Easy Vegan Penne alla Vodka

April 18, 2019


By: Jasmine Briones 

Learn how to make perfect vegan vodka sauce with just 10 simple ingredients and 30 minutes of your time! Serve it over your favorite penne pasta and you’ll have yourself a vegan penne alla vodka in no time.

Overhead shot of vegan penne alla vodka in a bowl with a fork by sweet simple vegan

Who’s ready for some creamy, hearty, flavor-packed vegan penne alla vodka?

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up, but I realized while making it that I had never had it fresh. We always had opted for a premade sauce from the grocery store, so it’s safe to say that this homemade vegan version truly knocked my socks off. 

This recipe requires just 10 simple ingredients – canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, olive oil, vodka, cashews, shallots, garlic and vegetable broth. The two 2 optional ingredients that we included are tomato paste and parmesan 🙂

Traditional vodka sauce uses buttermilk for the creaminess, so veganize it, we simply subbed in some cashew cream! All you need to do is blend equal parts soaked raw cashews and liquid. Blend those together and boooom! You’ve got yourself the perfect vegan (cashew) cream.

Macro shot of vegan penne alla vodka in a bowl with a fork by sweet simple vegan

If you’re looking for more vegan pasta recipes, we’ve got you covered! Check these out:

We hope that you all love this recipe as much as we do! If you make this recipe and happen to snap a pic, make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes. We love to see and repost your photos!

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featured image for vegan penne alla vodka in a bowl with a fork by sweet simple vegan

Easy Vegan Penne alla Vodka (Gluten-free)

  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 small servings


Learn how to make perfect vegan vodka sauce with just 10 simple ingredients and 30 minutes of your time! Serve it over your favorite penne pasta and you’ll have yourself a vegan penne alla vodka in no time.



  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight* (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil* (see notes for oil-free)
  • 1 shallot, finely minced (or sub 1/3 cup onions)
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons tomato paste (this helps deepen the flavor)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • Optional: 1/2 cup vegan Parmesan cheese* (see notes; store-bought or homemade works)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Black pepper, as desired

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 pound gluten-free penne pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
  • Finely chopped parsley or basil, for garnish
  • Vegan parmesan cheese, to top


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, drain the cashews and transfer them to a high speed blender along with 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth and half of the 28 oz. can of tomatoes* (see notes). Blend on high until smooth and set aside.
  3. In a separate large pan over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once warmed, add the shallot and sauté for 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and continue to cook until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, add in the vodka, the remaining crushed tomatoes, the blended cashew mixture, tomato paste, basil and oregano. Bing the mixture to a low boil and then lower it to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens, stirring often.
  5. When the pot of water is boiling, cook the penne pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  6. Once the sauce has cooked down, mix in the vegan parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the sauce over your favorite penne pasta and top with additional herbs and/or vegan parmesan cheese.


  • If you don’t have time to soak the cashews overnight, you can do a quick soak in hot water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, remove the pot from heat and add in the cashews. Soak for 20 minutes or until softened and drain.
  • We only added 1/2 of the can of tomatoes to the blender as we wanted the sauce to still have small chunks. If you would like for the sauce to be completely smooth, add in all of the tomatoes.
  • If you would like to skip the oil in this recipe, you can use vegetable broth or water. You will need to add 2 tablespoons at a time and to add more as needed, 2 tablespoons at a time, to prevent burning.
  • The vegan parmesan cheese is optional but recommended as it adds great flavor! Just be sure to add it before adding salt so that you can add salt to taste.
  • The nutrition facts are only for the sauce and do not take into account the additional ingredients.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Entree, Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

Keywords: Entree, Pasta, Penne, Vodka, Vegan, Italian

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. Emily says:

    I’ve been making this recipe every week ever since this was posted – perfect, easy dinner! 🙂

  2. Diane Matute says:

    Omg this was so good!! I made this for dinner tonight and packing some for my lunches this week. It has so much flavor packed in it!

  3. Rochelle says:

    Just made this for dinner. My husband has yet to delve into the goodness, but when he does, I’m sure he’ll be mad that I introduce heavy cream into our diet again…hehe. Not realizing the magic of cashews. He won’t believe its vegan…or that it has actual VODKA in it. Delicious. Recipe is better than most restaurant quality dishes. I bet dollars to donuts I’ll be asked to make this again, and again, and again. Yumminess!

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