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Penne alla Vodka with Sausage is an easy recipe with penne pasta and Italian sausage in a creamy tomato sauce. This delicious dinner is perfect for date night or a quick meal the whole family will love.

penne alla vodka with Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil

Penne alla vodka or penne with vodka sauce is a classic Italian pasta dish. My version gets extra flavor and added protein from mild Italian sausage.

This pasta recipe is incredibly easy to make but tastes like it comes from your favorite Italian restaurant. And don’t worry, you can’t taste the vodka. It just makes the creamy sauce incredibly smooth and delicious!

If you love pasta with creamy tomato sauce recipes, try my creamy shells and beef or creamy chicken pasta.


You only need a handful of ingredients to make this pasta alla vodka recipe. You can find them in your grocery store or online.

  • Penne pasta — This short tubular pasta is perfect for picking up the creamy sauce.
  • Crushed tomatoes — the basis for the sauce
  • Garlic cloves — Minced garlic adds for flavor
  • Vodka — helps bind the sauce and enhances the tomato flavor
  • Heavy cream — adds creaminess
  • Seasonings — sea salt, black pepper and dried parsley
  • Butter and olive oil — to sauté the garlic
  • Italian sausage — I brown the sausage ahead of time to make slicing easier and cut into thin slices. You can remove the casings and cook the crumbled sausage if you like.
  • Fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese — for freshness and creaminess

How to Make Penne alla Vodka with Sausage

First, brown the sausages in a large skillet or Dutch oven, and cut into thin slices. Then, sauté the garlic in butter and olive oil in the same Dutch oven or large pot.

Add the sausage slices back into the pot and cook until no longer pink.

sliced Italian sausage with onions in Dutch oven

Cook the penne pasta in a large pot of water until al denté according to package directions. Or, cook pasta in your Instant Pot.

Save a cup of pasta water before you drain it.

Add the can of crushed tomatoes, and simmer on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Add the sea salt, pepper and parsley.

Italian sausages in crushed tomatoes

Next, stir in the vodka, and cook for 5 minutes. This allows the alcohol to cook out of the sauce.

Pro tip — If you’re using a gas stove, turn off the open flame while you add the vodka. Once the vodka is in the sauce, turn the flame back on.

Then, stir in the heavy cream. Reduce the heat, and let the sauce cook for about 2-3 minutes.

stir heavy cream in tomato sauce with vodka

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Gently stir until the pasta and sauce are combined.

If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a little pasta water.

Garnish the pasta with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese. And, that’s it!

Italian sausage and penne pasta in vodka sauce with fresh basil


Do you need vodka in vodka sauce?

Vodka helps bind the sauce and enhances the flavor without adding flavor of its own. You can make a similar creamy sauce without vodka, but it won’t be vodka sauce.

What can I substitute for vodka in vodka sauce?

You can use gin in place of vodka. Don’t use wine, as the flavor will change. If you don’t want to use alcohol, sub chicken broth or water for the vodka.

Recipe Variations

Use turkey sausage or chicken sausages in place of sweet Italian sausage. You can spice up the dish with hot Italian sausage.

Use pancetta or bacon or chicken instead of sausage. Or keep this penne pasta recipe meatless.

I like this creamy vodka sauce recipe without onion, but you can add diced onions or shallots for extra flavor.

For extra spice, add red pepper flakes to the pasta sauce.

plate of penne alla vodka with Italian sausage and garlic bread

What to Serve with Penne all Vodka

Serve this simple pasta dish with extra Parmesan cheese and a simple green salad or a side of steamed broccoli or green beans. Homemade garlic bread completes the meal.

How to Store

Store leftover penne and sausage in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can freeze for longer storage. Reheat the penne in your microwave.

5 from 4 votes

Penne alla Vodka with Sausage

By: Dee
Penne alla Vodka with Sausage is an easy recipe with penne pasta and Italian sausage in a creamy tomato sauce. This delicious dinner is perfect for date night or a quick meal the whole family will love.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10



  • 3 small mild Italian sausage links
  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
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  • Brown the sausages, and slice thin
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Drain
  • Sauté garlic in butter and olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until soft
  • Add sausage slices, and cook until no longer pink
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, sea salt, parsley and pepper, and heat until bubbling
  • Stir in vodka, and cook for 5 minutes
  • Reduce heat, and stir in heavy cream. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes
  • Add cooked pasta, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Add a little reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if necessary
  • Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately


You can remove sausage casings and cook crumbled sausage with garlic if desired.
To save time, use leftover cooked sausages.
Safety tip —  If cooking on a gas stove, turn flame off and remove pot while adding vodka. Once vodka is added, return to stove and turn flame on.


Calories: 303kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 449mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 460IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 91mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian American
Like this? Leave a comment below!

I hope you enjoy this delicious pasta a la vodka recipe as much as we do. It’s definitely a family favorite pasta dish around here!

If you do try this easy meal, be sure to leave a comment and star rating.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Louis says:

    Made this for guest the other night! What a huge hit! Not that hard to make at all and tons of flavor!5 stars

  2. Artie says:

    Made this for Sunday supper, and it was a complete hit! Cant wait to make it again!5 stars

  3. Evany says:

    This is so much better than store bought! Actually, pretty easy and very tasty.5 stars