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Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken

This Penne alla Vodka with Chicken is creamy, made with jar sauce and ready in under 30 minutes. Make it without vodka or add vegetables for a family friendly weeknight dinner!

Pasta for dinner is a family favorite around here. Few of our favorites include Spicy Chicken Pasta, Chicken Alfredo, Pasta with Chicken Meat Sauce or Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad.

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chicken penne all vodka served in bowls and garnished with basil.

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken

What’s not to love about a creamy pasta for dinner tonight? Pasta recipes are always a weeknight winner in our home like this Shrimp Pasta or the Spicy Chicken Pasta. They are comforting yet satisfying!

We shared a Penne Alla Vodka Recipe made in Instant Pot a while ago and you guys have been loving it so much that we decided to share a version made on stove top and with chicken.

This Italian American pasta dish is made with a creamy and flavorful sauce that is amazingly delicious. It is one of those simple homemade recipes that is creamy, spicy, tangy and acidic.

Does vodka sauce have vodka in it?

Yes. the sauce does contain vodka and hence the name. Since a lot of the alcohol is cooked off, you will not be left with the alcoholic taste. It rather intensifies the flavors. The sauce is enhanced with heavy cream and parmesan which makes it amazingly creamy.

Do I have to use vodka?

If you are making a penne vodka with chicken, then yes, you will need to use vodka. The acidic flavor of vodka enhances the flavor of tomato. You can replace the vodka with water to make it kid friendly.

What type of vodka to use?

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.

Can I make it alcohol free?

Absolutely! Replace vodka with water to make a kid friendly vodka sauce pasta with chicken.

Does vodka sauce taste like vodka?

No! Vodka is almost flavorless on its own. As it cooks in tomato sauce, the alcohol burns off even more and enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

Why are you going to love this recipe?

  1. Made with jar sauce for convenience
  2. Can be made without vodka for kids
  3. Made in under 30 minutes
  4. Perfect for meal prep
  5. Use your favorite pasta
  6. Add vegetables to make a complete meal

Pro Tips for Success

Chicken thighs – Use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Make it healthy – Use canned coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

Make it spicy – Increase red pepper flakes to about 1 tablespoon or more to make a spicy penne vodka.

Make it vegan – Use olive oil instead of butter, coconut milk instead of heavy cream and dairy free parmesan cheese instead.

Simmer until thickened – This will ensure that the alcohol will cook off. If you don’t cook the sauce for long enough, you may end up with a harsh aftertaste from the alcohol.

Variations

My favorite part about this chicken penne vodka recipe is that you can customize with whatever you have at home. Mix-in any of the following ingredients –

  • Without Vodka – Simply replace vodka with water
  • Shrimp – Cook some shrimp before adding chicken, transfer to a bowl and then proceed to the recipe. Stir in cooked shrimp along with pasta.
  • Broccoli – Add broccoli to the boiling water during the last couple of minutes of pasta cooking. Drain along with pasta and stir into the chicken vodka sauce along with penne.
  • Peas – Add frozen peas to the boiling water during the last couple of minutes of pasta cooking. Drain along with pasta and stir into the vodka cream sauce along with penne.
  • Spinach – Add baby spinach along with the marinara sauce
  • Mushrooms – Cook sliced mushrooms before adding chicken, transfer to a bowl and then proceed to the recipe. Stir in cooked mushrooms along with pasta.
  • Rotisserie chicken – Stir in chopped rotisserie chicken along with marinara sauce.

Key Ingredients

Penne pasta – Any pasta that you have at around

Chicken – We used boneless skinless chicken breasts

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

Heavy cream

Vodka – Plain vodka

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

Cheese – Shredded parmesan

ingredients needed to make chicken alla vodka

How to make?

Step-1: Cook pasta until al dente.

Step-2: Heat butter in a large saute pan, Cook cubed chicken and cook until half done. Stir in chopped onion, garlic and all seasonings. Cook for couple of minutes.

Step-3: Stir in marinara, heavy cream and vodka. Cook for for a few minutes until thickened slightly.

Step-4: Toss in cooked penne, parmesan and basil.

How to make ahead?

Make chicken and vodka sauce in advance:

Prepare the sauce according to the recipe instructions (do not add pasta), cool and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

To reheat, pour the sauce back into a saucepan and cook in low heat, until heated through.

Make pasta in advance:

Cook pasta until al dente, drain and rinse thoroughly (this helps the pasta not stick to each other).

Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Add pasta to hot sauce to reheat and stir in low heat for a few minutes.

chicken vodka served in bowl with a black fork.

What can I serve with penne all vodka?

This pasta is delicious on it own or can be served with

How to store leftovers?

To refrigerate – Refrigerate leftover penne vodka in air tight containers for up to 5 days. Microwave until heated through.

To freeze: 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.

Frequently asked questions

Can I freeze vodka sauce?

Absolutely! Freeze sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 months or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Can I use any other pasta instead of penne?

Use any other pasta in place of penne such as fusilli, ziti, rigatoni, mostaccioli or farfelle. Even linguini or spaghetti will work.

Is there any alcohol content in this chicken pasta vodka sauce?

Yes. Some of the alcohol is cooked off when the sauce is simmered, but some of the alcohol is still retained.

vodka sauce pasta with chicken served in bowls and topped with fresh basil.

More Penne Pasta recipes with Chicken

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penne alla vodka with chicken served in bowls.

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken

Yield: 3 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This Penne alla Vodka with Chicken is creamy, made with jar sauce and ready in under 30 minutes. Make it without vodka or add vegetables for a family friendly weeknight dinner!

Ingredients

To finish

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

Instructions

1. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add butter when hot and let melt. Add chicken and spread them into a single layer. Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes (without disturbing).

3. Add onion, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to the chicken, cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked and onion is translucent.

4. Stir in marinara sauce, heavy cream and vodka. Cook, stirring occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly and thickened.

5. Stir in cooked pasta, parmesan cheese and basil. Toss well and serve.

Notes

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.

Chicken thighs – Use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Make it alcohol free – Replace vodka with water to make a kid friendly vodka sauce pasta with chciken

Make it healthy – Use canned coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

Make it spicy – Increase red pepper flakes to about 1 tablespoon or more to make a spicy penne vodka.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 1051mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 15g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. The information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com, although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact 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 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 all decisions pertaining to your health and ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Nancy

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Delicious and easy meal. I used 1/2 and 1/2 instead of heavy cream because it was what I had and it worked fine. Would probably be even better with cream. I added mushrooms and spinach…. So delicious. Thank you!

Maria Doss

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Glad you liked it hun, Maria

Kathleen Evans

Sunday 1st of May 2022

I have made this twice and we have enjoyed it very much first time with vodka and this time with out.

Maria Doss

Tuesday 3rd of May 2022

Hi Kathleen,

Glad you loved it hun, Maria

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