Creamy Vegan Cashew Tomato Pasta

4.97 from 121 votes

This Creamy Vegan Tomato Pasta is made with a cashew cream sauce. It's the secret ingredient that adds a creamy texture and lighter color!

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This creamy vegan pasta is made with a silky cashew pasta sauce flavored with lightly caramelized onions and garlic, with just a hint of spice and bright tomatoes, and topped with fresh sweet basil. If you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, this creamy vegan pasta is sure to please.

Overhead shot of two vegan creamy tomato pasta bowls

Looking for a creamy vegan pasta dish that doesn’t rely on cream? I’ve got you! How? With cashew cream! This creamy tomato sauce uses a technique that involves softening cashews and then blending them with water until they create a creamy, luscious texture – and essentially sauce! It’s easy to make and is sure to please vegans and meat-eaters alike.

why you’ll love this Tomato Cashew Pasta

  • It’s luscious, creamy, and completely dairy-free – your non-vegan friends and family will be amazed that it’s made without cream!
  • It’s easy to make with just a few simple ingredients that you likely have on hand.
  • It’s a great way to use up leftover tomatoes from the garden or Farmer’s Market.
  • The sauce is subtly spiced with just a hint of garlic and onion – perfect for anyone who likes their pasta dishes with well-rounded flavor.
  • It’s versatile and can be used on any type of pasta or even zoodles.

ingredients to make vegan creamy pasta

  • Cashews: Used with water to create a rich sauce that gives the perfect cream-like consistency.
  • Tomatoes: I used canned diced tomatoes with tomato paste for this recipe, but you could also use fresh tomatoes or even tomato sauce in place of the diced canned tomatoes.
  • Pasta: I used rigatoni for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite type of pasta.
  • Garlic & Onion: For flavor! You could also add in some other veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant.
  • Olive Oil: Helps soften and caramelize the garlic and onions.
  • Spices: I use red pepper flakes for that subtle spiciness, but you could also use cayenne pepper or leave it out altogether.
Ingredients to make the recipe

How to Make CREAMY Vegan Tomato Pasta

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of creamy pasta sauces. And this vegan tomato pasta is one of my favorites! It’s simple to make and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients or steps. You’ll need to make the cashew cream sauce first and then toss with the pasta and quick tomato sauce.

make the cashew cream sauce

  1. Place the cashews in a small bowl.
  2. Cover the cashews with boiling water and let soak them soak until tender.
  3. Transfer drained cashews to a blender.
  4. Add fresh water and salt. Blend until smooth.
4 image collage to show how to make the cashew cream

cook the tomato sauce and pasta

  1. Add your tomato paste, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pasta water to the onions and garlic.
  2. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened and darker in color.
  3. While sauce is simmering, transfer pasta, cashew cream and remaining pasta cooking water to the sauce.
  4. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta well.
4 image collage to show how to make the tomato sauce and then combine with the cashew cream and pasta

tips for making VEgan Tomato Pasta

  1. Soak the cashews overnight. While you only need to soak for one hour, soaking them overnight will help them blend smoothly and create a creamier sauce.
  2. Make the sauce the day before. This will help the flavors develop and give you a quick and easy meal to heat up on a busy weeknight.
  3. Add more or less pasta water to achieve the desired consistency. I like my sauce creamy, but you could also add more water if you want a thinner sauce.
  4. Salt your pasta water heavily. If you’ve heard the saying “salt it like the ocean” it’s not an exaggeration. That’s because salting the cooking water helps to develop the best flavor in pasta.
  5. Put any leftover cream to good use. If you decide not to add all the cashew cream, or you make half the amount of pasta, don’t let the extra go to waste! Cashew cream makes a great vegan thickener for pureed vegetable soups or salad dressings. You can even use blend it with some honey or maple syrup for a great fresh fruit dip.
  • Add plant-based protein. Crumble up some plant-based ground and add it to the sauce for a hearty, protein-packed meal.
  • Add veggies. As I mentioned above, this creamy tomato pasta is delicious with mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant added in.
  • Use fresh tomatoes. If you have fresh tomatoes on hand, you can absolutely use them in place of the canned diced tomatoes. Use 2-3 large tomatoes or 5-6 medium tomatoes.
  • Use gluten-free pasta. If you need a gluten-free option, be sure to use a grain-free pasta.
  • Try different spices. Like things a little spicier? Add in some cayenne pepper or black pepper for an extra kick.

