15 Minute Vegan Penne Vodka Recipe – Healthy and Budget Friendly

Enjoy this easy vegan penne vodka recipe that can be ready in 15 minutes with minimal prep! This simple yet flavorful dish requires just a handful of ingredients: Pasta, tomato paste, cashew cream, and some vegetable stock.  It’s a harmonious symphony of flavors that just gives you those classic, but much healthier Italian Restaurant sensation.


Vegan Penne Vodka Ingredient Spotlight:


Vodka is one of the key ingredients in both vegan penne vodka and conventional penne vodka. It cannot be replaced, otherwise it will alter the dish to just a regular creamy pasta, or you can look to my Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for more inspiration! While still delicious, the vodka adds flavor and bitterness to the dish, balancing with the fatty cashew cream and acidic tomato paste. When using vodka, it’s important to note that the alcohol will flash off in the pan. You will not be consuming any actual vodka, just the flavor.

Cashew Cream

There are plenty of good recipes for cashew cream, but you can refer to my Vegan Pimento Cheese Spread Recipe for more explicit instructions. Generally, you want to have soaked cashews blended with salt and nutritional yeast. We’ll walk you through how to use this in the recipe below, but for more clear directions, use the link above. If you prefer a quick method, you can add garlic and nutritional yeast to cashew butter, like the one seen here.

Pasta water

Pasta water contains residual starch from the pasta which will help thicken the sauce. Contrary to the widely touted rumor, pasta water is not an emulsifier, and will not emulsify the sauce.

Vegetable Stock

We’re using vegetable stock here to de-glaze the pan and remove any stuck on food into the dish. As you saw in the video, the tomato paste and the cashew cream make a thick mixture. The vegetable stock helps loosen the sauce while providing added flavor that you wouldn’t get with water. Of course, if you don’t have veg stock ready, you can either use water, or a bouillon cube or concentrate.


Sustainability & Nutrition Info

In a standard penne vodka recipe, the recipe most often calls for heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. While they can add depth and flavor to the dish, they are often filled with saturated fats and sodium that is not great for us, which is why penne vodka is typically associated with a comfort food or a treat. Additionally, cheese and dairy products are quite resource intensive ingredients, and significantly contribute to carbon emissions.

This vegan penne vodka dish is healthy enough and quick enough to be integrated into a weekly meal if you have your ingredients prepared right away. With 16g of protein and 5g of fiber, this dish is packed with nutrition and ready in a just about fifteen minutes. While the spinach is optional, it does help add some extra nutrition like iron and potassium. If you prefer more fiber and protein, you can use whole wheat pasta for extra nutrition. With a few plant based ingredients, this penne vodka can become a regular part of your weeknight meals.


Vegan Penne Vodka Recipe

  • Preparation Time
    10 minutes
  • Cooking Time
    10 minutes
  • Serves
    5 adults
  • Difficulty


  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 box penne
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp chopped Parsley
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 1.5 cups chopped Spinach (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt (taste)
  • Pepper (taste)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions
  2. In a skillet, Heat olive oil in a pan over medium to low heat
  3. Add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant and tender
  4. Then add tomato paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. This will help develop the flavor.
  5. Add the cashew cream and begin to mix with the tomato paste
  6. Deglaze your pan with vodka and allow the liquid to flash off
  7. Mix together, scraping the bottom of pan
  8. Then add your cooked pasta, saving some pasta water and begin to mix it in
  9. Add vegetable stock in until you reach your desired sauce consistency
  10. Add your chopped spinach and let the leave wilt, should take only about 30 seconds
  11. Mix in, adding vegetable stock as needed to loosen the sauce
  12. Finish with nutritional yeast, parsley, salt and pepper
  13. Serve and enjoy while hot!

Vegan Penne Vodka Recipe Variations

If you’re looking to add more nutrition into this recipe, you can add more vegetables like frozen peas or broccoli. Alternatively you can use whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta if needed.

Check out some other links below for more recipe inspiration!

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