Vodka Sauce is a luscious, creamy pasta sauce that has always been one of my all-time favorite sauces! If you eat a plant-based diet, this might be one of the meals you thought you couldn’t eat anymore because it has cream in it.
Well, you CAN! And it definitely doesn’t take hours in the kitchen. 30 minutes max! This recipe I’m sharing is for vegan vodka sauce. A much healthier version of traditional creamy pasta sauce. I hope you love it as much as I do!
I’m here to tell you that vodka sauce can be made vegan very easily. And, all of the flavor you’re expecting will still be there!
When I started a plant-based diet, I thought I had to eliminate all of the yummy creamy pasta sauces I loved so much. Now, after a lot of experimenting with recipes and creating meals on my own, I know that this just isn’t true!
Anytime I crave a special sauce such as a creamy vodka sauce, I make my own vegan version of it, and I’m beyond satisfied.
This is a delicious VEGAN ALLA VODKA sauce that is a rich, smooth tomato-based sauce and is easily made without dairy. I like to think of it as a “modern-day” vodka sauce with a healthy twist. We don’t have to sacrifice flavor to enjoy a healthier meal!
The cream in this vegan vodka sauce recipe comes from coconut milk.
This can be replaced by a cashew cream sauce or coconut cream. Coconut milk is my favorite way to make this vegan vodka sauce because of the rich consistency and the sweetness it provides. It’s also a lot quicker than making a cashew cream sauce to add in. This way, you just open the can, pour it in, and stir it around. I’m all about the easiest version.
The pasta used in the traditional version of Penne Alla Vodka is penne pasta. I like to make it with different pasta shapes! I’ve made vegan vodka pasta with rotini pasta which works very well too. My all-time favorite pasta for vegan vodka pasta is rigatoni pasta. I simply love the full tube-shaped pasta because of the ridges. They hold the sauce really well! They also hold the vegan parmesan on the pasta tubes.
And for some reason, I enjoy the larger pasta – no good explanation why! This is a personal preference and you can make it with your own favorite pasta. Why not mix it up – just make it with what you have on hand!
What you’ll need:
Pasta (rigatoni, penne, rotini, or your favorite!)
Olive oil or vegan butter
Red pepper chili flakes
Coconut milk (full fat)
Nutritional yeast or Vegan parmesan (my favorite recipe is from Minimalist Baker)
Salt & pepper
Here are some optional additions to boost your meal up!
Vegan sausage crumbles or any meat crumbles if you don’t follow a vegan diet
History of Vodka Sauce
Depending on who you ask, the story of how vodka sauce originated is a bit different. An overwhelming number of sources say that it’s an Italian-American dish that was created right here in the US by an Italian chef. Some others say that it did in fact originate in Italy back in the ’70s.
In either case, the recipe was inspired by Italian cooking and we honor it as an “Italian dish”. Traditionally, it’s made with heavy cream, Roma tomatoes, onions, herbs, and vodka. The vegan version keeps many of the same ingredients with the exception of dairy. It has the same consistency as the traditional version when you make this vegan vodka sauce with coconut milk (or coconut cream or cashew cream).
Cooking with Vodka
Vodka is relatively flavorless when it’s used in cooking. What it does is enhances the flavor of the tomatoes and adds aromatic compounds to the dish. I use a mid-range priced vodka in my recipe and it comes out delicious every time.
I recommend not selecting a vodka that is flavored as it will affect the final flavor of your dish. The alcohol somewhat evaporates during cooking, especially if you cook it down for a while, but it doesn’t completely go away. The final dish will still have a little bit of alcohol in it.
How Long Will this vegan vodka sauce Last?
This vegan vodka sauce will stay fresh for about 4 to 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container. This makes it easy and convenient to enjoy the leftovers for an easy lunch or quick dinner. These are my all-time favorite containers for fridge storage!
Can Vegan Vodka Sauce Be Frozen?
Yes! The vegan vodka sauce is best when it’s frozen on its own without the pasta combined into it. If your intention is to freeze the sauce, then do not combine it with cooked pasta as the recipe suggests. Store the sauce in a sealed container or sealed bag in the freezer.
When defrosting the sauce, simply place it in the fridge for a few hours. Once thawed, pour the vodka sauce into a saucepan and reheat over low heat.
BASIC OVERVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONS:
You’ll start by getting your water going for the pasta. Chop your onions and garlic. Get all of your ingredients ready to add, as this is the easiest way to cook. I love having everything all ready to go, just like you do when making a stir-fry! This will make it easier when you’re ready to cook.
If you plan to add mushrooms or vegan sausage to the dish, this is a good time to get those chopped and prepared too. Once your pasta is done, keep some of the pasta water just in case you need it later to thin out the sauce and help the pasta not stick. Heat the vegan butter or oil in a large skillet.
Add your onions, garlic red pepper flakes! One of my favorite things about making this dish is the aroma at this stage. Delicious!
Next, you’ll add the capers, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste. Once combined, then comes the vodka, coconut milk, and oregano. This will need to cook for a little bit to combine really well! Add your vegan parmesan, salt & pepper, and continue to combine the ingredients. Add your pasta of choice and stir it in well.
Get that Italian bread ready to dip into your healthier vegan vodka sauce!
Vegan Vodka Sauce
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 1.5 tbsp capers
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 cup diced onion small onion
- 1 can tomato paste small can
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 cup coconut milk or use the whole can for creamier
- 16 oz rigatoni pasta or your favorite pasta
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or pureed fresh tomatoes
- 1/4 cup loosely chopped basil
- Bring salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. For rigatoni pasta, this is usually approximately 12 - 15 minutes. Drain pasta once it's done. Reserve some pasta water in case needed later. This dish works best with al dente pasta.
- Heat the vegan butter in a large skillet over low heat
- Add the garlic, onions and red pepper flakes and saute
- Add the capers and combine for a few minutes
- Add the pureed tomatoes and stir. Continue to lightly stir and combine for 5 minutes
- Slowly add the coconut milk and simmer for a few more minutes
- Add in the vodka and stir to combine
- Sprinkle in the oregano, salt, and pepper
- Simmer for 8-10 minutes
- Add in the cooked pasta and stir. Use some reserved pasta water if needed
- Add vegan parmesan cheese and small torn basil pieces
- Combine everything and enjoy!
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear if you liked it! Tag @itsazestylife on Instagram if you take a yummy photo of it!
For another super creamy vegan recipe, check out Vegan Alfredo with Fresh Herbs!