Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Dairy-free, Nut-free)


This creamy Alfredo sauce is deceptively healthy.

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In lieu of the heavy cream, butter and cheese found in traditional Alfredo sauce, this particular version gets its creamy texture from pureed cauliflower! Cauliflower is the ultimate “chameleon” of vegetables–> it can easily transform into rice, pizza crust or a creamy sauce, like this one.

You may recall that I’ve tried making this type of sauce on a number of occasions in the past, but it always tasted a little too “healthy” for my standards. As most of you know, I like my healthy food to taste as close to the original version as possible, so I can serve it to my family and friends without getting any weird looks! If it doesn’t taste good, no one will want to eat it… not even me.

I think the key to this sauce is slightly over-cooking the cauliflower, so that it’s very soft and easily blended. In situations like this, I’m not concerned with losing a few nutrients by over-cooking, because the true benefit of eating this sauce is that it’s replacing something that could be harmful to the body. By avoiding the heavy cream, butter and cheese found in traditional Fettuccine Alfredo, you’ll be doing your body a huge favor every time you choose this sauce, instead!

Your taste buds will be pretty happy, too.

This low-fat creamy sauce is dairy-free and nut-free, making it the perfect topping for your favorite pasta or vegetables. I could see it being delicious in a homemade lasagna, or even over a white pizza, too! The options are endless.

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo
makes 2 cups

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon coconut oil, or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cauliflower florets
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine Himalayan salt, or more to taste
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Saute the minced garlic in the coconut oil or butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is tender and fragrant, but not browned. Add the 1 cup of water to the saucepan, along with the cauliflower, and bring the water to a boil. (The water will not cover the cauliflower, and that’s okay.) Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot for 8-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender and very soft.

Transfer the entire contents of the saucepan into a blender or food processor, and season with salt and pepper. Process until very smooth and creamy, with a texture similar to traditional cream sauce. (Always be careful when blending hot liquids– the steam pressure can blow the lid off your blender!) Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve hot. SONY DSC

Note: Keep in mind that this sauce will need additional salt if served over plain pasta or steamed vegetables, as the flavor will get diluted. If you plan on adding another salt source, such as Parmesan cheese, the additional salt may not be necessary.

4.9 from 40 reviews
Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Dairy-free, Nut-free)
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
A creamy, dairy-free sauce that's perfect over noodles or vegetables!
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, or butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon fine Himalayan salt, or more to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Saute the minced garlic in the coconut oil or butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is tender and fragrant, but not browned.
  2. Add the 1 cup of water to the saucepan, along with the cauliflower, and bring the water to a boil. (The water will not cover the cauliflower, and that's okay.) Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot for 8-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender and very soft.
  3. Transfer the entire contents of the saucepan into a blender or food processor, and season with salt and pepper. Process until very smooth and creamy, with a texture similar to traditional cream sauce. (Always be careful when blending hot liquids-- the steam pressure can blow the lid off your blender!)
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve hot.
Notes
Keep in mind that this sauce will need additional salt if served over plain pasta or steamed vegetables, as the flavor will get diluted. If you plan on adding another salt source, such as Parmesan cheese, the additional salt may not be necessary.

This sauce is delicious on its own, but it can be extra-tasty with a few add-ins. A few ideas are listed below, but feel free to get creative!

Optional Add-Ins:

  • A generous topping of freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, for an authentic-tasting Alfredo sauce.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach.
  • Sauteed mushrooms and roasted broccoli.
  • Nutritional yeast, for a dairy-free “cheesy” flavor.

Enjoy!

Reader Feedback: Are you a fan of creamy Alfredo sauce?

 

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

162 thoughts on “Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Dairy-free, Nut-free)

  1. Amber

    I can’t have minced garlic, so I used garlic powder. I also didn’t have anymore coconut oil, so I used some EVOO. As the other reviewer said, it looks more like mashed potatoes than creamy sauce. Any suggestions??