HOW TO REHEAT & STORE

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, place the desired amount of pasta in a pot and heat over medium-heat until warmed through. Add a little bit of water to help thin out the sauce if needed.

HOW LONG WILL This Vegan tomato pasta LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

When stored in an airtight container, this creamy vegan pasta will last in the fridge for up to four days.

CAN I FREEZE CAshew Pasta Sauce?

Yes! If you want to make a big batch of this creamy vegan pasta sauce, you can freeze it for later. Simply place the desired amount in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months. It’s the perfect make-ahead meal for busy weeknights!

When you’re ready to eat, thaw the sauce in the fridge overnight and then heat it up on the stove. You may need to add a little bit of water to thin it out since it will thicken as it freezes.

frequently asked questions

Why is my pasta sauce watery?

If you end up with a watery pasta sauce, it’s likely because you added too much water when blending the cashews. Be sure to drain and rinse the cashews before adding them to the blender, and only add enough water to help them blend smoothly.

My pasta sauce is too thick, what can I do?

If your pasta sauce is too thick, simply add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water until it reaches the desired consistency. Make sure to save the water for this reason.

I don’t have a high-powered blender; can I use a food processor instead?

Yes, you can absolutely use a food processor for this recipe. You may need to blend the cashew cream sauce for a longer period of time to get it creamy and smooth.

Fork taking bite of vegan creamy tomato pasta from bowl

Best of all, it only requires a few simple ingredients. Not to mention it’s delicious and will please even the most discerning palate. So gather up your cashews, tomatoes, and pantry staples, and let’s get cooking! Give this recipe a try today and see for yourself how amazing vegan pasta can be!

more vegan pasta recipes

If you try this feel good Vegan Creamy Tomato Pasta recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

This Creamy Vegan Tomato Pasta was originally published on January 10, 2018. The recipe has been modified and the post now includes new step-by-step photos for how to make the pasta recipe.

Creamy Vegan Cashew Tomato Pasta

This Creamy Vegan Tomato Pasta is made with a cashew cream sauce. It's the secret ingredient that adds a creamy texture and lighter color!
5 from 121 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 473
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt divided
  • 16 ounces rigatoni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Place the cashews in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until cashews are tender, 60 minutes.
  • Drain cashews and transfer to a blender with ½ cup fresh water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 2-3 minutes less than the time indicated on the package. Reserve 1 ½ cups pasta cooking water.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Then add diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ cup reserved pasta water. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened and darker in color, about 10 minutes.
  • While sauce is simmering, transfer pasta, cashew cream and remaining 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauce and toss until the sauce coats the pasta well. Top with basil, and serve immediately.

Notes

Make Ahead: Both the tomato sauce and the cashew cream can easily be made ahead of time, so feel free to prep them in advance. When you’re ready to eat, just heat up the sauce in a pan with the cashew cream, make the pasta, and toss it all together!
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. It will last about 4-5 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 473kcal, Carbohydrates: 70g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Sodium: 496mg, Potassium: 600mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 280IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 60mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Overhead shot of two vegan creamy tomato pasta bowls

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Comments

  1. This was amazing. Best creamy tomato pasta I’ve ever had. After trying this, I think cashew cream is better for creamy tomato sauce than dairy cream. I cooked some sliced baby portobellos with a teaspoon of refined coconut oil and a little balsamic vinegar. I also rehydrated a cup of TVP chunks with No Chicken Better Than Bullion, poultry seasoning and garlic powder. It was just like having ground sausage in it. I tried the pasta before adding the mushrooms and meat. It was great both ways. Thank you for sharing this excellent recipe. I will be making this again and again.

