One-Pot Penne alla Vodka

bowl of penne alla vodka pasta with garnish

A quick and easy one-pot pasta dish great for a busy weeknight.



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups minced onion or shallot
4 ounces pancetta, minced
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional more at your discretion)
1 can (15 ounces) fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups water
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for the table                       


1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley or basil


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, pancetta and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the pancetta has rendered its fat.

Add the garlic and pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes, vodka, cream, water and pasta; stir to combine.

Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, lower slightly to prevent the liquid from overflowing. Cook for the recommended time on the pasta package for al dente.

Stir in the cheese off heat and top each bowl with parsley and/or basil.


The most important step is to stir constantly once the liquid comes to a bowl. The pasta sheds starch, which falls to the bottom of the pan and scorches easily. Be sure to have everything in place before cooking – the table set, salad made, bread sliced, etc.