This vegan cacio e pepe uses a handful of simple ingredients and takes around 15 minutes from start to finish! Creamy, savory and ‘cheesy’, it makes an exceptional weeknight dinner that you won’t believe is completely dairy-free.

Vegan cacio e pepe

I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like a huge bowl of pasta for dinner. It’s pretty much the definition of comfort food! Whenever I don’t know what to cook after a long day, vegan cacio e pepe is one of my go-tos, and it makes me exceptionally happy every time.

Cacio e pepe, meaning ‘cheese and pepper’, is an Italian pasta dish originating from Rome. Traditionally, the recipe is made with black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese, which is served with spaghetti. But using just a few ingredients, it’s easy to make a vegan and dairy-free version that has a similar creaminess and distinctive cheesy flavor to the original.

Dairy-free pasta with cilantro

This amazing vegan pasta recipe features a cashew-based sauce. This is then added to lightly-toasted black pepper, after which the spaghetti is mixed in with plenty of pasta cooking water. Serve with grated vegan cheese for a great finishing tough! This is guaranteed to become your new favorite weeknight dish.

Ingredients for vegan cacio e pepe

Ingredients for vegan cacio e pepe
  • Pasta of your choice. Spaghetti is my favorite for this recipe. Use gluten-free if necessary.
  • Cashews. If you’re not using a high speed blender, you’ll need to soak them beforehand. Almonds also work, but the texture isn’t quite as creamy.
  • Nutritional yeast. This is a great ingredient for adding a cheesy umami flavor.
  • Good quality sea salt.
  • Plant based milk of your choice. I typically use almond as this has quite a neutral flavor.
  • Garlic powder. You can also use either fresh or roasted garlic.
  • Miso paste. This is a great ‘secret’ ingredient which adds a umami flavor and helps to replicate the flavor of melted Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • Crushed peppercorns. These will be toasted and add a great depth and distinctiveness to the sauce.
  • A little bit of vegetable stock for toasting the peppercorns.
  • Grated vegan cheese and cilantro to serve.

How to make vegan Cacio e Pepe

  1. You want to start by softening the cashews if you’re not using a high speed blender. This can be done by either soaking them in water for an hour, or simmering them in a saucepan for 15 minutes. A properly soaked cashew will fall apart between your fingers.
  2. Firstly, cook the spaghetti according to packaging instructions, until al dente. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, add the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, plant based milk, garlic powder, and miso paste to a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth and no graininess from the cashews remains.
  4. Add the crushed peppercorns to a skillet over a medium heat and toast them for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the sauce, ½ cup pasta water and stir together thoroughly. Then, add the cooked spaghetti and mix well with the sauce, until all of the pasta is coated.
  6. Serve immediately with chopped cilantro and vegan parmesan.

Recipe FAQs

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Yes, the sauce is gluten-free as it is, so simply use gluten-free pasta of your choice.

How long does vegan cacio e pepe last in the fridge?

You can keep this pasta and the sauce in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat on the stove, adding extra plant milk if the sauce is too thick.

Is this recipe freezer-friendly?

I wouldn’t recommend freezing dairy-free cacio e pepe sauce because the texture will become grainy when defrosted.

Closeup of vegan cacio e pepe

Other amazing vegan pasta sauce recipes

Vegan cacio e pepe recipe

If you give this vegan cacio e pepe recipe a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below together with a star rating!

Vegan cacio e pepe

Get the Recipe: Vegan Cacio e Pepe

This vegan cacio e pepe uses a handful of simple ingredients and takes around 15 minutes from start to finish! Creamy, savory and 'cheesy', it makes an exceptional weeknight dinner that you won't believe is completely dairy-free.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 7 oz spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plant based milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, to serve
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan, to serve

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Saucepan
  • Blender
  • Skillet

Instructions 

  • Soften the cashews if you're not using a high speed blender. This can be done by either soaking them in water for an hour, or simmering them in a saucepan for 15 minutes.
    3/4 cup cashews
  • Cook the spaghetti according to packaging instructions, until al dente. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. 
    7 oz spaghetti
  • Make the sauce. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, plant based milk, garlic powder, and miso paste to a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth and no graininess from the cashews remains.
    3/4 cup cashews, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 1/2 cups plant based milk, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp miso paste
  • Toast the peppercorns. Add the crushed peppercorns to a skillet over a medium heat and toast them for 2-3 minutes.
    1 tsp crushed peppercorns, 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • Add the sauce, ½ cup pasta water and stir together thoroughly. Then, add the cooked spaghetti and mix well with the sauce, until all of the pasta is coated.
  • Serve immediately with chopped cilantro and vegan parmesan.
    1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup vegan parmesan

Video

Notes

To make gluten-free: simply use gluten-free spaghetti or other pasta of your choice.
To store: keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. Reheat on the stovetop, adding extra plant based milk if necessary.
Calories: 376kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Sodium: 660mg, Potassium: 360mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 107IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 145mg, Iron: 3mg