This Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka is super easy and ready in under 30 minutes. Toss in some cubed chicken or shrimp for added protein. It's thick, creamy and luxurious!
This instant pot penne alla vodka is the right balance of creamy, sweet and tangy. The starch released from dried pasta, during the cooking process, thickens the sauce, making it velvety!
What's not to love about pasta in instant pot? The pasta gets cooked directly in it's sauce like the one pot mac and cheese recipe. The sealed pressure cooker controls evaporation, leading to the right consistency and is perfect as family friendly vegetarian meal! If you are looking for stove top version, then here is a chicken alla vodka recipe.
What is Penne alla Vodka? It is an Italian American pasta dish, made with cooked penne pasta, tossed in a creamy tomato based vodka infused sauce. It is believed to originate in Italy in the 1970s, in an effort by vodka manufacturers to promote their product. But has gained more popularity in American restaurants.
If you want to know more on the role of vodka in the sauce, I like this article on serious eats. It adds a touch of sharpness and balances out the creaminess in the dish.
Does the penne gets soft when cooked in a pressure cooker? As pasta cooks, the starch granules on the surface absorb water and swell, but the starch in the very centre gets only partially hydrated and retains some of the bite. However, the sealed instant pot has no mpisture evapoarion, thus forcing it into the pasta. If you like it al dente, then release pressure as soon as the 5 minutes is done. Looking for more dishes using this popular shape? Check out our collection of pasta dishes using penne pasta.
Why you'll love this?
- There's no boiling pasta.
- Rich, luxurious but super easy dish.
- Everything gets cooked in one pot- instant pot.
- 30 minute meal.
- Add protein or veggies to make a complete meal.
- Chicken - Add ¾ pound diced boneless, skinless chicken breast/ thighs after cooking the onion and garlic for two minutes. Cook for about 1 minute per side and then proceed with the remaining recipe.
- Shrimp - Add raw shrimp (thawed and patted dry), on top of penne and continue the process as instructed. I like to use shrimp with tails on, because the tails adds more flavor to the pasta. But, you could totally use tailless shrimp, if that is what you have on hand.
- Pancetta - Set instant pot to saute, when hot, add finely chopped pancetta, and cook for about 5 minutes or crisp. Drain pancetta with a slotted spoon and then proceed with the instant pot penne alla vodka recipe. Add crisp pancetta just before serving.
- Spinach - Add chopped fresh spinach along parmesan and basil, and gently stir to wilt the spinach.
- Penne pasta - As the name suggests, penne is the go-to pasta, but small pasta shapes of similar size like ziti, bow tie or fusilli can be substituted.
- Marinara sauce - I like to use Prego(tomato, basil and garlic).
- Heavy cream - It adds luxury and makes it restaurant worthy like in chicken mushroom pasta.
- Vodka - A good splash of vodka cuts through the richness and adds a zingness.
How to make?
1.Heat instant pot to saute mode. When hot, add butter and let melt. Stir in chopped onion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes, until onions begin to get translucent.
2. Press cancel and add marinara sauce, heavy cream, vodka, water, salt, pepper and stir well. Add penne pasta on top, pressing gently, so that most of the pasta is immersed into the sauce, but do not stir.
3. Cook on manual for 5 minutes. Let it be in warm mode for additional 5 minutes. When 5 minutes is done, release pressure by turning valve to vent. Open lid and stir in chopped basil.
Tip: Cooking time - The high pressure in the instant pot, forces liquid and moisture into the pasta quickly, thus resulting in pasta cooking a touch tender in the recipe. If you like the pasta al dente, then release pressure as soon as the cook time is done.
Pro tip: As soon as you release pressure, the tomato cream sauce might be thin, but will thicken as it cools. If the sauce has thickened too much for your liking, then just toss few tablespoons of hot water to thin it down.
How to serve?
This pasta is delicious on it own or can be served with garlic bread, salad or steamed or roasted veggies.
Can you freeze?
Cook and cool pasta, transfer into a freezer safe container, seal tight and freeze for up to a month. Simply thaw at room temperature and warm in microwave to re heat.
- Parmesan Cheese - Use freshly grated parmesan cheese or the pre grated ones. Please stay away for the the green jar.
- Type of vodka - Since you are not going to taste the vodka, I do not recommend investing in an expensive bottle. Use any leftover vodka at home or any cheap bottle will do the trick.
- What to make it alcohol free? Simply replace vodka with water.
It wouldn't be called vodka sauce if it didn't have vodka! It brightens and cuts through the rich cream sauce.
Pink sauce refers to any sauce that is pinkish in color. It is usually a blend of marinara and alfredo sauce, and sometimes known as parma rosa sauce. Also, pink sauce can refer to fry sauce (made with mayonnaise and ketchup), that is usually served as a burger spread.
The difference? Although both have similar ingredients and color, pink sauce has no vodka in it.
This instant pot penne alla vodka recipe uses only ¼ cup of vodka for about 4 servings and most of the alcohol is cooked off and it doesn't make you drunk.
Although most of the alcohol is cooked off, I'd like to use water instead of vodka when feeding kids.
More pasta recipes
Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 to 3 pinches red pepper flakes optional
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce I used Prego (tomato, basil and garlic)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup Vodka or use water
- ½ cup Water
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste refer notes
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces penne pasta
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves chopped
- Heat instant pot to saute mode. When hot, add butter and let melt. Stir in chopped onion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes, until onions begin to get translucent.
- Press cancel and add marinara sauce, heavy cream, vodka, water, salt, pepper and stir well.
- Add penne pasta on top, pressing it gently into the sauce, so it is partially immersed, but do not stir. Close and lock lid with the valve is sealing position.
- Cook on manual for 5 minutes. Let it be in warm mode for additional 5 minutes. When 5 minutes is done, release pressure by turning valve to vent. Open lid and stir in chopped basil. Tip: Cooking time - The high pressure in the instant pot, forces liquid and moisture into the pasta quickly, thus resulting in pasta cooking a touch tender in the recipe. If you like the pasta al dente, then release pressure as soon as the cook time is done.Pro tip: As soon as you release pressure, the tomato cream sauce might be thin, but will thicken as it cools. If the sauce has thickened too much for your liking, then just toss few tablespoons of hot water to thin it down.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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