If you're in search of a lighter version of your favorite comfort food, you've come to the right place! Short on calories but long on flavor, this creamy Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce is a delightfully healthy twist on the Italian classic and is just begging to be tossed with your favorite pasta.
While pasta is a year-round love of mine, the arrival of cooler weather and shorter days has me craving all the warm, rib-sticking favorites like mac and cheese (or pumpkin mac and cheese, because I love pumpkin everything) and this vegan cauliflower alfredo sauce.
Cauliflower is the star of this vegan alfredo pasta sauce, but creamy coconut milk, pungent garlic, and umami miso paste act as a strong supporting cast. Top the bowl with a dusting of vegan parmesan, and even your omnivorous friends will beg for seconds.
Why You Will Love My Vegan Alfredo Sauce
There's more than one way to make vegan fettuccine alfredo; this particular recipe uses cauliflower as the base, while others, like my vegan cashew alfredo, rely on vegan pantry staples like raw cashews and nutritional yeast.
- Easy & Quick: With just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time, you can have a tangle of perfectly al dente gluten-free fettuccine coated in an impossibly creamy dairy- and nut-free alfredo sauce.
- Healthier: Unlike traditional alfredo sauce that is loaded down with butter, heavy cream and parmesan cheese, this vegan cauliflower sauce is much lighter, with just about ⅓ of the calories and fat of the non-plant based stuff.
- Veggie Power: Not only is this vegan pasta miracle lower in fat and calories, it also has the added benefit of being made from vegetables! Cauliflower is packed with all kinds of nutritents including fiber, vitamins B6 and C, and potassium. This ain't our mama's pasta alfredo, if you catch my drift.
The ingredient list for making cauliflower fettuccine alfredo is surprisingly short. It doesn't even call for olive oil!
Here's everything you'll need:
- Cauliflower - This recipe calls for 1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets. Don't forget to cook the stem, too - there's tons of flavor and nutrients in there! If necessary, frozen cauliflower can easily be substituted.
- White (Shiro) Miso Paste - White miso is a paste made from fermented soy beans, and it offers up a ton of flavor. While you can swap in some soy sauce or tamari in a pinch, just note that you'll lose out on some of the sweet, creamy qualities of this incredible ingredient.
- Vegetable Broth - Use whichever boxed, canned or homemade version you like. If you have a small kitchen, I recommend keeping some Vegetable Better Than Bouillon on hand.
- Coconut Milk - Opt for full fat, canned coconut milk in a can. Trust me, this stuff is much different than the kind you use for your cereal in the morning. If you prefer, you can also substitute vegan cashew cream.
- Garlic - Aside from straight salty-creamy notes, a good alfredo should have plenty of garlic to give it depth of flavor. In a pinch, you can swap in ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove.
- Pasta - Fettuccine is the traditional pairing for alfredo sauce, but you can feel free to swap in any shape of pasta that you like. I opted for my favorite gluten free pasta, but if you aren't sensitive to gluten you can use regular. If you want an extra boost of veggies, try serving this vegan cauliflower alfredo over zoodles instead.
How To Make
This vegan cauliflower alfredo sauce couldn't be easier to make if it tried. Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Cook the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower, garlic cloves, vegetable broth, and coconut milk/vegan cashew cream in a large frying pan or saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft and falls apart when pierced with a fork.
Step 2: Cook Pasta. While cauliflower is cooking, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions, then drain.
Step 3: Blend the sauce. Stir in the white miso paste and salt to the cauliflower pan. Using an immersion or stand blender, blend the cauliflower and its cooking liquid. NOTE: If you use a stand mixer, do this in batches, being careful not to fill the blender too high so the hot liquid doesn't explode out of the top!
Step 3: Assemble and Serve. Return the pasta to the pan, then pour the cauliflower alfredo sauce over top. Toss to heat through.
Cauliflower fettuccine alfredo is an excellent use for this vegan pasta sauce. That said, this dairy-free alfredo sauce isn't just for noodles. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Use it as the sauce for a homemade veggie pizza.
- Turn it into a queso-like dip for veggies and bread.
- Use it as the base for creamy soups and casseroles.
- Make a white lasagna with your favorite veggies.
- Pour it over steamed veggies to encourage your little ones (or full sized picky eaters) to eat more vegetables.
- Choose any pasta shape you like, or opt for gnocchi.
