Supermodel Gigi Hadid took the internet by storm a while ago with a spicy pasta alla vodka dish in her Instagram story and Tik Tok. I've been making a similar version of the dish for a while (a more traditional penne alla vodka). After seeing the story, I wanted to share a version that can be easily adapted with or without vodka, and also be made vegan!
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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 (no worries about alcohol content). So this Gigi Hadid pasta recipe is kid-friendly and great for the whole family!
- Easy to make vegan: Though the vegetarian version of this uses heavy cream and vegetarian parmesan, you can make this just as easily with coconut cream and vegan parmesan.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make Gigi Hadid's spicy vodka pasta, you'll need: pasta, olive oil, shallots, minced garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and vodka (optional). To make this vegetarian, use heavy cream and parmesan. To make this vegan, use coconut cream and vegan parmesan.
Notes and variations:
- Substituting shallots. You can use red onion in place of shallots and maintain the taste and tanginess of the pasta.
- You can leave out the vodka! Small quantities of vodka, about about a tablespoon of vodka for 4oz of pasta (~1% alcohol concentration) add heat and tartness to balance the sweetness of tomatoes and the creaminess of cream. But 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 like pasta shells 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!). Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Fry shallots first and add garlic. Sauté until it's aromatic.
Add a quarter cup of tomato paste (you can add more if you want a more tangy tomato flavor) and stir to combine. 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 at least 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). If you don't have cream, you can also add whole milk or coconut milk. If you're making 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 pasta water as necessary (typically 1-2 tablespoons is more than sufficient).
Drizzle more lemon juice on top. Finish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese (check that it's vegetarian) and fresh basil (or green onion!).
You can serve this delicious spicy vodka pasta sauce recipe with garlic bread, a nice side salad, or by itself!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
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!
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!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
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. You can freeze it in a freezer safe, airtight container for a month or two!
If you like this recipe, check out my other pasta recipes:
Gigi Hadid's Spicy Pasta (with or without vodka!)
- 16 oz penne 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!
- Do you need vodka in vodka sauce? Technically, no! The vodka helps bind the sauce together but it's totally optional.