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Cashew Alfredo Sauce

Turquoise bowl of fettucine noodles in a vegan cashew alfredo sauce.
Recipe At-A-Glance
Vegan, Gluten-Free6 hours
You will be blown away by how much this vegan cashew alfredo sauce tastes like the real deal!

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Is it possible to make a good, rich, and hearty alfredo sauce without heavy cream or cheese? It absolutely is, thanks to the joys of cashew cream! You will be blown away by how much this dairy-free alfredo sauce tastes like the “real thing.” Slather it onto piping hot fettuccine and enjoy a nice dose of vegan comfort food!

The magical ingredient in this vegan alfredo sauce: cashew cream

Making cashew cream is exactly what is as easy as it sounds. After soaking cashews in boiling water, you blend them into an incredibly smooth cream that can be the foundation to all kinds of dairy-free kitchen experimentation! Cashew cream has a texture similar to half and half or even heavy whipping cream depending on how much water you use.

Spoon drizzling cashew cream into a turquoise bowl full of more cashew cream.

How to get cheesy flavor without the cheese: nutritional yeast!

This recipe uses nutritional yeast to get the cheesy flavor without a spot of cheese. If you’ve never used nutritional yeast before, it’s a vegan food that looks like fish food (#realtalk) and has a slightly cheesy, nutty flavor to it. Nutritional yeast is available at most major supermarkets and online.

A little nutritional yeast goes a long way. You’ll see a lot of recipes out there calling for large amounts of nutritional yeast, but if you are new to it, start in small doses to make sure you enjoy the flavor before diving in full-bore. This cashew alfredo sauce is a good place to start because the nutritional yeast is used as a secondary flavor, not the main one, so you can get by with just using a touch.

Close up of fettucine noodles dressed with cashew alfredo sauce.

Is this dairy-free alfredo as good as the real thing?

I’m not going to lie to you, nothing is going to taste as rich and decadent as a sauce made with plenty of butter, cheese, and cream. As magical as cashew cream is, it isn’t quite that magical. If I could turn nuts and water into Parmesan, I’d be a rich woman!

But this vegan alfredo is still a very satisfying, very tasty alternative for those of you for whom dairy isn’t an option. It will absolutely squash a craving for fettuccine alfredo in a heartbeat—and it might even be good enough to serve to your favorite cheese-lover without them knowing the difference.

Noodles with vegan alfredo sauce twirled around a fork.

My pro tips for making the BEST vegan alfredo sauce:

  • Reserve your pasta cooking water: The starchy, salty water from cooking your pasta is great for thinning out the cashew alfredo sauce if it ends up getting too thick to coat your pasta (which can sometimes happen with cashew-based sauces). I like to scoop out a measuring cup’s worth before I drain the noodles.
  • Don’t just use it for fettuccine: Use it as a pizza sauce, use it as a dip for breadsticks, drizzle it on top of steamed veggies. Yum!
  • Make sure you use raw, unsalted cashews: Raw cashews are necessary to get the right thick and rich texture of the finished alfredo sauce. And you want unsalted so you can control the salt levels on your own later.
 
Cashew Alfredo Sauce

Cashew Alfredo Sauce

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 6 hours 3 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 3 minutes

You will be blown away by how much this vegan cashew alfredo sauce tastes like the real deal!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • Water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place cashews in a bowl or jar (I like using a wide-mouth quart mason jar) and cover with  water. Let soak overnight (at least 6 hours).
  2. Once soaking is finished, drain and rinse the cashews, and place in the basin of a high-powered blender. Add in 3/4 cup water, garlic, nutritional yeast, and sea salt and blend on high until very smooth—about three minutes. Pour over hot pasta and toss to coat.
  3. Store in covered container in the fridge for up to 10 days. The dressing will get thicker as it cools.

Notes

Quick soak method: Cover cashews with boiling water and let sit 1 hour before proceeding.

Super quick method: Place cashews and three cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse before proceeding.

Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce if needed. This sauce does tend to thicken up as it cools.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 103 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 269mg Carbohydrates: 6g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g
DISCLAIMER: At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. We encourage you to embrace viewing what’s on your plate with a holistic mindset. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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