Meaty One-Pot Penne Alla Vodka

Meaty One-Pot Penne Alla Vodka

The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
755 Calories
33g Fat
56g Carbs
44g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 755
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 13g 67%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 1007mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 20%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 20mg 99%
Calcium 122mg 9%
Iron 8mg 44%
Potassium 1205mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Whether it’s date night, family night, or comfort food-cause-I-wanna night, this penne alla vodka dish is a fantastic pasta recipe. Loaded with ground beef and crushed tomatoes, this easy dinner is creamy and satisfying, with a little vodka kick. Top it off with fresh grated Parmesan cheese for a sharp, salty finish. 

The dish cooks up in under an hour using one pot (aside from the pasta), so it's a great last-minute dinner idea. You'll start by sautéing the onions, then cook the seasoned ground beef before adding the remaining ingredients. Canned tomatoes are a quick base for the sauce, and the vodka is a nice touch that makes it extra special. Adding a little heavy cream gives the sauce a nice richness.

In the meantime, cook the pasta. Penne is a great option, though you can use another cylindrical pasta, such as rigatoni or ziti. Then again, if you have another type of round or strand pasta in the pantry, it will work just fine. Measure the pasta after it's cooked; adding too much will overwhelm the dish, and you may not have enough sauce. If you made too much, store the cooked pasta in the fridge with a little olive oil and use it for lunch.

The penne alla vodka is hearty enough to stand on its own, but adding your favorite pasta side dishes will complete the meal. Cheesy garlic bread and a side salad are a delightfully simple and quick combo. During the summer, go with garden-fresh options like roasted eggplant, peppers, or zucchini, or a Caprese salad. Parmesan-stuffed mushrooms would be an excellent addition to the table as well.


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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup vodka

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 4 cups cooked penne

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for optional topping

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Meaty One-Pot Penne Alla Vodka ingredients

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat

    oil in a pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.

    onions in a pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  4. Add the beef, salt, and black pepper, and cook until the beef is browned through.

    onions and beef in a pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, vodka, and chile flakes. Bring the heat up to high and let simmer, stirring until the sauce reduces by about half.

    Add crushed tomatoes, vodka, and chili flakes to the mixture in the pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  6. Add the cream and mix thoroughly

    add cream to the sauce in the pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati

  7. Add the cooked pasta and stir as the sauce thickens and covers all the pasta. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese if desired.

    Meaty One-Pot Penne Alla Vodka in a pot

    The Spruce / Bahareh Niati