There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when swirling a forkful of rich and creamy Alfredo-covered pasta. It’s a moment of pure potential. You know what’s about to go down and you know it’s going to be delicious—such is the beauty of Alfredo sauce.
While traditional Alfredo sauce is just butter, Parmesan, and black pepper, we’re replicating the creamy version that emerged some time after Alfredo became popular in America. It’s the sauce we all know and love with a healthy dose of heavy cream.
Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo
Growing up, we’d request that our mom make classic fettuccine Alfredo on birthdays or any special occasion. It always delivers. Now that we’re vegan, we’ve developed a dairy-free version so we can still enjoy the cheesy comforts of Alfredo.
This recipe includes instructions for just making vegan Alfredo sauce as well as how to serve it with pasta for a classic fettuccine Alfredo. It’s as simple as tossing the homemade sauce with the pasta and adding a little pasta water to bring the dish together.
Vegan fettuccine Alfredo is perfect to make on a cozy weeknight in, for a dinner guest, or anytime you’re in the mood for some comfort food.
What Makes It Dairy-Free and Vegan?
Instead of using heavy cream, vegan Alfredo sauce is made from cashews and full-fat coconut milk. Use raw cashews and high-quality full-fat coconut milk—we recommend the Whole Foods 365 brand. The lemon juice masks the flavor of cashews and you’re left with a rich, creamy white sauce.
High-quality plant-based products replace the traditional butter and Parmesan cheese. We recommend Miyoko's Unsalted Cultured Vegan Butter and Voilife Just Like Parmesan Wedge. The cultured butter provides creaminess and a slightly tangy, dairy-like flavor. The vegan Parmesan cheese brings sharp and nutty notes to the dish. We like using a wedge since, just like dairy cheese, vegan Parmesan melts better when it’s freshly grated.
Recipe Swaps and Variations
There are so many ways to enjoy this dairy-free Alfredo sauce and upgrade fettuccine Alfredo.
- Make a delicious Chick’n and spinach Alfredo by adding cooked plant-based chick’n strips to the pasta at the end with a few handfuls of fresh spinach.
- For a vegetarian carbonara-style pasta, caramelize onions, then add peas and mushrooms and set aside. Toss them in the skillet with the sauce and pasta.
- Italian sausage goes so well with the dish and there are plenty of plant-based versions to choose from, like Beyond Hot Italian Sausage or Field Roast Garlic and Fennel. Crumble the sausage and sauté before adding it to the pasta and sauce.
- You can brighten it up with lemon or fresh herbs like basil or parsley, or play off the warm flavors by adding a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Other Ways to Use Vegan Alfredo Sauce
If you’d like to use the sauce for a non-pasta dish, follow the instructions for blending the sauce. Since you won’t be using pasta water, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water or vegetable broth to the blender plus the grated Parmesan cheese. Heat the sauce in a skillet on low heat before enjoying.
Here are a few serving suggestions to get you started:
- With roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or potatoes
- Poured over your favorite protein like seared tofu or chicken breasts
- With gnocchi instead of pasta
- As a white sauce on pizza
- Mixed into white or brown rice
- As a warm dip for garlic bread
More Vegan Comfort Food
Vegan Alfredo Sauce
You can use roasted and/or salted cashews, but the sauce will have a nuttier flavor and darker color. Adjust the salt accordingly.
To ensure you get an accurate measurement, pour the coconut milk into a glass measuring cup and heat it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds so it liquefies and does not separate when you measure.
If you don’t have vegan Parmesan, you can use the same amount of nutritional yeast. Note that this will affect the flavor and color of the sauce.
1/2 heaping cup raw cashews
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (see Recipe Note)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
8 ounces fettuccine pasta, optional
1 tablespoon unsalted vegan butter, optional
1/3 cup finely grated vegan Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup pasta water, optional
Soak the cashews:
Soak the cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the cashews and add them to the blender.
Meanwhile, prepare the cream sauce:
While the cashews are soaking, add the coconut milk, lemon juice, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder to a high-powered blender. Add the cashews and blend until very smooth.
If you don’t plan to serve this vegan Alfredo sauce with pasta, add the grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth to the blender and blend until smooth. Add up to another 1/4 cup of water or broth to reach the desired consistency. Heat the sauce in a pan on low before using.
Cook the pasta and sauce:
If you plan to serve the Alfredo sauce with pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Cook until al dente, according to the package directions, and drain.
Meanwhile, in a separate skillet on medium heat, melt the vegan butter. Pour in the blended cream sauce and reduce the heat to low. Add the finely grated vegan Parmesan and whisk to combine, melting the cheese. Keep the sauce warm on low, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is ready.
Combine the pasta and sauce (optional):
When the pasta is done, turn off the heat and use tongs to place it directly into the skillet with the sauce; it will be dripping with pasta water. Add the additional 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water to the skillet and swirl the pasta around with the tongs until everything is combined.
Cook on low, tossing frequently, until the pasta clings to the sauce and has reached your desired thickness, 1 to 2 minutes. You can add more pasta water, a small splash at a time, for a thinner sauce.
Serve immediately with extra Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Note that the sauce will naturally separate as it cools.
The sauce will also thicken as it cooks. Store leftover dressed pasta in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Add coconut milk, broth, or butter to loosen the sauce when reheating.
Store the sauce (without the pasta) in the fridge for up to 5 days. When reheating, add water or broth to thin.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 21g||28%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||66%|
|Total Carbohydrate 9g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||6%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|