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Try this vegan Alfredo sauce for a simple, dairy-free spin on a classic Italian favorite. With only 4 ingredients and extremely easy prep work, this recipe turns out ultra-creamy, decadent, and indulgent. It’s the perfect sauce for your favorite pasta!

Vegan fettuccine Alfredo on a plate.
Vegan Alfredo sauce is the ultimate comfort food

💛 Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Creamy: This dairy-free sauce has an irresistibly smooth and velvety texture that’s going to melt your heart! Seriously, you won’t be able to get enough of it.
  • Quick & easy: Forget the laundry list of ingredients and make this recipe instead. Just a few ingredients are needed, and it won’t take up much of your time at all!
  • Versatile: Mix vegan Alfredo sauce with your favorite pasta (like fettuccine), serve it on pizza, pair it with vegetables, and much more.
  • Vegan-friendly: It has an exceptionally similar flavor and texture to traditional Alfredo sauce, just without the dairy. Whether you’re vegan or not, we guarantee you’ll fall in love at first bite.

If you love vegan Alfredo sauce, you should really check out our San Marzano tomato sauce, butternut squash pasta sauce, vegan ranch, vegan Caesar dressing, and avocado crema.

🧀 What is vegan Alfredo sauce?

Vegan Alfredo sauce is a dairy-free alternative to Italian Alfredo sauce, which traditionally includes just butter, Parmesan cheese, and pasta water. We wanted to keep this version as close to the original as possible, and it turned out unbelievably well!

All you have to do is melt vegan butter and Parmesan cheese together and adjust the consistency with pasta water. The final result is ultra-rich, creamy, sharp, and savory.

It’s perfect to pair with long pasta varieties, like fettuccine or spaghetti, but you can honestly choose any pasta that best suits your preferences. For a more complete meal, serve your vegan alfredo sauce alongside roasted vegetables, vegan chicken, and of course, a sprinkle of extra Parmesan.

A spoonful of vegan alfredo sauce.
Serve it on your favorite pasta!

🌱 Is Alfredo even vegetarian?

Alfredo sauce is typically viewed as vegetarian (not vegan) as most recipes contain butter, Parmesan cheese, and sometimes cream.

However, we think it’s important to note that some Parmesan cheese is made with rennet, which is an enzyme traditionally sourced from the lining of a calf’s stomach.

Rennet is used in the cheese-making process to separate curds from the whey, and it plays a vital role in developing the texture and flavor of Parmesan cheese. If this is new to you and you’d like to source vegetarian alternatives, you can always look for Parmesan labeled “microbial rennet” or “vegetarian.”

📜 History

The origins of Alfredo sauce date back to the early 1900s in Rome. Legend has it that a man, named Alfredo di Lelio, made this rich and flavorful sauce to satisfy his pregnant wife’s cravings.

He began serving it at his family restaurant and (for obvious reasons) the dish gained enormous popularity throughout Europe and eventually the Americas where heavy cream, garlic, and other ingredients were added.

Vegan fettuccine Alfredo twirled around a fork.
Make sure to use quality Parmesan

🇮🇹 American vs Italian Alfredo sauce

Although considered the same, there are very distinct differences between American and Italian Alfredo sauces in ingredients used, consistency, preparation, and flavor. Here is the tl;dr:

Ingredients

  • American: Usually includes butter, heavy cream, milk, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Italian: Traditionally made with just butter, Parmesan cheese, and pasta water.

Consistency

  • American: Thicker due to the addition of heavy cream.
  • Italian: Lighter and silkier, relying on the simple combination of butter and Parmesan cheese.

Preparation

  • American: Cooked separately before being tossed with pasta.
  • Italian: Created simultaneously with pasta by combining hot pasta water and pasta with melted butter and Parmesan, which helps emulsify the ingredients.

Flavor

  • American: Richer, creamier, and more indulgent. It is quite filling as a standalone meal.
  • Italian: Features savory, umami flavors from the Parmesan cheese. It tends to be more delicate with a balance of flavors.

