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Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce

A blend of coconut milk and cashew cream make this the creamiest dairy free Alfredo sauce recipe you’ll find. It’s so similar in flavor to traditional Alfredo sauce, you might not even be able to tell. Use it on your favorite pasta or use it in place of dairy products in casseroles. Makes 2 cups.

close up of dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a white bowl topped with chopped parsley

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.

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More dairy free pasta recipes: dairy free alfredo sauce / pasta carbonara / blt pasta salad / penne bolognese

dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a large non-stick skillet topped with chopped parsley

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.

overhead shot of dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a white bowl topped with chopped parsley

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.

What you’ll need to make dairy free Alfredo sauce

closeup of dairy free alfredo sauce in a non-stick skillet

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 *affiliate link 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 *affiliate link 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.

dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a large non-stick skillet

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.

dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a large non-stick skillet topped with chopped parsley

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Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce

dairy free alfredo sauce on fettuccini in a large non-stick skillet topped with chopped parsley
  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups

This is the creamiest dairy-free Alfredo sauce and it only takes 10 minutes. Can be made vegan with vegetable broth.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet *affiliate link or saucepan, heat olive oil to medium. Add garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Whisk in flour, until it has absorbed the oil.
  2. Slowly whisk in the broth and allow it to thicken.
  3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and simmer until sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.

Notes

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 *affiliate link or blender with 1 cup nut milk until smooth, scraping sides as needed.

  • Reply
    Abbe
    September 26, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Hi Melissa,
    Would this be coconut milk in the can or from the dairy refridgerated case? Thank you so much, can’t wait to make this!

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      September 26, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      It would be canned coconut milk. I apologize for not specifying! I will edit the recipe to reflect it. Thank you. I hope you love it!

  • Reply
    Jack
    November 10, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Hi I have a question do I have to use the nutritional yeast or can I leave it out Thank You

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      November 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      You can leave it out if you don’t have it. It adds a little bit of a cheesier flavor, but will be totally fine without it!

  • Reply
    Christine Solazzo
    January 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Can u give the macros on this recipe????? and how many macros per serving size for us non-diary keto people.

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      January 7, 2019 at 11:48 am

      I’m sorry. I don’t have the information for that. I know very little about the keto diet, but there I’m working on getting nutritional information for my recipes as soon as possible. Can you calculate it with that?

  • Reply
    Tara Rhett
    January 31, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Turned Out Great But Had A Sweet Taste . How Can I Make It A Little Less Sweet ?

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 1, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Honestly, there is always going to be a sweeter flavor when you’re making something dairy free like this. It could be the coconut cream that is giving the sauce a sweeter flavor, so you could potentially replace with a more cashew cream, but I personally think the texture is better with the coconut. You could also add a bit more nutritional yeast and maybe even an extra pinch of salt. I would just add a tiny bit at a time and taste as you go until it’s to your liking!

  • Reply
    Kay Williams
    February 4, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Can you freeze this sauce?

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      I don’t recommend freezing it, unless you substitute the coconut milk for more cashew cream. Coconut milk does not freeze well.

  • Reply
    Joshua Lawrence Austill
    February 6, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    We made this tonight and followed the recipe to a T. The texture was PERFECT, but the flavor was just too much coconut. I won’t make it again with the coconut milk, but on the other hand, we both had seconds 🙂

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 6, 2019 at 11:47 pm

      Thanks for the feedback! You’re so right about the texture, but if the coconut milk is too much for you, try swapping it out for extra cashew cream. It should be an even swap!

  • Reply
    Kelly Wilk
    February 13, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    This sounds amazing, As a dairy free/eats dairy and then regrets it person I definitely miss creamy pastas. I am having a Galentine’s day dinner this is perfect for – but I am going to add mushrooms grilled in port like I used to make in the old days.I usually blog about the recipes I try so I will let you know how it goes!

    • Reply
      Melissa Belanger
      February 14, 2019 at 10:37 am

      That sounds great!! I can’t wait to hear!

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