Why you need this dairy free Alfredo sauce in your life
I think creamy pastas might be one of the first things you miss when you switch to a dairy free diet. Personally, the only thing I miss more is cheese itself.
For a while, we were making lactose free Alfredo sauce – which is really just a creamy, garlic sauce – using lactose-free milk. When we went fully dairy free, I just tried not to think about it, but, eventually, I found myself craving creamy, garlicky pasta.
I made a few different versions with store-bought vegan cream cheese. They were definitely good, but since I try really hard not to rely solely on those kinds of products, I didn’t want to make it very often.
It wasn’t until I started experimenting with cashew cream and my dairy free queso, that I realized the creamy base I was developing would work equally well as a pasta sauce. And, now I have a million different creamy pasta recipe ideas floating around in my head.
Can you make Alfredo sauce without cheese?
Traditional Alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream and heaps of parmesan cheese. Obviously, that’s not good for anyone who wants to avoid dairy, but the flavors are hard to beat.
Luckily, with a few simple ingredient swaps, you can make Alfredo sauce without any milk products. It just takes a little know-how and the perfect combination of substitutes.
What can you substitute for milk in Alfredo sauce?
For this recipe, I’ve used my favorite combination of dairy free milks: cashew cream and canned coconut milk. Normally I find the coconut milk to sweet, and the cashew cream a little nutty, but paired together, they mask each others non-dairy flavor.
They also make the creamiest base for dairy free Alfredo. With just a little garlic and some nutritional yeast, you won’t believe there isn’t cheese (or dairy cream) in this Alfredo sauce.
How to make the creamiest, dairy free Alfredo sauce
If you don’t already have some in your fridge, you’ll need to make cashew cream. Boil 1 cup of raw cashews in water for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool in water. Drain.
Blend in a food processor or high-speed blender with 1 cup nut milk until smooth, scraping sides as needed. You can make this up to 10 days in advance, and we almost always keep some in our fridge, so I haven’t included this prep time in the recipe calculations.
If you haven’t tried making your own cashew cream, you are seriously missing out.
Make an olive oil roux. I use a non-stick skillet, but you could use a saucepan or a stainless skillet, just be sure to use a silicone whisk on your non-stick. Heat your skillet to medium, and add olive oil.
Once it’s hot, add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds – it should smell amazing at this point. Add your flour and whisk until all of the olive oil in your pan has been absorbed by the flour.
Whisk in your liquids, one at a time. I start with the thinnest liquid and work my way up to the thickest. You don’t have to, but I find that it lets me whisk a little less.
You can add the nutritional yeast and salt & pepper when you add the cashew cream. Keep whisking until everything is nice and smooth. You can also add a pinch of nutmeg if that’s a flavor you like in Alfredo sauce. It’s totally up to you, but we normally leave it out.
Let it simmer. At this point you could use it, but I like to let it simmer for a little while longer, especially if I am using almond or cashew milk instead of the cashew cream.
If you’re using nut milk, you’ll definitely want to simmer it a little longer than if you’re using cashew cream.
FAQs and Tips for making dairy free Alfredo sauce
I can’t eat cashews. What can I use instead? You can simply swap the cashews for almonds and make almond cream. Or, you can substitute this almond cooking milk. Or you can try making this cauliflower alfredo sauce, instead!
Change things up: Try making it a lemon pepper pasta. Just add in some lemon zest with the garlic and season the sauce with some fresh cracked black pepper. Or mixing some sun-dried tomatoes and spinach fora.Print
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup cashew cream (see instructions below) or almond milk
- 3/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- Black pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil to medium. Add garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Whisk in flour, until it has absorbed the oil.
- Slowly whisk in the broth and allow it to thicken.
- Whisk in the remaining ingredients and simmer until sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.
To make cashew cream: Boil 1 cup of raw cashews in water for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool in water. Drain. Blend in a food processor or blender with 3/4 – 1 cup nut milk or water until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
- Category: Condiments
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 86
- Sugar: 0.1 g
- Sodium: 223.8 mg
- Fat: 8.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.9 g
- Fiber: 0.2 g
- Protein: 1.1 g
- Cholesterol: 0.3 mg
Keywords: dairy free, vegan, gluten free option, easy, creamy, alfredo, pasta sauce
Published: September 25, 2018. Updated: July 25, 2023.
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