Vodka sauce is one of those yummy classics that’s great to have in your back pocket. It’s easy, it’s absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS, and it’s a perfect dish to serve in multiple different situations: easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fun enough for a dinner party with a yummy, fresh side salad.
If you’ve never had vodka sauce before, it’s basically a creamy tomato sauce that has some complexity of flavor added in by cooking out some vodka before your simmer begins. Super tasty! Something just a little different than your average marinara.
The creamy element of this sauce usually comes from half and half or heavy cream, but one of my little boys has a dairy allergy, so we used a fun little substitution that allows him to eat it and allows us to feel like we’re still indulging in dairy goodness! Those meals are my fave 😍.
Here’s how we make this happen – it’s actually crazy simple:
- The aromatics: a whopping 2 things – onion and garlic! The basis of all delicious meals, am I right??? (Say yes.) We let this cook in some olive oil until the onions have softened, and theeennn…
- The vodka: add the vodka and let that cook down for a 2 or 3 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and cooked into the onions and garlic, and then it’s on to the ‘maters.
- The tomatoes: we are using whole canned tomatoes here – San Marzano if you can find them. If you can’t, any whole tomatoes or even a can of diced will work. Pour that can in there, break the tomatoes up with your spoon, partially cover, and simmer!
- The simmer and blend: simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, transfer it to your blender and blend until smooth. Add it back to the pan for another 5 minute simmer. After which you throw in yourrrr…
- Cashew cream: my favorite dairy free cheat! Boil some cashews for 10 minutes while all this is going down, blend for a minute or less in a high powered blender, and set aside. When the sauce is done simmering, we stir in the cashew cream for that traditional creamy element we love about vodka sauce!
Traditionally, vodka sauce is served with penne pasta, so that’s what we did with ours, and I loved it! If you want to add some veggies to this dinner, this would be great with a side salad. You could even add some roasted veggies into the pasta if you want!
Bonus: it keeps super well as leftovers! I splashed a little almond milk in with the pasta and sauce and then just microwaved it. Tasted as good as new! The kids had this or lunch for 2 or 3 days after this. Try it – so good!!
Watch how to make this Dairy Free Vodka Sauce below!
Dairy Free Vodka Sauce
This super simple vodka sauce uses a quick and easy cashew cream in place of dairy! It’s flavorful, creamy, and perfect tossed with penne pasta!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes* (San Marzano are super yummy if you can find them!)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add some olive oil. When hot, add your onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the onion has softened
- Add your vodka and simmer, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, until the vodka has mostly absorbed into the onions and garlic
- Add your canned tomatoes + more salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes some with your spoon and bring to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking the tomatoes up with your spoon
- Meanwhile, add your cashews to a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and add to a high powered blender with 3/4 cups water. Blend for about a minute until very smooth. Pour into another bowl and set aside. Rinse out your blender (you’ll need it for the sauce)
- When the sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth. Add back to your pan and simmer, partially covered, for another 5 minutes
- Remove from the heat, stir in your cashew cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper
- We love servings this with penne pasta! It’s the perfect amount of sauce for 1 box (1 pound) of pasta!
*A 28 oz can of diced tomatoes works too if you can’t find whole peeled!
Nutrition info accounts for a pound of penne pasta mixed in with the sauce.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the pasta + sauce
- Calories: 563
- Sugar: 10 g
- Sodium: 315 mg
- Fat: 5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 99 g
- Fiber: 7 g
- Protein: 17 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and tag @thegarlicdiaries so I can see!