This Homemade Vegan Alfredo Sauce is an absolute game-changer. If you’re dairy-free or vegan and have been missing fettuccine Alfredo, look no further! This recipe takes a short list of ingredients and transforms them into a thick, creamy, savory sauce sure to fill the hole in your heart where Alfredo once was.
This Homemade Vegan Alfredo Sauce is…
- Vegan-friendly. This recipe swaps out the conventional heavy cream, butter, and parmesan cheese for dairy-free versions.
- Simple. With only a handful of ingredients, this meal is far greater than the sum of its parts.
- Quick & easy. This dish comes together in about 30 minutes.
- Hearty. This Alfredo will leave you feeling satiated and satisfied. However, we don’t recommend eating it right before a 5K (just ask Michael Scott).
- Pasta: Fettuccine is the traditional pasta used in this dish, but you can technically use any pasta shape you’d like (with maybe the exception of angel hair, which might be a little too delicate for a thick creamy sauce). We also recommend using bronze-cut pasta, since its rough texture is better at catching and holding sauce.
- Raw cashews: These are soaked and blended in order to create a thick, creamy replacement for heavy cream. If you forget to soak them ahead of time, you can also quick-soak them by boiling for about 10 minutes.
- Garlic and onion/shallot: These aromatics pack a ton of classic flavor into the Alfredo sauce. Onion/shallot is not a traditional ingredient in authentic Alfredo sauce, but it is an optional add-in that we enjoy.
- Vegan parmesan: This adds that unique pungency of Parmesan cheese without the dairy.
Optional Additions: If you’re looking to add some veggies to this Vegan Alfredo Sauce, mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus are all great options.
What’s the Best Vegan Parmesan?
- Our go-to is Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan, which is widely available at most grocery stores in the States. They offer vegan parmesan shreds (which come in a tub) and grated parmesan (which comes in a shaker). We have only tested this recipe with their shreds.
- Violife also makes a great Just Like Parmesan Wedge, which will need to be shredded/grated prior to use. We have used this to make our Vegan Alfredo Sauce as well as Vegan Vodka Sauce on many occasions.
- Daiya Cutting Board Parmesan Style Shreds and Trader Joe’s Shredded Parmesan Cheese Alternative are two more options we haven’t personally tried yet, but we think they are probably good because we regularly purchase and enjoy other varieties of vegan cheese from both of these brands!
How to Make Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
- Prep your cashew cream. Blend your soaked raw cashes until smooth. This is going to add most of the creaminess to the sauce.
- Cook your pasta. Boil your pasta in salted water in accordance with the instructions on the package. You want to make sure to keep the pasta al dente so it doesn’t get overcooked and break apart when you toss it in the Alfredo sauce.
- Make the sauce. Sauté your aromatics in vegan butter until soft. Mix in your cashew cream and your vegan parmesan until everything is melted and cohesive. Toss your pasta in the sauce until evenly coated, thinning out the sauce as needed with your reserved pasta water.
How to Make it Gluten-Free
The sauce recipe is gluten-free as written, which makes it perfect for anyone with a gluten sensitivity. Just make sure to double-check that whichever nondairy butter and parmesan you are using is prepared without gluten.
Then, just substitute in your favorite gluten-free pasta, prepared al dente according to package directions. Our favorite options are the brown rice pastas by Jovial or Tinkyada.
Can I Make this Recipe without Cashews?
We haven’t personally tested any alternatives, so please know that we can’t necessarily vouch for these alternatives. But here are a few possible substitutions you might consider:
- A plant-based heavy cream substitute such as the Country Crock Plant Cream or the Silk Dairy Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative. Make sure to taste before cooking with it to ensure you like the flavor; in my opinion they don’t taste 100% accurate compared to regular dairy heavy cream.
- Raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes, then drained and blended with just enough water to cover. This will lend a nice creamy texture similar to the cashews, but it will also impact the flavor somewhat.
- Store-bought vegan cream cheese. I used to make a nontraditional Alfredo sauce using regular cream cheese prior to going vegan. Make sure to choose a brand with a flavor you really like. My favorite vegan cream cheeses are from Trader Joe’s, Kite Hill, and Simple Truth Organic. You will essentially melt an 8 oz tub of cream cheese into the butter and garlic mixture, then thin it out with unsweetened plain plant milk. You can reference this (non-vegan) recipe as a jumping-off point.
- Canned full-fat coconut milk — Only if you don’t mind the flavor of coconut in savory dishes.
Storing & Reheating Vegan Alfredo Sauce
This recipe makes quite a large batch of Vegan Alfredo Sauce — enough for a pound of pasta. After you have mixed the sauce with pasta, it is best enjoyed right away.
If you’re just one or two people and you expect to have a lot of leftovers, I recommend keeping the cooked pasta separate from the Vegan Alfredo sauce until right before you’re about to serve it. I know it’s a little bit of a hassle, but keeping the sauce and pasta separate will ensure that the noodles will stay intact and have the best texture as leftovers.
This is because the Alfredo sauce tends to thicken quite a bit as it sits and cools, and it will thicken even further in the fridge. If the sauce is already mixed into the pasta, you’ll end up with a big block of noodles and sauce that can be hard to heat up again without the noodles falling apart.
You can then reheat the pasta and Vegan Alfredo Sauce in a skillet on the stove, or in the microwave. There’s a good chance you’ll have to add an extra splash of water to thin the sauce back out to your preference. (You can totally save some extra pasta water for exactly this purpose, if you think ahead.)
If you already mixed them together and want to reheat them, your best bet will be doing so slowly on the stove over low heat, with an extra splash of water and a lid to “steam” them through. Once the noodles are warmed through they’ll be easier to gently coax back apart without breaking too many of them. Or, microwave it in 30 second bursts, adding water as needed and teasing the noodles apart with a fork.
Can You Freeze Vegan Alfredo Sauce?
Leftover sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for 1 month. When you’re ready to use it, simply let it thaw out in the fridge overnight. It tends to thicken when refrigerated, so you may need to thin it out with an extra splash of water when reheating.
I don’t recommend freezing the Alfredo if you have already mixed it with pasta. Freezing and defrosting impacts the texture of pasta and you’ll likely end up with lots of broken noodles after reheating it.
More Vegan Comfort Food Recipes
- high powered blender to make the cashew cream
- large stock pot to boil pasta
- cutting board and knife
- cheese grater if you are purchasing vegan parmesan in a wedge/block
- large nonstick skillet
- wooden spoon
- 16 oz fettuccine or other long pasta
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked 4+ hours or overnight
- 1 1/2 cup water
Vegan Alfredo Sauce
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
- half of a small onion or 1 shallot, finely diced (optional)
- 4-6 cloves garlic minced
- 4 oz vegan parmesan shreds see notes for brand recommendations
- 1 cup reserved pasta water or as needed
- salt to taste
Prepare the Cashew Cream
- Add soaked cashews and 1 1/2 cups water to a high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth.
Cook the Pasta
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Begin preparing the sauce in the meantime. Before draining pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water to thicken the sauce.
Make the Alfredo
- Melt vegan butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Optionally, add red pepper flakes and allow to bloom for about 30 seconds.
- Add diced onions/shallot (optional) and minced garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
- Add cashew cream, vegan parmesan, and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and stir to melt cheese. If the sauce begins to spatter too much, you can reduce the heat to medium or medium-low at this stage.
- Add pasta and toss to coat, adding additional pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce to your preferred consistency. (If you anticipate having a lot of leftovers, see the notes about storage and reheating. You may wish to keep the sauce and pasta separate.)
- Season liberally with salt to taste and enjoy!