Makeover Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce Recipe
Makeover Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce Recipe photo by Taste of Home
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Makeover Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce Recipe

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Makeover Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce is still creamy, rich and restaurant-quality special, but it now has less than half the original recipe’s fat and cholesterol. Even our pros had a hard time telling them apart. Debra Torres - Clarion, Pennsylvania
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Cook: 40 min.
MAKES:8 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Cook: 40 min.
MAKES: 8 servings


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 package (12 ounces) whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Nutritional Facts

1 each: 324 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 379mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 7g fiber), 12g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 fat.


  1. In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in tomatoes and vodka. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions.
  3. Stir the pesto, salt and pepper flakes into tomato mixture. In a small bowl, combine flour and cream until smooth; stir into pan. Add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Drain penne; serve with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 8 servings.
Originally published as Makeover Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce in Healthy Cooking June/July 2010, p21

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

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PrplMonky5 User ID: 6612040 255031
Reviewed Oct. 4, 2016

"While we liked this, we had just a few minor issues with it. Mine came out pretty runny in the end. I tried to let it continue to boil for a while (well past the 2 minutes), but it never seemed to thicken up. I added in some water cornstarch to see if that would help and it did thicken a bit. Maybe I was supposed to drain the tomatoes? It didn't say to, so I threw the whole can in, juice and all. I also expected to get a hint of the vodka, but I didn't. It was a good flavor, just not what I was expecting. I made everything as written except adding the cornstarch and using ziti instead of penne. We will make this again, but I might try to tweak it a bit more."

kimberlyannbowman User ID: 5585284 222349
Reviewed Mar. 8, 2015

"Definitely putting this one in my rotation!!"

MissyMunches User ID: 6782153 108902
Reviewed Sep. 1, 2014

"Excellent recipe!!! I added thinly sliced sweet Italian sausage (not to thin, skin removed) and sliced fresh mushrooms! I added both when I began to sauteed the onions. I omitted the pesto and used basil seasoning and threw in a couple of bay leaves into the sauce. I removed the bay leaves prior to adding the heavy cream mixture and milk. I will definitely make this again! =)"

RHiland09 User ID: 6325610 187871
Reviewed May. 31, 2014

"One of the best pasta dishes I've ever tasted ---"

lduckworth User ID: 3426919 147086
Reviewed Jan. 17, 2013

"This was a big hit at our home - I will make this again."

agnes24 User ID: 4430156 190254
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2011

"Hubby really liked it. I thought it was a little bland but I didn't have any pesto so that could be why. I substituted 14.5 oz of spaghetti sauce for one of the cans of tomatoes because I needed to use it up and my family doesn't like tomato chunks anyway. Also, I substituted 2% milk because we never have whole milk. It was still good but next time I'll make sure I add pesto. Oh and one large onion seemed way too much!"

benenati User ID: 1018870 106131
Reviewed Feb. 14, 2011

"Great recipe. I purchase a store bought oven roasted chicken and cut pieces of the flavorful chicken up and add it to the sauce. I also throw in some frozen peas right before serving. A quick and delicious meal that all my boys (5 of them ) thoroughly enjoy. Don't forget the garlic bread for scooping up the sauce!!!"

kruzcats User ID: 5505188 147085
Reviewed Oct. 26, 2010

"This recipe was wonderful. I used regular penne pasta instead of the wheat, and added a little more pepper flakes. I will definitely make this again and again!! Super Yum!"

mjlouk User ID: 1712085 121822
Reviewed Sep. 19, 2010

"The whole family liked this one! Even my super picky 4 year old ate it - after some coaxing."

coffman User ID: 252633 178302
Reviewed Aug. 10, 2010

"This is the first time I have had Vodka Cream Sauce and it was excellent and very flavorful. I will definitely be making this again."

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