Fettucine alfredo is a popular dish around the world. It’s creamy, comforting, and delicious. There is no way for this traditional Italian sauce to be made vegan, right? wrong. You can make dairy-free alfredo sauce with a few ingredient swaps.
Created in Rome in 1914 by chef Alfredo di Lelio and served at his restaurant, Alfredo’s, traditional alfredo sauce is a simple white cream sauce made from butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese.
De Lelio created it by warming butter and cream in a large saucepan. He then whisked in seasonings (such as garlic) and added parmesan cheese. He stirred it just until the cheese melted. The resulting thick white sauce is silky smooth, rich, and creamy.
Creating this creamy, dreamy, cheesy recipe vegan starts with some improvisation. For those who feel that there is no way a sauce so heavily based on dairy products can be made dairy-free — or those that simply just don’t know where to start — here is your guide.
How to Make Vegan Alfredo Sauce
It starts with the nuts. Raw cashews are used to form the base of alfredo sauce and its best to soak them overnight to soften — make sure to drain and rinse them before blending.
Take a cup-full (or more, depending on how many people you are feeding) and toss them into a blender with garlic, lemon juice, onion and some herbs that can be altered to taste. If you don’t have the patience nor the time to wait for your nuts to soak overnight, NutraMilk’s Nut Processor uses a patented, BPA-free and CETL certified process to create nut cheese, milk, and butter in less than 12 minutes with a simple push of a button.
Next, to give the sauce a cheesy taste, nutritional yeast is a must. Nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins and provides a nutty and cheese-like flavor. Pour two to three tablespoons into the blender, add salt and any other herbs and voila, you’ve made some delicious and creamy vegan alfredo sauce.
Best Butter for Vegan Alfredo Sauce
If you want to make your sauce extra creamy, Miyoko’s European style cultured vegan butter is a must. This gluten-free, soy-free and cholesterol-free vegan butter is perfect for all culinary and baking creations. Made with organic coconut oil, this delicious spread (at 90 calories per one-tablespoon serving) will add that buttery flavor you are craving.
Simply warm a large saucepan over medium heat, take a nice dollop of butter with extra virgin olive oil and garlic and fresh herbs to taste. Slice up some mushrooms, add some peas and toss them into the pan until the garlic and mushroom brown. The last step is to add parmesan-style cheese and stir in the pan until the cheese has completely melted and your sauce is smooth and ready to pour over your pasta.
According to Tara Punzone, Chef & Owner of Pura Vita, another great option for vegan butter for alfredo is Faba Butter. Punzone says, “The best butter to use to make vegan Alfredo (or anything buttery) is Faba Butter. Faba butter tastes amazing and does not contain palm oil, which makes it much more environmentally friendly and animal-friendly.”
Best Cheese for Alfredo Sauce
Thanks to the proliferation of vegan and plant-based cheeses entering the marketplace, there are now a plethora of options to choose from. From Kite Hill, Miyoko’s, Daiya, Follow Your Heart there are now options from everything from cheddar, provolone, smoked gouda and feta.
Specifically, for alfredo sauce, Follow Your Heart’s vegan parmesan is a great plant-based cheese providing a nutty, savory and cheesy taste. Follow Your Heart’s parmesan uses nutritional yeast and organic chickpea miso to create the authentic flavor similar to parmesan you can find in Italy.
Another great option is Vromage’s pecorino parmesan. Youssef Vromage — he changed his last name from Fakhouri in 2018–- is the proprietor of vegan cheese shop Vromage in West Hollywood. He suggests his best-selling pecorino parmesan is the perfect cheese for any alfredo sauce.
If you don’t know how to use a mix-master or just want a simpler option to make a vegan alfredo sauce, “the parmesan pecorino is tasty and buttery and all you need to do is just mix it with a little olive oil,” says Fakhouri.
Using good vegan cheese can negate the prep time needed for making a cashew-based cheese with nutritional yeast as another option is using, “my ricotta instead of butter for an easy fast and delicious sauce.”
6 Ways to Use Vegan Alfredo Sauce
Beyond just fettuccine alfredo, there are a number of ways to use this white delicious sauce from dressings, marinades, salads and more.
1. Baked Alfredo
Originated as a special on the menu but now a favorite (and a big hit on Pura Vita’s catering menu) is their Baked Alfredo. “It is a new take on a baked ziti. The pasta is tossed in the sauce along with ricotta cheese, lemon garlic asparagus and topped with breadcrumbs, then baked in the oven. It is the most decadent Italian comfort food,” says Punzone.
A great option for your plant-based meat alternatives from seitan to tempeh and tofu, marinade your favorite selection in the fridge overnight to let the cheesy goodness seep in deep. All you have to do the next day is fire up a saucepan, slice up some fresh veggies and you’ve got yourself a wonderful Italian-inspired stir fry.
Best to make this a little thicker than a sauce or marinade to perfectly balance a beautiful crudité plate for a wine and cheese dinner.
4. Veggie Roast
Similar to a marinade, take a hearty vegetable like cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, and carrots and slather them with the creamy sauce. Simply toss them in the oven, wait until they turn crisp but not too brown. Serve as a side or toss with pasta for a deliciously simple main.
It may seem daunting but a casserole just takes a few simple ingredients, like this cheesy, broccoli casserole. Simply take broccoli (boil, ice wash, drain) then place in a saucepan with alfredo sauce. In the meantime, cook garlic and onions and add to the broccoli and then add flour and whisk. Add spices to flavor, put breadcrumbs on top, place in the oven and done!
Simple one here, replace the red sauce with alfredo. Maybe add just a little extra cheese because why the heck not.