You'll be surprised by how creamy, rich, and delicious this Silken Tofu Pasta Sauce is! This recipe is quick and easy to make and is ready in just 30 minutes. Packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
I like to think of this pasta as a high-protein version of vegan alfredo sauce. It has a creamy texture and a rich mouthfeel, and if you add some veggies, it becomes a complete meal on its own.
This silken tofu pasta sauce is made with a handful of pantry ingredients and is meal-prep-friendly. Once you try it, it'll quickly become part of your weekly dinner rotation!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 10 simple ingredients! This silken tofu pasta sauce is made with pantry-friendly ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
- An easy weeknight dinner. This has become my go-to pasta dish when I'm tired or busy, or just don't feel like cooking after work. And you can even meal-prep the sauce a few days in advance so all you'll have to do is mix it with the pasta. This way dinner becomes a no-brainer!
- Healthy and high in protein. One serving of this pasta provides 18g of protein alone, and you can add even more by serving it with a high-protein side dish.
- Your family won't even recognize it's vegan! The sauce is seriously so rich and creamy, it's like it's made with butter and heavy cream. A real crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Silken tofu: This is a type of tofu that has a high water content. It's very soft to the touch and when blended it has a nice creamy consistency.
- Raw cashews: I've decided to add cashews to this recipe to give richness and body to the sauce. I tested it without cashews and it just didn't have the same rich mouthfeel. If you want to make this recipe nut-free, you can use the same amount of coconut cream or vegan cooking cream instead.
- Spaghetti: You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but I think that creamy sauces like this go well with spaghetti, tagliatelle, or angel hair pasta. Use gluten-free pasta such as chickpea pasta if you want to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Onion and garlic: These are essential aromatics that will give flavor to this silken tofu pasta sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: Provides cheesiness and a savory and umami flavor to the sauce. If you don't have it on hand you skip it. In that case, I would suggest adding 1 teaspoon of soy sauce instead (or tamari if gluten-free) for more flavor.
- Olive oil: For sauteeing the aromatics.
- Spices: You'll need 3 very simple spices- garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Lemon juice: A few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice gives tanginess and brightest to this pasta dish.
See the recipe card below for exact measurements.
How to Make Silken Tofu Pasta Sauce
Soak cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes, or until they're plump and soft.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water following the packaging instruction, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
Then, heat a cast-iron skillet or another large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and let it heat until sizzling.
Add the diced onion and season with a pinch of salt. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and starts to caramelize.
In the last 1 minute, add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant.
To a high-speed blender, add the soaked cashews (make sure to drain and rinse them), sauteed onion, silken tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, pasta water, and spices.
Blend the sauce on high speed until creamy and completely smooth. No chunks of onion should remain.
Taste and adjust the flavor if needed, adding more salt or black pepper to taste, or lemon juice for tanginess.
Once ready, pour the silken tofu pasta sauce over the cooked spaghetti and add toss to coat. Add more pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce.
Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and coated the spaghetti well.
Serve right away and top with vegan parmesan and fresh basil!
- Make sure to use raw cashews and soak them until soft. This is what will give richness and body to the sauce. Soaking the cashews is an important step to help them easily blend with the rest of the ingredients later without leaving any chunks. If you forgot to soak your cashews ahead of time, you can boil them for 10 minutes on the stove.
- Salt your pasta water like the ocean. Adding salt to the boiling water will flavor the pasta from the inside out. As a rule of thumb, add 10g of salt and 1L of water for every 100g of pasta.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. To determine whether or not your pasta is al dente you can follow the directions on the packaging, or give it a taste test. It should have a "bite", but it shouldn't be hard to chew. The pasta will continue to cook when you add the sauce later, so don't overcook it in this step!
- Don't rinse the pasta, toss it with olive oil instead. Some people suggest rinsing the pasta to prevent it from sticking. I'm here to tell you this is bad advice. The starch in the pasta is essential for making a good sauce and rinsing washes it away. To prevent it from sticking, add a generous drizzle of olive oil instead. The only time you should rinse your pasta is if you're making pasta salad or another cold pasta dish.
- Take your time when sauteeing the onion. This allows for the natural sugars in the onion to be released, which then gives an umami and savory flavor to the sauce.