If you’re on the hunt for an American-style recipe, check out our vegan fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine, vegan butter, vegan parmesan, and peppercorns on a table.
Use whichever pasta you prefer

🛒 Ingredients & substitutions

  • Pasta: Provides a base for vegan Alfredo sauce. You can use any variety you prefer, such as fettuccine, spaghetti, or angel hair. You can also opt for short pasta like penne, fusilli, or farfalle.
  • Pasta water: Helps to create a silky sauce consistency, plus the salt enhances the overall flavor. For a gluten-free option, use a cornstarch slurry. Combine ¼-teaspoon of cornstarch with every 1 cup of water, then heat it until warmed.
  • Vegan butter: Adds so much richness and creaminess. Make sure to use quality vegan butter here. Some of our favorite choices include Miyoko’s Creamery, Forager Project, and Earth Balance.
  • Vegan Parmesan cheese: Provides the signature savory, umami-rich Alfredo flavor. If you can find some, block vegan Parmesan works best. If not, it’s best to blend pre-grated vegan Parmesan as many options contain anti-clumping ingredients that prevent them from melting well.
  • Cracked black pepper: Adds a touch of savory spice to balance the richness of the sauce. You can add it directly to the sauce or use it as a garnish at the end.
  • Sea salt: Enhances the flavor of the dish. You really only need salt for the pasta water, but you can add a sprinkle at the end if you feel the sauce needs it.

For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.

📝 How to make vegan Alfredo

Step 1: Cook the pasta

Start by boiling salted water and cook your chosen pasta until al dente. You don’t technically need pasta for this recipe, but you do need starch (which comes from the leftover water).

Pyrex of pasta water.
Save the pasta water!

As we said, you can use cornstarch and water to replace pasta water. Combine ¼-teaspoon of cornstarch with every cup of water, then heat it in the microwave until it’s hot to emulate boiled pasta water.  

Step 2: Make the sauce

In a non-stick skillet, melt the vegan butter and vegan Parmesan cheese over low-medium heat. Slowly add hot pasta water to the pan, stirring constantly.

Parmesan and butter in a pan.
Keep the heat fairly low

Step 3: Blend the sauce

If your vegan Alfredo sauce just isn’t coming together (as can happen with some vegan Parmesan brands), transfer the mixture to a blender to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.

Vegan white sauce in a blender.
Add pasta water a little at a time

Taste and season it with sea salt if you feel it needs it. Add cracked black pepper directly to the sauce or serve it as a garnish on top. Happy eating!

If you have questions about this vegan Alfredo sauce recipe, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!

🌡️ Storage & reheating

If you have leftover vegan Alfredo sauce, follow these simple storage and reheating tips: 

  • Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. We recommend a mason jar as we find the flavors are best preserved in glass.
  • Freezer: We don’t recommend freezing vegan Alfredo sauce, as it tends to separate and become a little grainy once thawed. However, if it’s between that and throwing it out, we definitely suggest freezing it!
  • Reheating: Gently reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of water, reserved pasta water, or plant-based milk until you reach your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave in 15-second intervals.
  • Prep ahead: While it’s best prepared fresh, you can make the sauce in advance and store it separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat the sauce and toss it with freshly cooked pasta when you’re ready to serve.
Blended vegan alfredo.
Enjoy vegan Alfredo sauce immediately!

♻️ Variations

  • Garlic: Add sautéed garlic or onions for extra flavor.
  • Tomatoes: Include sun-dried tomatoes for bursts of tanginess.
  • Greens: Stir in some spinach or kale for added nutrients.
  • Red peppers: Incorporate roasted red peppers for a hint of smokiness.
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free version.
  • Spicy: Mix in red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
  • Pasta: Use short pasta shapes, such as penne or farfalle, for a unique flavor.

🧑‍🍳 Top tips

  • Quality ingredients: Choose quality store-bought vegan Parmesan cheese for the best consistency. For this specific recipe, homemade cashew Parmesan won’t cut it since it needs to melt. It’s still a delicious garnish!
  • Taste and adjust: Taste the sauce before adding salt, since the vegan Parmesan, vegan butter, and pasta water all contain salt.
  • Use a blender: If your sauce won’t come together uniformly, use a high-powered blender for a perfectly smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Don’t overheat: Overheating vegan Alfredo sauce can make it too thick or grainy. Heat it low and slow and remove it once the ingredients come together.
  • Add fresh pepper: Use freshly cracked black pepper to cut some of the richness.
  • Adjust the consistency: Adjust the amount of pasta water slowly until you achieve your desired consistency. We prefer 1 ½ cups, but you may need more or less.
  • Serve it immediately: Plate and serve your vegan Alfredo sauce with pasta immediately for the freshest flavor and texture.