- Toss it with spaghetti squash or zoodles for a veggie dish the whole family is sure to love.
This delightfully creamy sauce is sure to be a hit, no matter how you use it!
If you're turning this vegan sauce into Cauliflower Fettuccine Alfredo, there are plenty of ways to customize it to your liking.
In my pre-vegan days, I would often order chicken alfredo. If you're looking for a similar protein boost, consider adding:
I love adding all kinds of toppings to my pasta. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Vegan Parmesan
- Vegan Bacon Bits
- Freshly Ground Pepper
- Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Extra Veggies - Peas and vegan bacon bits are an excellent combo!
You can also turn this into a vegan pasta al lemon inspired dish with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a few grates of lemon zest. YUM!
Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks
This recipe is seriously so easy, but in case you run into trouble I have you covered!
- If it is too thick - add a little water or vegetable broth at a time while blending.
- If it is not smooth - keep blending using a high-speed blender, adding liquid if needed. If you opt to make your own cashew cream, make sure the cashews are well soaked in hot water for a creamy - not gritty - result. You can also pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any pieces that didn't blend well.
- If it needs more flavor - add more miso paste or some nooch and salt, using a little at a time. Remember, you can always add more but you can't take it away! I also like to season mine with a dash of hot sauce.
Yep! It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Feel free to use either the stovetop or microwave, stirring at intervals for even heat distribution. If it seems too thick, add a bit of water to loosen the sauce as it warms.
Absolutely! As a bonus, frozen veggies are often cheaper than fresh and the prep work of separating it into florets is already done for you.
The options here seem nearly endless! I love the sweet, starchy quality of frozen peas (especially when paired with vegan bacon!), but there are lots of other options: artichoke hearts, spinach, broccoli, broccolini, sun dried tomatoes, summer squash, or zucchini are all great choices.
This recipe is from Sam Turnbull's book Fuss-Free Vegan. This book offers easy-to-prepare comfort food favorites that use ingredients you can find at your local grocery store. In it, Sam shares plant-based recipes for dishes she loved most in her pre-vegan days, including pancakes, burgers, pizza, burritos, pasta, cakes, and cookies.
More Creamy Pasta Recipes
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I'm a pasta freak. I mean, who doesn't love a bowlful of cozy carbs?!? Some of my favorite creamy noodle recipes include:
Still hungry? Check out my post on 35+ Surprisingly Easy Vegan Pasta Recipes! I promise they're all delicious AND full of nutritious ingredients that you can feel good about feeding your family. Go on, check 'em out!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
- 1 head cauliflower
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (or vegan cashew cream - see notes for recipe)
- 2 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb gluten free fettuccini (can use regular if not GF)
- vegan parmesan (optional)
- parsley (optional)
- black pepper
- For the cauliflower alfredo sauce, place the cauliflower, garlic cloves, vegetable broth, and coconut milk/vegan cashew cream in a large frying pan or saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft and falls apart when pierced with a fork.
- Add the white miso paste and salt. Using an immersion or stand blender, blend the cauliflower and its cooking liquid. If you use a stand mixer, do this in batches, being careful not to fill the blender too high, so the hot liquid doesn't explode out of the top.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta according to the package directions, then drain.
- Return the pasta to the pan, then pour the cauliflower afredo sauce over top. Toss to heat through. To serve, garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan, parsley, and freshly cracked black pepper.
- For vegan cashew cream, blend ½ cup of raw cashews and ½ cup of water in a blender until smooth. Soak cashews in hot water for 10 minutes and discard water if you are not using a high-power blender.
- Nutrition info is for the sauce only (using cashew cream).
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
My 15-month-old apparently eats multiple serves of the vegetarian (but not vegan) pasta carbonara they make her at nursery. I'd love to try her on this - more nutritious and I think she'd like it just as much! Thanks for the inspiration.
Sam Turnbull says
Yay! Thanks so much for taking the time to review my book. Thrilled you are enjoying it so far 🙂
Jennifer Bliss says
I REALLY MUST try this and SOON!!!! OMG! YUM!!!!!
Mary Ellen says
It's totally tasty Jennifer!
Christine @ Run Plant Based says
Yum, this looks awesome - need to try it for lentil pasta I just found. And the book too, thanks!
Mary Ellen says
It is really tasty! Let me know how the lentil pasta tastes, I'm always looking for more gluten-free/bean pasta!