Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta with Vegan and Gluten-Free Options


I often get requests for the perfect dairy-free alfredo or the best vegan pesto, but not many think to enjoy them both together! This dairy-fee pesto cream pasta merges two wonderful dishes into one. It’s made with a quick, cheese-less pesto and a versatile roux-style cream sauce in less than 30 minutes! The recipe can also be adapted to fit most dietary needs with ease – I’ve included some suggestions below.

Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta Recipe - soy-free and plant-based with gluten-free and vegan options. 30 minute weeknight meal! Full of flavor, but cheese-less.

This Plant-Based Pesto Cream Pasta has No Need for Cheese

The simple recipe below gets plenty of richness from olive oil and pine nuts. Sure, you could top it with some dairy-free parmesan, but it really isn’t needed.

Nonetheless, I do love to mix things up with add-ins. This creamy but relatively light pasta is the perfect backdrop for whatever vegetables and proteins you have on hand. Since I originally posted this recipe over fifteen years ago, I’ve tried quite a few variations. Sometimes I sauté bell peppers, zucchini, or asparagus, or steam some broccoli florets. For added protein, cooked chicken or scallops are brilliant in this dish. If you want to keep it plant-based, I love to toss in chickpeas, or use red lentil pasta.

Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta Recipe - soy-free and plant-based with gluten-free and vegan options. 30 minute weeknight meal! Full of flavor, but cheese-less.

Special Diet Notes: Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, plant-based, optionally vegan, and optionally vegetarian.

Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
For a pretty finish, you can garnish this dish with a basket of cherry tomatoes, halved, and a couple tablespoons of toasted pine nuts.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 (16-ounce) package uncooked pasta (gluten-free, if needed)
Vegan Pesto
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Dairy-Free Cream Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour or white rice flour (for gluten-free)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage (see Milk Beverage Note below)
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth or vegetable (for vegan)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Vegan Pesto
  1. Add the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt to your food processor. Pulse the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed, until relatively smooth.
Dairy-Free Cream Sauce
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the olive oil, flour, salt, and pepper for about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. While whisking constantly, add the dairy-free milk a little at a time until incorporated.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Return the saucepan to the heat. Slowly whisk in the broth. Simmer (do not boil) until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the pesto mixture to the saucepan, and whisk until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste, and add seasonings, if needed.
  5. Gently toss the cooked pasta and sauce together.
Milk Beverage Note: This recipe was originally created with rice milk, but it will work with your favorite unsweetened milk beverage of choice. Just keep the flavor profile in mind. Each type of milk beverage will lend it's own unique flavor to this delicate dish.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ recipe Calories: 503 Fat: 33.1g Saturated fat: 4.2g Carbohydrates: 44g Sugar: .5g Sodium: 654mg Fiber: .6g Protein: 10.6g

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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