This Vodka Pasta without Vodka recipe comes together in just 30 minutes! Perfect to serve at a family dinner- it's spicy, creamy, and can be made vegan and gluten-free!
Isn't it so funny that when a celebrity posts a recipe, it's then called "*insert celebrity name* 's recipe" ?! Yes, I am talking about the "Gigi Hadid's vodka pasta".
Look, I love Gigi, but this pasta dish existed for decades before she posted it on her Instagram. Yet, I am still hyped that it became so popular because honestly, it's SO GOOD!
Anyway, this vodka pasta without vodka is nowhere near like the original, but it's just as delicious, creamy, and hearty! It's made with cashew cream (or regular cream if not vegan) and is SO easy to make! Great to serve with a piece of garlic bread on the side.
- Pasta. We love to use penne here, as the original recipe suggests, but you can use any pasta you like! You can even use gluten-free pasta if needed.
- Tomato paste. Make sure to use double-concentrated tomato paste for the best results. It packs more flavor and has more depth.
- Soaked cashews (for the vegan version) or heavy cream. Either soak your cashews in cold water overnight or in hot water for 2 hours. If you forgot to do that, you can boil them for 10 minutes on the stovetop, then drain and rinse well.
- Onion and garlic. These are the essential aromatics for this recipe.
- Nutritional yeast. Since we are not using dairy, we need some nutritional yeast here. It brings a salty and cheesy flavor.
- Olive oil. For cooking.
- Red chili flakes. The spicy flavor balances out the sweetness of the tomato paste and the onion.
- Salt and black pepper. To taste.
How To Make Vodka Pasta without Vodka
Start by cooking your pasta in boiling salted water. Remove from the heat 1 minute before what it says on the packaging. The pasta will continue cooking later, in the sauce. Save 3 cups of pasta water and set it aside.
Drain the pasta and add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
Then, heat olive oil in a small pot, or in our case, a cast-iron skillet. Once hot, add the diced onion and cook for 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
Next, add garlic, chili flakes, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add half of the pasta water and black pepper. Stir and let it simmer on low for a few minutes.
In the meantime, add soaked cashews and pasta water to a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour the cashew cream into the sauce and mix well.
Add the cooked pasta and nutritional yeast and stir until the pasta is well coated. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
At this point, the pasta will start to cook and absorb the sauce. To keep it all creamy, keep adding a splash or two of pasta water as needed.
Finally, serve into bowls and top off with some vegan parmesan, or another cheese of choice, and fresh basil (all optional).
Fridge: Let your leftovers cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to a covered container and in the fridge. If the pasta and the sauce are stored separately, they can last for up to 7 days. If they have been mixed, they will keep for 3 days.
Freezer: Let the sauce cool to room temperature. Transfer to a jar or a covered container. Freeze for 3 months. To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight.
How To Reheat
Stovetop: Add your sauce and your pasta to a small pot, alongside a splash of water. Heat on medium-low heat, stirring often, until hot.
Microwave: Add the sauced pasta to a plate, and heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot.
Add-ins and Substitutions
- Make it nut-free: You can easily skip the cashews and use sunflower seeds instead. Or use a store-bought vegan cream, such as soy cream or full-fat coconut milk. All options work well.
- Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free penne or any gluten-free pasta of your choice!
- Add vegan cheese: We love to top off this vodka pasta without vodka with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan, but you can use any vegan cheese you like here!
Yes! This recipe tastes amazing even without any vodka in it!
Vodka makes the sauce extra creamy and brings some sharpness to the dish. It binds the acid of the tomato paste and the fat from the cream, which makes for a silky smooth vodka sauce. However, you can easily skip the vodka and have a great sauce as well!
You can either substitute it with tequila or omit it completely. The taste won't change that much.
Vodka sauce pasta has rich umami and a slightly sweet flavor. It's sharp, salty, and creamy, with a nice spicy kick!
You can! The sauce freezes great on itself for up to 3 months!
My Best Tips
- Boil your cashews for 10 minutes, if you forgot to soak them ahead of time.
- Use double-concentrated tomato paste. It packs more flavor than regular tomato paste, so try to get your hands on it, if you can.
- Salt your pasta water generously. This will make sure that each bite of pasta has flavor and is well-salted.
- Drain your pasta 1 minute before it's al dente. The pasta will continue cooking in the sauce, which will help it to absorb more flavor!
- Salt everything at the end. Since you are using quite a bit of pasta water, and it's already salted, don't salt your pasta until you've tasted it at the end. This way you are less likely to oversalt it!
More Easy Pasta Recipes
This Vodka Pasta without Vodka recipe is great to serve with a side like this vegan Ceaser salad, for some freshness and crunch!
Gigi Hadid Vodka Pasta without Vodka
- 11 oz (300gr) dried penne pasta (use gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ - 1 cup tomato paste (add more for a deeper flavor, less for a milder flavor)
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes (add more for a spicer sauce, less for a mild spicy flavor)
- ½ cup soaked cashews OR 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For serving (optional)
- Vegan parmesan
- Fresh basil
- Fill a large pot with at least 4 liters of pasta and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Add your pasta and cook for 1 minute less than what it says on the packaging. Stirring occasionally. Once ready, remove from the heat and preserve 3 cups of pasta water. Then, drain the pasta and add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- To a pot, or a cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt and cook on for 5-6 minutes. Make sure to cook on medium heat, so you don't burn it!
- Next, add red chili flakes, tomato paste, and minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add 1 cup of pasta water, and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper. Simmer on low heat for 4-5 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the cashew cream. Add drained cashews to a blender, alongside 1 cup of pasta water. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into the sauce and mix well.
- Add the cooked pasta and nutritional yeast into the sauce and stir until well coated. Cook for 2-3 minutes, adding more pasta water as needed to keep it creamy.
- Serve immediately. Top with cheese of choice and some fresh basil ( all optional) and enjoy!
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with third-party calculations without including the optional ingredients.