This Vegan Vodka Sauce is deliciously creamy without having to use any cream!
It's used to make one of my favourite comfort foods, vegan Penne Alla Vodka pasta. In this recipe, I will show you how to make the ever so popular dish with of course putting my own healthy twist.
Traditionally it's made with cream, tomatoes, and of course vodka. You don't have to use the vodka though so not to worry if you prefer to omit this.
To keep it healthy, I'll show you how to make cashew cream which is also dairy-free rather than using heavy cream.
This delicious and creamy vegan vodka pasta sauce includes 9 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make.
This is will pair perfectly after some delicious Bruschetta as an appetizer.
What is Penne Alla Vodka?
Penne Alla Vodka originated in Italy back in the 80s, how exactly is unclear but there have been multiple claims of how the dish was invented. The popularity of the dish took off in the United States and there are many different versions today.
The famous and gorgeous Gigi Hadid shared her take on the classic dish, which made headlines, making Penne Alla Vodka a must try.
Ingredients to make Vegan Vodka Sauce
- Pasta, the classic pasta shape to use is of course Penne. In saying so, it works perfectly with any other short pasta such as Rigatoni, Cavatelli, Orecchiette and even Casarecce or gluten-free pasta. This recipe works best with a short pasta so that the creamy sauce coats all the grooves and shapes
- Vodka, given vodka is in the name of the dish, you will need ⅓ of a cup for this recipe. It might not sound like much, but a little goes a long way. You can leave the vodka out and use water or vegetable stock instead too
- Cashews are used to create cashew cream which is a vegan and much healthier substitute than using heavy cream. Its made by soaking raw cashews in boiling water whilst your sauce starts to cook before blending with water to create cashew cream. To make this dish nut free, a great substitute for the cashew cream is coconut cream or coconut milk
- Tomato paste is used instead of fresh or canned tomatoes. Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes and brings a deeper flavour and darker colour in a short amount of cooking time. If you prefer to use canned or fresh tomatoes, the sauce will need to be cooked for longer
- Onion, brown onion is a better choice rather than using red onion in this dish, as the tomatoes with the vodka create a sweet sauce so white onion balances these flavours
- Garlic, well it can't be a tasty pasta without garlic right! Just make sure not to cut the garlic too small as garlic can burn easily when being sautéed. Small cubes work best so that they can be cooked with the onion
- Cheese, nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan are a great options to give your vegan penne alla vodka a cheesy taste as a substitution for using Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese)
- Chilli, red pepper flakes are added to the dish for a subtle spicy hit. You can add as little or as much as you like depending on preference. If serving young children, they can easily be left out
How to make Vegan Vodka Sauce
Time needed: 30 minutes.
- Soak cashews
Soak cashews in a bowl with boiling water for 20 minutes
- Prepare sauce
Sauté diced onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
Add tomato paste and fry together for 5-8 minutes to release all the beautiful flavor.
Then add vodka, cook the alcohol down in the sauce, season with salt and pepper and chill flakes
- Cook pasta
At the same time, add the pasta to a pot with heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Make sure not to overcook as pasta will need to finish cooking in the sauce
- Make cashew cream
Drain cashews and add to a food processer or blender with 1 cup of warm water. Blend until smooth to create cashew cream
Pour cashew cream into the sauce, stir together and season with salt and pepper.
Add a good splash of pasta water to the sauce, tear in the basil leaves and let it simmer
- Cook it all together
Add the cooked pasta along with the nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese. Stir and cook together on medium heat for a few minutes until pasta is cooked and nicely coated in the creamy sauce. If sauce is too thick, add another splash of pasta water.
- Serve it up
Serve with some extra basil leaves on top and enjoy your creamy bowl of goodness!
Here I've made cashew cream to make a vegan vodka sauce. You can also use coconut cream, coconut milk or even soy milk.
You don't need to use vodka. Simply omit and add water or vegetable stock instead
The vodka enhances the sauce and provides richness as it releases flavour in the tomato.
Typically, alcohol such as wine is used in Italian sauces for this reason
This recipe eliminates heavy cream and instead substitutes for cashew cream being a much healthier alternative. This is also a vegan pasta
Tips for Vegan Penne Alla Vodka Pasta
- Always save some pasta water as the pasta water will help create a glossy creamy sauce. Without it, it can be quite thick due to the cashew cream
- Don't cook the onion or chilli on a high heat as it can burn easily
- No vodka no worries, you can substitute it with water or vegetable stock
- Don't overcook the pasta when boiling as it needs to finish cooking in the sauce for the best flavour
Simply serve the dish into your bowl and devour your rich and creamy pasta without any guilt or a touch of cream. Ah the ultimate comfort food!
More Pasta Recipes
- Pappardelle Pasta with Mushrooms
- Mushroom Carbonara
- Baked Feta Pasta
- Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
- Superfood Pesto Pasta
Vegan Vodka Sauce
- 350 g penne pasta
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 7 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup vodka (or vegetable stock or water)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
- Nutritional yeast or Vegan parmesan cheese
- Handful fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra basil leaves or fresh parsley
- Soak cashews in a bowl with boiling water for 20 minutes
- Dice onion and garlic into small cubes and sauté in olive oil over medium heat until translucent
- Add tomato paste and fry together for 5-8 minutes to release all the beautiful flavor. Then add vodka, cook the alcohol down in the sauce, season with salt and pepper and chill flakes
- At the same time, add the pasta to a pot with heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Make sure not to overcook as pasta will need to finish cooking in the sauce
- Drain cashews, add to a food processer or blender with 1 cup of warm water. Blend until smooth to create cashew cream
- Pour cashew cream into the sauce, stir together and season with salt and pepperAdd a good splash of pasta water to the sauce, tear in the basil leaves and let it simmer
- Add the cooked pasta along with the nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese. Stir and cook together on medium heat for a few minutes until pasta is cooked and nicely coated in the creamy sauce. If sauce is too thick, add another splash of pasta water
- Serve with some extra basil leaves on top and enjoy your creamy bowl of goodness 🙂