Typically, I'm not one to go to supermodels for my pasta advice, but Gigi Hadid DID NOT MISS with this amazing pasta recipe. Essentially it's pasta alla vodka without the vodka (which you can add or not in this recipe). In my opinion, it totally lives up to all the Tiktok and Instagram viral sharing it got back in 2020. Plus, it's incredibly easy, you may have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen right now.
This pasta recipe is popular for a reason: it satisfies your every possible craving. It's got beautifully creamy sauce, deep tomato flavor, a little something extra with the vodka, and finally an amazing spicy kick with some hot pepper flakes (if you're not into spice, then no worries, you can just leave them out).
In this recipe we'll walk through how to make this super easy spicy vodka pasta (or really, penne alla vodka), and show you some variation you can add or subtract to make it uniquely yours!
Check out the web story for this recipe.
First, let's get some FAQ's out of the way for this dish. While it's pretty simple to make, there are definitely a few tricks to know.
Sadly, no. The amount of fat between the oil, butter and heavy cream makes this a pretty indulgent dish. That's also what makes it delicious though 🙂
Yes, it is, because it uses hot pepper flakes. However, you can adjust this to your taste. Either add less or remove them completely, totally up to you!
Totally, just omit it from this recipe and carry on as usual!
A classic Caesar salad and some crusty garlic bread would be amazing with this dish.
Gigi uses shells, which would be absolutely amazing, but you can really use any pasta shape here. My personal favorite is rigatoni, especially with a tomato-based sauce.
It's definitely not new, and it's actually known as spicy vodka pasta, or even penne alla vodka. It originated in Italy and has been around for years.
What is Gigi Hadid Pasta?
Great question. Basically, it's pasta alla vodka, but when supermodel Gigi Hadid posted it to social media, it went completely viral. The pasta combines garlic, shallots, tomato paste, vodka, hot pepper flakes, parmesan cheese and basil for a simple but amazing dish. It's truly one of those pasta meals that's great than the sum of it's parts.
It's a spicy vodka pasta recipe that is honestly perfect for date night, or great to whip up on a Friday after work because it comes together so easily, but still feels like a luxury, gourmet restaurant dish.
Since this is essentially penne alla vodka, the ingredient list is pretty simple. But what I love about this recipe is that it's so easily customizable. You can make it to suit your tastes exactly (see some variation suggestions below).
One specific note - when Gigi posted this to Instagram, she didn't include the vodka, which is completely fine. This recipe includes it, but you can absolutely omit if you want, the recipe stays the same!
- Olive oil: we're using quite a bit in this recipe, about a ¼ of a cup. This really helps the shallots and garlic cook evenly, in my opinion. Plus it adds a lovely flavor to the dish.
- Shallots & garlic: Shallots are almost always my preference when cooking pasta, they just have a more mild, delicate flavor than full blown onions. So get shallots if you can, if not, finely diced onion is fine.
- Hot pepper flakes: you can really add as many or as few as you want, or even omit them completely.
- Tomato paste: it's key for this recipe. Tomato pasta as such a deep, velvety tomato flavor, it's really perfect here. You can use tomato sauce if you want, but you'll likely need to use much more because the flavor isn't as concentrated.
- Vodka: again, I love the flavor it brings, but totally fine if you want to ditch it.
- Heavy cream: To me, using heavy cream in pasta is what truly brings it up to restaurant quality.
- Butter: See comment above 🙂
- Pasta water: make sure you reserve a little for the sauce (it helps to thicken it)
- Parmesan cheese: just the best flavor
- Basil: for garnish.
- Lemon zest: optional garnish (but I love this trick, I add it to almost all of my pasta dishes).
How to Make Gigi Hadid Pasta (Step-by-Step)
Ok let's dive in to actually making this pasta.
- First, cook your pasta of choice in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve about a ½ cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce later on.
- The first thing we need to do is heat our oil up over medium or medium high heat. We want some sizzle when the shallots hit the pan, but we definitely don't want to burn them.
- Add the shallots, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute, basically just until you can smell it. At this point, you can also add the hot pepper flakes if you're using them.
