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Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka

This Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka is a lighter take on a traditional recipe! It’s made totally plant-based with cashew cream and perfect for summer nights.

overhead shot of a plate of cherry tomato pasta alla vodka spaghetti

Recipe FAQs

What is pasta alla vodka, anyway?

Pasta alla vodka is an Italian-American dish typically made using penne noodles with a sauce made from heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and sometimes meats like pancetta. The exact origins of this dish are not known, however it gained popularity in America in the 1980s.

How do I use cherry tomatoes in a vodka sauce?

Cherry tomatoes add a bright flavor to vodka sauce; they take the place of crushed tomatoes in this recipe, for a lighter, summer-appropriate take. To prepare this dish, instead of using a can of tomatoes, you will sauté the cherry tomatoes until they are slightly browned and then press on them with the back of a spoon to burst them and release their juices. Letting this water cook off helps to further concentrate the tomato flavor.

What does vodka do in a pasta sauce?

Vodka acts as an emulsifying agent between the acidic tomatoes and cream in this sauce. As vodka is ethanol, it helps the present fats (lipids) and water to coexist. The sharp flavor of vodka also helps to tame the sweet notes of tomatoes and cream.

How long does it take for the alcohol to cook out of this sauce?

After 5-7 minutes of simmering at medium-low, the alcohol should be completely cooked out of this sauce. It is typically considered safe for children if cooked thoroughly.

Do you add vodka before or after tomato paste?

Add vodka after tomato paste, as the final ingredient in the sauce. After cooking for a few minutes (to reduce any “boozy” flavor), the sauce will be ready to serve.

a hand pouring cashew parmesan on top of a bed of cherry tomato pasta alla vodka spaghetti

Tips for Making Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka

  • Any kind of cherry tomato can be used in this recipe, so there is no need to look for a certain varietal or color.
  • Use whatever pasta shape you prefer in this dish; I chose spaghetti but penne is the classic choice.
  • As always, be sure to heavily salt your pasta water as this will season the pasta from the inside out while cooking.
  • Cooking and smashing the tomatoes in the skillet for a few minutes prior to blending will help evaporate some of their water. This in turn will concentrate their flavors.
close up photograph of a fork twirled around vegan cherry tomato pasta alla vodka

I hope you enjoy this Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka recipe! Looking for other creamy vegan pasta dishes?

More Creamy Plant-Based Pasta Recipes to Try Next

Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

Creamy Pink Sauce Pasta with Rosé

12 Restaurant-Style Pasta Dinners

a close up shot of a basil leaf on a plate of vegan vodka sauce pasta
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overhead shot of a plate of cherry tomato pasta alla vodka spaghetti

Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka is a lighter take on a traditional recipe! It’s made totally plant-based with cashew cream and perfect for summer nights. 


  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews + 1 cup hot water, set aside
  • 1 lb dried spaghetti or pasta of choice (penne is traditional)
  • Salt and pepper (used throughout)
  • 4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (see notes for details)
  • 1 TBS dried oregano
  • 1/41/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like things)
  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes, any size
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 TBS vegan butter (optional)
  • Fresh basil, cashew parmesan, and or breadcrumbs to serve


  1. Begin by preparing your “cream”, adding cashews to a high-powered blender along with 1 cup water. Blend on high until a creamy liquid results, with no nut chunks. Set aside. No need to wash the blender, we’ll be using it in a bit.
  2. Boil a medium pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve one cup of the cooking water. To a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium low. Add onion, garlic cloves, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Stir and sauté for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until they brown slightly, about 7 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to press down to burst each tomato once soft enough. Add tomato paste, mashing around the pan with the back of your spoon again to slightly “cook” it for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Leave the pan out as we’ll be using it again.
  4. Add tomato mixture to the blender. Pour in cashew cream and blend until very smooth. If your mixture is very thick, feel free to add up to 1 cup of reserved pasta water to thin things to a saucy texture.
  5. Pour tomato and cream mixture back into the sauce pan. Heat over medium low and add vodka. Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes – the alcohol will cook off but the vodka flavor will help contrast the cream. Add in a few pats of vegan butter for some extra richness.
  6. Pour sauce over pasta and serve immediately, garnishing with basil, cashew parmesan, and/or toasted breadcrumbs. Store in a covered container the fridge for up to 5 days.


Instead of mincing garlic, feel free to lay the top of your knife on top of the clove (perpendicular to the clove) and carefully hit your hand on top, to crush the garlic beneath. This will release some garlic flavor as the sauce cooks and will be blended fully later on in the recipe.

To reheat this pasta, add a splash of water before microwaving. It will dry out a bit when stored in the fridge.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: One eighth of recipe
  • Calories: 344.4 calories
  • Sugar: 3.6 grams
  • Sodium: 193.5 milligrams
  • Fat: 11.7 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 1.8 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.9 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 44.3 grams
  • Fiber: 4.4 grams
  • Protein: 8.9 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: pasta, cherry tomato

Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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