Chicken and Penne in Vodka Cream Sauce Recipe

Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti

Notes: The Parmesan garlic toast can also be prepared as you are making the pasta.

Recipe Facts



Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Active: 45 mins
Total: 65 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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For The Garlic Parmesan Toast:

  • 1 baguette, cut in half then halved lengthwise

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 14 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/4 cup)

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 ounces parmesan, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 

For The Pasta:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 4 small shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes packed in juice

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

  • 6 tablespoons vodka

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise against the grain into 1/2-inch thick strips

  • 1 pound dried penne pasta

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Prepare Garlic Bread: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place bread on sheet cut side up.

  2. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant and has softened slightly, about 4 minutes. Spoon garlic butter over bread and season with salt. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Set aside.

  3. Make the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  4. Transfer shallot mixture to blender. Add tomatoes (with juice) and tomato paste. Blend until smooth.

  5. Transfer tomato mixture back to skillet and stir in chili flakes, vodka, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and flavors are melded, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream and season to taste. Stir in chicken and cook until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Keep warm while pasta cooks.

  6. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, place garlic bread in oven and bake until cheese is starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley. Drain cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water as necessary until sauce reaches desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in basil. Serve pasta and bread immediately, passing additional cheese tableside if desired.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1632 Calories
61g Fat
191g Carbs
79g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1632
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 61g 78%
Saturated Fat 34g 169%
Cholesterol 241mg 80%
Sodium 2116mg 92%
Total Carbohydrate 191g 69%
Dietary Fiber 11g 39%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 79g
Vitamin C 40mg 201%
Calcium 407mg 31%
Iron 13mg 72%
Potassium 1523mg 32%
*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.)