Brown Butter Penne Alla Vodka

This creamy Brown Butter Penne all Vodka is a rich, creamy sauce that starts with nutty brown butter and tastes just as good with vodka, as it does without it.

We’ve all had the basic pasta recipes that all claim to be different but end up being the same old thing. This brown butter penne alla vodka will satisfy your cravings for something new, unique, and golden delicious while staying true to the creamy goodness of penne vodka. The nutty and caramelized brown butter paired with vodka pairs to be the perfect secret addition to your weekday pasta recipe. This decadent brown butter penne alla vodka tastes just as delicious with vodka, as it does without.

What makes this recipe different

  • The Brown Butter: Also know as liquid gold, brown butter is the one of my favorite secrets to food with a deeper flavour profile. It adds a depth and character to your dishes that will make even the simplest meals and snacks taste gourmet. The toasty, nutty flavor it adds is best applied to sweet and savory dishes.
  • Blooming the Spices & Herbs: Many people know that roasting and grinding your spices is an essential step in evoking deep flavor but many people don’t know about blooming ground spices in oil. The frying of spices and herbs in oil causes a better distribution of flavor in the finished dish. This method is often used to bring out the spice from chili but it is also important for other spices and herbs such as cumin, thyme, rosemary, etc.

Why does Penne Vodka call for vodka?

A key part of this recipe is the addition of vodka to the ingredients list. Vodka adds to the dish by pulling out and concentrating other flavors and their aromas without adding its own flavor. This is why the recipe calls for vodka rather than more flavorful alcohol such as a buttery chardonnay or brandy. The vodka also serves to mellow and emulsify acids in the recipe such as in tomato sauce.

Will I get drunk off penne vodka?

To answer your question, no, you can’t get drunk off vodka sauce. The sauce will have a small hint of the vodka’s minimal flavor and some of its aroma. This is because most of the spirit will evaporate when allowed to cook. As long as you have a well-simmered vodka sauce, its alcohol content will be low enough to be safe for children.

Can I leave out the Vodka?

You can definitely make this delicious pasta without the vodka! All you have to do is substitute the vodka with additional pasta water so you can still achieve a similar consistency.

Why Brown Butter?

Brown butter has a nuttier flavor than regular butter. It will deepen the flavor and make your dish taste richer. It is simple to make at home and will make your recipe much more flavorful. Totally worth the extra effort! You will never go back to using regular butter in your pasta. You will be addicted to the rich, caramelized sauce!

How to Make Brown Butter

Although this may sound like a fancy and intricate process, it’s actually quite simple. It’s all about timing. You have to find the sweet spot where the butter is not raw but also not burned. The golden brown deliciousness can be a little tricky to achieve but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be golden! Pun intended 😉

  1. Add the butter to a saucepan or skillet with a thick bottom so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Whisk or stir continuously over medium heat until the butter melts.
  3. Continue stirring as the butter foams and bubbles. Ensure that the butter is browning but not burning.
  4. Once the butter has a deep golden hue and the butter solids are browing, turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer the butter to a bowl to cool down so it doesn’t continue browning in the hot pan!
  6. Use right away or refrigerate for later use!
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Brown Butter Penne Alla Vodka

  • Author: eatsbyramya
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


This creamy Brown Butter Penne all Vodka is a rich, creamy sauce that starts with nutty brown butter and tastes just as good with vodka, as it does without it. (use the scale button below to change it to more servings)


  • 8 oz penne pasta (or rigatoni)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 34 tbsp vodka (optional)
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano or parmesan cheese


  1. In a pot, bring water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add your pasta for 7-8 minutes. Once it’s cooked, drain and save the pasta water! Move onto the next step as the water is coming to a boil.
  2. To a saucepan, add the butter. Melt on low heat until completely melted and then increase to medium heat. Stir until brown bits start to appear and the color of the butter turns golden.
  3. Add in the shallots/onion, garlic and red chili flakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion gets soft. then, add the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomato paste darkens to a dark red-brown color. Add the vodka if you want to use it and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Taste and add salt and extra red chili flakes to taste. Stir in the grated cheese and add 1-2 tbsp of the saved pasta from before to make the sauce smooth. Add in the cooked pasta, stir to combine and serve!

If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me @eatsbyramya or DM me a picture & let me know how it went!

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  1. Jasmine Patel says:

    THIS WAS SO GOOD!!!! Legit so easy and it’s easily one of the best pastas I’ve made. Do yourself a favor and make this because you will not regret it!

  2. This is amazing! It was so easy to put together and it tasted amazing. Definitely something that I’ll be considering when hosting next time since this would definitely be a fan favorite for friends and kids.

  3. This is my new favorite meal!! I’ve made it three weeks in a row and I plan to make it for meal prep next week. I add spicy sausage for some protein and it’s to die for. Browning the chicken takes patience but boy it pays off