clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A horizontal closeup photo of a black skillet filled with sauced pasta.

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 your sunflower seed cream (or cashew cream) by blending together the seeds and the water until completely smooth (I usually blend for 1-2 minutes) and set it aside. (For more dairy-free vodka sauce options, check the notes section in the bottom portion of the recipe card.
  • Start your pasta water in a large pot. You can salt your pasta water if you prefer. To do this properly (I just learned), bring your water to a boil, add the salt and stir, then let it dissolve and return it to a boil before adding the pasta.
  • Cook shallots: Add very finely chopped shallots to a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook for about 3 minutes or until translucent, adding a tablespoon of water at a time to keep them from sticking OR you can cook with oil. I usually cook without oil unless I'm using my hot plate for filming.
  • Blend the canned tomatoes: While the shallots cook, blend up your canned tomatoes.
  • Cook the garlic: Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute more.
  • Now add the tomato paste and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  • 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 your vegan vodka sauce cook down for 10 minutes over low heat.
  • Drain cooked pasta: Once the pasta is cooked through, drain it but reserve some of the pasta water, around ¼ to ⅓ cup. Set aside.
  • Finish the sauce: After the sauce has cooked down (reduced to about half its volume), add the sunflower seed 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.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta. Fold it in gently so as not to break any noodles.
  • Serve with fresh chopped basil--I prefer to chiffonade mine, which is where you roll up a few leaves stacked on top 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. Or use store-bought vegan Parmesan cheese
  • 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 leftover vegan vodka sauce in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Sauce that has thickened too much can be loosened with a splash of water and a reheat in a sauce pan. You can also freeze cooled sauce in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.


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. BTW if you’ve never cooked with alcohol, don’t worry as the alcohol cooks off.

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).

  • 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