💬 FAQ

How can I make vegan Alfredo sauce creamier?

If you’d prefer a creamier vegan Alfredo sauce, we suggest adding more vegan butter and plain, unsweetened plant milk or creamer.

Can I use other types of vegan cheese?

Yes, you can use different types of meltable vegan cheese, but vegan Parmesan will lend the most authentic Alfredo flavor.

What can I use instead of vegan butter?

If you don’t have vegan butter, high-quality olive oil can be used as a substitute. Just note that you won’t be able to achieve the exact final texture.

Can I make this dish oil-free?

If you want to make this dish oil-free, you can substitute vegan butter for cashew cream or more plant-based milk. However, this will result in a more American-inspired Alfredo sauce.

Is vegan Alfredo sauce healthy?

Although vegan Alfredo sauce is dairy-free, it is still relatively high in fat and calories due to the vegan butter and vegan Parmesan cheese. As always, we suggest eating foods like these in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet.

🍴 More recipes

If you enjoyed this vegan Alfredo sauce, and are in the mood for pasta, check out some of our favorites like these:

Vegan fettuccine Alfredo on a plate.

Best Ever Vegan Alfredo Sauce

Mitch and Justine
Try this vegan Alfredo sauce for a simple, dairy-free spin on a classic Italian favorite. With only 4 ingredients and extremely easy prep work, it turns out ultra-creamy, decadent, and indulgent.
5 from 76 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian, Vegan
Servings 4 servings
Calories 255 kcal

Equipment

  • Stockpot
  • Colander
  • Skillet
  • Blender

Ingredients
 

  • 8-10 ounces pasta (fettuccine, spaghetti, angel hair, etc.)
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups reserved pasta water
  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup vegan Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste (plus more for the pasta)

Instructions
 

  • Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil, then cook the pasta according to the package instructions, or until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve the water for the sauce.
  • Once the pasta is done, heat a non-stick skillet over low-medium. Add the butter, Parmesan cheese, and ½ cup of hot pasta water. Melt the mixture together, while stirring fairly constantly.
  • If your vegan Parmesan cheese is not forming a uniform consistency with the butter and pasta water, transfer everything to a blender.
  • Mix the sauce on high speed until smooth and creamy, adding pasta water as needed (for reference, we added 1 ½ cups).
  • Transfer the sauce back to the skillet and toss it with the pasta of your choice. Add cracked black pepper directly into the sauce or as a garnish. Taste the sauce before seasoning it with salt (we don’t find it necessary). Happy eating!

Notes

  • Quality ingredients: Choose quality store-bought vegan Parmesan cheese for the best consistency. For this specific recipe, homemade cashew Parmesan won’t cut it since it needs to melt. It’s still a delicious garnish!
  • Taste and adjust: Taste the sauce before adding salt, since the vegan Parmesan, vegan butter, and pasta water all contain salt.
  • Use a blender: If your sauce won’t come together uniformly, use a high-powered blender for a perfectly smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Don’t overheat: Overheating vegan Alfredo sauce can make it too thick or grainy. Heat it low and slow and remove it once the ingredients come together.
  • Add fresh pepper: Use freshly cracked black pepper to cut some of the richness.
  • Adjust the consistency: Adjust the amount of pasta water slowly until you achieve your desired consistency. We prefer 1 ½ cups, but you may need more or less.
  • Serve it immediately: Plate and serve your vegan Alfredo sauce with pasta immediately for the freshest flavor and texture.
  • Nutritional information is a rough estimate and should not be taken as health advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 24.3g | Saturated Fat: 6.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 462.5mg | Potassium: 9.6mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 1079.5IU | Calcium: 20.5mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love Alfredo Sauce and this vegan version is definitely added to my list. It’s easy to prepare and so delicous!

  2. 5 stars
    This vegan Alfredo sauce turned out perfectly! To the normal , non-vegan, version hardly distinguishable! Love this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    this vegan alfredo sauce turned out so amazing! will now be slathering this over my favorite pasta dishes!

  4. 5 stars
    You don’t need to be vegan to love this rich, creamy Alfredo sauce. Worked great for my white pizza with clams!

  5. 5 stars
    This is perfect. I’ve actually been looking for a vegan Alfredo sauce and love that this one is so simple. Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    The detailed directions for the recipe really helped me when making this dish. The texture came out just perfect. Everything was amazing.