Chicken alla Vodka Pasta

5 from 1 vote

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Chicken alla Vodka Pasta is a classic creamy Italian pasta recipe with a slightly spicy tomato sauce flavored with garlic, some cream, and vodka, tossed with meat and noodles.
Looking down on a bowl of Chicken alla Vodka Pasta with fresh parsley.

This Chicken alla Vodka Pasta is a perfect Italian night dinner idea! Tender chicken is tossed with pasta in a vodka and tomato-based cream sauce.

Looking down on a bowl of Chicken alla Vodka Pasta with fresh parsley.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Italian recipes are known for using simple and classic flavors, and this recipe is a great example of that!

Chicken alla Vodka Pasta is a slightly creamy tomato sauce tossed with juicy chicken and pasta for a great Italian dinner. You will feel like you are at your favorite Italian restaurant!

The garlic and red pepper flakes give a little heat to the sauce while the vodka adds a unique sharpness, almost acidic, flavor. This is all balanced out by a little cream.

A classic Italian recipe, this homemade chicken penne alla vodka will be a hit for pasta night that the whole family will love! It is one of our favorite pasta dishes to make when we want something delicious and simple.

Ingredients

Full quantities and recipe details can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Let’s talk more about the different ingredients that you need for this chicken vodka sauce pasta!

Chicken Breasts – in this recipe, I explain how to make this pasta using chicken breasts. You can also use chicken thighs or any cut of chicken as preferred. I love using leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe to make it even easier!

Crushed Tomatoes – I love the texture of crushed tomatoes, but you could also use tomato sauce

Diced Tomatoes

Garlic Cloves – garlic powder will also work

Red Pepper Flakes – for some heat!

Vodka – this classic Italian sauce gets its name from the addition of this alcohol in the sauce!

Olive Oil

Heavy Cream

Pasta – penne pasta is classic, but use any shape you desire!

Toppings as desired such as Parmesan cheese and herbs like fresh basil or parsley.

A close view of the finished Chicken alla Vodka Pasta.

Making the Recipe

Here is how to make the chicken vodka pasta with a few extra notes!

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water as per package directions until al dente. When done, save a cup of pasta water for later (just in case), drain pasta, and set aside.

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet (or use the same pasta pot) over medium heat. Add 2 Tablespoons oil.

When hot, add the chicken and cook until golden brown, approximately 5-7 minutes per side. This will vary based on the size and thickness of your chicken.

When your chicken is cooked through and reaches 165F internal temperature, remove and set aside.

Roughly shred the chicken. (You could also choose to pre-chop the chicken and cook in bite-sized pieces instead).

While the pasta cooks, you can make the sauce. To make the creamy vodka sauce, heat a medium pot over medium heat. When hot, add the oil. Also add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes.

Add the vodka and stir. Simmer another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To combine, in the large pasta pot, combine the sauce, cooked pasta, and shredded chicken. Stir to combine.

If you want the sauce thinner, you can add some chicken broth or leftover pasta water. Leftover pasta water is recommended in Italian recipes because the starchiness of the water helps bind the sauce to the cooked noodles.

Top the chicken penne pasta with Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and/or fresh parsley as desired.

A fork with pasta and chicken on it above a bowl of the Chicken alla Vodka Pasta.

Modifications and Substitutions

I love the combination of crushed and diced tomatoes for the great texture that it gives the sauce. You could also swap out the crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce if preferred.

Rotisserie chicken is perfect for this recipe to make it faster and easier! Just add to the finished sauce to heat up.

Most of the alcohol will burn off in the cooking process, but if you are concerned about serving it to children or those avoiding alcohol, you can skip it. But removing it, you will be missing out on a lot of flavor. I would recommend using a different sauce recipe instead such as a pink sauce that has extra cheeses and herbs in it.

This delicious creamy sauce does not typically have any herbs mixed in, as the flavor focus is on the touch of vodka, but you can add Italian seasoning or herbs of choice if desired.

This would also be great with some sauteed veggies added in! Squash, onions, bell pepper, asparagus, and mushrooms would all be great options!

FAQs

What is Alla vodka sauce made of?

Vodka sauce is made of tomato, vodka, cream, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

What pairs well with vodka sauce?

Vodka sauce is a very simple sauce and pairs well with many things. Options include sausage, chicken, shrimp, and various vegetables. This sauce is traditionally used on pasta.

Can I use milk instead of heavy cream in vodka sauce?

Yes, you can use milk instead of cream in vodka sauce. However, the sauce will be thinner and lack some of the richness of the cream. If you do choose to use milk, I recommend adding some butter as well. Substitutions for heavy cream using milk can be found online depending on the type of milk you are using.

Is vodka sauce just alfredo and marinara?

No. If we were to combine alfredo and marinara, we would have more of a pink sauce. Vodka sauce does not have the extra cheeses and herbs that combining alfredo and marinara would have.

Looking down on a gray bowl full of Chicken alla Vodka Pasta on a counter with a fresh parsley garnish.
Pin looking down on a bowl of Chicken alla Vodka Pasta.

What to Serve with Chicken alla Vodka Pasta

Looking down on a bowl of Chicken alla Vodka Pasta with fresh parsley.

Chicken all Vodka Pasta

Chicken alla Vodka Pasta is a classic creamy Italian pasta recipe with a slightly spicy tomato sauce flavored with garlic, some cream, and vodka, tossed with meat and noodles.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Chicken/Turkey, Pasta
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 moderate servings (or 4 large portions)
Calories: 687kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Sauce Ingredients

Instructions

Cook Chicken (optional, see note)

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
    1 pound chicken breasts, salt, black pepper
  • Add oil to the skillet and cook the chicken on each side until lightly browned and cooked through, approximately 7 minutes per side (this will vary with the size of the chicken pieces).
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. When cool enough, shred or chop as desired for mixing into the pasta.

Cook Pasta

  • Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta as per package directions until al dente. When done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta, and set aside.
    1 pound penne pasta

Make Sauce

  • Heat a medium pot over medium heat (you can also use the pasta pot if desired for less cleaning, it will just lengthen cooking time).
  • Add the oil and when the oil is warm, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
    2 Tablespoons olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.
    28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 14 ounces diced tomatoes
  • Add the vodka, stir, and let cook an additional 5 minutes.
    ½ cup vodka
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Mix in the cream.
    1 cup heavy cream
  • Season the salt to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve

  • To serve, in the large pasta pot combine the sauce, pasta, and shredded chicken. If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce. Serve immediately.

Notes

You can use any cut of chicken as desired. I love to use rotisserie chicken to make it easy and fast! For leftover or rotisserie chicken, just skip the chicken cooking, shred it, and add it to the sauce to heat up before tossing with the cooked pasta. I use about 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken for this recipe.
Vodka is a key ingredient and flavor for this sauce. If you skip it, the sauce will be very basic. I would recommend a pink sauce with extra herbs and cheese if you do not want to use vodka.
This would also be great with some sauteed veggies added in! Squash, onions, bell pepper, asparagus, and mushrooms would all be great options!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (1/6) | Calories: 687kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 481mg | Potassium: 1010mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1017IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 4mg
By on May 17th, 2024

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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