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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
If you're in for pasta dinners, try these other popular recipes next:
- Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta
- Vegan Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce
- Baked Vegan Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach
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
- 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)
- 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.