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Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka

This Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka is easy, creamy and ready in under 30 minutes. Toss in some cubed chicken or shrimp along with pasta for added protein or fresh spinach to keep it vegetarian. One of the best instant pot penne pasta recipes ever!

An instant pot with cooked pasta and vodka cream sauce with fresh basil on the side

It has been been way too long since we shared an instant pot pasta recipe.

What’s not to love about pasta in instant pot? The pasta along with everything else is cooked together in one pot. Easiest clean up and no dealing with a big pot of boiling water! If you are looking for stove top version, then here is a chicken alla vodka recipe.

Today, it is Penne alla Vodka in Instant Pot aka Penne with Vodka Sauce

What is Penne ala 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.

Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka is:

  • One pot, Instant pot
  • Easy clean up
  • Family friendly (Yes, more on this below)
  • Use jarred marinara sauce
  • Vegetarian
  • Customize with your favorite protein
  • Creamy
  • Delicious

How am I certain that you guys are gonna love this pasta with vodka cream sauce ? This recipe is just a slight variation to this very popular Shrimp Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce . There is something about tomato-cream sauces that is so comforting, like this Spicy Chicken Pasta Indian Style, chicken and mushroom Sauce for Pasta or Spicy chicken pasta Italian style.

Main ingredients:

Penne pasta – Ain’t penne all vodka without penne pasta

Marinara sauce – I used Prego (tomato, basil and garlic)

Heavy cream –

Vodka – Plain vodka

Flavorings & Aromatics – Onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper

How to make pasta with vodka sauce in instant pot?

Turn instant pot to saute, add butter when hot and let butter melt. Saute chopped onion and garlic until begins to get translucent. Press cancel and add marinara sauce, heavy cream, vodka, water and seasonings. Give a good stir. Place penne on top and gently press the pasta into the liquid (DO NOT STIR).

Cook for 5 minutes on manual and 5 minutes on warm. Stir in parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Let stand for a few minutes for the sauce to thicken.

Expert tips:

Use good quality ingredients

Sauce – As soon as you release pressure, the tomato cream sauce might be thin. It will thicken as it cools. This happens since the pasta is cooked along with the sauce. Let the pasta cool for a few minutes for sauce to thicken before serving. If sauce has thickened too much for your liking, then just toss few tablespoons of hot water to thin it down.

Pasta – The pasta cooks a touch tender in the recipe. If you like the pasta al dente, then release pressure as soon as the cook time is done.

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.


Penne with vodka sauce and chicken – Add 3/4 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.

Instant Pot Penne alla vodka with 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, since the tails adds more flavor to the pasta. But, you could totally use tailless shrimp, if that is what you have on hand.

Penne alla vodka with spinach – Add chopped fresh spinach along parmesan and basil, and gently stir to wilt the psinach.

Vodka sauce without vodka – If you are worried about feeding this dish to your kids, then simply skip vodka and replace with water.

Frequently asked questions:

What type of pasta goes with vodka sauce?

As the name suggests, penne is the go-to pasta, but similar pasta of similar size like ziti, bow tie or fusilli can be substituted.

Does vodka sauce have vodka in it?

Yes, thats how it gets its name. it adds a unique flavor to the dish but it cooks long enough that the alcohol is cooked off and it gets safe to consume.

What flavor does vodka offer to the vodka sauce?

Since most of the alcohol is cooked off in the process, you are just left with vibrant tomato flavor instead.

What is the difference between pink sauce and vodka sauce?

Pink sauce refers to any sauce that is pinkish in color. It is usually a blend of marinara and alfrredo sauce and sometimes known as parma rosa sauce. Also, pink sauce can refer to fry sauce (made with mayonnaise and ketchup) the is usually served as a burger spread.
So, Pink sauce does not contain any vodka and is not the same as vodka sauce.

Is vodka sauce healthy?

NO! This recipe has butter and a cup of heavy cream and does not come anywhere close to healthy. However, here is a Healthier Instant pot pasta with tomato cream sauce that caters to your needs.

Does penne alla vodka make you drunk?

This instant pot penne pasta recipe uses only 1/4 cup of vodka and as discussed above, most of the alcohol is cooked off. So, it does not make you drunk:)

Can kids eat vodka sauce?

There is just 1/4 cup vodka in the entire pasta with vodka cream sauce and most of the alcohol is cooked off. So, it is SAFE for older children to enjoy this dish. However, you could replace the vodka with water to make 100% safe.

Can I taste the alcohol?

No, you will not be able to taste the Vodka in the finished pasta dish. It just adds subtle notes to the recipe.

Serving hot pasta with vodka cream sauce from instant pot

Serving suggestions:

This pasta is delicious on it own or can be served with garlic bread, salad, Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms, Parmesan Bread Bites, Baked Chicken Meatballs, Soft Garlic Knots or Avocado Dinner Rolls.

To 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.

A side view of pasta with vodka cream sauce in in instant pot
A top view of an instant pot filled with  penne with vodka sauce and fresh basil on the side for garnish

More Instant pot pasta recipes:

Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Meatless Baked Ziti in Instant Pot

Instant Pot Pasta with Chicken Meat Sauce

5 Ingredient Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Instant Pot Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio in instant pot

or more Pasta recipes here

Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka

Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka

Yield: 3 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka is easy, creamy and ready in under 30 minutes. Toss in some cubed chicken or shrimp along with pasta for added protein. One of the best instant pot penne pasta recipes ever! 


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 or 3 pinches red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups marinara sauce, I used Prego (tomato, basil and garlic)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste, refer notes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces penne pasta

Additional Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped


    1. Heat instant pot (refer notes for the size) to saute mode. When hot, add butter and let melt.

    2. Stir in chopped onion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes, until onions begin to get translucent.

    3. Press cancel and add marinara sauce, heavy cream, vodka, water, salt, pepper and stir well. Add penne pasta on top (DO NOT STIR), gently pressing it, so that most of the pasta is immersed into the sauce (AGAIN, DO NOT STIR).

    4. 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. (To cook al dente pasta, release pressure as soon as the cook time is done)

    The sauce might be slightly thin at this point. If you prefer saucy pasta, serve after 2 minutes. Otherwise, let pasta cool for a few more minutes (without the lid) and the sauce will continue to thicken. If sauce has thickened too much for your liking, then just toss few tablespoons of hot water to thin it down.


Marinara sauce – Use your favorite brand. I have always loved Prego, tomato basil and garlic (this is not a sponsored post) and use only that sauce for all my recipes and the flavor is A-H-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Salt - Salt will depend on the type of marinara sauce used and your taste. I used Prego, tomato basil & garlic and found 3/4 teaspoon salt to be perfect. 

Size - I used a 3-quart instant pot for this recipe.

Vodka - If you wish to skip vodka, then simply use a total of 3/4 cup water.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 1108mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 13g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Everyone’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their nutrition fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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