May 28, 2021

by Alyssa

Spicy Vegan Vodka Sauce with Rigatoni

This Spicy Vegan Vodka Sauce Pasta is made with onion, cashews, crushed tomatoes, and Calabrian chili paste for a savory and creamy dairy-free vodka sauce that coats rigatoni like a dream.

two plates of vegan vodka sauce pasta with fresh basil and grated cheese on top

Who doesn't love vodka sauce? A good vodka sauce is richly creamy, luscious and smooth. I personally love to add a bit of spice to my vodka pasta to round out the thick, rich mouthfeel and flavor.

While traditional vodka pasta sauce contains cream and plenty of dairy, I decided to make a vegan version that's every bit as delicious. The creaminess in this vegan vodka rigatoni comes from cashew cream. And the savory flavor is from classic vodka sauce ingredients like crushed tomatoes, garlic, and chili paste.

This is a true winner of a pasta recipe. Trust me when I say that you're going to want to bookmark it for later!

collage of the steps to make vegan vodka sauce recipe

How to Make Vegan Vodka Sauce

This pasta sauce recipe starts off like most great sauces, by sauteing garlic and onion in some extra-virgin olive oil. Next comes the tomatoes, cashew cream and nutritional yeast for that extra cheesy flavor.

While the sauce cooks, you can cook the rigatoni in a separate pot. Before you drain the pasta, make sure to reserve a cup of pasta water. This is the key to making a well-hydrated sauce that coats each piece of pasta without drying out.

You probably won't need the full cup of pasta water, but it's better to reserve more than less!

Ingredient Notes

Most of the ingredients in this simple weeknight pasta recipe are straightforward, but there are a few things to note before you start cooking:

  • San Marzano tomatoes. These are the best tomatoes for making sauces, straight from Italy. You can find them in most grocery stores. IF you can't find crushed tomatoes, you can use whole, peeled and simply mash them with your spoon while you cook the sauce. Pureed tomatoes will work, but I personally like the sauce with a bit more texture.
  • Calabrian chili paste. This is a special pepper paste from Italy made from Calabrian chilis. It's fairly hot, but not overwhelming. If you're not a fan of spice, start with less chili paste and add more to taste.
  • Vodka. The alcohol will cook off, so don't worry about your sauce tasting like booze.
  • Cashew cream. Make sure to read How to Make Cashew Cream to make this decadent and delicious vegan sub for dairy.
  • Nutritional yeast. This is a must-have ingredient for adding cheesy flavor to your food without any dairy. It's easy to find at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores.

dutch oven with vegan vodka rigatoni pasta with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese

Serving Vegan Vodka Pasta

Serve your pasta and vodka sauce up hot, straight out of the skillet. I like to add a sprinkle of fresh basil and vegan parmesan cheese for extra color, flavor and texture.

If you end up with leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat the pasta on the stove or in the microwave to serve.

Can I Use Gluten-Free Pasta?

You can easily pair your vegan vodka sauce with gluten-free pasta. Simply replace the rigatoni with your favorite gluten-free pasta. I like chickpea pasta from Banza, which is high-protein and naturally gluten-free.

white plate with vegan vodka pasta sauce served over rigatoni noodles with basil and grated cheese

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

If you're in for pasta dinners, try these other popular recipes next:

If you make this Vegan Vodka Sauce Pasta, be sure to let me know what you think with a comment and rating below!

Vegan Vodka Rigatoni

Learn how to make this Spicy Vegan Vodka Sauce with Rigatoni for an amazing pasta dinner recipe. It has the traditional Italian vodka tomato sauce, but is made vegan cashew cream and nutritional yeast. Ready in just 25 minutes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 674kcal
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white plate with vegan vodka pasta sauce served over rigatoni noodles with basil and grated cheese
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion , finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves , diced
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for drizzling
  • 28 oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons calabrian chili paste
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • ¾ cup cashew cream
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 lb rigatoni (gluten-free as needed)

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large straight-sided saute pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until fragrant and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili paste and vodka and continue to cook for another 5 - 7 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
  • Add the cashew cream into the pot and continue to cook while you cook the pasta.
  • Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Just before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water.
  • Add the rigatoni into the pan with the sauce and toss to combine. Add 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid and stir together. If it's still not getting as creamy as you want, add a splash or two more of water until you reach your desired sauce consistency. Stir in the nutritional yeast.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with fresh basil, a sprinkle of vegan parmesan and some chili flakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 674kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 403mg | Potassium: 1191mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 693IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 5mg

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

Interested in Healthy Eating? Grab our 7-Day Vegan Meal Plan!

With a week’s worth of simple and healthy meals, Eat Clean will help you see just how easy living a life full of whole foods can be. Recipe are 100% gluten-free and vegan!

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