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Penne alla vodka in a saucepan

Vegan Vodka Sauce

  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Creamy, bright, and delicious, this Vegan Vodka Sauce comes together in 20 minutes with simple ingredients.


Units Scale
  • 28 oz can peeled tomatoes (see note 1)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped (can sub onion)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka, to taste (see note 2)
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds + 1 - 1 1/2 cup water (see note 3)
  • The juice of a small lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Up to 1/4 cup reserved pasta water

Serve with

  • 1 pound pasta, cooked (use GF if needed)
  • Fresh basil


  • Make the vegan cream sauce: Make your sunflower cream (or cashew cream) and set it aside. If just using non-dairy milk, measure it and set aside (room temperature is best).
  • Cook the pasta: Start your pasta water in one pot. You can salt your pasta water if you prefer. Once the pasta is cooked through, drain it but reserve some of the pasta water, around ¼ to ⅓ of a cup. Set aside.
  • Cook shallots and garlic: Add very finely chopped shallots to a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Saute for about 3 minutes or until translucent, adding a tablespoon of water (or oil if you prefer) at a time to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.
  • Blend tomatoes: While the shallots cook, blend up your canned tomatoes if desired.
  • Add tomato paste: Now add the tomato paste and saute for one minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add vodka and cook down: Slowly add in the vodka while stirring, then you can add in the blended tomatoes and stir once again, letting everything come to a boil. Cover and let cook down for 10 minutes over low heat.
  • Put it all together: After the sauce has cooked down (reduced to about half its volume), add the sunflower cream and stir well. Add salt and a bit of fresh lemon to taste, then stir in the cooked pasta. If it’s a bit thick, you can add in the reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time till it’s the consistency you like.
  • Serve: Serve with fresh chopped basil--I prefer to chiffonade mine, which is where you roll up a few leaves stacked ontop of each other and slice thinly. You can also add some vegan Parmesan topping if you like--my recipe takes less than 5 minutes to throw together. Serve your vegan penne alla vodka (or whatever pasta you used) with vegan garlic bread, a fresh salad like this vegan avocado salad, and a glass of wine or whatever else you like.
  • Store: The sauce on its own can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days, but cooked pasta is usually best the first night or a few days after. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Note 1: While I highly recommend the Cento San Marzano canned tomatoes, you can absolutely use any kind you like. Fresh, stewed, diced, crushed, or pureed. Any should work. If you want a chunky vegan vodka sauce, I recommend getting crushed or petite diced tomatoes.

Note 2: It’s kind of the point of a vodka sauce to have vodka in it, but you can omit it if you prefer. The sunflower cream sauce with the tomatoes, shallots, and garlic will still be delicious. I used Trader Joe’s Vodka of the Gods and I thought this sauce was great every time I’ve made it. It wasn’t really expensive, but it wasn’t the cheapest thing there either. BTW if you’ve never cooked with alcohol, don’t worry as the alcohol cooks off. I’m a total lightweight and felt nothing from this sauce and I ate a TON of it, lol.

Note 3: You can use raw cashews or cashew butter instead of sunflower seeds for this sauce if you’d like. If you want to make your vegan vodka sauce lower in fat, I recommend either blending up half a pack of silken tofu (with nothing, just blend it smooth) or using a thick non-dairy milk.

  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Vodka Sauce