Penne alla Vodka

in Chicken & Turkey, Pasta, Quick & Easy

Penne alla Vodka

Our favorite Italian restaurant is a big, fat, chain restaurant. A big, fat chain. They have a version of penne alla vodka that is to die for. It’s loaded with prosciutto, chicken, chives and fat. Lots and lots of fat in amounts over which I have no control.

I consider a good dinner out a challenge – a challenge to make that dish at home, cheaper and lighter. We call it “Take-out Fake-out.” Pasta is usually pretty budget-friendly when made at home – when I’m looking to shave a few dollars from our grocery bill, the first thing I do is add a pasta dish or two to the menu. But eating pasta out? We can easily drop $30 a head on pasta, many, many times the cost of making the dish at home.

This dish comes together pretty quickly, or at least it seems to with a bottle of Pinot Noir open. Toss in a loaf of rosemary bread and we’re eating out at home, for a fraction of the cost and free access to unlimited house wine 🙂

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

Pasta and chicken in a creamy vodka sauce.


  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 4-6 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 28-oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup SKYY vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I sub fat-free half and half when I can)
  • 1 lb mini-penne
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives, plus more garnish
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, for garnish


  1. Bring pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta to the water just after adding vodka to the sauce.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto and shallot and cook until the shallots have softened and the prosciutto has mostly browned. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and increase flame to medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to cooktop and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream, chicken, and chives and cook until hot, about 2 minutes. Stir in the 2 tsp olive oil and remove from heat.
  4. Add pasta sauce to drained penne pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 4 bowls and top with Parmesan and additional chives.


Yields: 4 servings

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Estimated time: 30 minutes

11 comments… add one
  • this looks positively lovely. I recently put the vodka sauce pasta idea in my recipe list for myself, as I have never done it before.

    and I know just what you mean about shaving off the grocery bill by making it at home – and I think it tastes even better!

  • I’ll be over in 10 minutes for some Penne Alla Cheap. Holy moly that looks to die for.

  • I firmly believe that the addition of wine improve any dish…the wine going into a glass for the cook, of course. You can put some in the food, as well!
    Never seen Tomato/Vodka sauce with meat added…I like it. I’ll try it!

  • tag! you’re it!

  • Simple. Beautiful. Delicious.

  • don’t know why, but I have never made a vodka sauce. going to put this on my list of “to makes” right now.

  • Like Melissa, I have never made vodka sauce either. This looks scrumptious!

  • Wow. This sounds and looks absolutely amazing. I think I’ll try this. Thanks!

  • Joel

    I realize this entry is a year old. I just have to say I had this dish at the “big, fat chain” italian place last week and have had finding the recipe on my to-do list all week. Thanks for a great resource!

  • Jen

    I had Penne Alla Vodka at a restaurant a year ago and it had prosciutto and chicken in it. It was amazing, and I been wanted to try a similiar dish ever since. It was the best Penne Alla Vodka that I ever had. I cannot wait to try this recipe.

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