Our easy creamy vegan vodka sauce is so delicious, dairy-free, and ready in under 30 minutes! It’s made with just a few simple ingredients and it’s perfect with pasta, polenta, and even rice. Serve it with a chopped green garden salad for the perfect meal.
Published February 10, 2014 and updated February 16, 2021.
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When you’re craving a flavorful pasta recipe, you can’t go wrong with this smooth and creamy tomato-based sauce.
Our vegan vodka sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, caramelized onion, garlic, basil, and vodka.
It’s so simple to make and it’s one of the best comfort foods ever, especially when you smother a big bowl of penne or rigatoni with it.
Can You Taste the Vodka?
Obviously, you can’t make vodka sauce without vodka, but who wants the sharp bite of alcohol ruining their recipe?
Fortunately, once the vodka simmers in the sauce for a while, the sharp flavor of the alcohol disappears.
So why add vodka, then? Because it really does give it a depth of flavor that makes for a delicious sauce.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Out the Alcohol?
Cooking out all of the alcohol in vodka, wine, or any adult only liquid will take about 3 hours.
This is based off of a study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data lab
Although we don’t simmer this sauce for anywhere near that amount of time, we promise that the aroma and the taste of the alcohol will disappear.
Having said that, we don’t advise making this sauce for a child or someone who can’t drink alcohol.
How to Make it
Dice a white onion and lightly caramelize it in olive oil.
To caramelize, make sure the oil is hot (test it by adding a piece of onion, if it sizzles, the oil is hot) and add the onions to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and evenly spread them out in the pan.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir often for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are lightly browned.
Caramelizing them brings out the sweetness of the onion and adds a wonderful flavor to the sauce.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. You want to stir often so the onions don’t scorch.
After about 5 minutes the tomatoes should begin to burst and release their juices. When all of them have burst, add the garlic and stir. Cook for 1 minute.
Let the tomatoes and onion cool for a few minutes and then add them to a blender or food processor.
This is when you add the vodka, plant milk, rice vinegar, Italian seasoning, white pepper, and sugar. Now blend it until it’s thick and creamy.
If you want a thinner sauce, add more milk.
Pour the sauce back into the saucepan (make sure it’s wiped down so there aren’t any pieces of onion or tomato) and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
If you want to cook off all of the alcohol, you’ll need to simmer for 3 hours. Make sure you stir frequently and simmer on the lowest temperature, so the sauce doesn’t thicken too much.
Why Add Sugar to a Tomato Based Sauce?
Sugar will temper the acidity and sharpness of the tomatoes, especially if you use canned tomatoes.
We suggest adding a small amount of sugar, then taste it and decide if it needs more.
You can add more, but you can’t take it out.
NOTE: If you are using freshly picked tomatoes from your garden you may not need any sugar, as ripe, freshly picked tomatoes are usually much sweeter than store bought.
- Add a ½ cup of starchy pasta water in the sauce to make it even creamier.
- Use rigatoni or penne pasta for this sauce and make sure to stop boiling the pasta 2 minutes before it’s ready, then drain the water and stir the pasta in the sauce to coat it and finishing cooking it in the sauce.
- Only use plain vodka, nothing flavored
- Caramelize the onions for a deeper, almost sweet flavor
- Cook the tomatoes until they pop and release their juices.
What’s the Best Plant-Based Milk for Vodka Sauce?
Use unsweetened plant milk. Please don’t use coconut milk.
We know that there are some vegan vodka sauce recipes that use it because it’s heavy like cream. It is, but it will also make your sauce taste like coconut.
There’s no need for that if you use oat milk or Ripple pea protein milk. We promise!
How to Store It
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freeze it in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator.
Make our easy creamy vegan vodka sauce recipe and let us know what you think. We love to hear from you! And, don’t forget to take a picture of your gorgeous creation and tag us @veganosity on Instagram.
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Easy Creamy Vegan Vodka Sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 2 pints of cherry tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 ½ ounce vodka
- 1 cup of unsweetened plant milk SEE NOTE
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar SEE NOTE
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Salt to taste
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high. When the oil is hot (add a piece of onion, if it sizzles, it’s ready) add the onion and stir to coat and spread evenly in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir often to caramelize. This will take approximately 15 minutes. The onions will slowly brown to a beautiful amber color.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Stir often so the onion doesn’t scorch. When all of the tomatoes have burst and released their juices, add the garlic and stir. Cook for one minute and remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the 1 ½ oz of vodka, 1 cup unsweetened plant milk, ¼ cup rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and the onion and tomato mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Wipe any remaining pieces of onion and tomato from the saucepan and pour the sauce into the pan. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Salt to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes or longer if you want to cook off more of the alcohol. If you need to cook off all of the alcohol, simmer at the lowest temperature for 3 hours, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the sauce. You may need to add more milk if it becomes too thick.
- If you’re making pasta for this sauce, cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions tell you to. Add a ½ cup of the starchy pasta water to the sauce and stir. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat completely and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh basil, vegan parmesan, and cracked black pepper if desired.
- UNSWEETENED PLANT MILK – Only use unsweetened. Don’t use flavored, such as vanilla, or coconut milk. Both will alter the flavor of this sauce. We recommend full fat oat milk or Ripple pea based milk.
- SUGAR – Depending on how sweet the tomatoes are, you may not need any sugar, or just a ½ tsp. Taste the sauce and decide if it needs a bit of sugar to temper the acidity and tanginess of the tomatoes. Canned tomatoes and store bought usually need a bit of sugar. Tomatoes that are freshly picked from you garden may not.
Christine @ Run Plant Based says
Yum! This sounds wonderful and easy, can't wait to try. Thanks!
Linda Meyer says
We hope you love it!