This dairy-free chicken alfredo is made with one of my favorite creamy sauces of all time. It’s rich, flavorful, boasts healthy ingredients, and is ready in minutes. It really is one of those recipes that tastes almost too good to be true! You can find it in my second cookbook, Eat Dairy Free, but I’m also sharing it in this post for all of you to enjoy!
The Only Dairy-Free Chicken Alfredo Recipe You Need
I decided to post the dairy-free chicken alfredo recipe online, since it receives a lot of questions. I’ve addressed them in the FAQs below, which include tips and options. But don’t worry, the recipe itself is wonderful and very easy! It just happens to be versatile, too.
Can I Blend the Cashews in My Blender?
If your blender is able to grind cashews into a powder, then yes, it should work well. I typically use a spice grinder, in two batches, to get a fine powdery grind. Just make sure to grind them before adding any liquid. They will not blend as well if you put the whole nuts and liquid in at the same time. If you want to do it all in one step, add less liquid with the whole cashews to start, and blend until creamy. Blend in the remaining liquid and then strain through a fine mesh sieve into your pan to catch any nut bits.
Do I Soak the Cashews?
No, do not pre-soak the cashews. This dairy-free chicken alfredo uses a different method than soaking, which requires no prep. When dry and freshly ground, the cashews naturally thicken the sauce to make it very creamy. If you soak the cashews, the sauce will be much thinner and the flavor will be watered down.
Can I Just Use Cashew Flour?
I don’t recommend it. Freshly ground cashews tend to absorb liquid much better and create a creamier consistency. Nut flours tend to be a bit more dried out and grainy.
Can I Use Roasted Cashews?
Raw cashews (unroasted and unsalted) really do work best in this dairy-free chicken alfredo because they have a cleaner taste. Once roasted, cashews take on a more intense flavor and will impart more nuttiness in the sauce. Also, if using salted cashews, you might need to adjust the salt in the recipe.
Can I Use a Different Nut, instead of Cashews?
I prefer the flavor of cashews in savory cream sauces, and haven’t used other nuts for this particular recipe. Macadamia nuts or a combination of macadamia nuts and pine nuts would probably be nice. Both are quite creamy. You can technically use blanched almonds, but I prefer them in sweet sauces rather than savory cream sauces.
Do You Have a Nut-Free Option for this Dairy-Free Chicken Alfredo?
I don’t have a tested nut-free option for this specific recipe, but you can easily make a dairy-free nut-free cream sauce for pasta. I recommend starting with a roux-style sauce, like my Dairy-Free Bechamel or White Wine Cream Sauce.
What Type of Broth Do You Use?
I use regular chicken broth, not low-sodium. If you opt to use a low-sodium broth or chicken stock, then you might need to add more salt to taste. If you’re sauce isn’t flavorful enough, it’s due to light seasoning. Add more salt, or optionally add a little seasoning salt, like Herbamare.
Can I Use Coconut Milk that comes in a Carton?
Technically, the recipe will work okay with coconut milk beverage (the drinkable kind in cartons), but it won’t be as thick and rich. I recommend using regular, full-fat, canned coconut milk, if you have it. To add more richness, use just 3 tablespoon coconut milk beverage and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Do I Use Just the Coconut Cream or Should I Shake the Can?
Go ahead and shake the can. You’re using regular coconut milk, not separating the cream out. That said, you can use canned coconut cream, if that’s what you have on hand. But again, there’s no need to use just the cream part. You want it to be creamy but pourable.
Does the Sauce Taste like Coconut?
No, it really doesn’t. There is only a little coconut milk in this chicken alfredo recipe, so this isn’t a “coconut-heavy” sauce by any means. The coconut and cashews also seem to complement each another. Whenever I use the two together to create a cream sauce, they merge and create a more neutral creamy taste.
What Can I Make with the Leftover Coconut Milk?
In an airtight container, it will last for about a week in the refrigerator. Sometimes I just use it here and there – a little in smoothies, hot chocolate, soups, sauces, etc to add a touch of creaminess. If you need more specific ideas, let me know, but here are some of my favorite dairy-free recipes for using up coconut milk:
- Panera Copycat Blueberry Scones – This uses up a cup!
- Chicken Curry
- Dairy-Free Queso
- Butterscotch Sauce
- Thai Peanut / Satay Sauce
- Baked Risotto (just add a little water or milk beverage if you don’t quite have 1 1/2 cups – it works great!)
- Lite Coconut Milk Substitute – You can thin the coconut milk with water in a 1:1 ratio for a lite coconut milk alternative. You can even do a little higher ratio of water.
- Milk Alternative Substitute – Add 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut milk to a measuring cup and add enough water to reach 1 cup. Whisk to combine.
Can I Make this Dairy-Free Chicken Alfredo completely Coconut Free?
You could use 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu. Another option is to substitute 3 tablespoons dairy-free milk alternative + 1 tablespoon oil. Just keep in mind that the sauce flavor will be a little different.
Does the Sauce Freeze Well?
It does, but I would freeze it without the chicken. Once the chicken (with starch or flour) is added, it won’t freeze and reheat quite as seamlessly. The sauce will set up very thick when refrigerated or frozen, but will liquefy quite a bit when reheated. Wait to whisk in more liquid, as needed, until the sauce is hot.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Chicken Alfredo
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, and soy-free. A plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian option is included in the notes.
- 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti or fettuccine (wheat-based or gluten-free)
- ¾ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes or strips
- 1 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch, potato starch, or all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon + ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Water, as needed
- Fresh herbs, to garnish (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions while preparing the rest of the meal.
- Place the cashews in your spice grinder or food processor and whiz into a powder, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the cashew powder to your blender with the broth, coconut milk, and garlic, and puree until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Put the chicken in a medium bowl and stir in the starch or flour, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. The ingredients should be evenly distributed with no dry spots remaining.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, searing on all sides. It’s okay if the chicken isn’t fully cooked through.
- Pour the cashew mixture into the skillet (you can pour it through a fine mesh sieve to catch any remaining cashew pieces). When it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook while whisking, until it reduces to your desired thickness and the chicken is cooked through. This takes about 5 minutes for a nice, thick consistency. If it thickens too much, whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach your desired consistency.
- Season the sauce with ¾ teaspoon salt (or to taste) and black pepper, to taste. The amount of salt needed might vary based on the broth you use.
- Divide the cooked pasta between four plates, top with the chicken and sauce and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.