- Next, add the tomato paste, and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the vodka to the tomato paste mixture, and cook until the vodka has almost reduced completely. (If you're not using vodka, just skip this step and move on to the next!)
- Next, we're going to add the cream , and stir until the tomato paste is fully incorporated. Melt the butter into the cream at this point as well.
- At this point, add your parmesan cheese, and the pasta water that you've reserved. Add as much or as little of the water as you wish to get the desired consistency of the sauce. Stir until everything is combined and the cream is heated through.
- Add your pasta to the sauce, and stir until it's well coated.
- Finish with a little extra parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and lemon zest (if using).
Tips & Tricks
I've made versions of this pasta for YEARS now, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. Here's what I do to make it top-notch.
- Cook the pasta for one minute less than the package directions say. Let it finish cooking in the sauce for perfectly done pasta every time.
- Your water for your pasta should taste like the ocean. I find that one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make when it comes to pasta is that they don't salt the water, or don't salt it enough. I'm usually adding 2 tablespoon of salt to a big pot of boiling water. It's your only chance to season the noodles, so don't waste it!
- Make sure you properly preheat your pan before you start adding ingredients.
- Taste the sauce for seasoning as you go. I'm constantly tasting and adjusting seasoning in my pasta sauces, as much as I possibly can.
- You can never add too much cheese. I feel like this is obvious, but measure that parmesan with your heart.
Reheating & Storage
Store leftovers of this pasta in the fridge for 2-3 days.
To reheat this pasta, the best way is to slowly warm it on a pan on the stove. It may help loosen the pasta up to add a bit of water or extra heavy cream to help it all come back together.
You can also reheat in the microwave, but while it still tastes delicious, the texture definitely wasn't as good for me.
With or Without Vodka
To me, the vodka really does add some complexity and interesting flavor, but this dish is absolutely still delicious without it, so if it's not your thing, no problem.
With or Without Hot Pepper Flakes
Again, lots of spicy flavor added with these guys, but you can add as much, or as little as you want. If you want to omit the hot pepper flakes entirely, you definitely can.
Note: In her recipe, Gigi adds the pepper flakes when she adds the cream. I prefer to add them earlier, after the shallots and garlic, so the oil is infused with the flavor (I find it just incorporates better into the dish).
With or Without Heavy Cream
To me, this is what elevates pasta dishes at home to restaurant-level quality. You can swap it out for half and half, or even milk - just keep in mind that the sauce will be slightly less flavorful, and definitely not as thick. Same goes for the butter - you can take that out if you want.
Add some Protein & Veggies
This dish would be absolutely phenomenal with shrimp, chicken, or a firm white fish, if you were so inclined.
Pancetta would also be a great choice to increase the depth of flavor even more. I also have a super similar recipe using asparagus and pancetta (although it would be great with fresh peas as well!)
How to Serve Gigi Hadid Pasta
This dish is pretty heavy, but I still think it's great with some crusty garlic bread to help soak up the sauce, along with a side Caesar salad. I've listed some lighter options here as well.
Gigi Hadid Pasta (Vodka Pasta)
- 1 lb dry pasta shells, penne, rigatoni, or your favourite shape
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2 shallots diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes optional
- ¼ C tomato paste
- 3 tablespoon vodka optional
- ½ C heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoon butter
- ¼-½ C pasta water reserved
- ½ C parmesan cheese grated (plus more for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest optional
- 2-3 tablespoon chopped basil for garnish
- Bring a large pot full of boiling salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and cook to one minute less than package directions. Reserve a ½ cup of pasta water.
- While your pasta is cooking, heat up a skillet over medium heat. Add your olive oil. When oil is hot, add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chili flakes if using.
- Add the tomato pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring. The tomato paste won't easily disperse in the oil, that's ok.
- Add the vodka. Reduce until almost all the alcohol is gone. (If you're not using vodka, just skip this step and move on to the next).
- Add the cream and heat through, add the butter and let it melt. Add the parmesan cheese and let it melt. Add the pasta water to achieve the desired consistency for your sauce. Add the lemon zest if using.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, and let it cook for another minute. Serve on a large pasta platter, sprinkle with extra parmesan and garnish with basil leaves.