This spicy vodka pasta is rich, creamy, flavorful, and done in under 30 minutes. The combination of spicy red chili flakes and creamy vodka sauce will surely please everyone at the dinner table. This take on the viral Gigi Hadid Vodka Pasta (aka spicy pasta alla vodka) can be made with or without vodka, and either vegan, or vegetarian (i.e., with or without heavy cream). Enjoy!
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Pantry-friendly, simple ingredients and ready in 30 minutes: This is the perfect weeknight (and date night) dinner at my house!
- Easy to make with or without vodka: In traditional vodka sauce, the alcohol is burned off (so, no worries about alcohol content). Which means that this spicy vodka pasta recipe is kid-friendly and great for the whole family!
- Super versatile: Although the vegetarian version of this uses heavy cream and vegetarian parmesan, you can make this with coconut cream and vegan parmesan to avoid using heavy cream. You can also adjust the spiciness!
My spin on the Gigi Hadid Vodka Pasta
This is my version of supermodel Gigi Hadid’s spicy vodka pasta recipe (aka spicy pasta alla vodka) that went viral on social media. The only difference is that I included vegetarian and vegan substitutes, and forgo the butter. The savory and spicy combination of this creamy vodka pasta makes it the perfect weeknight comfort food or date night dinner.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this spicy vodka pasta, you'll need: pasta, olive oil, shallots, minced garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and vodka (optional). If you want to make this vegetarian, use heavy cream and parmesan. To make this vegan, use coconut cream and vegan parmesan.
What kind of pasta should I use for the spicy vodka pasta?
You can use any type of pasta for this recipe. Gigi Hadid used shell pasta in her recipe, but you can use any short pasta, like farfalle, penne, and rigatoni.
These pastas have ridges and spirals that help to trap the sauce, resulting in a delicious and satisfying dish.
You can also use other types of pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine, but they may not hold the sauce as well. If you do use a non-starchy pasta, be sure to reserve some of the pasta water before draining. You can then add the pasta water to the sauce to help thicken it.
No matter what type of pasta you choose, be sure to cook it al dente, or slightly firm to the bite. This will give the pasta a better texture and prevent it from becoming mushy!
Substitutions and variations:
- Substituting shallots. You can use red onion or yellow onion in place of shallots and maintain the taste and tanginess of the pasta.
- You can leave out the vodka! A small quantity of vodka, about a tablespoon of vodka for 4oz of pasta (~1% alcohol concentration) adds heat and tartness to balance the sweetness of tomatoes and the creaminess of cream. The actual alcohol is burnt off when you cook it, but if you want to omit, rest assured the pasta is just as delicious without the vodka.
- Switching out the type of pasta. The original recipe is made with penne; Gigi used shells in her recipe. I've made this recipe with bow ties (farfalle), penne pasta, and shell pasta. I think the pasta shells work best since they hold the pasta sauce better but any pasta would work here.
📖 How to make spicy vodka pasta (with or without vodka!)
Start by cooking the pasta to package directions (al dente) and reserve a cup of pasta water (make sure to salt the water!). To make the spicy vodka sauce, heat some oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry shallots first and add garlic. Then, sauté until it's aromatic.
Add a quarter cup of tomato paste and cook through. You can add more if you want a more tangy tomato flavor or check out one of these tomato paste substitutes for alternatives! Add red chili flakes.
If using vodka, add a splash of vodka (~¼ cup, or 1 tablespoon vodka per 4 oz of pasta) and let it cook for 5 to 7 minutes for the alcohol to cook through.
If you're not using vodka, skip to adding the cream (heavy cream, cashew cream or coconut cream) and stir to combine (at least 3 minutes). But if you don't have cream, you can also add whole milk or coconut milk. To make the vegan version, adding nutritional yeast imparts a nutty flavor and helps thicken sauce. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust to your preference. Toss cooked pasta in, add a bit of reserved pasta water as necessary (typically 1-2 tablespoons is more than sufficient). Adjust seasoning to taste.
Drizzle more lemon juice on top. Finish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese (check that it's vegetarian) and fresh basil leaves. Add parmesan while you serve if you want it to be extra cheesy!
You can serve this delicious spicy vodka pasta recipe with garlic bread, a nice side salad, or by itself!
👩🏽🍳 Tips for the best spicy vodka pasta
To make the best Gigi Hadid Vodka Pasta recipe, follow these expert tips!
- Deglaze with vodka. While vodka is optional, it can definitely add depth to the recipe! The vodka helps bind the sweetness of the tomatoes and the creaminess from the heavy cream together to make a great, smooth sauce. It is not alcoholic once cooked, so you cannot get drunk! If you do use vodka, use a good quality vodka. The vodka will add a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to the sauce, so it's worth it to use a good one.
