Vodka sauce is one of my favorites and one that I don’t make often enough. This time I made it and threw in some gulf shrimp to make penne alla vodka sauce with shrimp.
The vodka sauce is silky smooth and the shrimp in the vodka sauce is a perfect combination.
Penne alla Vodka Sauce With Shrimp
Quite a while ago I did a post on Penne with Vodka Sauce. It’s a tasty but time-consuming recipe involving oven baking the sauce for quite a while.
This shrimp in vodka sauce recipe is similar but with no oven time. Just reduce the sauce for a while on the stovetop. Much easier.
Vodka seems like an odd partner to tomato sauce, but the alcohol in the vodka becomes an emulsifier.
It holds the acids and the oils together and the result is a creamy smooth taste.
The shrimp in this recipe pairs well with the richness of the sauce. And the shrimp is so easy to cook right in the sauce.
You should use pretty big shrimp…20 to 30 shrimp per pound size. The sweetness of the shrimp combined with the smooth-tasting sauce is what makes this a super dinner.
Ingredients You Will Need
One pound of large shrimp that are peeled and deveined and tail off.
12 ounces of penne pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
One medium yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
One can of San Marzano tomatoes
1/3 cup of vodka
Red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper
Step By Step Instructions
First of all, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Use a strainer to drain the pasta water. Then keep the drained pasta covered in the large pan to keep it warm.
While the pasta cooks, start making the sauce. Use a sauté pan or dutch oven on medium heat and add the olive oil, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion is softened. Lower to medium-low heat if the garlic starts to brown excessively.
Next, add the San Marzano tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the vodka. If you are using a gas stove, be careful not to flame the vodka. Stir the ingredients together and cook for around 20 minutes so that the sauce is reduced by about 25%.
If you are using whole San Marzano tomatoes, break them up by squeezing them in your hands. That is the messy way. Or, use kitchen scissors to cut them up, or use a knife and a wooden spoon to cut them up. You could also place them in a food processor and pulse them a few times.
This step is not really critical because once the sauce has cooked and thickened a little, use an immersion blender or a stand blender to puree the tomato mixture.
Then place the pan back on the heat and add the heavy cream and grated parmesan cheese and cook for 3-4 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
Taste the creamy tomato sauce and add more salt or black pepper if desired.
While the pot is on the heat, add the raw shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the shrimp are cooked through, stir in the cooked pasta.
Serve the pasta alla vodka hot and top with a bit more grated parmesan cheese.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days in your refrigerator. If you would like to freeze the pasta dish, put the leftovers in a freezer bag or other air-tight container. Creamy sauce like this may have a tendency to “break” when frozen. This won’t affect the taste, but the cream may be separated a little. Thaw the frozen pasta sauce in your refrigerator for best results.
Reheat the penne alla vodka in a sauce pan on your stovetop. Add in some additional milk or cream to loosen it up.
If you really like shrimp recipes, you should try the terrific recipe I developed for Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp.
Just like the original tasty appetizer from Bonefish Grill.
At the same time that I was making our dinner, MaryJo was baking bread to have with our meal.
MaryJo sliced and buttered some of her bread, and I toasted it on the stovetop in a cast iron griddle.
The combination of the shrimp, pasta, and bread was amazing.
This recipe makes around a quart of shrimp penne ala vodka sauce which is enough for 4 or 5 people. Since the sauce is so good, I’m saying 4.
In less than an hour you and your family could be enjoying this great dinner.
Here are some more tasty pasta dishes to try:
- Shrimp Mac and Cheese
- Tomato Spinach Pasta with Spicy Shrimp
- Midnight Spaghetti
- Pasta with Roma Tomatoes and Shrimp Sauce
- Perfect Shrimp Scampi
Penne alla Vodka with Shrimp
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole tomatoes crushed by hand or coarse chopped with scissors or a knife
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan plus more for garnish
- 1 lbs. shrimp , 21 to 30 size, peeled, deveined, tail off
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz . penne pasta , cooked al dente according to package directions
- Boil the pasta until al dente according to package instructions, drain and keep warm.
- In a large sauce pan on medium heat, add oil, onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and vodka being careful not to flame the vodka.
- Stir and simmer about 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced about 25%.
- Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce, (you can also use a blender or a food processor).
- Put the pot back on medium heat and stir in the cream and parmesan cheese.
- Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as you see fit.
- While still on the heat, add the shrimp and let them cook for 2 or 3 minutes until nearly opaque.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and let the shrimp finish for another minute, then add the cooked pasta.
- Stir together and serve hot with extra parmesan cheese.
- You can substitute cooked lobster or even cooked chicken instead of using shrimp.
- San Marzano tomatoes have the right amount of acid and are the best choice for this dish. They are usually whole tomatoes and should be coarsely broken up to use.
This recipe post has been updated on December 18, 2021.
Hi Joe, I have a question. I’m excited to try this meal. my question is someone gave me a jar of Vodka Sauce, will that work with your recipe? Would you suggest that I add anything to it other than the garlic and onions?
I’ve had premade vodka sauce and to my recollection, it was pretty good tasting. You might not have to add more garlic and onion to the sauce. Give it a taste. One thing that could be added is a little more grated parmesan cheese. Heat the sauce in a pan on medium-low heat and when it is simmering, add the parmesan to melt it then add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp for 3 or 4 minutes. Then add the cooked pasta. It should be quite tasty.
Thank you for the question.
Hi Joe. What are your thoughts about shrimp and bay scallops together in this recipe?
That sounds great. I think the scallops would provide a more “salty ocean” flavor to the dish, (if that makes sense). Give it a try and let us know how it tasted.
Thanks for asking.
My family loved it with shrimp and scallops. Scrumdileishousness. Thanks Joe!
That’s fantastic. Now I’ve got to try it with scallops. Thank you for the reply.
This was so good! I love vodka sauce/shrimp. I added about a tsp of salt and about 1/4 tsp of pepper at the end. I will definitely be making this again!
Thank you for the nice comment. I’m so glad that you liked the recipe.
I loved your recipe. If you wanted to make 8 servings how would you adjust the recipe? Thank you.
Thanks for trying my recipe. You can change the serving size with the recipe card where it indicates the serving size. Click on the 4 (servings) and a slider will come up and you can adjust the amount. The slider will adjust the ingredient quantities and make them easy to follow. Since you are making more, I’d suggest that you use a dutch oven or a stockpot to do the cooking.
Thanks for the comment and I hope this helps you.
Delicious! Loved this, made it for my new boyfriend! Gonna bookmark your website, keep up the good work Joe and Mary Jo! From Beth in Canada
Thanks Beth…we just had this a few days ago too. Delish.
Trying it tomorrow night with lobster. We have a family member who has a shrimp allergy.
Luuuuvvvved! Absolutely delish,
Thanks Missi. I just made it again last week too. Great flavors.
I’ll be making it soon!! Thanks Joe!! As soon as it is done.. I’ll be back to let you know how it came out!!!
Hope you enjoy it Ilsa!
Sounds good! I like vodka sauce!
Hi Eileen…the vodka sauce is great and the shrimp is very nice with it.
OMG–so good I could roll in it!
Should I make more?