This Creamy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce is entirely plant-based, gluten-free, super flavorful, and takes just 15 minutes to make with this simple recipe. Go ahead and give it a try for your next pasta night. Your body (and your to-do list) are sure to thank you for it!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Ever get sick of the same old tomato sauce for your pasta? I know I do! Roasted red peppers come to the rescue in this delicious sauce; fight flavor fatigue with their sweet & savory, lightly charred piquancy.
This delightfully bright and flavorful roasted red pepper sauce comes together with a handful of ingredients that are likely already in your larder.
Since you can buy pre-roasted peppers in a jar at the store, this yummy pasta sauce is SUPER EASY! It is bright, punchy, and loaded with flavor, but comes together in about the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta.
Using some of my favorite pantry staples - nutritional yeast and cashews, I'm looking at you! - you can transform humble bell peppers into a dreamy sauce that takes almost no time to make but is still fancy enough for company.
Ingredients & Subsitutions
This simple recipe is about to transform your ho-hum pasta into something extra special.
All you'll need to make this pasta sauce is:
- Roasted Red Peppers - I'm all about shortcuts that will get tasty and healthy dinners on the table in a flash. Grab a jar of roasted red peppers in water (which you'll drain) to keep in the pantry for when you need a flavor boost. You can also opt to roast your own bell peppers if you prefer.
- Onion - Since you are cooking the onion in this recipe, you can opt for any color you have on hand. Want to save even more time? Opt for a bag of frozen chopped onions instead.
- Olive Oil (optional) - I generally reach for olive oil for sautéing, but avocado oil will work just as well. If you are oil-free, use a few tablespoons of water in the pan instead.
- Garlic - I prefer the bite of freshly minced garlic, but you can easily swap in ½ teaspoon garlic powder instead.
- Dairy-Free Milk - Any unsweetened dairy-free milk should be fine. I like coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, and soy milk best.
- Cashew Butter - Cashews are a vegan dream when it comes to making deliciously creamy dishes. Since you're using pre-ground cashew butter, you don't even have to worry about soaking - yay for shortcuts! You can sub tahini if you are nut-free, or whisk in 2 tablespoons of tapioca powder/starch or 1 tablespoon cornstarch instead.
- Nutritional Yeast - Affectionately referred to as "nooch," this is a pantry ingredient every vegan should keep on hand at all times. It has an exceptional ability to make foods taste cheesy! (It also happens to be a great source of additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.)
- Paprika - Feel free to opt for sweet, smoked, or hot paprika depending on what you have in the cabinet. Any will taste great in this recipe!
- Red Pepper Flakes - While this ingredient is optional, I find a small pinch of red pepper flakes adds a lot of depth to pasta sauces like this one.
- Salt & Pepper - Seasoning is essential for any dish. I recommend using kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Since this is a pasta sauce, you're also going to want to grab a package of pasta. (If you are gluten-free, there are a lot of options on the market now.) I like serving this roasted red pepper sauce on short pasta shapes, but feel free to choose your favorite noodle type.
How To Make the Sauce
Step 1: Cook the aromatics. Sauté the onions and garlic with a little bit of olive oil until they begin to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes. (You can also swap in avocado oil... or some water if you prefer an oil-free version.)
Step 2: Blend. Transfer the sautéed garlic and onion to the pitcher of a high-powered blender. Add remaining sauce ingredients, then blend to a creamy, uniform consistency.
Step 3: Cook Sauce. Return blended sauce ingredients to the pan you cooked your onions in. Hint: you don't have to wash it between uses! Cook until slightly thickened, roughly 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Toss & Eat! Your delicious roasted red pepper sauce is now ready. Toss with your favorite cooked and drained pasta. Top with some fresh herbs like parsley or basil and my vegan parmesan for a pasta night you won't soon forget!
While my roasted red pepper sauce is perfect on pasta all by itself, there are plenty of ways for you to customize this meal to make it all your own! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add veggies - Try adding roasted or sautéed greens like spinach or kale; roasted or steamed cruciferous veggies like cauliflower or broccoli; roasted or grilled summer veggies like eggplant, summer squash or zucchini.
- Add protein - Try tofu crumbles, baked tofu, tempeh crumbles, grilled tofu steaks, vegan chicken, or chickpeas.
- Make it spicy - Add some extra chili pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the sauce
- Use gluten free pasta - I love chickpea, brown rice, and lentil pasta
- Use other pasta shapes - any type will do
- Make it kid friendly - If you're making this dish for your littles, feel free to omit the red pepper flakes. You are also free to use fun pasta shapes to get them excited!
Expert Troubleshooting Tips
My simple vegan roasted red pepper sauce doesn't need much explanation - it is SO easy! That said, I have a few notes for you:
- Use a high-powered blender. While they can be on the pricey side, investing in a quality blender like a Vitamix will result in the creamiest, dreamiest red pepper sauce around. They're also super helpful for making tasty smoothies, creamy soups, and homemade nut butter!
- If you're roasting your own bell peppers, add some time to your prep. Roasting bell peppers is easy - set them over a grill or the flame on your gas range until charred and blistered, pop them in a plastic bag to steam for about 10 minutes, then peel, de-seed, and chop. That said, roasting your own will add an additional 15-20 minutes to this quick pasta sauce.
- Use it for meal prep! This easy recipe is a great one to keep in your prepping arsenal - it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutritional Benefits of Red Peppers
Red peppers are not only delicious, but they're also very healthy. Did you know that one serving of bell peppers has 169% of your recommended daily vitamin C? That's a heck of a lot of antioxidant power, people.
They're also loaded up with a bunch of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that are very healthy. Here's more information on red pepper nutrition if you need extra convincing.
Absolutely! Once made, roasted red pepper sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Heck yeah, it can! I recommend freezing it into ice cubes - they'll melt faster in a sauté pan so a quick vegan dinner is never far from reach. 🙂
Unfortunately, this sauce is really intended for making with roasted red peppers. If you have fresh bell peppers on hand, though, you can 100% roast them yourself. Just note that this will tack on an extra 15-20 minutes onto your mealtime prep.
Simply soak raw cashews in boiling water for about 10 minutes, then use your high-powered blender to make your own. If you are nut-free, you can also sub tahini, or whisk in 2 tablespoons of tapioca power/starch or 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Other tasty pasta recipes to enjoy:
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 12 oz pasta see notes
- ½ onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil (optional) see notes
- 2 cloves garlic minced or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers in water drained
- 1 cup dairy-free milk see notes
- 2 Tablespoons cashew butter see notes
- 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- Chopped parsley
- Vegan Parmesan
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, add oil (or water), onion, and garlic to a large sauce/saute pan and cook for 3-5 minutes (until translucent).
- Blend the red peppers (with the liquid from the jar) along with milk, nutritional yeast, paprika, salt, and peppeinto a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Add red pepper sauce back into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Add sauce to pasta and top with parsley and my vegan parmesan cheese.
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.