amount Per Serving
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  • ** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.
  • (-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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  1. Cook and stir bacon and rosemary sprig with olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until bacon renders its fat but is not crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour vodka into the skillet, standing back to avoid any flare-ups. Raise heat to high and continue to cook until the vodka reduces to about 2 tablespoons.
  2. Pour heavy cream into skillet, stir briefly, and add black pepper; bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until sauce has slightly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix marinara sauce and water into cream mixture and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and simmer sauce 20 to 25 minutes to blend flavors.
  3. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and return to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but still chewy, about 10 minutes; drain and return to pot. Pour sauce over penne and stir to combine. Turn off heat, cover pot with a lid, and let stand 5 minutes for pasta to absorb sauce. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


  • Cook's Note:
  • Feel free to use bacon if you don't have pancetta.

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Read all reviews 24
  1. 34 Ratings

Most helpful positive review

Yay, I get to be the first again to rate another one of Chef John's masterpieces. This was outstanding!! I quadrupled this partly because we had company and the other part is we all love pasta! ...

Most helpful critical review

Very, very bland.

Most helpful
Most positive
Least positive

Yay, I get to be the first again to rate another one of Chef John's masterpieces. This was outstanding!! I quadrupled this partly because we had company and the other part is we all love pasta! ...

My husband is out of town for a couple of days so I cut this recipe in half with the plans of having it tonight and tomorrow night...all I can say is I cannot wait until tomorrow night to have i...

Fixed this for dinner except I put it in a casserole dish and covered the top with mozzarella cheese and melted in the oven and browned the cheese. some home made garlic bread and Bam! Im a hero...

I made this recipe last night for me and my hubby - relatively simple recipe yet full of flavor. I used about half a teaspoon of dried rosemary because I didn't have fresh on hand. Also, we li...

Very, very bland.

Very, very bland. I was looking forward to this dish, very disappointing definitely not making this again.

I would give this five stars if it contained the changes I made (which aren't for everybody). I added a teaspoon of crushed chili pepper, a thinly sliced jalapeno, used red wine instead of wate...

I was surprised by how easy this recipe was. That being said, I would not use a prepared marinara sauce again, as it gave the sauce a canned taste, almost like spaghetti-o's. I added a bit more ...

Haven't made it yet but giving it a 4 just because no salt was added or garlic. For those of you that make a recipe. And don't taste your end product to see if you need salt, garlic etc. that...