Carmine’s Penne alla Vodka

Carmine’s Penne alla Vodka – hands down the BEST vodka sauce ever! A quick and easy at-home version of our favorite Italian restaurant pasta dish! Ready to eat in about 20 minutes. Penne pasta, Italian sausage, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, basil, vodka, spaghetti sauce, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. Serve with a salad and some garlic bread for a meal better than any restaurant!

bowl of penne alla vodka with bread and Tito's vodka in the background

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Easy Pasta Dish with Italian Sausage

Carmine’s Penne alla Vodka is our all-time favorite pasta dish! We eat it every time we are in Las Vegas. Since we haven’t been traveling as much lately, I decided to buy their cookbook and make a big batch at home. O-M-YUM! This recipe is AMAZING! PLUS it is super easy to make. Get the pasta going, make the sauce and toss it all together. This is ready to eat in about 20 minutes! You can’t beat that! Whip up a salad and some garlic bread and prepared to be wowed!

spooning penne pasta with sausage from skillet

How to Make Carmine’s Penne alla Vodka

As I said, this pasta is very easy to make. Start with cooking the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Brown Italian sausage in a skillet until no longer pink. Add minced onion, basil, red pepper flakes, and fresh garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Do NOT let the garlic brown! Remove the skillet from the heat and add vodka. Using a wand lighter, light the vodka. The vodka will flame up. Place the skillet on the stove and cook for 1 minute or until the flame dies down. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. Add heavy cream to the skillet. Bring to a boil and boil until the sauce has thickened. Add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Toss the sauce and cooked pasta together. Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

  • If you prefer, you do not have to flame the vodka. Carmine’s recommends flaming the vodka to improve the flavor of the sauce.
  • I took a shortcut and used a jar of Rao’s spaghetti sauce instead of making my own marinara. You can certainly make your own sauce, but I think Rao’s sauce tastes just as good as homemade.
  • My favorite store-bought jarred spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara, Rao’s, and La Famiglia Del Grosso.
  • What can I add to Penne alla Vodka? I like to add Italian sausage to the sauce. You can leave out the sausage if you aren’t a fan. This is also delicious with cooked chicken, bacon, shrimp, prosciutto, or pancetta. You can also add fresh onion, mushrooms, and green peas to the sauce.
  • I used dried herbs in the sauce. Feel free to use fresh basil and parsley. You will need about 8 basil leaves and 3 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley.
  • For a creamier sauce, add more heavy cream.
close up of penne pasta with sausage and basil

What to Serve with the BEST Vodka Sauce

This pasta is just as good as the original at Carmine’s. We’ve been making this about every other week and absolutely LOVE it. I’ve actually quit ordering penne alla vodka out at restaurants because this at-home version is better than anything I normally get out. This is truly the BEST vodka sauce! We serve the pasta with a salad and some garlic bread. Add this to your menu ASAP! I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this easy pasta:

Creamy Italiano Salad

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bowl of penne alla vodka with bread and Tito's vodka in the background

Carmine’s Penne alla Vodka

Yield: 4 people
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Carmine's Penne alla Vodka – hands down the BEST vodka sauce ever! A quick and easy at-home version of our favorite Italian restaurant pasta dish! Ready to eat in about 20 minutes. Penne pasta, Italian sausage, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, basil, vodka, spaghetti sauce, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. Serve with a salad and some garlic bread for a meal better than any restaurant!

Ingredients:

  • 12 – oz dried penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian sausage casings removed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced onion flakes
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 (24-oz) jar spaghetti sauce
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cook sausage in a large skillet until no longer pink. Add olive oil, garlic, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds. Do NOT let the garlic brown.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and add vodka. Using a wand lighter, light the vodka. The vodka will flame up. Place the skillet on the stove and cook for 1 minute or until the flame dies down.
  • Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. Add heavy cream to the skillet. Bring to a boil and boil until the sauce has thickened. Add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
  • Toss the sauce and cooked pasta together. Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Notes:

  • If you prefer, you do not have to flame the vodka. Carmine’s recommends flaming the vodka to improve the flavor of the sauce.
  • I took a shortcut and used a jar of Rao’s spaghetti sauce instead of making my own marinara. You can certainly make your own sauce, but I think Rao’s sauce tastes just as good as homemade.
spaghetti sauce
  • My favorite store-bought jarred spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara, Rao’s, and La Famiglia Del Grosso.
  • What can I add to Penne alla Vodka? I like to add Italian sausage to the sauce. You can leave out the sausage if you aren’t a fan. This is also delicious with cooked chicken, bacon, shrimp, prosciutto, or pancetta. You can also add fresh onion, mushrooms, and green peas to the sauce.
  • I used dried herbs in the sauce because that is what I prefer. Feel free to use fresh basil and parsley. You will need about 8 basil leaves and 3 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley.
  • For a creamier sauce, add more heavy cream.

Steph

Remember this recipe.

Pin this recipe to your favorite board now to remember it later!

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spooning penne pasta with sausage from skillet
close up of penne pasta with sausage and basil

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Comments

  1. OMG!! This recipe was over the top!! My husband said it was his number one!! I didn’t change a thing except just to add onion and mushrooms, because we like that.AMAZING!! Thank you, you are one of my faves!!! Keep doing what you’re doing!😊

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