Plant-Based Vodka Sauce to Lighten Up a Favorite Pasta Dish


I know many of you love my Creamy Roasted Tomato Vodka Penne, but we do have a second plant-based vodka sauce recipe on our site, and this one is perfect for warmer weather. It uses three full pounds of fresh tomatoes and is enriched with dairy-free milk beverage, instead of cream, for a lighter and fresher finish. This vegan recipe was originally submitted by Tara Stack as a “main course” entry in our So Delicious Dairy Free 3-Course Recipe Contest, many years ago. Today, we’re giving it a big update!

Light Plant-Based Vodka Sauce Recipe - Healthy, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and made with Fresh, Flavorful Tomatoes

Plant-Based Vodka Sauce to Lighten Up a Favorite Pasta Dish

Most vodka penne recipes use butter, cream, and/or cheese – often all three! But as Tara says, this lower calorie alternative is still the perfect comfort food. It uses heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter, and milk beverage instead of cream. She also does away with cheese of any kind. To compensate for the cheese, make sure you add enough seasoning and salt, to taste (cheese is very salty!).

Milk Beverage Options

If you want a slightly richer plant-based vodka sauce that is still quite light, you can substitute lite canned coconut milk for the milk beverage. If you need coconut-free, you can substitute your go-to unsweetened milk beverage of choice. Just be sure to keep the flavor profile in mind. Not all varieties of dairy-free milk beverage will meld well with a rich tomato sauce, and some can overwhelm the fresh flavors. We like simple unsweetened rice milk or cashew milk for tasty results.

Light Plant-Based Vodka Sauce Recipe - Healthy, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and made with Fresh, Flavorful Tomatoes

Special Diet Notes: Plant-Based Vodka Sauce

By ingredients, this vegan vodka sauce recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

Light Plant-Based Vodka Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe makes enough for 1 pound of pasta. The flavor of your tomatoes is key to the taste, so make sure you pick ripe, flavorful tomatoes. Basil or crushed red pepper are great garnishes to serve with the sauce.
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6 servings
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 3 pounds tomatoes (approximately 8 medium)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, pus additional to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (see post above for options)
  1. Heat the oil in a large enameled pot over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, and sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes more, being sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. Add the vodka and cook off alcohol. The liquid should reduce by more than half.
  4. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook at a simmer for about an hour, checking in every 20 minutes or so to stir.
  5. Uncover, remove from the heat, and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.
  6. Whisk in the milk beverage. Blend with an immersion blender or pour into your blender to puree until smooth.
  7. Taste test, and add more salt as needed.
  8. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. It can be frozen for longer keeping.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ batch Calories: 173 Fat: 9.6g Saturated fat: 1.9g Carbohydrates: 11.5g Sugar: 6.8g (0g added sugar) Sodium: 303mg Fiber: 3.3g Protein: 2.3g

More Healthy Plant-Based Sauce Recipes

Easy Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce

Easy Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce Alternative Recipe - also vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and optionally nut-free. Good for mac and cheese, potatoes, and vegetables.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Dairy-Free Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Recipe - Creamy, Spicy, Flavorful, Easy

Basic Dairy-Free Pesto

Basic Vegan and Dairy-Free Pesto Recipe with Tips for Variation

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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