Bowl of vodka pasta with pepper and herb garnish
The Reason Traditional Vodka Sauce Isn't Vegetarian-Friendly
Some pasta dishes, like meaty pasta Bolognese, clearly aren’t vegetarian-friendly, while others like pasta alla vodka can surprise you with their secret non-vegetarian ingredients.
Many modern vodka sauces mainly feature vodka and tomatoes, but traditional vodka sauce also contains pancetta or bacon cooked with onions or shallots and crushed red pepper.
Even if pancetta or bacon isn’t used, it’s common for pork fat to be added into the sauce at many Italian restaurants, so it’s best not to assume the sauce is vegetarian.
While store-bought vodka sauces will likely be vegetarian, it doesn’t hurt to double-check, and it’s always best to ask the staff if a dish is vegetarian when out at a restaurant.
Luckily, it’s easy to make a vegetarian vodka sauce at home with just onions, garlic, vodka, butter, heavy cream, canned crushed tomatoes, and seasonings.
Simply sauté the garlic and diced onion, then add the tomatoes and vodka. After a few minutes, reduce the heat and stir in the heavy cream, seasonings, and butter.
You can even alter the recipe to make it completely vegan. Simply substitute the butter and heavy cream for plant-based alternatives.