  2. I’m no where near vegan, but I love cashews so this intrigued me… OMG!!!… I have to say it… Mmmmm, it’s SO good!!! 😁

  3. OOPS! I did it again. I made the Sauce over Lentil Spaghetti. Once you try this amazing recipe, you won’t go back to Alfredo Sauce.

  4. Another amazing recipe Yumna! As someone who needs to eat dairy free, this was incredible. It was so creamy and really felt like I was eating a true creamy tomato pasta dish 🙂 Even my kids loved it! I did soak the cashews overnight. This will definitely be on repeat in our house!

  5. This was another hit in our house! The recipe was delicious and I kept eating the chicken that I almost forgot to leave some for the salad! My 4 year old kitchen assistant loved marinating the chicken and the spice made the chicken smell SO GOOD! For our dressing, we mixed tahini with Greek Yoghurt, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice and parsley! It was so creamy and and tasty! The salad was delicious and satisfied our cravings! We loved this!

    1. I think you meant to leave this comment for the Chicken Shawarma Salad, but I love that! That sounds delicious. Yay!!

  6. Made this last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious! My picky tween has 3 servings of it!! Love your recipes!

  7. This was literally amazing! I love creamy pasta recipes but hate the bloating feeling of the dairy. This was such a good substitute and I didn’t miss the dairy at all!
    I’ll be making this on repeat from now on!

  8. This dish was so delicious! I’ve always been a bit nervous to use cashews as a vegan substitute, but I couldn’t believe how easy they were to work with. They made the tomato sauce perfectly creamy. I had to stop myself from eating multiple servings at once since it wasn’t overly filling. Thank you, Yumna, for yet another incredible recipe!

  9. This recipe was surprisingly delicious, I never even though cashews can make a good cream substitute, but it worked out so well and it was a hit, everyone loved it, it felt very nutritious and very tasty and didn’t feel heavy in my stomach!! Will definitely be making this again soon!!

  10. This was a delicious and simple recipe to mix up the pasta night dinners at my house! The soaking of the cashews can take some time so you need to prep ahead of time. I wonder if the cashews can soak the night before?

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, you can definitely do that. While you only need to soak for one hour, soaking them overnight will help them blend smoothly and create a creamier sauce.

  11. Amazing! As a new mom who can’t eat dairy this was the perfect comfort meal!! You would never know it wasn’t packed with cream!

  12. I made this and liked it, but my kids prefer my traditional tomato sauce. I think they couldn’t get over the fact that the sauce had cashews (even though you don’t taste it).

  13. My gut thanks you for this! I have been looking for dairy free recipes since I have IBD. Loved making this recipe and how easy it was to prepare it.

  14. Made this and it’s so good! Definitely trying to eat more dairy free and with recipes like this who needs dairy? Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  15. Omg Yumna! This was amazing. I made it with penne and it still came out great. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  16. We love it! The cashews added a depth of flavor that you don’t get from heavy cream. Now I’m looking for other cashew pasta dishes!

  17. Omg i tried this and it came out so so well! I improvised a lil adding plant based sausages and spiced it up! It’s the second time I made it this month ! Love your tasty yet simple recipes Yamuna !!! Ardent follower from the start☺️Hope I get lucky this time! I love cooking for people and waiting for their reaction!

  18. I am so intrigued by cashew cream now! We loved this dish and will make it again but I’m just so excited about the possibilities of cashew cream. I’m going to make some with honey for a fruit dip like she suggests in the post. I love a recipe that teaches me a new skill or ingredient 👍

  19. This was such a simple and delicious dinner recipe! Perfect for when you don’t have much time to prepare dinner, but still want something filling and delicious!
    Amazing!! Would recommend that you try this!

