This vegan cacio e pepe features a creamy and cheesy cashew based sauce with lots of pepper and smothered in perfectly cooked spaghetti noodles. This simple recipe is big on flavor and so easy to make!
Surprise, surprise, I’m back with another vegan pasta recipe! I can’t get enough and neither can you so I know you’re going to LOVE this vegan cacio e pepe.
Cacio e pepe is a pasta dish that originates from Rome, and translates to “cheese and pepper.” Obviously, this version is vegan, so we’ll be using vegan cashew parmesan cheese to give that rich and creamy flavor, plus whole black peppercorns for a bit of spice.
This dish is usually served with spaghetti, but any kind of pasta shape will work here! I used brown rice pasta to keep it gluten free, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
The flavor profile is similar to my vegan alfredo, but with a slightly sharper flavor from the parmesan and pepper.
Key ingredients and substitutions
Cashews. Raw cashews make up the base of this sauce and give it an incredibly rich and creamy consistency. There’s no need to soak your cashews beforehand since we’ll be boiling them to soften them instead!
Cashew Parmesan. My homemade cashew parmesan will be used in place of cheese usually found in cacio e pepe.
Peppercorns. You need whole black peppercorns for this recipe which give it a rich peppery flavor! I do not suggest subbing for pre-ground black pepper.
Lemon Juice. Believe it or not, the lemon juice actually helps give this a more cheesy flavor! Plus, the acidity gives it a little tang and balances out the other flavors really well.
Vegan Parmesan. This is optional but I used a vegan store bought parmesan cheese which is able to replicate the cheesy flavor more than the homemade cashew parmesan does. This is optional, but if you can find it in your grocery store, I recommend it! I like the brand Violife.
How to make this recipe
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, add the raw cashews to a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 10-15 minutes to soften. You can also soak them in water overnight, but this is much faster!
When the cashews are ready, drain and rinse them and add to a blender along with all remaining ingredients.
Blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as desired. I suggest keeping the sauce thick, but you can add a smidge more water as needed to help it blend if you don’t have a high speed blender.
Combine the sauce with the cooked pasta and serve warm!
Does it keep? Yes, once prepared, this vegan cacio e pepe will store in the fridge for about 3 days. I suggest reheating it on the stove with a splash of olive oil and/or plain non-dairy milk to help it get creamy agian.
Can I make it with no cashews? Unfortunately, I don’t recommend making this recipe without cashews. They’re a key ingredient for a creamy feel and cheesy flavor.
What should I serve it with? If you’re keeping this dish vegan, I suggest serving it exactly as is! I like it with a glass of white wine and a gluten free baguette, but I also serve it alongside some grilled chicken for a non-vegan option.
More vegan pasta recipes to try!
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Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta
- 1 pound pasta of choice (I used gluten free)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup cashew parmesan (click for recipe)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- ½-1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil or butter
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup grated violife vegan parmesan (optional but recommended!)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, add the raw cashews to a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 10-15 minutes to soften. You can also soak them in water overnight, but this is much faster!
- When the cashews are ready, drain and rinse them and add to a blender along with all remaining ingredients.
- Blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as desired. I suggest keeping the sauce thick, but you can add a smidge more water as needed to help it blend if you don't have a high speed blender.
- Combine the sauce with the cooked pasta and serve warm!