- Don't forget to reserve some pasta water. Opposite to regular water, pasta water contains starch which helps emulsify this silken tofu pasta sauce and coat the pasta better. You can also adjust the constituency of the sauce by adding more or less, depending on what result you're going for.
Silken tofu is a type of tofu that has high water content and a creamy consistency. Because of its soft texture, it can fall apart easily, which makes it a versatile ingredient in sauces, dips, spreads, and many other recipes.
Yes, you can soft tofu instead. I don't recommend using other types of tofu such as firm or extra-firm. You want to use a type of tofu with a high water content to end up with a creamy and silky texture for the sauce.
You can use an immersion blender or a food processor instead. If you're using an immersion blender, you'll need to add the ingredients in a large enough bowl so it doesn't splatter everywhere when blending.
Yes! The only oil used here is for sauteeing the onion, but you can substitute that will vegetable broth to make the recipe oil-free.
Use this silken tofu pasta sauce as a base and add different ingredients to make it your own! Because the flavor is so simple, it leaves you room to experiment and create something unique.
Here are some of my favorite ways to switch things up and add more flavor:
- Vegan carbonara: You can fry a few strips of vegan bacon on the side, then chop them into pieces and sprinkle them over your silken tofu pasta. I'm drooling as I'm writing this, you have to try it!
- Roasted red pepper sauce: Add 1-2 roasted red bell peppers and blend them with the rest of the ingredients to make a creamy red sauce.
- Mushroom and thyme: Sautee mushrooms on the side and add them to the sauce once it's ready. Season with ½ teaspoon of dried thyme and serve! You can use whatever mushrooms you like, but I suggest using a mix of mushrooms for maximum flavor.
- Pesto sauce: Add a few dollops of your favorite pesto when you're mixing the sauce with the pasta.
- Lemon and herb sauce: Add 1-2 tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest and a handful of your favorite herbs such as basil, dill, or parsley.
- Spinach and artichoke: Add 2 cups of baby spinach and a ½ cup of chopped artichoke hearts at the end of cooking.
- Sun-dried tomato and olives or capers: This sweet and salty combo makes for a hearty and filling pasta dish! You can add ½ cup of chopped sun-dried tomato and ¼ cup of olives or a few tablespoons of capers.
How to Reheat
Stovetop: Add the sauce and cooked pasta to a small pot with a splash of water or non-dairy milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, or until warmed through.
Microwave: Add the sauce and cooked pasta to a microwave-safe bowl with a small splash of water or non-dairy milk. Heat on 70% power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes or so, or until warmed through.
For best results, store the pasta and sauce in separate airtight containers and combine them before serving. This way, the sauce will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge, and the pasta will keep for 3 days.
If the sauce and pasta are already combined, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
If try this silken tofu pasta sauce, leave a rating and a comment down below sharing with us how it went! ⭐ This helps other readers know more about the recipe, and I appreciate the feedback.
Creamy Silken Tofu Pasta Sauce
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup pasta water plus more as needed
- 12.3 oz (350g) silken tofu drained
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb (450g) dry spaghetti use gluten-free if needed
- Fresh basil chopped
- Vegan parmesan
- Soak cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes, or until they're plump and soft.½ cup raw cashews
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water following the packaging instruction, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. After draining, return the pasta to the pot and coat it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking.1 lb (450g) dry spaghetti
- Then, heat a cast-iron skillet or another large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and let it heat until sizzling. Add the diced onion and season with a pinch of salt. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and starts to caramelize. In the last 1 minute, add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic
- To a high-speed blender, add the soaked cashews (make sure to drain and rinse them), sauteed onion, silken tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, pasta water, and spices.1 cup pasta water, 12.3 oz (350g) silken tofu, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Blend the sauce on high speed until creamy and completely smooth. No chunks of onion should remain. Taste and adjust the flavor if needed, adding more salt or black pepper to taste, or lemon juice for tanginess.
- Once the sauce is ready, pour it over the cooked spaghetti and add toss to coat. Add more pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and coated the spaghetti well.
- Serve right away and top with vegan parmesan and fresh basil!
- Stovetop: Add the sauce and cooked pasta to a small pot with a splash of water or non-dairy milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, or until warmed through.
- Microwave: Add the sauce and cooked pasta to a microwave-safe bowl with a small splash of water or non-dairy milk. Heat on 70% power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes or so, or until warmed through.
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with third-party calculations without including the optional ingredients.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove