Vegan Penne alla Vodka on a dark plate with a fork stuck into it

Vegan Penne alla Vodka


You guys!! Vegan Penne alla Vodka is a comfort food absolute dream come true!! I could not wait to get this one out fast enough to you because I was simply so excited about it 😍. Also, it has kind of been on repeat in our household, so it made sense to use one chance to take the pictures 😉.

Two plates of Vegan Penne alla Vodka on dark plates with cashews, basil, and nutritional yeast scattered around in the background

This sauce is beyond delicious and has depths of flavor!! My husband asked me why I was adding vodka to a sauce when you cannot really taste it in the first place. It is because vodka elevates the dish. Large amounts of alcohol tend to trap molecules in food. Small amounts of alcohol, such as the vodka used here, release new flavors. Therefore, the taste of the tomatoes that are used to make this incredibly creamy sauce gets enhanced. Pretty cool huh 😍?!

Now albeit the vodka continues to cook in the sauce and the alcohol content reduces there may still be a trace of it. I would not recommend eating this when you are pregnant or with children (or if you have any other concerns about alcohol). Not to worry though, you can still make this recipe by replacing an equal amount of vodka with water and a squeeze of lemon juice without altering the taste significantly 🥰️.

Vegan Penne alla Vodka photographed up close from a side angle

Most versions of this recipe come with heavy cream and quite a lot of dairy. I thought it would be fun to invent a vegan version (that is really easily able to be adapt for a paleo lifestyle as well). The sauce does not lose any of its rich- or creaminess, it is simple tomato heaven!

Vegan Penne alla Vodka on a dark plate with a fork stuck into it

Why is this Vegan Penne alla Vodka Recipe good for you?


Beautiful, delicious, and pretty much available year-round (albeit at its ripest and freshest from May to October). Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. They are technically a fruit (because they contain seeds), but are often prepared as a vegtable. They contain great amounts of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Vitamin C is awesome for our immunity, but it also does so much more within our bodies! It acs as a “double-agent”, by being an antioxidant at the same time. That means it protects our bodies from free radicals, and oxidative stress. Potassium has been shown to be beneficial for blood pressure control, which has a positive effect on our heart health.

Cherry Tomato and basil leaf in focus with Vegan Penne alla Vodka visible in the background

Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called “lycopene”, which is amazing for your heart health. Lycopene is a red pigment, and it can be found in its highest amounts in the skin. It is also more present, the riper the tomato is. Interestingly, the amount of concentrated lycopene is much higher in processed tomato products (such as tomato paste) as in fresh ones. Lycopene tends to be much better absorbed if consumed with a bit of fat.

Lycopene has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Evidence indicates that it might form a protective layer inside your blood vessels and could also reduce your risk of blood clotting. In addition, it appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is also super important for the heart.

Vegan Penne alla Vodka on a dark plate shown from a side-angle

How can I adjust this Vegan Penne alla Vodka Recipe to my Dietary Reqiurements?

This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian. If you do drink alcohol as part of your paleo lifestyle, it is also paleo-approved, when using paleo-friendly pasta. Due to the cashews used, sadly, this recipe is not nut-free.

Vegan Penne alla Vodka on a dark plate with a fork stuck into it shown up close

Other Delicious Noodle Recipes on the Blog

I love a good pasta dish!! They are my ultimate go-to for comfort food, especially during the winter months and I have listed some awesome options for you below:

Vegan Penne alla Vodka being eaten on a plate

And there you have it for this week 🤗! I hope you enjoy this super delicious, easy, flavorful Vegan Penne alla Vodka. As always, please let me know how you are liking the recipe – by either leaving a comment below and/or rating the recipe. I cannot wait to hear from you!! Happy comfort-food making 😍.

Vegan Penne alla Vodka

Recipe by Ann Robejsek
5.0 from 2 votes
Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



This Vegan Penne alla Vodka comes together super easily and smothers noodles in a delicious, rich, creamy tomato sauce. Enjoy!


  • 1 medium -sized white onion

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or cayenne)

  • 200 gr. tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml.) vodka*

  • 800 gr. canned whole tomatoes (from 2 cans)

  • 1 cup (160 gr.) cashews

  • 1 cup (240 ml.) water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Pepper to taste

  • 1/2 cup (30 gr.) nutritional yeast

  • 300 gr. gluten-free pasta of choice

How to

  • Start by peeling both the onion and garlic. Finely cut the onion and grate the garlic (I used a garlic press)
  • In a large pot, over medium to low heat, heat the coconut oil. Add the onion and garlic and fry off until translucent (ca. 5 minutes). Be sure to stir often, on too high heat the garlic tends to burn quickly. Add the chili flakes (or cayenne) and mix under. Add the tomato mark and combine with the onions and garlic. Continue to simmer until the tomato mark has turned a slightly darker color and has become a bit thicker. Add the vodka along. As it is not too much, it will dissolve quickly. Once you do not see any liquid, continue with step 3
  • Add the whole canned tomatoes to the pot and gently crush them (I used my potato masher a few times for this). Put on the lid and increase the heat to medium so that the sauce starts to simmer, for ca. 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, add water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Season with salt and cook the gluten-free pasta to the package instructions. Once done, drain the noodles and set them aside. Note: You may want to retain some of the water before draining to add to the sauce for additional flavor or when you are reheating the sauce on the stove
  • Make the cashew cream by adding the cashews and water to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Stir under the sauce and again put on the lid. You will notice that the sauce starts to bubble and pop up against the lid. This is fine and means that it is on its way to thickening. Just continue to stir a few times so that it does not burn at the bottom
  • Once the sauce has thickened and looks rich and creamy in your pot (ca. 10 minutes after adding the cashew sauce), add the salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine. Do a taste test and see if you want to adjust any of the flavors. Add the noodles to the pot and stir to combine. You should have slightly more sauce than noodles, which will make this dish an even more rich and delicious experience!! Serve with additional nutritional yeast (or parmesan if you eat dairy, but note it will not be vegan then any longer), some basil, and additional pepper. Enjoy!!!


  • * if you do not want to use vodka, exchange for the same amount of water and a squeeze of lemon juice


  1. Amanda

    Hi – I’m just making this and I don’t see where it says when to put the vodka in.
    Do I put it in with the tomatos?

    • Ann Robejsek

      Hi Amanda – yes you add it after the tomato mark wait for it to dissolve. But you can also add it to the tomatoes. Sorry about that, thank you for flagging and I hope you will enjoy the recipe. I will amend it now. Ann xx

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