Vegan Vodka Sauce With Rigatoni

4 servings
40 min

Vegan vodka sauce offers the same rich, creamy texture as the traditional recipe but without heavy cream, butter, or milk. It’s a dairy-free dinner dream made for the plant-based, the lactose-intolerant, or flexitarians looking to work their meat-free muscle.

This luscious, loveable pasta recipe is easy to make on a weeknight; simply boil pasta and toss with a flavorful sauce of sharp, sweet shallot, spicy red pepper flakes, savory tomato paste, creamy coconut milk, and of course, a splash of vodka. Paired with an acidic, crisp salad, vegan penne alla vodka (or in this case, rigatoni) is a nutritious dinner recipe that’ll turn any Wednesday into a special occasion. In my opinion, pasta night is always worth celebrating—especially when it’s this good.

What can I use instead of heavy cream in vodka sauce?

Coconut milk is the fastest, easiest substitute for heavy cream. Just open a can and pour it in (bonus: this recipe uses an entire can). You can also blend raw cashews in a high-speed blender to create a kind of cashew “cream.” If using cashew cream, use half as much as you would coconut milk. If you’re not vegan or dairy-free, you can also use whole milk or half-n-half.


How to make vegan vodka sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously. Add in the rigatoni and cook for 1 minute less than package directions. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (or another pot) over medium-low. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, followed by the tomato paste and cook until it’s loosened, bright orange-red, and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water if the tomato paste starts to burn. Add in the vodka and simmer until almost completely evaporated, 3-5 minutes.

Slowly add in the coconut milk, stirring constantly, until a smooth sauce forms. Turn off the heat, add in the red wine vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and several cranks of black pepper. Taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar as desired.

Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Turn the heat back on to medium-high and simmer the pasta with the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce evenly coats the pasta, and the pasta is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water if the sauce is too thick (if you’re using regular coconut milk, you will probably need about ¼ cup of water, lite coconut milk usually does not need any added water). Taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve with extra black pepper and dairy-free Parmesan cheese.


What to serve with this pasta dish


Vegan Vodka Sauce With Rigatoni
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 25 Minutes Total time: 40 min
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Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 lb rigatoni or penne
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small (or 1 large) shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk (regular or lite)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Nutritional yeast or dairy-free Parmesan cheese, for serving
Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously. Add in the rigatoni and cook for 1 minute less than package directions. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (or another pot) over medium-low. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, followed by the tomato paste and cook until it’s loosened, bright orange-red, and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water if the tomato paste starts to burn. Add in the vodka and simmer until almost completely evaporated, 3-5 minutes. Slowly add in the coconut milk, stirring constantly, until a smooth sauce forms. Turn off the heat, add in the red wine vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and several cranks of black pepper. Taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar as desired.
Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Turn the heat back on to medium-high and simmer the pasta with the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce evenly coats the pasta, and the pasta is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water if the sauce is too thick (if you’re using regular coconut milk, you will probably need about ¼ cup of water, lite coconut milk usually does not need any added water). Taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Serve with extra black pepper and dairy-free Parmesan cheese.
Samantha
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