  20. Easy and convenient especially for working mom. still room to improve, have been challenging myself to make one dish few times with small changes and twists. But loving the challenge. Thank you for always providing delicious and easy recipe!!!

  21. Delicious !! It is my first time cooking a vegan creamy pasta and i was surprised how resembling it felt and tasted. Will do it again!

  22. Loved it! I’ve been looking to make more dairy free meals & this was great! Delicious & savory! Even my boyfriend who loves cheese loved this recipe! (Forgot to leave my 5-star rating)

  23. Loved it! I’ve been looking to make more dairy free meals & this was great! Delicious & savory! Even my boyfriend who loves cheese loved this recipe!

  24. Tried it to join the monthly challenge and loved the recipe! I still need to improve myself a bit (I’ll try to leave the cashews in water overnight next time as I didn’t let them long enough, and actually add salt to blend them which I avoided…)
    Also I need to try this creamy sauce with gnocchi as a dairy-free version of what I ate in Italy!
    Thank you for all the food inspirations and for your donations to charities with these challenges!!

    1. So happy you enjoyed! Let me know how it goes with the gnocchi – that sounds delicious. Thank you!!

  25. We loved this recipe so much! It was a nice change from regular tomato sauce and noodles. We made it twice – the second time around we added nutritional yeast to the cashew blend and only half amount of pasta water.

  26. This was definitely an experiment recipe for me. I’m not vegan, so I’ve never made anything like this. But since dairy doesn’t agree with me, I thought I’d give this a go as an alternative to a cream sauce. I blended all the sauce in the blender so it was nice and smooth and then added chicken and spinach. My kids are super picky, and my husband’s favorite food is meat, so I wasn’t sure how this would go over. I wouldn’t tell them what it was until they’d actually tried it. To my HUGE surprise, they all loved it! My husband said it would even be good without the chicken! We all agreed it could use a little extra seasoning, but seconds were had by all. Overall, really good, and definitely a keeper recipe!

  27. I must admit, this is the first time I ever try something new and different, and I get a surprising result. It was so good! I attempted on a small portion of pasta and what I know is that I’m definitely repeating the recipe and tripling the quantity next time. The creaminess of the cashews was just perfect and the fat in them went very well with the acidity of the tomatoes, great balance. The best of all was that I don’t even taste the cashews! Yummy.

  28. I am so excited to join one of the Feel Good Foodie Challenges! I make so many of your recipes, but have never thought to join! My family and I loved this recipe. The cashew cream was very delicious and so creamy. If raw cashews weren’t so pricey, I would make this recipe way more often. I soaked my cashews for a closer to an hour and also added some Greek yogurt to help them whip up in my food processor (I don’t have a blender). I also added some pinches of basil, oregano and a little Italian seasoning as we are big fans of those flavors in my house. I also added a package of frozen spinach and some peas to increase the veggie content. Thanks for another lovely recipe!

    1. That makes me so happy to hear! That’s a great idea with the Greek yogurt. That all sounds delicious! You’re so welcome.

  29. This recipe was a fun way to try something new! I’ve seen recipes with cashew cream but never tried it before this. This pasta turned out divinely creamy, and absolutely delicious. It was a hit with the whole family, I’ll definitely be making it again! 😋

  30. Thank you for another delicious recipe! I had no idea you could use cashews in pasta sauce, and was delighted with the results:)

  31. I just made this for lunch today but I substituted the cashew with regular peanut s because I didn’t have cashews. It tuned out delicious, as always

  32. I just made this dish along with some veggies tonight and it was a hit for my husband and I! We have always been fans of a cashew cream pasta. So smooth and tasty and leaves you filling full. We will definitely make this again!

  33. This recipe was super delicious. My kids 6 and 3 never usually like a tomato sauce. However the creaminess from the cashews added the texture and flavor that they loved. They devoured the pasta!! Love that I always have the ingredients on hand. Plus the fact that it’s meatless. I’m always looking for meatless options. Thank you!! I will be adding this to my weeknight meals.

