If you need a simple but insanely flavorful pasta recipe, look no further! This vegan vodka sauce with rigatoni is a creamy and delicious dinner recipe. It’s completely dairy free, ready in under 30 minutes.
Oops, I did it again. I made an insanely delicious and creamy and luscious and amazing pasta sauce. And did I mention it’s made with simple ingredients and ready in under 30 minutes?? Sounds like a total winner to me.
Vodka sauce has always been one of my favorite kinds of sauces (tbh I’ll like any sauce if it’s put on pasta), and I missed it when I gave up dairy.
But thankfully we have cashews, so it’s incredibly easy to make a creamy pasta sauce without dairy.
What does vodka sauce taste like?
Pasta alla vodka is a super creamy, tomatoey sauce that tastes similar to a tomato cream sauce, only with a deeper flavor thanks to the vodka.
The sauce itself won’t taste anything like vodka because all of the alcohol cooks off. BUT, when you add the vodka to the pan to simmer, you will get a strong wiff of alcohol, so beware!
However, as the vodka simmers with the onion and garlic, it brings out rich, almost nutty undertones that you’re going to love.
For this recipe, you’ll start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and cooking your pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add the minced garlic and chopped onion to a saute pan with olive oil.
Cook down until the garlic browns slightly and the onion looks a bit translucent. This will take about 5 minutes.
After a few minutes, pour in the vodka and let the flavors blend. The alcohol will cook off pretty quickly, so you only need to heat for a few minutes.
When you add the vodka in, you’ll get a strong alcohol scent, so keep your nose away if that bothers you!
Once all of the vodka has cooked off, add in both cans of tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Next, you’ll add the contents of the pan to a food processor or blender and process with all of the remaining ingredients aside from the basil. Be sure to drain and rinse the cashew before adding to the blender.
Process until completely smooth and then transfer the contents to a pan and simmer over low heat. Stir in the cooked pasta and basil and top with fresh black pepper if desired.
You can make this dish more protein rich by using chickpea pasta or having some grilled chicken on the side.
Frequently asked questions
What vodka is best? You can use any neutral flavored vodka for this recipe, just be sure it is plain, but an extremely cheap vodka is perfectly fine for this sauce. The alcohol will cook off, so it doesn’t need to be anything special.
Does it call for nutritional yeast? This recipe calls for my vegan parmesan cheese, but you can substitute it for nutritional yeast or leave it out entirely if desired. It will still be delicious without!
Does it keep? Once prepared, this recipe will store in the fridge for about 5 days. Store in an air tight container for best results. You can heat it up on the stove with a splash of milk to make it nice and creamy.
Can I make it nut free? I recommend sticking with the recipe as written for best results, but you can try subbing the cashews for coconut milk or cream or tahini. If using tahini, you’ll want about 1/4 cup, if using coconut cream, you’ll want about 1/2 cup. Let me know if you try either of these options!
Try these next
- White Wine Cream Sauce
- The Best Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Creamy White Bean Pasta Sauce
- Roasted Carrot Pasta
Vegan Vodka Sauce with Pasta
by: claire cary
- 16 ounces uncooked pasta of choice I used gluten free
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ⅔ cup vodka
- 2 15 ounce cans crushed, chopped or diced tomatoes
- 4 tbsp olive oil 1/4 cup
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ cup chopped white or yellow onion
- ¼ cup chopped basil plus more for garnish
- ½ -1 tsp sea salt or more to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1/4 cup dairy free cashew parmesan
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to salt the water for extra flavor.
- Add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. If you ever have an issue with cashews not getting smooth in your blender, add them a a pot on the stove with water and boil for 20 minutes, then drain off the water.
- Mince the garlic, chop the onion, and add to a saute pan with the olive oil.
- Saute until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes over medium/low heat.
- Reduce heat to low, pour in the vodka and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Be sure all of the vodka is cooked off before moving on to the next step.
- Add the cans of tomatoes to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes so the flavors can absorb.
- Process until completely smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Pour the sauce back into the saute pan. Stir in the basil. If using the vegan parmesan cheese, stir it in and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
- Combine with the cooked pasta and stir until well incorporated.
- Top with extra fresh basil and enjoy!