This spicy vodka pasta is equal parts creamy, hot, and loaded with bold fresh flavor. It makes the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal that even Gigi Hadid whips up in her spare time! Made with just a few simple ingredients and can be made gluten free and dairy free.
This pasta is not only delicious and easy but also...famous?? Yep, Gigi Hadid catapulted this pasta to stardom back in 2020 with a viral TikTok video of her making it. It's now also known as Gigi Hadid pasta. It's no surprise everyone loved it though, who wouldn't love noodles swimming in a creamy hot creamy tomato-based sauce?
Typical vodka sauce is made with tomatoes, heavy cream, and lots of spice. So, to put my own spin on it, I made this recipe dairy free with the help of coconut cream and non-dairy milk. No, your pasta will not taste like coconut. It's just as creamy as the real deal and I even took it a step further and used chickpea pasta for some added protein. In other words, you could say it's a healthier take on the viral pasta.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Olive oil - Adds some bold flavor to the sauce but feel free to use another oil like avocado if desired.
- Tomato paste - This is different than tomato sauce. Tomato paste comes in a very small can (6 oz) at the grocery store. It has a very thick consistency as it's made by cooking tomatoes for so long that the water cooks out.
- Vodka - What is vodka pasta without vodka?? But really though, you can omit this entirely if you don't have it or don't want to use it. The vodka helps to create a creamy consistency to the tomato sauce while not adding a whole lot of flavor itself. You can also use a splash of chicken broth, lemon juice, white wine, milk, or water instead.
- Coconut cream - This is the thick creamy part at the top of a can of full fat coconut milk. You can also get a can of just coconut cream. The combination of the coconut cream and non-dairy milk add some thickness to the sauce similar to heavy cream. No, the sauce will not taste like coconut.
- Non-dairy milk - Any type of milk will work but make sure it's plain and unsweetened. I used almond milk in this recipe.
- Red pepper flakes - This is how we get some spiciness into the sauce. Because red pepper flakes can come in a variety of heats, I recommend starting with ½ tsp and then taste testing the sauce before adding more. Red chili flakes will also work.
- Cayenne pepper - Provides some additional flavor to the spicy vodka sauce. Again, I recommend using a little and adding more if needed.
- Pasta - Any type of pasta will work in this recipe. I used chickpea pasta for some added protein.
- Parmesan - Used to add some salty cheesiness to the pasta. You can also use a vegan parmesan cheese or ¼ cup nutritional year to make this dish dairy free and vegan.
How to Make Spicy Vodka Pasta
You will need a large saucepan or large soup pot to make the sauce and a pot for the pasta.
Step 1 : Cook the onions and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat with the diced white onion and chopped garlic. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Cook until the onions become soft and transparent (about 2-3 minutes).
Step 2 : Add the tomato sauce and spices. Spoon the can of tomato paste into the skillet and add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and sea salt. Cook until the tomato paste turns a brick red color and begins to caramelize in the skillet (about 5 mins). The paste will be very thick since the water has been cooked out of it already to don't expect it to cook down in this step.
Go ahead and boil some water and cook pasta according to the package instructions during this step. Add the noodles once it begins to boil. Cook the pasta al dente so the noodles are still slightly firm.
Step 3 : Add the milk and vodka. Spoon the coconut cream into the skillet and pour in the non-dairy milk. Add the vodka as well and carefully stir to incorporate it into the tomato paste. The pasta sauce will turn a lighter red orange color and become thinner in consistency but still slightly thick. Turn the stove down to low at this point.
This is a good point to taste test the sauce to make sure the spiciness is to your liking.
Step 4 : Toss the pasta. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water from the pot and strain the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce and pour in the pasta water and grated parmesan (if using). Gently toss the pasta with the sauce until all the noodles are coated and any excess water is cooked down.
Step 5 : Serve! Serve the spicy vodka pasta warm right after stirring the pasta into the sauce. Spoon portions into individual bowls and top with chives and/or chopped parsley and extra grated cheese if desired. A side salad and some garlic bread are great to serve alongside the bowl of pasta too!
- Be sure to watch the tomato pasta as you heat it up on the stove so that is doesn't burn. You want to stir it into the olive oil and onions and warm it up until it darkens in color. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Remember to reduce the stove heat to low once you have stirred in the milk and cream. This gives the alcohol in the vodka time to cook off but won't soak all the water out of the sauce.
- The starchy pasta water is key when tossing the pasta with the sauce. Start by adding ½ cup pasta water and then gradually add more to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency.
- A nice creamy pasta is always a hit but if you want, add some Italian sausage (make it spicy sausage for another little kick) or meatballs for more bulk.
- Use a pasta noodle that has ridges like penne pasta, shell pasta, or bowtie.
Store left over pasta in an airtight container in the fridge where it will keep for a few additional days. When ready to enjoy, heat the pasta in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of milk to help thin out the sauce again. Add milk until the creamy vodka sauce is to your desired consistency and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Use a dairy free cheese in place of the parmesan or use ¼ cup nutritional yeast to give the pasta that cheesy taste without the cheese.
Vodka helps to make the sauce creamy without adding much flavor. White wine will also work or you can use chicken broth or water.
Yes, this dish is also referred to as "Gigi Hadid’s spicy vodka pasta" even though this style of pasta has been around for years (it's also called penne alla vodka). She made it on TikTok and her Instagram story back in 2020 and before we knew it, everyone wanted to make the popular recipe!
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Spicy Vodka Pasta
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ⅓ cup white onion - chopped, approx. ¼ of an onion
- 1 garlic clove - finely chopped
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes - start with ½ tsp and add more if needed
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 8 oz pasta - any type of pasta will work
- 2 Tbsp vodka - optional
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- ½ cup non-dairy milk - I used almond milk
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese - grates, optional, substitute with vegan cheese or ¼ cup nutritional yeast to make this dairy free
- Chives - to garnish, optional
- Parsley - to garnish, optional
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat with the onion and garlic. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the onions are translucent and soft. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Spoon the tomato paste into the saucepan along with the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir the tomato paste into the olive oil, onions, and spices and cook until it turns a deeper brick colored red (about 5 minutes). The tomato paste will be thick in consistency but should darken in color and begin to caramelize.
- While the tomato paste is cooking, boil a pot of water for the pasta and cook the noodles al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before straining.
- Once the tomato paste is dark red and caramelized, turn the stove down to low and add the vodka, coconut cream, non-dairy milk, and parmesan cheese, if using, to the saucepan. Gently stir to incorporate until the sauce is an orange red color. The sauce will thin out slightly but still be on the thicker side.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan and pour in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss the noodles with the sauce until well coated. Add more of the pasta water to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowls and top with chopped chives, parsley, and more grated cheese if desired, and enjoy!