    Reply
  2. Carole

    Am I the only one who wonders why “butter” is an option in a lactose/dairy free recipe? Butter has lactose in it and makes me sick if I have it. Is everyone else not sensitive to butter??? I do know I can use the coconut oil, but I am puzzled by even the mention of butter…..

    Reply
    1. Victorious

      Hello, it’s most likely a reaction to the milk proteins in the butter. Perhaps you can try ghee, the milk proteins are removed. But I see no reason not to use the evoo. I think I’ll try it!

      Reply
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  5. Lela

    Sylvi,

    Though its name suggests that it is a nut, I’ve always regarded coconut as a fruit. When the coconut is young, it has properties like fruit, and as it matures, it becomes more nutty. But in fact it is not a nut or a fruit; it is a seed.

    Unless it is picked, a matured coconut eventually drops from the tree. The fully developed hard shell does not crack easily. Dry and brown, the coconut may sit underneath the tree for months and appear as if it were dead, until one day a green shoot pushes its way out of the shell. The whole time the old coconut has been sitting under the tree, changes have been slowly taking place inside. At one end of the coconut (where the eyes are), an embryo starts growing, feeding off the juice and nutrition of the thick white flesh. This embryo develops into a creamy mass that gradually fills much of the empty space inside. It is good to eat – sweet, somewhat spongy and less fibrous than the matured meat.

    The embryo eventually sprouts out of the shell and becomes a young coconut seedling. At this point, the plant can survive for several more weeks or months on the food and water inside as roots gradually develop and extend out of the shell to anchor the plant in the ground. Nutritious coconut meat can sustain life for a long time; one of my students, who is a horticulturist, has successfully used coconut milk to nurse seedlings of Coconutother plants in his greenhouse. Coconut palms lead a long productive life. They begin bearing fruits at the age of five to seven years and continue to do so until they are seventy to eighty years old.

    As complete seed packages, coconuts have been known to travel to faraway lands to find new homesteads. Stories abound of coconuts floating their way across seas and oceans to be washed ashore on distant islands, rooting themselves in handsome groves to greet visiting humans in search of paradise. The dehusked coconuts you buy at the supermarket, however, are no longer productive seed packages. Once the husk is removed, the seed dies.

    Reply
    1. Nat

      OMG- I just made this and it was amazing. We substituted olive oil for the butter and added some as well when blending and it just made it so good! Next time, we’ll add the salt and pepper while the cauliflower is simmering, so that the spices will blend together. So minor tweaks, but what an overall amazing idea!

      Reply
  6. Michelle

    This was fabulous! I, like many others, was skeptical but WOW! I was eating it straight out of the blender.

    Reply
  7. Christina

    Made this tonight (4/7/14) and we LOVED it!! We have a milk, wheat and corn allergy. So to be able to make chicken fettuccine alfredo again was fantastic!! So many things you can add to it!! Thank you for all of your recipes! Can’t wait to try more!! (Going to make more tomorrow and freeze it!!)

    Reply
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  9. Camille

    This week I was at an Italian restaurant and got Chicken with spinach and mushroom in a cream sauce. It was so good but when I brought home my leftovers my son wanted some. He is on a gluten and casein(milk) free diet. So I told him I would try to find a cream sauce (milk-free). I was so skeptical. When I found this recipe, I was so excited. I made the recipe. Then, I sauteed minced garlic, chicken, mushrooms, and spinach. Took the juice and added it to the recipe. Next, I poured this mixture over chicken. It is delicious. Taste just like the Italian restaurant’s dish. I also have another child with milk allergy. So I’m so excited to have made something gourmet for everyone.

    Reply
  10. Lindsey

    I just tried this, and it was the best cauliflower-ized recipe i’ve tried yet. I basically followed the recipe exactly, except I added sun dried tomatoes before i pureed it. THAT made it AWESOME. This is a great base sauce recipe. Next time I want to add caramelized onion, red pepper, spinach..the possibilities are endless! Thank you for a really good recipe.

