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Creamy Vegan Broccoli Pasta

Creamy vegan broccoli pasta is so quick and easy and the perfect weeknight meal. This hearty, comforting meal of broccoli and pasta coated in a creamy, luscious dairy free sauce is made in one pot in about 15 minutes.

Creamy broccoli pasta with red pepper flakes on top.

Why you will love this recipe

Quick and easy – the broccoli and pasta cook together in the pasta water and the sauce comes together in just minutes using the blender. Everything is ready in about 15 minutes and most of this vegan broccoli pasta can be prepped in advance if needed.

Simple, healthy ingredients –  this broccoli vegan pasta is made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry and fridge and all of these ingredients can easily be found at any grocery store. The creamy white sauce is made with a surprise ingredient – white beans! They make the creamy vegan white sauce thick and creamy and also packed with protein and fiber!

One pot meal – everything comes together in one pot, making clean up a breeze and perfect for busy weeknight meals.

Ingredients to make vegan broccoli pasta in ramekins on a marble countertop.
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Ingredients

Vegan White Pasta Sauce

Cashews – raw cashews are best for making a creamy, luscious sauce for the pasta. The cashews soak in hot water so they can easily break down into the sauce. You can also use roasted cashews if needed. Want to make this nut free? Use hemp hearts or raw sunflower seeds.

White beans – white beans make this sauce thick and creamy and break down so beautifully into the sauce. Use whatever white beans you have on hand: cannellini, great northern white beans, navy beans. I do not recommend chickpeas.

Vegetable broth – vegetable broth can help create a ton of flavor for the sauce. Vegetable broth helps impart the flavor of the sauce cooking all day long without any of that work. You can also use water or chicken broth/stock/bone broth in place if you are not vegan/vegetarian.

Lemon juice – lemon juice pairs well with the broccoli and helps to cut through any of that bitter flavor from the broccoli that you can sometimes get. It also helps make the white bean sauce bright and flavorful.

Spices: Salt, italian seasoning, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes (optional) – the spices help to elevate the flavors of the sauce. Garlic powder brings umami to the dish and the italian seasoning adds deep herby flavor. Crushed red pepper flakes are optional but add a layer of spiciness to the sauce.

Vegan Broccoli Pasta

Pasta (preferably a tube-shaped pasta) – use your favorite gluten free pasta for this recipe. I love a penne, rigatoni, ziti or elbow macaroni shaped pasta as it can hold on to so much of the creamy white sauce. Use whatever pasta you have on hand though; linguini or fusilli would also work great.

Broccoli florets – the broccoli cooks in the boiling water of the pasta during the last minute of cooking. It’s important to break down the broccoli florets into small, bite size pieces so it cooks quickly and it’s easy to eat with the pasta. For this recipe, I don’t recommend using large pieces of the broccoli stems.

How to make vegan broccoli pasta

Start by brining a large pot of water to a boil.

Soak cashews in boiling water (I use an electronic kettle for this) or put the cashews in the microwave (see all the ways to soak cashews below).

Cashews soaking in hot water in a glass measuring cup.

Drain and rinse the white beans. Let the beans soak in fresh water for a few minutes.

Chop the broccoli florets into bite size pieces.

Broccoli florets cut into small pieces on cutting board.

When the water comes up to a boil, add a large pinch of salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the box.

Make the vegan white pasta sauce. Drain the water from the cashews and beans and discard the water. Add the cashews, beans, vegetable broth, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and italian seasoning to the blender.  Blend on high at least 1 minute until smooth.

Before and after blending the ingredients to make the creamy white pasta sauce.

With 1 minute left in the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli florets to the pot.

Broccoli florets added to boiling pasta water.

Once it’s done cooking, drain the pasta and broccoli and add it back to the pot. Pour the vegan white pasta sauce over top and stir well. Serve hot.

Before and after stirring the white sauce into the broccoli and pasta in a pot.

Top tips

  • Chop the broccoli into small, bite size pieces, using mostly the florets (not too much of the stalk). This allows the broccoli to cook quickly when added to the pasta during the last minute of cooking. The stems always take longer to get tender, so I don’t advise you use them for this.
  • If you want a cheesier flavor (make this a vegan mac-and-cheese dish), add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the sauce ingredients before blending.
  • Short on time? Buy broccoli florets at the store. I would still recommend cutting down larger florets, but this can save you time! You can also use frozen broccoli florets as well.
  • Be sure to take the time to soak the cashews before making the sauce, this helps to ensure the sauce will get thick and creamy and not have a gritty texture.
  • Rinse and soak the white beans in clean water before using them in this recipe. I have found that using organic beans and soaking them in clean water for a minute or two can really help relieve any gastrointestinal issues that are caused by eating beans.
  • Using vegetable broth instead of water in the sauce gives the sauce a deep flavor. Tip: you can freeze leftover vegetable broth in 1/2 or 1 cup portions in Soupercubes to use at a later time so you never waste vegetable broth.
Wooden spoon in a white pot full of vegan broccoli pasta, blue striped napkin on the side.

