There is a large shallow white bowl with farfalle pasta mixed with a vegan white sauce and roasted pepper and zucchini. On the side, these is a black and white hand towel, a small white bowl with red pepper flakes, lemon wedges and another bowl with more pasta.
Pasta and Noodles

Vegan White Sauce (basic creamy sauce for pasta)

This 4-ingredients vegan white sauce is such a delicious basic creamy sauce for any simple pasta dish. The cashews make this sauce super rich and luscious, you won’t believe it is dairy-free!

Having a basic creamy white sauce is a great addition to your recipe repertoire. I make this recipe often and it never stays in the fridge for very long. It has a rich & silky consistency with mild flavors that can be used in so many meals.

This creamy sauce is so delicious simply poured over cooked pasta, but it’s also a perfect go-to replacement for heavy cream in savory meals.

It actually reminds me of a creamy Alfredo sauce. I prepare cauliflower Alfredo regularly, but I keep this cashew sauce recipe for when I need something a little richer.

There is a see through jar containing a vegan white sauce with a spoon inside. In the background, there is nutritional yeast in a white bowl, raw cashews and a white and black hand towel.

What’s to love about this vegan white sauce

  • Easy & quick to prepare
  • Versatile
  • Creamy and rich
  • Only 4 ingredients
  • No added butter or oil
Close up on a white bowl containing farfalle pasta with a vegan white sauce and roasted pepper and zucchini.

It’s a totally dairy-free vegan white sauce!

The secret to reaching such a creamy sauce without any dairy is the cashews!

Raw cashews become soft and plumped after soaking in water. This makes them more blend-able and can be used to create a uniformly smooth textured sauce. And depending on how much water you add to the blender, you can adjust how thick you want your sauce to be. I even use soaked cashews to make thick sweet cashew creams, just like in this vegan blueberry cheesecake.

Ingredients to make this vegan white sauce

There a few white bowls containing water, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, a clove of garlic, half of a lemon and salt.

How to make this vegan white sauce

First, soak the cashews in plenty of cold water for 8-12 hours. If in a pinch, then boil water, remove from the heat and add the cashews to let them soak in the hot water for about 30 minutes. (pssst, you can even boil the cashews for 10 minutes for an extra speedy version). Drain the cashews and rinse them.

Then, blend all the ingredients until very smooth. This could take 30-60 seconds. And that’s it!

Then, add to your dish to warm the sauce up.

There is a see through jar containing a vegan white sauce with a spoon showing the texture of the sauce. In the background, there is nutritional yeast in a white bowl, raw cashews and a white and black hand towel.

Watch how to make it

Tips when making this vegan white sauce

  • I like this sauce quite thin, especially when I want to pour it over pasta. You can see the consistency easily if watching the video. If you want to use this sauce to stuff pasta shells or use as a white filling sauce for lasagna, then you could easily make this sauce thicker. To do this, use a little more cashews (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup). Or check out this cashew ricotta cheese for a perfect lasagna filling.
  • Taste along the way as you blend the sauce and adjust how much salt, nutritional yeast and lemon juice you want. If you are new to nutritional yeast, then you can start with a little less first and taste.
  • If making this sauce using a regular blender (opposed to a high-speed blender), then make sure you soaked your cashews long enough first and you might need to blend for a little longer. Also, stop the blender a few time to scrape the side of the blender to ensure all the cashews bits are crushed.
There is a large shallow white bowl with farfalle pasta mixed with a vegan white sauce and roasted pepper and zucchini. On the side, these is a black and white hand towel, a small white bowl with red pepper flakes, lemon wedges and another bowl with more pasta.

Serving suggestions

This basic vegan creamy white sauce is a great base for any pasta dishes and so flavorful on its own. My favorite way to enjoy it is to generously pour it over cooked pasta with veggies and sprinkled with vegan parmesan cheese. But here are other ideas for creamy pasta dishes:

  • Make a herbed white sauce: combine this sauce with pesto.
  • Make a loaded white sauce: cook veggies like onion, mushroom, pepper, green peas and combine with this sauce.
  • Make a rosé sauce (pink sauce): combine with prepared tomato or marinara sauce.

Simply warm the sauce with the other ingredients of your dish.

You can use this sauce when making curry dishes (you can swap coconut milk and use this sauce instead), casseroles, and creamy soups. Also delicious simply poured over steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

There is a see through jar containing a vegan white sauce with a spoon inside. In the background, there is nutritional yeast in a white bowl, raw cashews and a white and black hand towel.

How to store this vegan white sauce

Keep the sauce in a air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

The sauce might thicken as it rest. If this happens, simply thin it out with a splash of water or vegan milk.

Close up on a white bowl containing farfalle pasta with a vegan white sauce and roasted pepper and zucchini.

Other creamy pasta dishes you might like

I hope you will love this vegan creamy pasta sauce as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it was.

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Vegan white sauce

This vegan white sauce is so easy to make and perfect for when craving something rich and creamy. Perfect poured over pasta with vegetables. Also a good staple to keep in the house as it is very versatile.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy, oil-free, Soy-free, Vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 2 cups
Author: plantbasedjess

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

For the cream sauce

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked or boiled, see note
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Blend all the ingredients in a blender on high speed for 30-60 seconds.
  • Serve over warm pasta of your choice with vegetables. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • You can either soak the cashews in plenty of water for 8-12 hours, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes or boil them in water for about 10 minutes. This will help soften them and will be more blend-able. Drain and rinse before transferring to the blender.
  • Store this sauce in a air-tight container for up to 4 days.
  • To eat, simply reheat and combine to your dish. 

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One Comment

  • Liz Como

    Jess,
    I love all the use of Nutritional yeast. I was introduced to it years ago when I began working for Outward Bound here in Maine. On courses, we would make a basic gravy for stir fries and it was often a big hit on popcorn. I started working for OB in the mid 80’s and finding nutritional yeast was tricky. I would often stock up from the co-op in Rockland, Maine for when I was not working over the summer. It is such a savory flavor. Thank you for broadening my recipes so much.

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