This easy homemade chicken and penne vodka is a lightened up version of the Italian-American classic. It’s made with tender chicken and gluten free pasta tossed in a creamy tomato parmesan sauce. Ready in just 30 minutes start to finish!

chicken and penne vodka in a pot topped with parmesan and parsley

What Makes This Recipe Great

Penne Alla Vodka used to be one of my favorite pasta dishes to order at restaurants. Luckily, making homemade chicken penne alla vodka is extremely easy to do in your own kitchen! This Chicken and Penne Vodka is a lightened up gluten free version, and it is next level delicious! It is macro-friendly and packed with protein thanks to the tender chicken. The chicken and pasta are tossed in a creamy vodka sauce, then topped with more parmesan and fresh parsley. This chicken penne pasta is the perfect weeknight meal that the entire family will love! It comes together in just 30 minutes in one pot. I’ve even included an easy chicken recipe for making the perfect broiled chicken in just 10 minutes!

Recipe Highlights

  • Homemade comfort food
  • Gluten free with dairy free option
  • Macro-friendly and packed with protein
  • Great for the whole family
  • Easy to make
  • Uses simple ingredients
  • One pot meal
  • Perfect for busy weeknights

Ingredient Notes

ingredients needed to make penne alla vodka with chicken in nesting bowls

Pasta: I like Jovial Foods penne pasta or Bionaturae brand penne pasta. Feel free to use any shape of pasta for this chicken and penne vodka recipe.

Chicken: I used boneless skinless chicken breasts. Alternatively, chicken thighs can also be used. To save time, use rotisserie chicken.

Onion: I used a medium white onion. Yellow onion works, too.

Minced garlic: You can mince your own fresh garlic, or use the jarred stuff- no judgement here 🙂

Vodka: This gives the sauce amazing flavor. Make sure to look for a gluten free brand of vodka like Tito’s if you have a gluten intolerance. To omit the vodka, simply replace it with chicken broth.

Crushed tomatoes: I did not use diced tomatoes in this recipe because I prefer not to have chunks of tomato in my sauce. Feel free to use diced tomatoes if you prefer.

Tomato sauce: The canned smooth tomato sauce without any added flavors or seasonings. I prefer using this over tomato paste for this recipe.

Chicken broth: My favorite brand is Kettle & Fire! Amazing ingredients and gluten free.

Half & Half: For dairy free or a lighter option, use Original Nutpods. Alternatively, heavy cream can be used for a richer, creamier sauce.

Parmesan cheese: Shredded or grated will both work. Make sure to have extra on hand for the topping! 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast can be substituted to make this dairy free.

How To Make Chicken and Penne Vodka

the first four steps for making chicken and penne vodka

Boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta according to the package directions. I like slightly al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.

Step 1:

Meanwhile, cook the chicken breasts: I like to do this by broiling them which only takes 10 minutes: Preheat your broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and make sure your oven rack is positioned about 4 inches below the broiler. Cut your chicken breasts in half horizontally to form 4 thinner breasts. Next, season on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spray the baking sheet with olive oil or avocado oil then lay the chicken breasts out in a single layer. Spray the tops of the chicken breasts.

Step 2:

Broil them for 3-4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until golden brown and the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and wrap the foil around the chicken breasts to keep them warm.

Step 3:

While the pasta cooks, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Next, add in the onions and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and beginning to soften.

Step 4:

Add in the vodka and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, salt, and Italian seasoning. Next, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.

Steps 5-8 for making chicken and penne vodka in 4 quadrants

Step 5:

Turn off the heat, and add in the Nutpods (or half & half) and the parmesan cheese.

Step 6:

Stir to combine.

Step 7:

Dice up the juicy chicken into small pieces and add it into the pot along with the cooked pasta.

Step 8:

Stir everything to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with fresh parsley or fresh basil and more parmesan cheese, if desired.

a close-up of a pot of penne vodka with chicken

Tips, Tricks & Variations

Pasta: Feel free to use regular penne if you don’t need to be gluten free, or any other type of pasta.

Storage: Store leftover chicken and penne vodka in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Dairy Free: To make this dairy free, stir in 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese and use Original Nutpods instead of half & half.

Creamier sauce: To make this creamy tomato sauce even creamier, stir in 4 oz cream cheese along with the parmesan cheese.

Gluten Free vodka: If you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, make sure to use a gluten free vodka brand like Tito’s.

Vegetarian: For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Spicy: To make this chicken and penne vodka spicy, add in 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes at the end and stir.

Make ahead: You can make the sauce for this chicken penne alla vodka recipe ahead of time, and toss it with fresh pasta when you’re ready to serve. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Heat in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes and enjoy!

chicken and penne vodka in bowls on top of a blue towel with fresh parmesan on the side

Chicken and Penne Vodka FAQ’s

Why is vodka used in the sauce?

The vodka is used to enhance the flavors of the tomatoes and create a smoother texture in the sauce.

Can you taste the vodka?

Most of the actual alcohol cooks off in the sauce, so you’re just left with great flavor.

Can I make chicken alla vodka without the alcohol?

Yes – simply replace it with chicken broth.

a side view of a bowl of chicken and penne vodka topped with parsley

More Gluten Free Pasta Recipes

Viral French Onion Pasta

One Pot Beef Stroganoff

Sausage & Fennel Pasta

Chicken Marsala Fettuccine

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Baked Feta Pasta with Shrimp

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Chicken and Penne Vodka

This easy homemade chicken and penne vodka is a lightened up version of the Italian classic. It's made with tender chicken and gluten free pasta tossed in a creamy tomato parmesan sauce. Ready in just 30 minutes start to finish!
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Ingredients

  • 12 oz gluten free penne pasta, I like Jovial Foods or Bionaturae brands
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt & pepper, for sprinkling on chicken
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • cup vodka, I like Tito's brand
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • cup Half & half, or original Nutpods
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, + more for serving
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley , for serving

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Boil a pot of water and cook the gluten free penne pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook the chicken breasts: I like to do this by broiling them which only takes 10 minutes: Preheat your broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and make sure your oven rack is positioned about 4 inches below the broiler.
  • Cut your chicken breasts in half horizontally to form 4 thinner breasts. Season on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spray the baking sheet with olive oil or avocado oil then lay the chicken breasts out in a single layer. Spray the tops of the chicken breasts. Broil then for 3-4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and wrap the foil around the chicken breasts to keep them warm.
  • Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  • Add in the onions and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and beginning to soften.
  • Add in the vodka and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, salt, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and add in the Nutpods (or half & half) and the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Dice up the chicken and add it into the pot along with the cooked pasta. Stir everything to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with fresh parsley and more parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes

Nutrition facts: Serving size is 1/6 of the total recipe.
Pasta: Feel free to use regular penne if you don’t need to be gluten free, or any other type of pasta.
Storage: Store leftover chicken and penne vodka in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Dairy Free: To make this dairy free, stir in 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese and use Original Nutpods instead of half & half.
Gluten Free vodka: If you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, make sure to use a gluten free vodka brand like Tito’s. 

Nutrition

Calories: 493kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 1199mg, Potassium: 914mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 860IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 181mg, Iron: 3mg