This Vegan Vodka Sauce Pasta recipe comes together in just 30 minutes! Perfect to serve at a family dinner- it's spicy, creamy, and is completely vegan! It can also be made 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 sauce pasta recipe is nowhere near like the original, but it's just as delicious, creamy, and hearty! It's made with cashew cream, instead of regular cream, and is SO easy to make! Let me show you how!
- 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 best results. It packs more flavor and has more depth.
- Soaked cashews. 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.
- Vodka. You will need just a little bit of vodka, but it goes a long way!
- Onion and garlic. These are the essential aromatics for this vodka sauce pasta 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 This Recipe
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 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 vodka, half of the pasta water, and black pepper, and let it simmer on low.
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 vodka 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 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 Re-heat
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.
Optional add-ins and Substitutions
- Omit the vodka: If you don't want to use vodka, you can still make this recipe. Just skip it and move on to the next step!
- 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 choice!
- Add vegan cheese: We love to top off this vodka sauce pasta recipe with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan, but you can use any vegan cheese you like here!
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 cashew cream, which makes for a silky smooth vodka sauce. However, you would not taste it in this vodka sauce pasta recipe at all!
Vodka sauce pasta has rich umami and a slightly sweet flavor. It's sharp, salty, and creamy, with a nice spicy kick!
o! The alcohol in the vodka cooks off and won't get you drunk!
You can! Vodka 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 Sauce Pasta recipe is great to serve with a side like this vegan Ceaser salad, for some freshness and crunch!
Easy Vodka Sauce Pasta
- 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 cup vodka
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes (add more for a spicer sauce, less for a mild spicy flavor)
- ½ cup cashews, soaked *
- 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 vodka, 1 cup 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 vodka 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!