Vegan Vodka Sauce
This easy Vegan Vodka Sauce recipe is ready in about 20 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights. Layer the deliciously bold sauce over your favorite pasta for a creamy, luscious, and comforting vegan meal.
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- What is Vodka Sauce?
- Ingredients & Substitutions
- How to make Vegan Vodka Sauce with Cashews
- Customizations & Variations
- Serving Suggestions
- Tips & Tricks
- Storage & Re-Heating
- More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Hello, Big Flavor! This Vegan Vodka Sauce with cashew cream is seriously becoming my new favorite pasta adornment. It’s so luscious and creamy you’d never know it took less than 30 minutes to make.
This recipe is:
- Healthy & Wholesome – Made with fewer than 10 ingredients, all of which are plant-based, easy-to-find, and pretty darn good for you (with maybe the exception of vodka, but the booze will cook off anyway), this vegan vodka sauce is a real winner.
- Fast & Easy – Getting a hearty, healthy, and – most importantly – tasty meal on the table isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Not so with this simple recipe; you can have dinner on the table in less time than it takes to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom!
- Versatile – You can add extra spice, replace the vodka with a bright alternative, or even make it nut-free! Plus it pairs perfectly with any type of vegan pasta noodle, whether it’s your favorite Italian pasta, gluten-free noodles, or even zoodles. Check out the “Variations” section below for even more ways to customize it to your liking.
While I love my Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Alfredo Sauce, there’s something special about my vegan vodka sauce recipe. Adding a splash of vodka to a mix of sweet tomatoes, onion, garlic, and easy cashew cream really brings out phenomenal flavors. Every bit of sauce-covered pasta (a.k.a. pasta alla vodka) is bright and complex.
What is Vodka Sauce?
Traditional Italian-American vodka sauce is made with a smooth tomato sauce, vodka, and heavy cream. A few aromatics are added to give the sauce a tart, savory, and slightly spicy flavor.
Making vegan vodka sauce at home is really easy! Simply replace the dairy cream with homemade cashew cream or coconut cream instead. Pour it over your favorite pasta noodles for a creamy and comforting feast.
Ingredients & Substitutions
The big and bold flavor in this creamy sauce comes from simple ingredients. Most of these are likely already in your pantry! Here’s everything you’ll need:
A few notes to keep in mind:
- Cashews – Soaked raw cashews and water are used to make cashew cream. This gives the red sauce its signature creamy finish.
- Vodka – Any plain, neutral-flavored vodka will work in a homemade vodka sauce. The complex flavors of the liquor are hidden amongst the tomatoes and aromatics, so you can get away with using a more inexpensive brand. My favorites to use are Tito’s or Absolut.
- Onion and Garlic – These aromatics infuse savory flavors into the sauce.
- Tomatoes – You need both crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Nutritional Yeast – To help the sauce state extra savory and a little cheesy.
- Red Pepper Flakes – A pinch of red pepper flakes adds a welcome kick to the sauce without making it overly spicy. The amount you use can always be adjusted depending on what you like.
How to make Vegan Vodka Sauce with Cashews
All you need is a blender and a saucepot. Easily make this sauce in about 25 minutes and use it right away on any type of pasta you love.
Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Saute the onions. In a large saucepan, saute the onions in oil over medium heat. Add the garlic.
Step 2: Make the sauce. Pour the vodka, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper into the pot. Stir it all together and leave it to cook for a few minutes.
Step 3: Make the cashew cream. Blend the cashews and ½ cup of water in the blender until the cream is smooth. You can add a little more water to thin it out if you’d like.
Step 4: Blend. When the sauce is done cooking, at it to the blender with the cashew cream and blend until smooth.
Step 5: Add to pasta and enjoy. Enjoy the sauce over pasta with some vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top.
Customizations & Variations
While this vegan vodka sauce is perfect as is with just some cooked pasta, there’s always room for customization. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add veggies! Stir in some vegetables like spinach, kale, or broccoli for added nutrients and a bit of color.
- Add protein! Some marinated tofu, tempeh crumbles, or tofu crumbles will add lots of plant-based protein to the sauce.
- Make it spicier! Amp up the heat with more red pepper flakes.
- Make it booze free! If alcohol is a no-go in your house, swap in an equal amount of water and add a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
If you need to give this sauce a little tweak to fit your dietary needs try these substitutions:
- Without vodka – You can easily leave the vodka out of this recipe if you wish. Replace it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little veggie broth or water to ensure the flavors are still bright and vibrant.
- Instead of cashews – Use macadamia nuts for the cream or replace those nuts with coconut cream if you can eat coconut (see FAQs below).
- Nut-Free – Using coconut cream is the easiest way to make this recipe nut-free (see FAQs below), however, not everyone who is nut-free can eat coconut. If you can’t eat nuts or coconut, replace them with ¼ cup of tahini or opt to use raw sunflower seeds in place of the raw cashews.
- Oil-Free – Instead of sautéing the onion and garlic in oil, replace it with some water or vegetable broth.
Ready to plate? This vegan vodka sauce goes well over penne, rigatoni, spaghetti, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or your favorite gluten-free noodles. It’s also tasty poured on top of veggies.
Top your vegan vodka pasta with vegan parmesan, fresh basil, fresh parsley, a little more nutritional yeast, or an extra sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
- Make this vegan vodka sauce as part of your weekly meal prep! It’ll last for up to 5 days in the fridge, or up to three months in the freezer, meaning a healthy vegan meal is never far from reach.
- Salt your pasta water! There’s no bigger bummer than perfectly seasoning a gorgeous vegan pasta sauce only to realize that your pasta is under-salted. How much salt? Taste the water after the salt has dissolved; it should taste like the sea.
- Store pasta and sauce separately. To prevent the possibility of gummy, overcooked pasta, I suggest keeping them separate until you’re ready to serve. This is especially true if you plan on freezing your leftovers.
Storage & Re-Heating
The sauce stores well in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days. It’s also freezer-friendly. Keep it in an airtight container or sealed Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
The sauce can be reheated in a pot on the stove over low to medium heat. Stir it often and feel free to add a little non-dairy milk to make it creamy if it gets too thick.
What does the vodka do in this vodka sauce?
Just a small amount of vodka in the sauce adds deep and intricate flavors to each bite. Not only does it bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes, but every piece of pasta. will taste a little bit sharp and well balanced. If you don’t add vodka to the sauce, the flavor will be a little flatter.
Worried about your pasta tasting like liquor? Don’t fret! You can’t taste the vodka because such a small amount is used and much of it evaporates during the cooking process.
What can you substitute for vodka in vodka sauce?
Surprisingly, you don’t need vodka to make a tangy and bright sauce. Simply replace the same amount of vodka with water and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Can you use coconut cream in vodka sauce?
Yes, but you’ll have to leave out the nuts. To make the sauce with coconut cream, place a can of coconut milk in the fridge for 10 minutes to overnight). Scoop out the creamy top part (leave the liquid part for smoothies or smoothie bowls) and stir into the sauce.
What if I have a nut allergy?
Replace the cashews with ¼ cup of tahini instead or use coconut cream (see question directly above).
Can kids eat vodka sauce?
This is a personal choice. While much of the vodka (and with it, the alcohol) evaporates as it cooks, not all of it does. The sauce doesn’t taste like liquor and you won’t get drunk as you eat it. My family feeds the kids this pasta but it’s totally up to you.