The creamy white wine sauce in this dairy-free pasta recipe is one that I’ve enjoyed for nearly two decades. It’s a simple riff on classic béchamel from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. I love how this recipe uses everyday ingredients, and can be quite inexpensive. Yes, I’ve made it with various cheap wines (just make sure it’s dry, not sweet!) with tasty results.
Dairy-Free Creamy White Wine Sauce on a Pasta Dinner Budget
This creamy white wine sauce is perfect over pasta with steamed vegetables. You can enjoy it as a light dish, add some protein (suggestions in the recipe notes), or use a mightier pasta, like lentil pasta. Here are some additional tips and substitution ideas for the ingredients.
- Butter Alternatives: I’ve tested this recipe with all sorts of brands, and haven’t noticed a huge difference in flavor, aside from the saltiness. Lately, I’ve been using Country Crock, due to price. If preferred, you can use oil in place of the butter alternative. You might just need a wee bit more salt, to taste. Some people like this dish with olive oil, but other buttery oils, like avocado, can be nice. Or us a neutral-tasting oil like grapeseed, non-GMO canola, or rice bran oil.
- Best White Wines: It can be cheap, but make sure to use a dry white wine in this recipe. It should be relatively crisp and clean. Sauvignon Blanc is the typical go-to for cream sauces, but Pinot Grigio can also be nice. I’ve had mixed results with chardonnay. Please note that I use just 1/4 cup white wine, due to personal taste. You can use up to 1/2 cup if you want a more pronounced white wine flavor. Just remember that cooking doesn’t “fix” bad wine. If you don’t like the taste, don’t use it in this creamy white wine sauce!
- Non-Alcoholic Option: You can substitute chicken stock or chicken-free broth (for vegan) for the white wine. The finished dish will still be wonderful.
- Milk Beverage: I use plain unsweetened coconut milk beverage for sauce recipes like this one. It has more richness than many other brands, it thickens evenly, and the flavor seems to blend quite well. But feel free to use your favorite plain, unsweetened variety. I’m not a fan of almond or oat milk in white sauces, but some people like them! Just keep in mind that this is the true wild card in the recipe. If you have any curdling, odd thickening, or flavor issues, it’s most likely due to the milk beverage you’ve chosen.
Special Diet Notes: Creamy White Wine Sauce Pasta
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the milk beverage and butter alternative that suit your dietary needs.
- 12 ounces dry pasta (gluten free, if needed)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ cup minced onion
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or ½ tablespoon fresh, minced)
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery spread
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (can sub all-purpose gluten-free flour blend)
- 2 cups warm unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon white pepper, to taste (can sub black pepper)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions while preparing the sauce.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent.
- Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for 1 minute.
- Stir in the wine and margarine. Cook until the margarine is melted and bubbly, about 1 minute.
- Add the flour while continuously whisking to form a smooth paste. Cook while whisking the paste for 2 to 3 minutes. It should smell nutty and take on a golden hue.
- Slowly pour in the milk beverage while whisking. Whisk and cook until the sauce is smooth and reaches your desired thickness, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the salt and pepper.
- Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl, add the sauce, and gently toss to coat.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Protein Add-Ins: Add 8 to 12 ounces cooked white fish, trout, salmon, chicken, or tempeh, or 1 (15-ounce) can drained and rinsed chickpeas with the sauce.