Shrimp Penne with Vodka Sauce

photo of a bowl of shrimp penne with vodka sauce

5 from 3 reviews

This shrimp penne with vodka sauce is an easy-to-make dinner for two. 


  • 4 ounces penne
  • 3/4 cup store-bought marinara sauce (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 10 ounces frozen shrimp, thawed and patted dry (see note)
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the penne about three minutes less than what’s listed on the package. Drain the pasta once it’s cooked reserving 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  2. While the pasta cooks make the sauce. In a 10-inch skillet, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer. Add the red pepper flakes and vodka. Simmer the sauce for five minutes or until it reduces a bit. 
  3. Add the cream and stir to combine it with the marinara. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and add the shrimp. Stir the shrimp into the sauce and cook them for three minutes or so before you add the pasta.
  4. Add the penne to the sauce and stir to coat it in the sauce. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for three or four minutes, stirring frequently. If needed, add a splash of the starchy pasta water to thin the sauce. Once the pasta is cooked and the shrimp are opaque divide the pasta between two bowls, garnish with parsley and serve.


  • A good-quality marinara makes all the difference so I recommend using Rao’s Homemade or Bertolli. 
  • I like to buy frozen shrimp to have on hand, but you can substitute fresh just make sure they are peeled and deveined. To thaw frozen shrimp, I place them in a bowl with cold water. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for them to thaw. Pat them dry and they are ready to go.


Keywords: penne vodka, vodka sauce, shrimp pasta