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!
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, no dealing with a big pot of boiling water and perfect as family friendly vegetarian meal! 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
- Customize with your favorite protein
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
Since most of the alcohol is cooked off in the process, you are just left with vibrant tomato flavor instead.
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.
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.
This instant pot penne pasta recipe uses only ¼ cup of vodka and as discussed above, most of the alcohol is cooked off. So, it does not make you drunk:)
There is just ¼ 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.
No, you will not be able to taste the Vodka in the finished pasta dish. It just adds subtle notes to the recipe.
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.
More Instant pot pasta recipes:
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
Instant Pot Penne alla Vodka
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 or 3 pinches red pepper flakes optional
- 1 and ½ cups marinara sauce I used Prego (tomato, basil and garlic)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup Vodka
- 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 (refer notes for the size) 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 (DO NOT STIR), gently pressing it, so that most of the pasta is immersed into the sauce (AGAIN, DO NOT STIR).
- 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.
Nutritional information is based on third party calculations, should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types, brands purchased, produce, the way ingredients are processed and more change the nutritional information in any recipe.
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