Penne alla vodka is just what its name suggests: penne pasta tossed in a creamy vodka-spiked tomato sauce. In early 2020, the dish found traction with the Tiktok generation because of model Gigi Hadid, who shared her recipe online.
This simple recipe starts with aromatics, followed by a sauce of tomato paste, cream, and vodka. If you wanted penne alla vodka, you'd stop there. But our version takes a page out of pasta bake and adds an extra step—we transfer the pasta into an oven-safe dish, top it with cheese, then bake to finish. The result: penne alla vodka, crisped in some edges, crowned with a melty cheese topping.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup vodka
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ⅓ cup pasta water
- 500g penne or rigatoni pasta, cooked 2 minutes less than package instructions
- 6 slices ham or prosciutto, optional
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook aromatics: Add oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes more.
Cook sauce: Add heavy cream and stir until well combined. Pour in vodka, stir, then bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and season sauce with salt and pepper.
Add pasta: Add the cooked pasta and pasta water. Stir until well combined, cooking until the sauce has begun to thicken around the pasta, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the ham, if using.
Bake cheese topping: Transfer pasta to an oven-safe dish. Scatter mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta in an even layer. Bake until bubbling and the cheese is melted and browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.