Velvety Cauliflower Alfredo

Dairy-free, vegan Alfredo sauce made with cauliflower rice over pasta and roasted brussel sprouts and topped with grated parmesan cheese. A creamy and hearty sauce that's great on pasta, pizza, veggies

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This week we wanted to shake up your pasta game with a Planetarian alfredo sauce. Most plant-based alfredo starts with raw nuts, so we tested several different highly-rated recipes that called for cashews and walnuts. The walnuts make a creamy and distinctly nutty sauce (which we loved). But to avoid an unappetizing, bruisy-colored sauce you have to soak the walnuts overnight. Sometimes you can plan ahead and remember to soak nuts, but we wanted a throw-it-together-fast recipe.

Raw cashews require no pre-soak and create a silkier, more authentic alfredo. However, I’ve become more mindful about eating cashews, not because of their environmental impact but because of the human cost in processing them. If you’re interested, here is a well done, but brief interactive on the cashew industry. Like everything with Planetarian Life, this doesn’t mean you should never eat cashews again, it’s just good to be aware and perhaps consider an alternative if one exists.

So, we were interested in finding a base that didn’t start with nuts, and the humble cauliflower proved to be our hero. This sauce comes together in about ten minutes and our whole family – kids especially – inhaled it several nights in a row (you know how we test!).

Using Fresh Cauliflower

This recipe calls for frozen riced cauliflower, but you can also use fresh cauliflower. Simply break 1 pound of cauliflower into small florets and either pulse it in a food processor or hand chop it to riced consistency. Place in a large skillet with 1/2 cup of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender, 5 to 7 minutes, making sure water does not completely evaporate. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl, return skillet to the burner, and continue with the recipe.

Vegetable Alfredo

To make this pasta dish a complete meal, toss in a vegetable! Frozen green peas are an especially easy choice—just add them to the pasta the last few minutes of cooking. Steam/sautéed Brussels sprouts, cubed butternut squash, or broccoli florets are also good candidates. Once you’ve transferred the cauliflower mixture to the blender, rinse the skillet, steam/sauté the vegetable, and toss them with the pasta and sauce.

Make Soup with Leftovers!

You should have about 1 cup of leftover sauce, which you can easily turn into a bowl of soup. Just add vegetable broth to the sauce until it’s soup consistency.

Dairy-free, vegan Alfredo sauce made with cauliflower rice over pasta and roasted brussel sprouts and topped with grated parmesan cheese. A creamy and hearty sauce that's great on pasta, pizza, veggies

Velvety Cauliflower Alfredo

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Yield: 6 servings

Recipe Notes

A delicious plant-based, dairy-free alfredo made with cauliflower that is every bit as satisfying as the original - and it comes together in 15-minutes!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound frozen riced cauliflower, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or substitute 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, regular or vegan, per 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound pasta, any shape


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until nearly tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté another minute or so. Add cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and nutmeg; cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and flavors blend, 4 to 5 minutes longer. (Fresh cauliflower will need less cooking time.)
  • Transfer mixture to a blender; add coconut milk and puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.
  • Meanwhile, heat a generous 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot. Add pasta and, using package cooking times as a guide, cook until al dente. Reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid, drain pasta and return to the pot. Add 3 cups of the alfredo sauce and toss, adding cooking liquid as needed until pasta is creamy and well-coated. Serve immediately with parmesan, regular or vegan, if desired.


Leave a comment


  • Hi Maggy, What is nutritional yeast? Thanks
    • Hey, Nutritional yeast aka “nooch” is deactivated yeast. This savory flakey golden powder gives food a remarkably nutty, dairy-free cheesy flavor. We use it to boost the flavor of our tofu scrambles, and we don’t miss the cheese when we stir it into our grits. We especially love popcorn that has been drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with “nooch” and salt. And then there’s macaroni and cheese. Though we still use a little cheese (plant-based or dairy) for texture, we find we need less of it when we use a healthy sprinkling of nutritional yeast.
  • saying a recipe yields 6 people is decidedly unhelpful. at the very least it should say 6 servings. what would be truly useful is giving the yield in cups.
    • Hey Susan, thanks for the feedback! We've changed it to be 6 servings.

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