This simple coconut milk pasta sauce is so creamy, flavorful and full of comfort. The sauce is ready by the time the noodles are done and this recipe is very easy to customize by using other veggies. Completely dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and 100% plant-based.
Using coconut milk in pasta sauces is so amazing! I make this vegan tomato coconut milk pasta sauce whenever we crave a rosé pasta style, it is just so quick and straightforward. Now, I made this version without tomatoes to have more of a white pasta sauce, similar to an Alfredo sauce actually, that can be customized easily for speedy weeknight dinners.
Canned coconut milk is thicker than regular plant-based milk, which makes for an incredible base for creamy and rich pasta dishes. It even has a similar mouthfeel to heavy cream sauces! Plus, using coconut milk makes this recipe so simple, quick, easy and completely dairy-free. You can add whatever you prefer: veggies, spices, greens, beans, etc.
I keep canned roasted red pepper and canned beans in my pantry alongside the coconut milk so this recipe is convenient and ready to be whipped up anytime without having to plan that much. I love adding mushrooms and garlic to add more flavor too.
It is ready within 20 minutes: you have plenty of time to make the sauce while the noodles are boiling! It really is fuss-free, requires only a handful of ingredients and the flavor is amazing. Use this recipe as a base with the coconut milk + onion + garlic + nutritional yeast, and then add any veggies you like!
Why you'll love this recipe
- The sauce is done within 20 minutes
- Requires only 7 simple ingredients (+ pasta for serving)
- Highly customizable
- Very flavorful
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and 100% plant-based
- Very kid friendly
Ingredients you'll need
- Canned coconut milk: I recommend to use full-fat coconut milk, it simply thickens better. Low-in-fat coconut milk will bring great flavor, but the sauce will end up being thinner.
- Onion: or shallots. I find it adds so much flavor, so don't skip if possible.
- Garlic: for flavor as well. Fresh garlic is much better than garlic powder in this case. I used a lot to make the sauce super flavorful, but use less if you are sensitive to garlic.
- Nutritional yeast: adds a subtle cheesy flavor and a hint of umami boost to the sauce. If you don't have it, you can simply omit.
- Mushrooms: adds flavor and texture, can swap for other veggies.
- Canned white beans: add some fiber and protein and I love how it brings more texture to the creamy sauce.
- Canned roasted red pepper: amazing in this sauce, definitely try including them. I show you how to roast red peppers in my Mexican buddha bowl recipe, but feel free to simply buy a jar for convenience.
How to make it
Boil your pasta
Start by cooking your pasta. You can prepare the sauce while the noodles are boiling so it comes together at the same time.
Cook the veggies
In a large non-stick pan, start by cooking the onion with or without oil for about 3-5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms and garlic and keep cooking until browned (another 3-5 minutes or so).
Once the veggies are done, add the coconut milk, roasted red peppers, white beans and nutritional yeast. Also, add salt to taste. Stir to combine.
Bring to a gentle simmer and keep cooking for a few minutes while stirring. The sauce will thicken during that time. Try not to let the coconut milk boil too strongly though, only gently simmer uncovered until desired consistency.
When the sauce is ready, you can simply add the noodles to the pan and combine. Serve and enjoy!
Watch how to make it
- If you combine the noodles with the sauce in the pan, then be sure to cook your pasta al dente so they don't end up being over cooked.
- The sauce will thicken slightly while cooking, but if you used a low-in-fat canned coconut milk, then you might want to use a cornstarch slurry to help improve the consistency.
- Definitely use a canned coconut milk and avoid the carton coconut milk for best result.
- Jarred roasted red peppers often is kept in a thin brine. In that case, rinse and drain them well before using.
Variations to the recipe
Make the coconut milk pasta sauce using your favorite vegetables! I find that the combination of roasted red peppers and mushrooms works great with the creaminess of the sauce, but here are a few more ideas:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
If you love tomato style pasta, then a great idea would also be to add some canned tomato sauce to make a pink sauce. Or, check out my creamy tomato pasta sauce made using coconut milk!
Also, other ways to flavor the sauce would be to add a few drops of liquid smoke for hints of smoked gouda flavor, dried herbs, cajun spices, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, paprika, etc.
Choose your favorite pasta when serving the coconut milk pasta sauce. Any kind will work: short or long or whole wheat are all good choices, although I have a weakness for longer noodles in this case.
Also, you can serve this pasta recipe with a side of green salad or some bread.
To add some freshness, add some basil leaves when serving. Also sprinkle red pepper flakes for a nice kick and some vegan parmesan cheese for a cheesy final touch.
Store the leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge. If you know you will have leftovers, then try to keep the sauce and noodles apart from each other (just top your noodles with the sauce in the bowls when serving), it simply stores better that way.
I haven't tried it, but I believe the sauce could also be frozen (without the noodles).
I don't recommend it. Regular plant-based milk just won't thicken as nicely and won't result in a rich and creamy sauce.
You will definitely taste the coconut as coconut milk is the primary ingredient, but I find the taste fades away slightly while cooking and combining with other ingredients. If you are sensitive to coconut flavor, then I would recommend adding some tomato sauce to balance out the overall flavor.
The creamy pasta sauce is gluten-free on itself, so simply use a gluten-free pasta brand to make your meal 100% gluten-free. I like the gluten-free pasta brand Jovial that makes noodles with brown rice. Be sure to boil in plenty of water and rinse well the noodles once done until the water is clear before combining to the sauce.
Yes! This pasta sauce works well for people with an allergy to nuts and can also be used in lunch boxes for kids to send to school.
More coconut milk recipes
- Coconut milkshake
- Vegetable chickpea curry
- Jackfruit curry
- Vegan lemon pie
- Vegan millionaire shortbread
- Coconut pineapple rice
- Coconut peach popsicles
- Vegan dark chocolate frosting
- Coconut pineapple parfait
- Coconut whipped cream
- One-pot Broccoli curry with ramen
- Gochujang pasta
I hope you like this coconut milk pasta sauce as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Coconut Milk Pasta Sauce
- 1 yellow onion - finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 8 oz mushrooms - sliced
- 15 oz canned coconut milk
- 12 oz roasted red peppers (jarred or homemade) - roughly chopped or sliced
- 15 oz canned white beans (cannelini or navy) - rinsed and drained well
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- salt - to taste
- pasta of your choice - to serve, (about 12-16 ounces)
- Start by cooking your noodles al dente in boiling water.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: warm up a large non-stick pan (with or without oil) and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for 3-5 minutes while stirring often. Then, add the mushrooms, garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned.
- Then, add the coconut milk, roasted red peppers, white beans and nutritional yeast. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep cooking for about 3-5 minutes (avoid strong boiling) or until warmed up and a little thicker.
- Once the sauce is done, add the cooked pasta to the pan and combine. Serve warm with ground black pepper and fresh basil, if desired, and add a little red pepper flakes for some heat. Enjoy!
- Store leftover sauce in an air-tight container for up to 5 days (ideally, the leftovers should be kept apart from the sauce).
- Rinse well the jarred roasted red peppers if they are kept in a brine. You can also make your own roasted peppers by following the guide in my Mexican buddha bowl post.
- The noodles will cook a little more after added to the sauce, so be sure to cook them al dente.
- Feel free to swap for other veggies such as broccoli, peas, spinach, zucchini, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc. You can also add a can of tomato sauce or crushed tomato to make a pink sauce (check out my creamy tomato pasta sauce!).