Vegan Garlic Alfredo Sauce Made with or Without Cashews
One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to plant-based lifestyles make is assuming many (if not most) and their favourite dishes are now out of bounds. The more decadent, rich and creamy the recipe, the more you convince yourself it’s off the list for good.
That is, until you familiarise yourself with a few life-changing vegan cooking hacks you’ve come to live by.
With a little creativity in the kitchen, nothing is impossible. If dreamy garlic alfredo sauce was one of your absolute favourites in the past, there’s no reason why you can’t keep on enjoying it guilt-free.
Only in this instance, you’re looking at a dish that’s way better for your health and for the planet - all without a single animal-based product making it into the mix.
Best of all, there are two equally delicious ways to make garlic alfredo sauce - one based around cashew nuts, and one without. Equally delicious in both instances, with no compromise on flavour or enjoyment.
Garlic Alfredo Sauce with Cashews
This is by far the most popular approach to making vegan garlic alfredo sauce, which utilises the same basic technique behind countless other cheesy-veggies sauces. Remarkably, there are only six ingredients involved, which when you taste the final result seems almost too good to be true:
- raw cashew nuts
- lemon juice
- nutritional yeast
- vegetable stock
We’ll get into the detailed method a little later, but the key to getting the best possible flavour out of the recipe lies in cooking the onions on a low heat for as long as you possibly can. The low and slow approach to cooking onions brings out their natural sweetness, giving the entire thing a new depth of flavour you would otherwise miss out on.
As it’s the cashews and nutritional yeast that give the dish its cheesy flavour, there’s absolutely no trace of dairy in the mix. There’s also no need to use oil if you’d prefer not to, as you can simmer the onions in the stock rather than frying them.
Though to be honest, they taste even better when sauteed slowly in a little oil for at least 15 minutes.
Your New Go-To Sauce for All Occasions
Aside from its nutritional value - which is way higher than that of a conventional garlic alfredo sauce - this stuff will become your new go-to for its sheer versatility. The classic way to serve vegan garlic alfredo sauce is doused all over your favourite pasta, making for a quick and easy meal when craving something decadent.
Other than this, you can also drizzle it over your favourite veggies, or even use it as a component in a fantastic vegan lasagne. Master the art of making mushroom and bacon and you also have yourself all the makings of an epic carbonara sauce.
Once you’ve prepared a batch, it will stay good in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 days. There’s also nothing in it that cannot be frozen and thawed at a later date, so feel free to make a decent batch to save yourself some time.
And just to nail the obvious elephant in the room, the answer is yes - it really does taste like genuine garlic alfredo sauce. Serve it up without telling anyone it’s 100% dairy-free and there’s absolutely no way they’d be able to tell it apart from traditional alfredo sauce.
Garlic Alfredo Sauce With Cashews - Ingredients
There’s plenty of room for experimentation, so feel free to swap out and change as many bits and pieces as you like. The basics you’ll need to come up with this gorgeous sauce are as follows:
- One medium sized onion, chopped relatively finely
- 300ml to 400ml of a vegetable stock (depending on how thick you like it)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)
- Four large cloves of garlic (crushed)
- Around 75g of raw cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (to taste)
- 2-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (to taste)
You can experiment as much as you like with different quantities of salt, pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast and lemon juice, but it’s advisable not to leave any of these out of the mix entirely. They all bring something important to the zesty-creamy taste of the sauce, so need to be included.
- Take your raw cashews and soak them in a bowl of water overnight. Drain them and pat them dry the next day before use, at which point they will be much softer. Don’t be tempted to try this recipe using unsoaked cashews, as it won’t work.
- If happy to use a little oil, gently fry your onions for up to 15 minutes until they are gorgeously soft and concentrated in flavour. After which, you can add them to half of the broth and bring to a gentle boil. Otherwise, you can simply simmer the onions in the broth gently for around 10 minutes to achieve a similar effect.
- Add the crushed garlic and simmer for another few minutes, stirring regularly. Continue simmering until most of the stock has evaporated, keeping the heat relatively low to avoid burning the garlic.
- Next, place the cooked garlic and onions in a blender and add no more than around 100 millilitres of the remaining stock. Place the rest of the ingredients (but only half of the lemon juice) into the blender and blitz on high for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- You can then check the consistency and add more stock if it is too thick, more salt and pepper if seasoning is needed, more lemon if it needs more bite and more nutritional yeast for a cheesier flavour.
- Pour the mixture back into a suitable pan and heat gently (without boiling), before pouring over pretty much anything you like.
Bear in mind that this is a sauce that will thicken massively as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s not quite as luxurious as you would like right out of the pan. It also thickens hugely when placed in the refrigerator for storage, so be sure to use a suitable container you’ll be able to get it out of when you need it!
Garlic Alfredo Sauce Without Cashews - Ingredients
As mentioned, there’s also a nifty way of putting together a fantastic garlic alfredo sauce without using nuts. If you have an allergy or would simply prefer not to use cashews for any given reason, you can follow this method instead - and the results are just as good.
Though admittedly, there is a little bit of ‘cheating’ involved and it’s a recipe that includes vegan cheese and other plant-based dairy substitutes. Not that there’s anything wrong with a helping hand in the kitchen, of course!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cups of your preferred non-dairy milk
- 3 1/2 tablespoons of cornflour
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil or vegan butter
- 6 tablespoons of vegan parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 teaspoons of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
You can definitely use nutritional yeast instead of a specific vegan parmesan cheese if preferred, but it’s worth giving vegan parmesan a shot just to see how you like it. It’s also not strictly necessary to use any oil or vegan butter, though it does add an even richer and creamier taste to the final result.
- Place the non-dairy milk into a pan with the cornflour and whisk until fully combined.
- Add the salt and oil (or butter) to the mixture, along with the crushed garlic.
- Very gradually bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly as it begins to thicken.
- It should take around 10 minutes for the desired consistency to be reached, at which point you can whisk in the vegan parmesan (or nutritional yeast).
- Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste right at the end, along with more milk as necessary to reach your preferred consistency.
That’s it - your non-nutty alfredo sauce is ready to serve!
One quick note on milk selection - this recipe works well with most types of non-dairy milk, but comes out seriously luxurious when using tinned coconut milk. Soy milk and almond milk are the next best options, but be sure to choose something unsweetened to avoid a slightly strange final flavour.
If you cannot get your hands on any vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast, you can grate just about any non-dairy cheese into the mixture and stir until it melts. It can actually be great to experiment with a whole bunch of different vegan cheeses for different tastes, maybe throwing some peas, mushrooms or roasted tofu into the mix for an even dreamier culinary concoction!