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Penne alla vodka with meat cooked in a skillet.

Vodka Sauce with Meat Pasta Recipe

Homemade vodka sauce with meat is an easy dinner meal you will come back to time again for its delicious flavor and the variety of different ways you can use it to create meals your family loves.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword chicken vodka sauce, penne alla vodka with pancetta, vodka sauce with meat
Servings 4 servings
Calories 462kcal


  • large skillet
  • saucepan


  • ½ pound uncooked pasta penne, rigatoni, bowtie or other short pasta
  • cup onion chopped
  • 1 28 ounce can canned tomatoes diced
  • 2-3 tablespoon tomato paste or ½ small can
  • 1-2 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoon pepper or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional, or add more to taste
  • ½ cup vodka
  • ½ cup heavy cream half and half
  • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil

Optional Extras

  • ½ pound ground beef, pork, sausage (no casings), or turkey
  • 6 slices bacon or pancetta chopped, about ¼ pound
  • ½ pound shrimp, defrosted and deveined (10-12 shrimp)
  • 1 -1 ½ cups rotisserie, leftover, grilled chicken, cut up into bite sized pieces
  • ½ pound raw chicken breast or chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup peppers, green, yellow, orange or red, chopped
  • parmesan cheese grated for serving if desired


  • Get out and measure all of your ingredients.
    Overhead photo of all the ingredients needed to make vodka sauce for pasta.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, onions, and garlic.  Sauté until soft (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally.  
    Olive oil, onions and garlic sauté in a skillet.
  • In a blender add the whole peeled tomatoes, sauteed onion and garlic, and the spices (basil, oregano, salt).  Blend until a smooth puree. 
  • Return the blended mixture to the skillet and add the cream and vodka.  Stir.  Cook over a medium/low heat for 25 minutes stirring often. 
    Adding the cream to the pasta sauce to the skillet.
  • In a pot boil water.  Add ½ lb of pasta of choice (penne, rigatoni, bow ties, etc..) and cook according to instructions. 
  • Turn off heat but let sauce stay on burner.
    Prepared Vodka sauce in a skillet.
  • Add drained pasta to the vodka sauce and serve.  Garnish with desired choice like fresh basil.  
    Pasta added to the vodka pasta sauce in the skillet.
  • Serve.
    Pasta alla vodka served up on the table on plates and in skillet.
  • Enjoy every bite!
    Fork picking up a bite of penne alla vodka to eat.

Bacon, Optional

  • Cook bacon, ham or pancetta until edges start to crisp in a large skillet. About 3 minutes.
  • Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels. Crumble when cooled
  • Use bacon fat to cook the onions or wipe the pan with paper towel and add olive oil and set over medium heat.
  • Mix crumbled bacon into the sauce just before serving or sprinkle over the top of the pasta when serving.

Ground Meat, Optional

  • Crumble ground meat or raw, cut up chicken into the pan.
  • Add onions and mushrooms and cook for five minutes.
  • Add peppers and garlic and continue to cook.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • When meat is cooked continue cooking the recipe as instructed in the recipe card.

Chicken, Optional

  • Add cooked chicken while sauce is simmering.

Shrimp, Optional

  • Add the shrimp to the sauce during the last few minutes of simmering. Shrimp only take a few minutes to cook.
  • Simmer for 3-4 minutes and remove from heat and serve.


Nutrition: Based on pasta with sauce and doesn't include of the optional ingredients.


Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 292mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 646IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg