Eric is in love with this creamy cauliflower pasta dish. I mean, in love. In fact, he asked if we could make it together on Valentine’s Day. Who am I to deny a grown man cauliflower? Plus, creamy pasta and Valentine’s Day go hand and hand. Chocolate too, of course. I’d say it’s a win-win.
Traditional Alfredo sauce is mostly made up of butter, cheese, and often, cream. Decadent? You betcha. Hiding a super healthy vegetable? Not so much. I’m happy to say this cauli-power sauce brings us both decadence and nutrition. To be honest, I was super skeptical to try the blended-cauliflower-as-pasta-sauce trend and I wasn’t rushing to try it out. But after whipping up a version in my kitchen, I went crazy for this stuff. And by crazy, I mean standing over the pot of pasta and spooning it into my mouth uncontrollably. Yea that happened. It’s downright irresistible just like you’d hope a creamy pasta to be. Of course, soaked cashews can create a fine alfredo sauce too, but it’s great to have a change from nuts. All you have to do to make this sauce nut-free is swap the almond milk for a nut-free non-dairy milk of your choice. Fun, right?
This sauce makes a lot (3 cups!) which means you can happily drown the pasta with the sauce. No skimping here! It is cauliflower after all. I stirred the sauce into whole grain spelt ribbon pasta which was quite tasty. I gravitate toward meals that leave me feeling good and this certainly made the cut. Not bad for a decadent-tasting pasta, I say.
4 servings (makes 3 cups sauce)
This vegan “alfredo” sauce tastes decadent, yet is super light and energizing thanks to the sneaky cauliflower base! The nutritional yeast lends this sauce a rich "cheesy" flavour, while the blended cauliflower creates a creamy, luxurious base. This alfredo sauce is lovely served with pasta, but you can also enjoy it stirred into your favourite roasted or sautéed veggies. I love sautéing seasonal vegetables to serve along with the sauce over pasta. In the photo, I topped my bowl with a lovely spring veggie trifecta of leeks, asparagus, and peas. Thanks to Pinch of Yum for inspiring this tasty recipe!
- 4 heaping cups (460 g) cauliflower florets (1 small/medium cauliflower)
- 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk*
- 1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- 1 package (350 g/12 ounces) fettuccine or rotini pasta**
- Fresh minced parsley, for garnish
- Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket and steam, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes until fork tender. (Alternatively, you can boil the cauliflower in a pot of water for 8 to 15 minutes until fork tender. Drain well before proceeding.)
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well and add it back to the pot. Set aside.
- Add the oil and minced garlic to a small skillet and sauté over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes until softened and fragrant. Be careful not to burn.
- Add the cooked cauliflower, sautéed garlic, milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend until a very smooth sauce forms. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add the cauliflower sauce to the pot with the pasta and stir well. Heat over low-medium until heated through. The pasta will tone down the flavours of the sauce so it’s important to taste the mixture and add more seasonings (salt, pepper, lemon, etc.) to taste before serving.
- For serving: Divide the warm pasta into bowls and top with more salt and pepper (to taste), along with a squeeze of lemon and some fresh minced parsley. Feel free to add your favourite cooked veggies such as broccoli, peas, leeks, asparagus, butternut squash, etc.
* It’s very important that you use an unsweetened and unflavoured non-dairy milk in this recipe (nothing with vanilla or added sugar, please!).
** If you’re only preparing a couple servings, feel free to cook less pasta and save leftover sauce for another time. The alfredo sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a few days.
To make the alfredo taste extra decadent, add a tablespoon or two of vegan butter to the sauce.
Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta.
Boost the protein: Use a legume-based pasta such as chickpea pasta.
Make it nut-free: Use a nut-free non-dairy milk (such as soy milk) instead of almond milk. Be sure to use unsweetened and unflavoured milk.
Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Love how creamy it is and I miss that as I am transitioning to vegan. I added baby spinach and also baked some mushrooms in breadcrumbs in the oven till they were crispy and added them on top! so good, Thank you!
Spinach and mushrooms sound like great additions, Chelsea! I’m glad the “alfredo” hit the spot. :)
Ok Angela. I give credit when credit is due. WHOA. I have a 2.5 year old little boy, who happens to have autism. He’s the pickiest.eater.ever. He’s also on a strict GF/CF diet. He LOVED THIS DISH SO MUCH! He didn’t know what to do with himself he was so delighted! I used plain soymilk, and didn’t use yeast (he’s allergic, we think) and added a little nutmeg for “nuttiness” (my signature spice for all things delish). THANK YOU for making our dinner a happy success that is typically anything but. Spending 15 years in the restaurant business, I know a thing or two about cooking, but your recipes are amazing and Im only upet I didn’t find it sooner!! Kudos! -Claire
I don’t have any unsweetened non dairy milk, can i use veg broth?
Made this tonight for my 3 year old and I. It was gobbled up! Lovely recipe. I added spinach and some vegan Quorn pieces. Was excellent. Thank you.
Glad it was a hit, Kathleen!
Hi Angela! Any idea how this recipe would freeze? Thinking about using ice cube trays and freezing portions to use for my toddler. Thanks!
Hi Lisa, I haven’t tried freezing it myself, but other readers have reported it freezes beautifully! That’s a great idea about using ice cube trays–I also like to use silicone mini muffin trays when I’m portioning out leftovers to freeze.
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! Im going to give it a try. Love the blog and cookbook!!
Thank you for a great recipe that is also not too spendy :). I used a rice pasta to make a gluten free and sauteed a little extra garlic. I used mushrooms as well. I sauteed the mushrooms in the same pan I used to saute the garlic with another 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, some white wine and several grinds of Trader Joe’s garlic salt and let it cook down until the fluid was all cooked off. Mixed it all together and it turned out pretty delicious.
Is there something that could be substituted for nutritional yeast? Or, could it be left out of the recipe altogether?
Hi Selena, the nutritional yeast does help give the dish a great, cheesy/creamy flavour, but omitting it may work – I think a few readers have tried it and had some success. You’ll probably want to adjust the seasonings, to give it a bit more “oomph.” (Feel free to experiment! I’d suggest reading back through some of the comments to check out other readers’ suggestions! Someone added a bit of ground nutmeg and fried aubergine, and someone else a bit of veggie stock and ground sage.) I’d love it if you’d report back and let me know how it goes!
This is my favorite vegan recipe so far. Even my 9 yo son loved it and he is a very picky, non-vegan eater. I did not think it was possible to get a creamy sauce without the fat, but this far exceeded my expectations. I also loved how quick it was- perfect for a busy weeknight meal for the whole family. Angela, you are pure genius!!!!
Hi there, and thank you so much for the lovely oomment! It’s great to hear you enjoyed the recipe — I’m definitely a fan of how quickly it comes together too. :)
This is amazing. I didn’t have any milk so i threw in a handful of soaked cashews and some of the cauliflower water. Creamy deliciousness. Seasoned on top with lemon zest. Thank you for this!
So glad you liked it Shira! And thanks for sharing that milk sub – I’m glad it worked out!
Ohhhhh myyyyy gerrrrrd! I made this last night for a dinner party which was kind of a risk given I hadn’t tried it before… And it totally paid off! This changes everything! Creamy pasta is my favourite but obviously not something I can have regularly when trying to eat healthy… I can’t get over how good this was, and how close to a full cream sauce it was was! Bravo :)
Hey Jen, it’s so great to hear that the dish was a hit at your dinner party!! Thanks so much for the awesome comment.
lol eeeek! i didn’t read 1 tbsp lemon juice and put a WHOLE LEMON’s worth of juice!!! blah!! so we added lots more nutritional yeast and managed to eat it! next time, i’ll read the instructions properly!
Ooops! I hope the extra nutritional yeast helped a little.
I decided to give this recipe a try after hearing such a great review of it from your FAQ’s a few weeks back. It was a huge hit! My family loved it and it was really easy to make. I’ll definitely keep this recipe in mind when I’m craving comfort food.
So glad to hear it, Annalise!
Thank you so much for sharing this!! My man and I added a bit of tahini to the sauce to give it some extra cheese flair! And we included some local grilled corn and chaterelle mushrooms!! We both agree it’s by far the best thing we’ve made together. Thank you Angela for introducing us to incredible plant bladed Alfredo!!
Oh, those sound like delicious additions, Amy!
Just cooked this for dinner it was scrumptious! Thanks so much. I wouldn’t have thought to use cauliflower as a cream base, but now I know!
I’ve made this recipe twice now and totally nailed it the second time! So delicious! I can’t believe how healthy it is too. I’ll being eating this for years. Taste great with kale too.
I’m so happy you’re loving the “alfredo” Candace!
Curious to know what you did the second time to “nail it?” =)
I love this one! I had missed cream based sauce from years when I could eat dairy. This is the only dairy free “alfredo” recipe I have found that can be made nut-free (I am allergic!) and soy free. Please keep making dairy free, nut free, soy free recipes! :) Thanks!
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lizzy!
I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and it’s always a hit! This time, I made it more mac-and-cheese style by combining the sauce with elbow pasta, roasted broccoli, halved cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of chopped pickled jalapeno from my friend’s garden, then baked it at 350 for 10 minutes. AMAZING.
Thank you Angela!
Oh, that sounds delish, Sarah!
This sounds amazing – sadly i’m a poor hobo sans high speed blender, but I do have a food processor. Doable?? Really want to try this!
Fantastic receipe! Love it!!!!!!
Hi there!! Really want to try this recipe but I have a yeast allergy/sensitivity. It means I miss out on most vegan “cheesy” recipes because they all have nutritional yeast in them. Do you by chance know if there is ANYTHING else that would have similar flavour? Thanks so much….love all your recipes. Can’t wait to try out the App!!
Hi Julie, That’s a tough one! Nutritional yeast is very unique in its ability to mimic a cheese-like flavour, so it’s hard to substitute as you already know. For this dish, I know one reader added a bit of tahini in place of the nutritional yeast; a few others threw in a handful of soaked cashews or cashew meal as a replacement. Those two swaps, which should add some creaminess to the sauce and begin to approach the salty/nutty flavour of nutritional yeast, are probably your best alternatives if you want to aim for a “cheesy-ish” alfredo somewhat similar in flavour and texture to the original recipe. If you’re feeling more adventurous, though, you could also adjust the sauce’s seasonings in other ways to give it back the “oomp” that’s lost when you omit the nutritional yeast (without trying to find an exact substitue for it)—feel free to experiment! I’d suggest reading back through some of the comments to check out other readers’ suggestions. Someone added a bit of ground nutmeg and fried aubergine, and another person a bit of veggie stock and ground sage. Personally, I’m pretty intrigued by variations that added pesto instead of nutritional yeast! If you try anything, I’d love it if you’d report back and let me know how it goes. Good luck!
I have made this twice now, the first time following the recipe.
The second time. I used 4 garlic cloves and 2 T of lemon juice and little more olive oil and cooked the cauliflower in vegetable stock. Both were delicious. We love it. I still eat dairy products occasionally but prefer this sauce over the traditional dairy alfredo any time. Thanks for sharing.
So happy to hear you love it, Kay! This recipe is still one of our faves. :)
I just made this dish and the sauce is delicious!!!
I’m glad it was a hit, Tasha!
This was delicious! It perfectly satisfied my alfredo craving, and I had all the ingredients on hand! Thanks for sharing.
So glad you enjoyed it, Caitlin :) I love how convenient the ingredients are, too!
hey Angela, i just made this sauce. It tastes great but it does have a bitter aftertaste. Do you by chance know what i have done wrong? I just added some vegetable broth powder after tasting to try to chance the aftertaste but it did not help. ?
Have made this 3 times so far, once with broccoli, and omg can I just say THANK YOU! I crave this pasta it’s so good! And I feel so good knowing I am not using the jar-dairy stuff.
Hah, you’re so welcome! ;) I’m so happy you’re loving the recipe.
I paired this sauce with spaghetti squash, portobello mushrooms and peas last night, so delicious! I love your site, fantastic recipes for following a plant based diet. (I also made the banana blueberry buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, and I always have cashew cream in my fridge). Thank you!!
Thanks for the kind words, Carrie! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipes.
I tried this a while ago and now it’s a staple in my house. Delicious and without the guilt! Thank you so much! My husband is a self confessed Cauliflower hater so I have to make it before he gets home and hide the evidence. He thinks it’s great! And I can hide veggies in his food. Shhhhh! hahaha! <3
Haha, that’s too funny, Toni!!
Honestly, this was the most disgusting thing I’ve tried since going vegan! I just knew I was going to love the sauce after reading the story and seeing the rating, but I was very disappointed with the outcome. The smell alone made me gag. It smells similar to cooked cabbage, which also makes me gag. Odd, since I can usually eat steamed cauliflower without a problem. Aside from the color, nothing about it is similar to alfredo. My three sons also thought it was gross and gagged through dinner. I finally told them they didn’t have to eat it for fear that someone would vomit at the table. My husband was the only one that didn’t think it was “that” bad.
Cauliflower smells like cabbage when you cook it. I don’t know what kind of alfredo you’re used to eating but…I am a chef, I work for Italians who were born and raised in Italy. This is called Panna in Italy and I’m not going to go into everything with you because it would take too long, however, this recipe is actually quite good. While I would do things a bit differently in my kitchen the next time I make it, if yours was that gross that you were afraid someone would vomit at the table then I’m sorry to say this and mean no offence but the problem lies with you and your lack of cooking skill. Sorry to say, but learn how to cook properly before you rate a recipe a disaster.
Holy crap. Just made this. It’s amazing. My sister said it tasted like the real deal. I am so full I went for a second serving!
I had a hard time getting the cauliflower to a creamy texture. The overall taste was good. I added more garlic, salt & onion powder. Love the idea though!
Okay this is really good! I made this tonight and added Beyond Meat grilled chicken strips (sautéed in Earth Balance, sea salt, black pepper & red pepper flakes) and broccoli. My non-veg and slightly skeptic omnivore boyfriend had no idea this was made with cauliflower until after he was done eating, and he also had no clue the Beyond Meat chicken was faux!!!! I will be making this again definitely!
I just made this recipe, it is awesome. Yes I will make it again, and again.
I just tried this recipe!! IT IS PERFECT!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m sure my omni friends and family would love it as well <3
So happy the recipes a winner, Nina! :)
This recipe is soooo good and toddler ate a good helping. Toddler eating her veggies! #momwin Thank you! I doubled the garlic — we ❤️ Garlic in our household.
Definitely a #momwin, Jacky! So glad the recipe was a hit.
So good!!! I now make this once a week. If there is any sauce leftover after the pasta is gone I eat it with a spoon! I can’t let it go!!
I always use the earth balance and add a big dash of nutmeg too. Thank you!
Totally get it, Melissa — I can’t get enough of this sauce, either! ;)
I think I found my new favourite comfort food. So happy I tried this. I added some broccoli to the cream and sautéed mushrooms for the final touch, it was perfect.
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Those additions sound great :)
Hi Angela, I have been one of your (many) fans for just over 2 years. I’m in Perth (Australia), so we are always at opposite seasons to our North American friends. I have glanced over this recipe countless times and never seriously considered trying it… until today as Perth appears to be in cauliflower season. Well what a game changer this is sooooooo good!!!! I added 2 more tblsp nutritional yeast and 1 tblsp Dijon mustard, plus used almond paste added to the 1/2 cup of water instead of the plant mylk. Thank you so much for this and every other recipe you have gifted us with. You are a goddess!
Oh, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for the kind words. :) Enjoy the rest of cauliflower season!
Wow, this looks delish! Could you recommend any side dishes (notice the plural, haha) to add to this meal to make a very hungry hubby’s tummy, full? Thank you :)
Hi Rona, Thanks for your question! I think salad makes a good accompaniment to most pasta dishes, so I’d recommend checking out my Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad or The Best Shredded Kale Salad. / Or, you could serve it with something like my Super Power Chia Bread. To further amp up the pasta, you could also try adding in or serving on the side some of your fave roasted veggies, too. Hope this gets the wheels turning! :)
This recipe was really great, so easy to make and absolutely delicious — Little tip to take this to the next level is to add just the teensiest amount of truffle oil, makes it taste sooooo decadent and amazing. I’ve tried it once with sugar snap peas, and once with spinach both of which were really tasty.
The people who’ve been having problems getting it creamy might not be cooking the cauliflower enough — I found I had to cook it for upto 10 minutes to let it get soft enough without a vitamix
I friken love this recipe lol… I’ve shared it 4 times on facebook lol.. I personally do not like nutritional yeast so I just use vegan parmasan instead and its delish! Thank you for this. I used to hate cauliflower before I became vegan 2 years ago now I LOVE it! Haha…. thanks for sharing Angela Liddo :)
I finally made this tonight. Taste was delicious (even without nutritional yeast) but the texture was soupy. To be fair, my daughter had hers over real pasta and it was much better. I had mine over zucchini ribbons and don’t recommend it. I decided that the leftovers will make an amazing soup for dinner tomorrow night :)
Does this sauce recipe freeze and thaw well? Trying to do some pre baby meal prep :)
Hey Katrina, Congrats on your growing family! I haven’t tried freezing this sauce myself, but other readers have reported it freezes beautifully. If you’re looking for some other meal prep ideas, be sure to check out this post, too. :) Sending you a ton of well wishes!
Loved this! Made it as per the recipe with the addition of a tablespoon of tahini for extra creaminess/cheesiness (in place of the vegan butter angela recommends for such). Also added a little more garlic as we’re garl fiends, and salt! Absolutely delish! Roasted cherry toms, a variety of diff mushrooms and red onion to stir through the pasta and sauce. Used thick, gloriously delish fettuccine pasta. Angela, thank you for this. We’ll be eating often :-)
Thanks for sharing those tweaks, Emma! Gotta love garlic, amiright? ;) So happy you enjoyed the recipe!
This was very, very good! We added peas, carrots, and some sauteed mushrooms. The only other change was adding more garlic – because I <3 garlic :) I will definitely make this healthy-but-feels-indulgent dish again!
Loved this! I was concerned that hubby wouldn’t like the healthy sauce in this but he loved it. I added roasted flat mushrooms which were tasty.
This recipe was amazing. I’ve been vegan for 4-5 months now and I love learning new recipes. This is definitely a keeper. Thank you for taking time to post and with others.
I’m so happy to hear that you loved this dish so much! Thanks for your feedback :)
I made this dish tonight. The boyfriend loved it! the yeast taste was a little strong for me so I added some more lemon juice to cut the taste a bit. It was great!! A definite hit. Now, it did make a lot of sauce so how long can it be kept in the fridge and is freezing it alright too? ?
I’d had this recipe bookmarked for a long time before I actually made it. Though I never expected it to taste exactly like alfredo (and I hoped it wouldn’t be so heavy!), I was so nervous it would turn out tasting watery or grainy.
I made it last night and now I’m annoyed I waited so long. It’s DELICIOUS and I want to put it on absolutely everything. My meat-and-potatoes husband who normally hates cauliflower scarfed down every last bite and said he couldn’t believe how great it tasted. Definitely adding this recipe to the rotation.
This sauce is amazing, thanks for the recipe. Once made, how long does it keep in the fridge? I have leftovers from 4 days ago, and it still smells ok (garlicky for the most part) but there is some liquid that has separated. I am never sure how long blended foods can last.
Hey Ela, I would guess between 4-6 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but I’m not certain as it’s been a while since I’ve made this. Sorry I can’t help you more!
Loved this! Thank you!
Hey Shelly, I’m happy you enjoyed this!