    Reply
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  12. Kris

    I have a container of fresh rice size cauliflower from earlier in the week. How many cups would 12 florets be and should I still add a cup of water to soften before pureeing?

    Reply
    1. Megan Post author

      A small food scale would be the most accurate way to measure 12 oz. of cauliflower rice, but my “guess” would be about 1 1/2 cups? I would definitely still boil it with water so it gets nice and soft before pureeing.

      Reply
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  14. Andrea

    I found this sauce and heard the angels sing! I’m known for making this awsome veggie lasagna using Alfredo sauce but guess what the doc says no gluten, dairy, or sugar…. So I’m trying to find “another way to skin a cat” would this work in a dish like that along with like a cashew cheese sauce and gluten free lasagna noodles? :o)

    Reply
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  16. Elvia

    Hi Megan! Thank you for posting! I’m going to try this now! But I want to roast my florets first 😉 I’ll be using it for my zucchini cashew ricotta cheese ravioli!!! Red sauce gives me heart burn so this sauce should work out perfect!

    Reply
  17. Amber

    Thanks for posting! I used spaghetti squash for the pasta added a little almond milk and broccoli and it was ah-maze-zing! Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Luis Franco

    Thanks Megan! We just tried this recipe right now and we all love it!! It’s good with lactose-free parmesan cheese as well! This is a great recipe and we can’t wait to try more of yours! (:

    Reply
  19. Caterina

    Hi Megan,

    I have to admit that I was skeptical but this is absolutely delicious! I doubled the recipe (cooked the entire head of cauliflower). It was so good I was eating it with a spoon while the pasta cooked. Followed your recipe exactly except for some dried oregano and dried chili flakes. Thank you for all of your healthy and delicious recipes.

    Reply
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  22. Ruth

    Made this for dinner tonight and did not tell the 16 year old pasta lover that the sauce was cauliflower. Passed the test. Yummy!

    Reply
  23. Samantha Holliday

    I think I am probably your BIGGEST fan now…I am SO thankful for accidentally stumbling on your page several months back…the recipes you post are SIMPLE (#1 in my book!), convenient (I almost always have the ingredients on hand!), creative, delicious, and have inspired me to become more adventurous/balanced in my cooking/eating. I also enjoy reading your other posts! Thank you SO MUCH for having this blog…hope it continues for as long as you are able!! 🙂 There should be a “10 star” rating option, or more, because 5 just simply isn’t enough!! 🙂

    Reply
  24. Karen B

    Simply AMAZING! I just had this for dinner and all I can say is that is one of the best sauce I have eaten (and healthiest)! Thank you for your amazing recipe!!!

    Reply
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  26. Katie

    This looks so good and I want to make it for dinner tomorrow night but I can’t help but think it’s too good to be true?! I don’t get how it becomes creamy taste wise…wouldn’t it just taste like finely chopped up cauliflower?? I have looked up a few other recipes to compare and seems like others add in some ricotta or some cream, which I would like to avoid but as I said I am struggling to imagine how this would work out.

    Reply
  27. Kimberly

    I made this tonight after a long day at work. It was so quick and easy – but most of all delicious! You have brought back an old favorite that I haven’t had in years. I used brown rice pasta and added peas, carrots, broccoli and sautéed mushrooms. It was incredible! Thank you for this amazing website. I’m on a quest to try every recipe you have! Thank you again!

    Reply
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  34. paige

    Making this now! Do you know if you could make this sauce and freeze it? PS have you thought about creating a recipe book? I’d totally buy it!

    Reply
  35. Randy Bainter

    I changed the butter to Butter Buds and changed the salt to No-Salt (I am on a low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium cardiac diet) and added a little green onions with the garlic and sautéed them. I also sautéed some mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil with a little garlic powder. I served the sauce on top of pasta, then put the sautéed mushrooms on top of the sauce. This was amazing! Thank you very much for the recipe!

    Reply
  36. Melissa Parnitzke

    So delicious! My husband is lactose tolerant and this will finally bring bCk cream sauce to our home – after 10 years. I added a little soy Parmesan cheese and it was awesome!!

