Chicken/ Italian/ Pasta/Noodles/ Sauces/Condiments

Penne alla Vodka con Pollo

Vodka, one of my favorite things from Russia, outside the nesting dolls maybe…No, who am I kidding, it’s the vodka.

I am not quite sure what vodka does to this dish.  I think it has made it sweeter, but I am not sure.  However,  I am not willing to risk the oh so delicious flavor of this dish by omitting it next time (although I am certain you can, you would simply have a wonderful creamy tomato sauce on your hands.)

It is (was) Oscar night and it is my tradition with friends to have a “fancy” dinner while we watch the various annual award shows.  One friend requested pasta with a red sauce.  Since red sauce is a favorite, I obliged but felt I needed to “fancy” things up a bit or be decadent. This one of those occasions I save my fat, carbs, and calories for.  Enter Vodka! Enter Cream!

You might have noticed the “con pollo” part of the recipe.  Adding chicken is not a standard in most recipes, but I must have protein with every meal, didn’t feel like making it separate, so I figured why not just add it straight to the sauce.  Hey, maybe my chicken drank all the vodka and that is why I couldn’t taste it.  Hmmmm…

When you go to add the vodka, do so slowly as to avoid making a flambé.  For the basil, use fresh if you can, but if you use dry, only use about a ½ teaspoon.

The salt was a fun experience.  I started with just putting my standard ⅛ of a tsp in and I felt like nothing was added.  I added another ⅛ teaspoon, still, nothing.  Canned tomatoes usually are packed salted, but crushed tomatoes have no added salt, so I continued to add a bit of salt at a time.  By the time the cream was added, the dish still needed more salt and I was now at ¾ teaspoon and finally, perfect.  But I do understand we all have different salt palates, one taster salted the dish after it was served, so go with your own tastes, just start with a bit and work your way up.

My plan was to use two full cups of cream, go big or go home right? But by the time I was at a cup and half it was where I wanted it to be, but add a two full cups if you so desire.  It won’t be bad.

Penne alla Vodka con Pollo

Author: Michelle


  • 2 large chicken breasts , rinsed & cubed small
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion; finely diced
  • 2 large/plump garlic cloves
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes +/- to taste
  • 11/2 cups heavy cream +/- to taste
  • 3/4 tsp salt; to taste
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper; to taste
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped basil +/-
  • 1 lb penne or any large sturdy pasta


  1. In a very large skillet/pan (12") add the olive oil and butter and turn onto a medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions. Cook them for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the cubed chicken and garlic.
  4. When chicken is mostly done, about 3 minutes, slowly add the vodka.
  5. Allow the vodka to reduce by half.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package but cook one minute less than the printed cook time. The pasta will continue cooking in the sauce at the end.
  7. Once the vodka has reduced, reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes.
  8. Add the basil. Mix in well, bring to a high simmer.
  9. Add salt, a bit a time, until it is seasoned to taste.
  10. Add pepper and red pepper flakes. Taste.
  11. Reduce heat to low and slowly begin adding the cream and mix in well. Do not pour it in all at once.
  12. Once the sauce to the desired creaminess, slowly return it to a simmer, allowing all the flavors to blend.
  13. Remove from heat.
  14. In another large pan, add the nearly-cooked pasta over medium heat, incorporate the sauce a ladle-full at a time, until the pasta is coated.
  15. Serve topped with extra sauce and more fresh basil.
  16. Enjoy
Ingredients and chicken
The sauceServed; Penne alla Vodka con Pollo ~ The Complete SavoristA bite of Penne alla Vodka con Pollo ~ The Complete SavoristPenne alla Vodka con Pollo ~ The Complete Savorist

Thank you for sharing!

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  • Reply
    August 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight. This is the 2nd recipe I’ve made from your blog. Used frozen tomatoes and added some mushrooms. Also used half and half instead of cream. Delicious!
    Thanks! Darren

    • Reply
      August 19, 2014 at 1:26 am

      Thanks Darren! Adding mushrooms sounds fantastic. Smart move on the half and half, saved you some fat and calories. I don’t think I have ever seen frozen tomatoes. Did you freeze your own or should I be looking harder in the frozen veggie section of my grocery store? Glad you enjoyed it.

      • Reply
        August 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        Yes, we froze them from our garden.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2015 at 10:37 am

    pasta alla vodka is one of my favorite dishes and this recipe looks fabulous. i will def try it!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Thank you Lizzy. Cream, red sauce, and vodka…can’t go wrong.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2015 at 11:58 am

    This pasta looks so good to me. Like Darren I too have tomatoes in the freezer. I slow roast them in the Fall while they are abundant, and they are so useful to enjoy a flavorful tomato all winter long.
    Now I’ll need to get some vodka because I want to try this!

  • Reply
    March 20, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Beautiful comfort food at its best!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 5:32 am

    Penne Alla Vodka is one of my favorite dishes. This looks so good!

  • Reply
    Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats
    August 7, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I have always, always wanted to make this dish! Just never have any vodka around – need to get some stat!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      It’s great without the vodka too, but then it’s just penne and chicken. 😉

  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

    This looks so good! I love the chicken added in this dish… sometimes adding chicken makes the dish have a little more ompf! I know everyone in my family would love this!!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      It just makes a complete meal for me to have chicken.

  • Reply
    Manila Spoon
    August 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

    I often use wine in cooking but have yet to try vodka – this delicious pasta is now my perfect excuse!

  • Reply
    Dee Dee
    August 7, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Oh MAN this looks delicious. So silky and luscious–this needs to get on my table, and in my belly, ASAP!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      I know exactly what you mean.

  • Reply
    Sarah @ The Chef Next Door
    August 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    This looks like one delicious pasta dish! Looking forward to making this for my family soon.

  • Reply
    Ali Hall
    September 25, 2015 at 7:57 am

    How many people does this serve?

    • Reply
      September 25, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Hi Ali, this will feed 4-6 people.

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