Penne Alla Vodka With Crispy Sausage

Penne alla vodka is a rich pasta dish that features vodka, tomatoes, and often cream. Although it’s delicious, it’s not everyone’s favorite pasta dish.

Pasta sauces of a pale pink color are a safe bet. Even if there are more enticing options, I almost always go for it when I see it on the menu.

The occasional serving of penne alla vodka was a huge deal when I was a kid. We rarely had it at home, but I often saw it served from a chafing dish at a restaurant or social gathering. Due to our age, my sister and I were in charge of making spaghetti for the family. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to use wine or hard liquor in our preparations.

The alcohol in this recipe evaporates while cooking, so there is no stinging alcoholic taste. In the end, you’re left with a thick, creamy sauce.

In my variation, I like to crisp up some sausage in a pan before adding it. It’s the perfect complement to the rich vodka sauce in this penne dish. Save some of the sausage to use as a topping for the spaghetti so your guests can see exactly what’s in it!


  • 450g of dried penne
  • 425g of can tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 12 ounces of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 finely chopped medium white or yellow onion
  • 2/3 cup of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of vodka
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the penne in a big saucepan of boiling, salted water until it reaches the desired doneness (al dente). Drain.
  2. Use 1 tablespoon of olive oil for cooking the sausage over medium heat until it is browned and crispy, breaking it up as you go. Take it out of the pan.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove and heat it over medium, then add the butter, garlic, and onions.
  4. To make the onions transparent, cook them until they are tender. Keep cooking for one more minute after adding the crushed red pepper flakes.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer after adding the vodka (if your stove has an open flame, do so before adding the vodka to avoid explosions).
  6. Cook on low for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Return to a simmer after adding the tomato puree. Lower the temperature to a gentle simmer. Add the heavy cream, black pepper, and salt to taste once the mixture has ceased boiling.
  8. The cooked sausage (save some for topping, if desired), pasta, and Parmesan cheese are combined and served with a generous helping of Parmesan on top.
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