Lumaconi alla Vodka

Lumaconi alla Vodka

Lumaconi alla Vodka is the perfect recipe for entertaining. It’s a simple, hearty dish that is guaranteed to please. Get the recipe below.

What is pasta “alla vodka”?

You might have seen penne alla vodka, spaghetti alla vodka, or some other variation elsewhere on the internet. It’s probably clear that “alla vodka” refers to the sauce but you might not know much more about it than that.

“Alla vodka” simply means “with vodka” in Italian and whilst Lumaconi alla vodka is an Italian inspired dish it (and the other variations I’ve mentioned) actually originates from America in the 1980s!

It’s a pasta dish that is usually made with butter, onions, garlic, tomatoes and cream. Oh, and vodka of course! Some people like to add other ingredients such as chilli flakes, peas or even sausage! But for this recipe we are keeping things simple. 


Yes, you read that right. This tomato and cream based pasta sauce is spiked with vodka. I add the vodka into the pot right at the same time as the pasta, before the pasta has had a chance to be stirred through the tomato and cream. This way you don’t lose any of it’s boozy bite!

A plate of Lumaconi alla vodka with parmesan and basil

Do I have to use lumaconi pasta?

Lumaconi pasta (sometimes referred to as lumache) is a large pasta shell. When you think of pasta shells you probably think of conchiglie but lumaconi is actually meant to look like snails shells rather than sea shells!! Don’t let that put you off…

I love lumaconi because it’s a big, hearty pasta shape that is great for stuffing or mopping up sauces. It has these huge bowl like cavities that mean you get a big helping of sauce with every mouthful.

If you can’t get hold of lumaconi then you can of course use any pasta shape you like. But, I’d recommend something that has a hole in the middle as these have been designed with hearty sauces in mind. Why not try penne, rigatoni or paccheri?

I usually avoid long and thin pastas like spaghetti, tagliatelle and linguine with tomato based sauces but that’s just because I’m likely to get myself in a mess!  

A plate of Lumaconi alla vodka with parmesan and basil

The recipe

The origins of this recipe go way back to the 1980s. It’s appeared on this blog since 2011 and was most recently updated in 2021. Lumaconi alla vodka has remained a firm favourite of mine; from university halls to dinner parties in my own home. It’s a classic dish that is simple to make.

A plate of Lumaconi alla vodka with parmesan and basil

Lumaconi alla vodka

Lumaconi alla Vodka is the perfect recipe for entertaining. It's a simple, hearty dish that is guaranteed to please.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 537.09 kcal


  • 300 g pasta e.g. lumaconi
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion diced finely
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400 g tomato passata
  • 14 cherry tomatoes
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 75 ml vodka
  • parmesan optional
  • basil optional


  • Cook your pasta according to instructions while you make the sauce.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion and salt.
  • Sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes until they have softened and are starting to brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes before stirring through the tomato puree and passata.
  • Bring the sauce up to a simmer before taking off the heat and stirring through the cream.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender and blitz on high until you have a smooth sauce.
  • Pour the sauce back into the pan.
  • Using a ladel or slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce (you want to bring a little pasta water over with the pasta so don't worry about being too careful).
  • Pour over the vodka before stirring the pasta into the sauce.
  • Warm gently until the dish is piping hot.
  • Serve with a little parmesan and basil leaves to garnish.


Make it vegan
It’s really easy to make Lumaconi alla Vodka vegan. 
The only substitutes you need to make are the butter and cream. 
  • For the butter you can either use a non-dairy butter or olive oil.
  • For the cream, Oatly and Elmlea both do fantastic cream alternatives. The choice is yours! 
If you still want to garnish the dish with parmesan then you can buy vegan parmesan in many supermarkets or you can make your own at home – find out how to here.


Calories: 537.09kcalCarbohydrates: 71.29gProtein: 13.22gFat: 18.14gSaturated Fat: 9.48gCholesterol: 51.38mgSodium: 99.37mgPotassium: 832.43mgFiber: 5.2gSugar: 9.5gVitamin A: 1518.68IUVitamin C: 27.01mgCalcium: 73.91mgIron: 3.38mg
Keyword butter, cherry tomatoes, cream, garlic, onion, passata, pasta, vodka
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Serve with…

Lumaconi alla vodka is a no fuss dish. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan (you can find my vegan parmesan here) and a couple of basil leaves.

A simple green side salad would go well, as would garlic dough balls if you’re feeling a little more decadent!

More pasta dishes

Do you remember Lumaconi alla Vodka from when it first became popular in the 1980s? Let me know in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Lumaconi alla Vodka”

  • I love this recipe! I had something like this in Zizzi's once and it was actually really nice! Guess you just have to be careful how much vodka you put in :pp.s. didn't get to say before, but I love the new look of your blog! 🙂

  • Glad you like the new look Xinmei! As for the vodka…I definitely recommend a shot rather than a bottle of Vodka 😛 I guess with any recipe it's about balancing the flavours 🙂

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