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Pour this Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Zucchini over your favorite pasta for a hearty, cozy meal that’ll keep you feeling satisfied all evening long. Vegan, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free option.
This Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce is just as comfort food-worthy as the classic Italian sauce, yet is made with wholesome plant-based ingredients in a high-speed blender. It’s hearty, rich, creamy, and packs a secret ingredient…zucchini! All you need is 8 simple ingredients and 30 minutes to make.
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A Fresh, Creamy Twist on Italian Fettuccine Alfredo
If you’re reading this during summer squash season, you might have a garden at home that’s currently overflowing with zucchini. And once you’re finished baking Vegan Zucchini Bread and Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats, you might be ready to branch out and try something new.
This mouthwatering Dairy-Free Alfredo Sauce is just the ticket. Perfectly sautéed zucchini, bouncy bites of al dente pasta, and a “cheesy”, creamy sauce your family will never guess contains hidden veggies.
Give it a try the next time you need a quick and easy summer dinner, lunch, or weekly meal prep.
What You Need for Vegan Alfredo Sauce
This homemade pasta is made with just 8 simple ingredients. But don’t take that to mean simple flavor. This Vegan Alfredo Sauce packs BIG flavor. It’s hearty, earthy, zippy, and extra creamy. Here are the must-have ingredients:
- Zucchini: Adds a subtle creaminess, heartiness, and moisture to this vegan Alfredo sauce. If you’re looking for new ways to sneak veggies into your kids’ diet, this pasta sauce won’t let you down.
- Cashews: Raw unsalted cashews aren’t found in a traditional Alfredo sauce, but they’re one of my favorite nuts to use when making rich, creamy vegan sauces. Just make sure to use raw whole cashews or cashew pieces. Save the roasted cashews for Pizza Roasted Nuts or this Rainbow Quinoa Salad.
- Aromatics: Fresh garlic and onion add depth and complexity to the foundation of the sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: Our vegan substitute for parmesan cheese. If you have vegan parmesan cheese on hand, feel free to use it instead.
- Lemon juice: Adds necessary acidity that brightens up the sauce. I highly recommend fresh over pre-bottled.
- Pasta: Use your favorite! Any pasta of choice will work.
How to Make Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Zucchini
- Peel and dice one zucchini. Finely julienne the other. Set both aside separately.
- Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. During the final minute of cook time remove 2/3 cup of pasta water and set aside and add the julienned zucchini to blanch it. Drain the pasta and blanched zucchini and set aside.
- Sauté the onion and zucchini until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
- Transfer the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture to a blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until a smooth, creamy Alfredo sauce forms.
- Return the blended sauce to the pan along with the cooked pasta and zucchini, and mix well until the pasta is well coated.
- Serve warm with additional salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs, as desired. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Cook the pasta al dente. Once the pasta is added to the creamy sauce, it will continue to cook. Al dente pasta should have a slightly chewy “bite” to it. It should not be overly soft or mushy, but it should not be crunchy either. Don’t be afraid to taste the pasta as you cook!
- Use a blender with blades located at the bottom. In order to make a smooth, creamy sauce from scratch, it is important to use a high powered blender that pulls all of the ingredients to the bottom. If the blender has blades up the stem and is incapable of creating a vortex, your sauce will have a slight grittiness from the raw cashews.
I typically serve this Alfredo pasta as is with a side of crusty garlic bread. If you’re looking for a simple side dish that pairs well, I recommend lighter, veggie-packed sides like these Easy Garlic Green Beans, Roasted Cabbage, or a big bowl of Balsamic Mushrooms.
If you’re looking for more vegan recipes made with zucchini, you’ll also love these Vegan Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups, these Savory Zucchini Muffins and this Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Gratin! Or, if you need something sweet, try my One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins.
How to Store Vegan Alfredo Sauce
Leftover pasta will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheat in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second intervals, or in a saucepan until warmed through. The inclusion of zucchini should help keep the creamy sauce from drying out, but I still recommend adding a splash of water when reheating to be sure it comes out perfectly creamy.
I would not recommend freezing this pasta dish, however, the Alfredo sauce alone can be frozen in an airtight glass jar for up to 2 months. When thawed, the sauce may separate. If that’s the case, place it back in the blender until creamy again or whisk vigorously when heating.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use gluten-free pasta instead of wheat-based pasta.
- Oil-free option: Sauté the aromatics in 1/4 cup of water and a pinch of salt instead of the melted butter.
- Nut-free option: Use hemp hearts instead of cashews. The hemp hearts will leave small colored flecks in the sauce, but the sauce will still taste creamy and rich. You can also try my naturally nut-free Garlic Cream Sauce Pasta next.
- Zucchini substitution: Replace the zucchini with yellow squash or omit entirely.
- Add protein: Traditional fettuccine Alfredo is served without added protein, but if you’d like to make the meal even more substantial, add your favorite plant-protein such as grilled vegan chicken, Crispy Tofu, or Smoky Tempeh crumbled into crispy “bacon” bits.
- Add veggies: In addition to grated zucchini, add in your favorite veggies. Roasted vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, frozen green peas, artichoke hearts, or even my Roasted Red Peppers would be delicious in this creamy pasta sauce.
Blending raw nuts and seeds is one of my favorite way to make plant-based creamy sauces. Cashews in particular have a buttery, creamy texture while remaining very neutral in flavor. It’s the perfect base for a creamy Alfredo sauce as well as a heavy cream substitute in recipes like Chickpea Noodle Casserole or this Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta.
Yes and no. You can make the zucchini sauce up to 2 days ahead of time, but I would recommend cooking the pasta just before serving. If you plan to make the sauce ahead of time, be sure to add 2 teaspoons of flour to the pan with the garlic; it will help to thicken the sauce.
Salt! If you find your home cooking bland, this is a good sign that you are not salting your food properly. For the best flavored vegan Alfredo sauce, boil the pasta in salted water and add additional salt to the sauce.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Creamy Zucchini Alfredo
- 8 ounces pasta of choice
- 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter or oil
- 2 zucchini divided
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup hemp hearts or soaked raw cashews
- 2/3 cup pasta water see instructions
- black pepper to taste
- Prep: Use a vegetable peeler to peel all of the green outer layer off of one zucchini, then finely dice it. Take the other zucchini and finely grate or julienne it; set both aside, separately.
- Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil with 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. When there is 1 minute left of cook time, (1) carefully remove 2/3 cup of the pasta water and set aside, then (2) add the julienned zucchini and cook for the remaining minute, to blanch it. Drain with a fine metal sieve and set aside.
- Aromatics: In the meantime, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini and sauté for 10 minutes, until the zucchini is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Blend: Carefully transfer the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture to a blender along with the reserved pasta water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, hemp hearts or cashews, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend on high for 45 to 60 seconds, until a smooth sauce forms.
- Combine: Return the blended sauce to the same pan over medium-low heat, then add in the cooked pasta and zucchini and mix well. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve & Store: Divide among plates and serve warm; store leftovers in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
- Hemp Hearts vs Cashews: this recipe tastes great with either option! Hemp hearts will leave small colored flecks in the sauce, while cashews create a solid white sauce.
- Gluten-Free: use gluten-free pasta instead of wheat-based pasta