Vegan or not, this one pot pasta is absolutely delicious! And I can almost guarantee that if you serve this to someone who didn’t know there wasn’t any dairy, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Beyond being incredible delicious, this vegan vodka sauce is also easy to throw together AND made in one pot!
Pasta Made in One Pot – YES PLEASE!
Oh the ease of making pasta in one pot. Martha Stewart is credited with coming up with the one pot pasta and it’s been transformed over the years with many, many variations. So if you’re like me (and most people I know), you love the cooking part, but could leave the whole cleaning part to someone else. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone else to do that though. And putting things in the dishwasher isn’t always possible. So, if I can find a way to use less dishes, pots and pans, I will.
I actually have a whole e-book one one pot meals too, which you can find and download right here!
I like to keep ingredients purposeful, which is why I try and keep them short too. With the right ingredients, spices, herbs and such, you can create delicious meals. For this vegan one pot pasta, here are the ingredients you’ll need. Notice that there are only 9 listed! The other two are salt (and pepper) and water, I gotchu 😉
Use any type of pasta you want for this recipe. I went with a big rigatoni shape, because I love it. However, I think a smaller shape would actually work better, penne is also a good idea to keep this as a classic vegan penne alla vodka.
Gluten-free pasta will work as well, however you may need to adjust the timing.
You’re using a whole yellow onion here. It provides lots of flavour. Just be sure to chop it fairly fine and uniform.
Smashed garlic cloves add more flavour as well, and you’ll need four to five cloves. I use four, some people really love garlic, so go ahead and add more if you want.
The trick to making this vegan vodka sauce is cashews. Personally, I love how it adds so much creaminess to dishes and doesn’t have a strong flavour.
If you need a nut-free option, try using another heavy cream replacement (such as soy). Coconut cream will work, but it will leave a coconut flavour so I’m not sure how well it would do here.
And if you’re fine with dairy, use heavy cream. You’ll need about 3/4 to 1 cup for this recipe.
We’re only using tomato paste here. It’s more concentrated, so it adds even more flavour. You’ll use one whole 4.5 oz can (or tube). Trust me, this is SO much better than using canned tomatoes.
A pinch of chili flakes is essential in my opinion because it adds some subtle heat. Add as much or as little as you want.
The fresh basil for garnish is optional, but strongly recommended. It adds more than colour, it helps to freshen up this pasta and add just a bit of green to it.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For cooking and to finish off this creamy vegan pasta, some good quality extra virgin olive oil is also needed.
What’s a vodka sauce without vodka. The alcohol is cooked off, but is necessary to deglaze the pot and for adding sharpness and balancing the sweetness of the tomatoes and the cream. You can read more about how this works, here!
How to Make This Vegan One Pot Pasta
Soak Your Cashews
The first thing you’ll want to do soak your cashews. In a pinch (often times, I do this) is soak them in just boiled water for 30 minutes or so. That softens them enough to be blended in my vitamix. Ideally, soak them for longer, but you know, life happens 😉
Cook Your Onion and Garlic
Next, heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook for about five minutes, until softened. Then add in the smashed garlic and cook for two to three minutes longer, until fragrant and just starting to brown (not burn). Note: you should use whole garlic that has been smashed, not minced because that will burn too quickly.
Now, add in the tomato paste, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix well to combine and cook for about five to seven minutes over medium-low heat. You want to brown the tomato paste a little, so cook it until it changes to an even deeper red colour.
Add that Vodka
Time for vodka! Add in your vodka and deglaze the pan. Take a shot for yourself, if you want, it makes cooking a little more interesting.
Now, go ahead and add in your pasta and water. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes (the large tubes take a while). It’s best to follow the directions on your pasta container.
Don’t stop stirring!
Keep stirring! One pot pastas need lots of stirring, otherwise they will stick to the bottom of the pan. Think of this like a risotto, and keep stirring. Add more water if it needs it a little at a time.
While the pasta is cooking, drain your cashews and add them to the blender with water. Blend on high until very smooth and creamy.
When your pasta is just about finished cooking, add in the cashew cream and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with some basil. Enjoy!
Tips for Making One Pot Pasta
I do love one pot pastas because it means less clean up and also I really enjoy how the pasta soaks up the water it’s being cooked in, which tastes great! But, there are some tips to making one pot pastas work, so here they are:
- Keep stirring: the pasta will stick and it will be annoying. So think of this like risotto and keep stirring. Seriously, just keep stirring.
- Adjust, adjust, adjust: depending on the type of pasta you’re using, don’t be afraid to add more water as needed while cooking. You can always strain some of the water out at the end if you find it too watery. Start on the lower end, and add more as needed if you need.
- Choose a suitable pasta shape: for this recipe, I used very large tubes. Yes, they worked, but they ended up taking longer than I’d wanted and they were harder to have them all submerged in the water. I’d recommend a less big rigatoni, penne, fusili or shorter shape.
- Taste test along the way: don’t be afraid to taste the pasta to see if it’s cooked to your liking.
More pasta dishes to try:
- Savory Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (Creamy/Vegan)
- Vegan Bolognese Sauce
- Creamy Roasted Tomato Sauce (vegan)
- Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese
- Easy Kale Pesto Sauce (Vegan)
- Easy 20 Minute Garlic Lemon Pasta
Are you ready to make some vegan vodka sauce? Let’s get to it!
As always, if you make this vegan vodka sauce recipe please share with me, by tagging me on Instagram or leave a comment and/or review below. I truly love seeing and hearing form you!
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Easy Vegan Vodka Sauce
This one pot penne alla vodka is packed with flavor and is ready in no time. And it just so happens to be vegan!
- 3/4 cup cashews raw
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 4.5 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 450 g pasta dry, roughly 1 lb
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup basil fresh, packed tight
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan optional, for topping
Place your cashews in just boiled water and soak for at least 30 minutes, or longer if you have time. Set aside while you do the rest.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook for about five minutes, until softened. Then add in the smashed garlic and cook for two to three minutes longer, until fragrant and just starting to brown.
Add in the tomato paste, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix well to combine and cook for about five to seven minutes until deep red and starting brown on the bottom.
Pour in your vodka and deglaze the pan, stir to release all of the bits on the bottom.
Add in your pasta and water and stir continuously until cooked through. Cook according to package directions on your pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, add the cashews to a blender along with 1 cup of water. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
When your pasta is just about finished cooking, add in the cashew cream and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with basil and vegan parmesan (if using). Enjoy!
Stir continuously for best results and to avoid any sticking.
Start with 3 cups of water, and add more as you are cooking.