    Reply
  37. Dey

    DEFINITELY AMAZING!!!!!! I just did it..I added dry oregano (I love oregano in everything) with Oats pasta….and cut a half of tomato and some chives before mixing it..not that it needs anything else..wow!!!!!!! my fiancé couldn’t stop eating it, and making this hhhmmm-hmmm sounds..lol!! win win over here!! suuuuper!! from now on…NO OTHER PASTA SAUCE than THIS GOLD one!! Thank You so much!! and from now on I am a fan-follower 🙂

    Reply
  38. Phonesavanh Soutchay

    You are a life saver!! This “Alfredo” is the bomb, thank you for keeping me on track on my diet and helping me realize healthy substitutions are not awful! Sprinkle a little nutritional yeast and it makes it THAT better. I also put this on my mashed “potato” (cauliflower) and it’s amazing!

    Reply
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  40. Daniel Millen

    Ok, so THIS IS SO YUMMY!! This was excellent per instructions, but I experimented a bit & added 1/4 cup of whole milk (for a bit more creaminess … maybe I had too much cauliflower?), 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan and va-va-VOOM! It’s SO DANG GOOD! I’m going to add the sauteed mushrooms next time, and perhaps a tad more garlic. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

    Reply
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  46. Abbey

    This turned out so. unbelievably. good. I cannot believe it was so simple and so few ingredients! I will definitely be throwing this into my usual food routine. Even my brother and aunt – who are not healthy by any means – loved it! My whole family is obsessed.

    The alfredo sauce is amazing on its own. I also added sauteed onions, mushrooms, roasted broccoli, and served it over spiralized zucchini noodles. Perfection.

    Reply
  47. Cori

    This is incredible! I found this recipe in your awesome cookbook that I just got and I had to come find it on your website to leave a comment. I made it on the fly and served over leftover spaghetti squash. The sauce is so creamy, comforting and beyond satisfying! I had to stop myself from licking the plate. I have enjoyed all of the recipes so far from your cookbook but this one the most so far because I am such a huge Alfredo fan and I thought that comforting dish was lost to me forever. Thankfully you found it!

    Reply
  48. S.R.

    Call this whatever you want, but DON’T call it Alfredo. This is puréed cauliflower tossed with fettuccine noodles…. a far cry from Fettuccine Alfredo. No matter what you do to cauliflower, it still has that funky sulfur taste to it. Although this might taste good to some people, it is what it is and nothing more. I’ve substituted cauliflower for everything from mashed potatoes to grated and sautéed as “cauliflower rice.” Although it’s palatable, it can never be masked as anything other than what it is….cauliflower. That is certainly not a bad thing, but don’t go giving it any airs.

    Reply
  49. Alicia

    I thought this would be bland and NOT creamy, but I was wrong. It was delicious! Even my kids ate it! I followed the recipe and added a little soy aminos for flavor. I can’t believe how simple this is.

    Reply
  50. J

    Awesome!!! This is one for the books. Husband and I were a little skeptical at first, but this is so delicious and so filling. Healthiest alternative to an alfredo craving
    Thanks again

    Reply
  51. Lisa

    Hi! Any idea how this would freeze? Thinking about using ice cube trays and using them for single meals for my toddler

    Reply
  52. Karen

    I made this last night and was very pleasantly surprised! I have allergies to milk and missed my usual alfredo sauce so this was perfect! even my husband enjoyed it! very, very good!!! I sautéed onions with the garlic and added some vegan Earth Balance butter. thanks!!!!!!

    Reply
  53. Angela

    I was very skeptical about making this. I’m allergic to tomatoes and choose to eat paleo for health reasons. I made this tonight with grilled chicken and zucchini noodles. AMAZING!! The sauce alone is amazing. It’s going to be my pizza sauce, meatball sauce, sausage gravy sauce, ideas are endless this sauce is so versatile. Thank you for this amazing sauce!!

    Reply

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