Try this dairy-free alfredo sauce, that’s also vegan and gluten-free, on pasta, pizza and in casseroles, or on vegetables. It’s thick, creamy, and comes together in 5 minutes!
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Is alfredo sauce one of your biggest comfort foods? If you’re eating a dairy-free diet, you may be wondering if it’s safe to enjoy or find a vegan alternative to this delicious sauce.
In this post, we’re going to dive into everything alfredo and make sure you have a recipe to load up your big bowl of noodles by the time you get to the bottom.
Fettuccine chicken alfredo was on the regular meal rotation in my house when I was a kid. It involved sauteed chicken, a box of noodles, and a can of alfredo sauce. It was one of my family’s favorite meals, which would probably explain why we ate so much of it over the years.
My mom was a meal planner, but kept things very simple. I can appreciate that now as an adult, but as a kid, it felt boring to eat the same things over and over.
We had roughly the same ten meals on repeat, and the second someone said that they enjoyed a meal, it got put on the rotation and it never left.
That’s what happened with the jarred alfredo sauce that we ate. We tried it one time and it was on the menu forever and ever until I moved out and went to college.
Why am I telling you this?
Mainly to say that in all my years following a dairy-free diet, I haven’t really missed alfredo sauce much at all. Sure, I’ve missed mac and cheese – that was a comfort food from my childhood that I actually do try to make for myself once in a while.
But alfredo sauce? Up until now, I’ve pretty much decided that if I don’t eat it again for the next 20 years, that would be okay with me.
Then I had a friend ask me about a recipe, and I realized that while I didn’t have one myself, I really hadn’t ever given the thought of eating alfredo sauce a chance as an adult. I waved goodbye to it shortly after moving away from home, and never looked back.
As an adult, I’m thinking it might be enjoyable to have a different option for pasta or to add to a gluten and dairy-free pizza for something a little different.
Before I get on with the recipe, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with alfredo sauce. Let’s answer a few questions that you might have about alfredo sauce and a dairy-free and vegan diet.
Does alfredo sauce have dairy?
A traditional alfredo sauce is made with butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. In short, it is almost nothing BUT dairy! If you’re following a dairy-free diet, you’ll want to find a dairy-free or vegan alfredo sauce to use in place of this sauce. Luckily, I have just the recipe at the bottom of this post for you!
Read on: Is alfredo sauce gluten-free?
Is alfredo sauce vegan?
Traditional alfredo sauce is not vegan, as it has butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. All three of these ingredients are made from cow’s milk, making them not a good choice for a vegan diet. Check out the bottom of this post for a recipe for vegan alfredo sauce!
How to make alfredo sauce dairy-free
To make an alfredo sauce, you’ll want to swap out ingredients to create a sauce that tastes similar to the richness and creaminess of an alfredo sauce without the butter, cream, and cheese. Here’s how I decided to do that.
In my dairy-free alfredo sauce recipe, I’ve chosen cashews to provide a rich and creamy texture in place of heavy cream and butter.
By soaking cashews in boiling water for about 10 minutes, you’ll soften the nuts and they will blend up into a smooth and creamy sauce. By blending up the cashews, you’ll also get a luxurious texture from the healthy fats in the nuts, mimicking the fat from the cream.
Nutritional yeast is used in this recipe to provide a cheesy flavor that’s also a little nutty, much like the Parmesan cheese would.
While this ingredient isn’t very delicious when you can fully taste it on its own, it’s excellent for blending into sauces that you want to give a cheese-like flavor to.
Read on: Is nutritional yeast gluten-free?
What can you substitute for milk or heavy cream in alfredo sauce?
In my dairy-free alfredo sauce recipe, I’m using cashews that have been soaked and blended to create a creamy and rich texture to replace the milk or heavy cream.
In other recipes, I’ve also seen canned coconut milk used to substitute for heavy cream in dairy-free and vegan alfredo sauces.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, I decided to make new dairy-free version of alfredo sauce for my friend, but also for myself. I wanted to see if I still liked it and if a dairy-free version would be worth my effort and taste buds.
And guess what? I’ve fallen in love with it.
This homemade dairy-free alfredo sauce is:
- Easy to make
- Made with no coconut milk
- Insanely flavorful
- Amazing on pasta, pizza, or chicken
- Requires no cooking
While I’ve gone close to 15 years without eating alfredo sauce, I have to say this might be one of my new favorite recipes. It’s so creamy and rich, and just delicious!
Tips for Dairy-free Vegan Alfredo Sauce
To soak the cashews, simply place the raw cashews in a bowl and cover them with boiling water and set aside on the counter for about 10 minutes.
You can also soak your cashews for longer if your blender or food processor historically doesn’t break down nuts very easily. You can soak them overnight in a bowl with room temperature water for about 12 hours, or until you’re ready to use them.
I recommend using a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, for this recipe as it provides the most consistent results in creating a creamy texture for the alfredo sauce. However, if you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can also use a food processor and it will work just the same.
How To Use This Vegan And Dairy-free Alfredo Sauce
You can use this vegan and dairy-free alfredo sauce in the same way that you would any traditional alfredo sauce. Here are some of my favorite ways to use this recipe:
- On gluten-free pasta
- On gluten and dairy-free pizza
- Over chicken
- In gluten and dairy-free casseroles
- On broccoli or your other favorite vegetables
- With gluten and dairy-free bread or breadsticks
How To Make Dairy-free Alfredo Sauce
This dairy-free and vegan alfredo sauce comes together quickly and easily. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a delicious sauce you’ll love on pasta and your other favorite alfredo dishes.
Soak the cashews
Pour one cup of raw cashews into a bowl. Cover them with boiling water, then set them aside on the counter for 10 minutes.
Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor
While the cashews are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients. In a high-speed blender or food processor, add water, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Drain the cashews
After the cashews have soaked for 10 minutes and the remaining ingredients are prepared in the blender or food processor, drain the liquid from the soaking cashews. Transfer the soaked cashews to the blender with the other ingredients.
Blend the vegan alfredo sauce
Blend the vegan alfredo ingredients on high for 2 minutes or until completely smooth in your blender. If you notice some of the ingredients on the sides of the blender or food processor, you may want to stop and use a spatula to scrape down the sides a few times to ensure all the ingredients get blended in evenly.
Enjoy on with your favorite pasta or other entree
Add your dairy-free alfredo sauce to some freshly cooked gluten-free pasta or choose to warm your alfredo sauce in a pan to warm through before serving over chicken or cooked vegetables.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- In a bowl, add the raw cashews and cover them with an inch of boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- While the cashews are soaking, add water, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to a blender.
- After the cashews have soaked for 10 minutes, drain the liquid and add to the blender with the other ingredients.
- Blend on high for 2 minutes or until completely smooth. You may need to stop the blender to scrape down the sides periodically.
- Serve on cooked gluten-free pasta or warm the sauce in a saucepan for a minute or two to serve on chicken or other entree.
This recipe works best with a high speed blender, like a Vitamix. If you don't have a Vitamix, a food processor will work just fine. If your food processor doesn't tend to break up small pieces, you may consider soaking your cashews for up to 30 minutes for them to soften even more before blending.
I hope you love this recipe and find a million ways to use it, just like I have! Get creative and be inspired that you don’t have to go without your favorite alfredo flavor on a dairy-free diet.