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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
What to Serve with Penne all Vodka
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.
Penne alla Vodka with Sausage
- 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
- 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
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
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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