  34. So delicious! Our family is trying to go meatless more often and this recipe was perfect for that. My husband is picky. If I would have told him this was made with cashew cream he wouldn’t have eaten it. But he LOVED it, and barely believed me when I said the dish was vegan. Will definitely be making this again

  35. My family loves this meal. I have a 6 year old and 3 year old who are both picky eaters. They devoured this pasta. They ate their whole plate, which never happens. I couldn’t believe it. We will definitely be making this again! It was super flavorful and creamy, I couldn’t believe it was vegan. So easy to make.

  36. Absolutely delicious! Made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! Tastes creamy and filing. I added ground beef to the dish and it was perfect!

  37. I made this recipe for lunch today, my husband and my toddler loved it. So easy, so quick and sooooo yummy. Love it…

  38. not a vegan, but it looks sooo good. will definitely give it a try. so far all the recipes i have tried of yours has been a major hit. Thank you!

  39. I really enjoyed how simple this recipient was to make! My son enjoyed helping, especially using the blender. I soaked my cashews overnight, which I think is key for an extra creamy sauce. I really enjoyed the sauce but, it was a bit bland. I like more flavorful sauces but, it was really good and a good base! You can always add more seasoning – which is really nice for those who like less flavor.

    1. Thank you! Glad he got to help and that you all enjoyed! More seasonings is always a good idea.

  40. Just made this amazing recipe for lunch in between my office calls!! So quick, so easy and so HEAVENLY!! Your recipes always come out so good Yumna! Thank you for sharing . Love it.

    #feelgoodfoodie

      1. Thank you for sharing! It was delicious and my family didn’t even notice it’s vegan. I love finding healthy recipes for the foods my family and I love.

  41. Love to make sauces with nuts !!.Another version of this pasta (cheaper) is by using peanuts instead of cashews. I like to add a couple of spoons of milk to the souce to lighten it.

  42. Had this for dinner tonight and added roasted eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes when I served it to my family. Can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  43. Just got off work, thinking of dinner and this looks so easy and delicious. Will definitely try it now.

    1. Looks delicious😋 I will definitely give it a try. I just have to make it a keto friendly. I can always use this sauce for other things as well. Like cauliflower or eggplant. I’m very excited. Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to see what’s next:)

  44. Looks Dreamy. Will def Try InshaAllah.
    I have a query about nutrition. It says 473kcal. Is it for 6 servings or per serving. I would like to know about the calorie content.

  45. This is such a vibrant dish! So silky and creamy! Appreciate all your effort and creativeness with all that you share with us! Thank you!

  46. This recipe is delicious! I added some cayenne pepper because I like my food to have a nice kick 😉

    1. So glad you liked it! I haven’t tried freezing it. I usually don’t freeze pasta because we have a family of 4 and it just tastes best when freshly cooked. I think it may become soggy if frozen and thawed.

  47. I’m vegan, partner is not. He doesn’t love most things I make but he was very happy with this and said he would be happy for it to join the rotation. THANK YOU!! Hahaha

  48. I absolutely loooved it! I served it with roasted garlic bread and I ate two bowls …it’s sooo bomb! Thank you so much. I’m learning to cook for myself, so I need help. Lol and I appreciate you and giving out your recipe! I’m a happy vegan right now…thank you for sharing this, I found you on insta gram! Love your page. #vegan #feelgoodfoodie 🙂

  49. Hi Yumna, I am making this recipe right now and there are some inconsistencies. In your video it says to add 2 cups of pasta water and in your written instructions it says to add 1 cup. Which one do you recommend I do?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Megan, Ahh, I caught you too late. The good thing is if you did 1 cup or 2 cups, it shouldn’t matter too much, but it should actually be 2 cups of water. If you used only 1 cup, the sauce was probably slightly thicker, but that’s no problem either. Hope you enjoyed it! I’ll update the written instructions on the blog. Thank you!