This easy vegan Alfredo sauce (without cashews) is a low fat, low calorie, healthy WFPB pasta sauce that's ready in 5-minutes.
I love a good vegan cashew cheese sauce. But sometimes, you want a recipe that's nut free, and maybe without nutritional yeast.
Even better if it's also gluten free and oil free, and of course, dairy free.
Ever since creating Chickpea Cheese Sauce (for you readers asking for a nut-free cheese sauce), I’ve been so excited by the possibilities. What other delicious, low fat, high fiber sauces might I whip up with the help of the mighty little chickpea?
This Alfredo sauce is a luscious, much healthier alternative to the infamous cream sauce I always wanted to love, but couldn’t. (It always made me feel ill after eating it.)
And a creamy white pasta sauce you can whip up in your Vitamix (or other high speed blender) in just 5 minutes with 7 ingredients? That's gotta be a winner in anyone's book.
What I love about this plant-based Alfredo sauce
There are plenty of vegan Alfredo sauces out there, so what makes this one different?
First, I love the idea of using veggies to make Alfredo sauce (I’ve seen versions with cauliflower, potatoes, etc.), but this one requires almost no cooking--just warm it up.
In fact, it's so simple, a 4-year-old can make it. This is one of those lightning fast, busy-weeknight-go-to-meals you'll make over and over again.
And it's hard to imagine a healthier way to make Alfredo sauce than with high fiber chickpeas, fresh garlic and lemon. It's everything traditional Alfredo sauce isn't--and I think that's a good thing.
It’s uber nutritious, since chickpeas--along with other beans and legumes--are life promoting foods we should be eating every single day.
In fact, according to Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, we should get 3 servings every day.
This white pasta sauce is also super adaptable, so you can use what you have on hand. See the substitutions and variations for ideas.
- chickpeas - canned are fine, but get the best quality you can.
- plain unsweetened plant milk
- fresh lemon juice
- white miso paste - I use Miso Master Mellow White miso paste. You can skip this ingredient if necessary, but I recommend it.
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh parsley as garnish (optional).
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Place the ingredients (expect the chickpea liquid) into a high speed blender. Process until smooth and creamy.
Step 2. If desired, gently heat the sauce (on low in a microwave or in a pot on the stove) to warm it up, combine the flavors, and cook the garlic.
Buy good chickpeas. The flavor and texture of chickpeas can vary quite a bit, so if using canned, buy a high quality chickpea for the best result.
They should be large and plump, with a pleasing flavor when eaten straight from the can.
Use a high-powered blender. It's probably possible to make this sauce with a 'regular' blender, but a high speed blender like a Vitamix will produce a smooth and creamy texture.
I've had a few readers comment that they've gotten a grainy result making my chickpea cheese sauce, and I suspect this is due to not using a high speed blender.
Cook a couple of minutes for a mellower flavor. We use fresh garlic in this recipe, which can have a bit of a bite if not fully cooked.
So if that's not appealing to you, make sure you heat long enough to cook the garlic. It should only take about 2 minutes.
Reserve pasta water. If you forget to save the aquafaba (chickpea liquid) or make your chickpeas from dried, reserved pasta water is great for thinning out your sauce.
I try to alway save some of my pasta water whenever I make thick, creamy sauces so I can thin if needed. It's a little thick and starchy from the pasta, so it works great.
Substitutions and variations
Check out these ideas for ingredient substitutions, and creative ways to adapt this recipe to your liking. I haven't tried all of these myself, but please give them a try if you don't have everything you need on hand or just like to experiment.
- Chickpeas. You can also make this sauce with soft white beans like cannellini beans. I haven't tried it, but cooked cauliflower would also likely work well here--you may need less liquid though. You could also try silken tofu here, again, probably with less liquid.
- Miso paste. It's not 100 percent necessary in this sauce, but I like it because it adds some healthy saltiness and thick texture. But skip it if you want, or add about 1 tablespoon of a mild tasting seed butter like tahini or sunflower seed butter.
- Fresh garlic. I love it, but if desired, you could simply use about ½ teaspoon more of the powdered garlic.
- Fresh lemon juice. You can substitute about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar + 2 extra tablespoons of plant milk. I don't recommend lemon juice from a jar. Ever. 🙂
- Reserved chickpea liquid. If you forget to save the aquafaba (chickpea liquid) or make your chickpeas from dried, reserved pasta water is great for thinning out your sauce.
- Plant milk. You can use vegetable broth or lite coconut milk instead, but the flavor won't be quite the same.
- Alfredo Florentine. This sauce is great with greens like cooked spinach or kale mixed in. But add them after you remove the sauce from the blender unless you want green Alfredo!
- Mushroom Alfredo. Sautéed mushrooms are the perfect chewy, umami complement to this sauce.
- Alfredo with peas. Fresh (or frozen), baby peas tossed into the sauce at the end are a delicious addition.
- 'Chicken' Alfredo. Toss some rehydrated soy curls into the sauce and cook for about 10 minutes for a meaty vegan and vegetarian white pasta dish.
- White wine sauce. Replace about ½ cup of the plant milk with a dry white wine, and cook for at least 1 minute to cook off the alcohol. This will substantially enhance the flavor of the sauce, and I very much recommend it if you have wine on hand.
How to serve Alfredo sauce
Pasta is the main way most people enjoy Alfredo sauce, especially wide noodle dishes like fettuccine Alfredo or linguini with Alfredo sauce. But any noodle will work.
Don't forget to sprinkle on some cashew Parmesan cheese if you're not nut free!
You can also drizzle in on pizza or use it as a dipping sauce for breadsticks.
I love it poured on top of a baked potato with veggies like broccoli or spinach, too.
If you're sauce is too thin, you can add more chickpeas or about a tablespoon of cornstarch or some nutritional yeast to thicken it.
An easy way to thin any pasta sauce is to reserve some of your pasta water --after the pasta has fully cooked, before draining it--and add a little at a time to your sauce. The starchy pasta water works well to thin sauce without leaving it too watery.
Or, in this recipe, liquid from the canned chickpeas works well to thin the sauce and is recommended.
If you don't care to use plant milk, you can substitute a light colored vegetable broth, coconut milk (lite or full fat), or thin cashew cream sauce (soaked cashews + water in a high speed blender) if you eat nuts.
Store this recipe in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based pasta recipes
5-Minute Chickpea Alfredo Sauce
- 2 cups chickpeas 1 15 ounce can, drained & LIQUID RESERVED
- 1 ½ cups plain unsweetened plant milk adjust for desired thickness
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup lemon juice about 1 large lemon
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoons onion powder
- Pink Himalayan salt, to taste
- Optional: 2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Optional: substitute ½ cup vegan dry white wine for ½ cup of the plant milk
- Place all of the ingredients EXCEPT THE RESERVED CHICKPEA LIQUID in a high speed blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended, about 20-30 seconds.
- Add a little of the reserved chickpea liquid ('aquafaba') to thin the sauce if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Gently cook the sauce for a few minutes (on low in the microwave or in a pot on the stove) to combine the flavors, cook the garlic, and cook off the alcohol if using wine.