Penne Vodka with Chicken

I absolutely LOVE penne vodka with chicken. My favourite Italian restaurant (which has sadly closed now) had the BEST penne vodka and I used to order it every single time we went there.

This recipe is on my ‘adult friendly’ meal list and we only make it when there is other food for the girls to eat. Being able to cook a meal that’s just for Rob and I means we can be heavy handed with the tomato, the chilli and of course the vodka and in doing so, create a gorgeous flavoursome meal with no compromise! 🙌

The best thing about this recipe is the rich flavour you get after only a really short cooking time. It honestly tastes as though it has been simmering away for hours on the stove top, even though it takes around half an hour to make. When I was still at work, and before we had kids, this was one of my husband’s favourite dishes and we would have it almost every week! Nowadays, we make it less frequently, but on nights like tonight when I whip it up as a last minute dinner, it always goes down a treat.

While I am always 100% supportive of people tweaking recipes to their own taste – the key things that truly ‘make’ this recipe are: the jar of roasted red peppers, the dried basil (I never use fresh in this recipe as it’s a different flavour) and the cream (and of course the vodka!). Tweak whatever else you like, but to really give this recipe a red hot crack I wouldn’t change those ingredients.


1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove  of garlic, minced
4 short cut pieces of bacon, diced
2 chicken thighs, trimmed and diced
1 x 300g jar of sliced roasted red peppers (drain about 3/4 of the oil, the rest can go in)
1 x 400g can of crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup vodka
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons dried basil, plus a little extra to season the chicken and to serve
1/3 cup of cream
salt and pepper to taste
250 grams penne pasta
parmesan cheese, dried basil and black pepper to serve

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2-3 big serves


Trim and dice the chicken thighs. Pop in a bowl with a small drizzle of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and some dried basil.


Heat oil and butter in a large fry pan and cook onion and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the onion and garlic have softened, about 2-3 minutes.


Add bacon and cook, for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to sizzle.


Once the bacon is starting to sizzle, add the chicken and cook until browned.



Add the jar of red peppers and stir through. Cook for 1-2 minutes.


Add canned tomatoes, and stir through. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.


Add 1/3 cup of vodka and stir through. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.


Add chilli flakes and stir through.


Add cream and dried basil and stir through. Taste and season to your taste. Let simmer for a further 5 minutes – then turn off and set aside.


Cook penne pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions, then stir through the sauce and you’re done! ENJOY!!! 😋



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