- Balance the flavors. To balance the richness and heat, add a pinch of sugar. This will help enhance the savory flavors in the sauce.
- Adjust the spice level. Feel free to level up the spiciness or to tone it down a bit by adding as much red pepper flakes as you want. Blooming the chili flakes in olive oil can help to release their flavor and aroma.
- Cook the pasta al dente. Cook the pasta until it's al dente (firm to the bite) in well-salted water.
- Use a starchy pasta. A starchy pasta like rigatoni or penne will help to thicken the sauce and create a nice, creamy texture.
- Reserve some of your pasta water. The pasta water contains starch, which will help to thicken and emulsify the sauce. Add a little bit of pasta water to the sauce at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Save some pasta water to add to the sauce if it gets too thick.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Vodka sauce typically requires VERY little vodka. One reason it might be bitter is if you added too much - in this case, just allow it to simmer and cook through. You can also add a tablespoon of butter at the end to make the sauce even more luscious!
This is the best part of this dish: it takes less than 20 minutes, typically 15 depending on the type of pasta you use!
Yes, you can use whole milk instead of heavy cream in spicy vodka pasta, but you might not achieve the same thick and creamy texture. If you want the sauce to get thicker, you can add cornstarch and water mixture to your sauce. You will also need to lower the temperature when adding milk, to prevent it from curdling.
If you don't have tomato paste, use chopped tomatoes instead. Using a combination of whole and crushed tomatoes will give the sauce a nice texture and flavor.
Feel free to add your favorite protein to the spicy vodka pasta! For plant-based protein options, you can add tofu, chickpeas, or lentils.
There are many ways to make the spicy vodka pasta healthier! First, you can use whole wheat pasta. You can add veggies to the sauce, such as bell peppers, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes!
🍴 What to serve with spicy vodka pasta
This spicy vodka pasta is delicious on its own or served with garlic bread, a simple vegetable salad, roasted vegetables, and an antipasto platter.
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a great way to add a healthy and flavorful side dish to your meal. Try this roasted vegetable salad or air fryer Brussels sprouts as great side dishes to this meal.
- Salad: A light and refreshing salad is a perfect complement to the rich and spicy flavors of vodka pasta. Try a Caesar salad, arugula salad, or spinach salad.
- Bread: A crusty bread is great for soaking up all of the delicious sauce from your pasta. I personally love serving this spicy vodka pasta with focaccia.
- Soup: A hearty soup is also great here. Try a creamy tomato soup, brothy cannellini bean soup, or hearty lentil soup.
🍴 Storing, freezing, and reheating instructions
I don't like storing my pasta after it's cooked, but if you want to store the sauce, simply place it in a mason jar or airtight container. It typically lasts in the fridge for a couple of days. I recommend making this fresh if possible.
To reheat, simply add a few drops of water and microwave for about 30-45 seconds until it's warmed through. You can also add some olive oil or butter to a pan, and add the pasta to warm it on the stovetop.
🍴 Other delicious pasta recipes:
Spicy Vodka Pasta (with or without vodka!)
- 16 oz shell pasta, substitute any short pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, substitute ¼ onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons vodka , optional
- 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
- ½ cup heavy cream, substitute coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup vegetarian parmesan, substitute vegan parmesan
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta in it. Save half a cup of pasta water.
- In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1 diced shallot and sauté until aromatic (2-3 minutes). Then, add 3-4 cloves of minced garlic and sauté until aromatic (about 30 seconds).
- Add ¼ cup of tomato paste to the skillet and stir to combine. Then, add 3 tablespoons of vodka and allow this to simmer for at least 7 to 10 minutes to cook the alcohol off (the vodka is totally optional, so if you're not using it, skip straight to the next step).
- Add 2 teaspoons of red chili flakes into the sauce followed by a cup of heavy cream or coconut cream. Stir to combine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and adjust to taste!
- Add your drained pasta into the skillet along with a couple of tablespoons of pasta water (as needed to create a thick sauce). Top with vegetarian or vegan parmesan and fresh, chopped up basil (optional). Serve hot!
- Deglaze with vodka to add depth of flavor to the sauce. (Vodka is optional, but recommended.)
- Balance the flavors with a pinch of sugar to enhance the savory flavors.
- Adjust the spice level by adding as much red pepper flakes as desired.
- Cook the pasta al dente in well-salted water.
- Use a starchy pasta like rigatoni or penne to thicken the sauce.
- Reserve some of the pasta water to add to the sauce if it gets too thick.