Other additions

Veggies: Cauliflower florets (add when you add the broccoli), roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, roasted veggies, Greek style veggies, blistered tomatoes

Protein: Add another can of white beans, chickpeas, balsamic tofu, shredded chicken, Italian chicken, Italian chicken sausage, shrimp, salmon to the pasta once it’s done cooking

Different flavor: Want a more pronounced lemon flavor? Add lemon zest and additional lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon) to the sauce. Want a cheesier sauce? Add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Want a completely different flavor? Add sundried tomatoes with oil (1/4 cup) or ½ cup of pesto to the sauce before blending.

What to serve with vegan broccoli pasta

Salad – green salad with Italian dressing, Greek Salad, Cruciferous Crunch Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing, Mediterranean Chopped Salad

Soup Frozen Vegetable Soup, Mediterranean Vegetable Soup, Tuscan White Bean Soup, Vegan Tomato Gnocchi Soup

Appetizer Spinach Artichoke Dip with homemade crackers, Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms, Air Fryer Tomatoes drizzled in balsamic vinegar over toast, Air Fryer Gnocchi and Pesto

Dessert Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Cookie Dough, Air Fryer Oatmeal Cookies.

Common questions

What to do with leftover broccoli stems

Don’t throw away your broccoli stems. Clean them up (remove any tough, brown parts) and cut them into pieces to use in other recipes. My go to is to make riced broccoli salad with them!

To rice broccoli stems, cut them into 1-inch pieces and put them in the food processor. Pulse until they resemble rice.

You can also cook up the riced broccoli in the skillet just like cauliflower rice.

Can you make this pasta with frozen broccoli?

Yes! You will want to break down any large florets of broccoli with a knife before adding them to the water. Give the frozen broccoli about 15 seconds longer to cook than you would fresh.

White bowl with creamy vegan broccoli pasta, blue napkin on the side.

How to soak cashews

Soaking cashews in water helps to ensure the cashews are soft and will help to create a creamy sauce when blended. With all these methods, discard the soaking water after soaking, do not use that water in the recipe. Here are my top 4 ways to soak cashews:

  • Pour boiling water over top – this is my go-to method, as it’s easy to do with an electric kettle. Once the water has come up to a boil, pour it over the cashews and let them soak at least 5 minutes.
  • Boil on the stove – If you don’t have an electric kettle, you can add the cashews and water to a pot and bring it to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes then allow to cool at least 5 minutes before using the cashews.
  • Microwave – Add the cashews to a large cup or bowl. Add just enough water to cover the cashews. Microwave for 1:30-2 minutes. Allow the cashews to rest in the microwave at least 5 minutes. Remove carefully with oven mitts (the container can get really hot).
  • Countertop – add water to a bowl or glass with cashews. Leave out on the counter for 8 hours to soften the cashews. If you plan on leaving them out longer to soak, put them in the fridge.

Can you make this vegan broccoli pasta nut free?

Yes, you can make this creamy vegan white pasta sauce nut free. You can simply omit the cashews and just have a creamy white bean sauce, or you can add hemp hearts (no soaking required) or raw sunflower seeds (these need to be soaked like cashews). The hemp hearts and sunflower seeds will change the flavor of the sauce slightly but not drastically.

Can you make creamy vegan white pasta sauce without beans?

Yes, simply replace the beans with cashews. For this recipe, you will want to use 1 cup soaked cashews total (instead of 1/3 cup).

What is the best pasta to use?

Use any pasta that you have on hand. I like to use a tube-pasta shape that can hold some of the sauce inside the pasta (like penne, rigatoni, ziti, or elbow shaped pasta) or a small shell shaped pasta are great, but any pasta shape will do!

If you want to add more protein and fiber to this recipe, you can use a chickpea or lentil-based pasta. My favorite brand for this is Tolerant Green Lentil Pasta. They have elbow and penne shaped pasta that tastes just like regular pasta but so much more health benefits.

My favorite gluten free pasta brand is Jovial pasta. It’s in most natural grocery stores and can be found online. They have pretty much every shape of gluten free pasta you can imagine!

Can you make vegan creamy broccoli pasta in advance?

If you plan on making italian broccoli pasta in advance, you will want to save some of the pasta water for reheating.

Reheat the pasta on the stove over medium low heat and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. The sauce will get very thick when stored in the fridge overnight and the pasta water will help to thin it out but also provide some starch from the pasta, helping the sauce stick to the pasta as it’s thinned out.

If you want to make parts of this recipe in advance while still cooking the pasta and broccoli the day of, you can make the sauce in advance and store in a well-sealed airtight container (up to 3 days in advance). You can also chop the broccoli florets into bite size pieces in advance (up to 5 days in advance).

Wooden spoon with a serving of vegan broccoli pasta over a white pot.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover vegan broccoli pasta in the fridge for up to 5 days. When reheating, the sauce may seem thicker than when you first made the pasta. Add a few tablespoons of water to help thin out the sauce while reheating.

Freezer: you can freeze pasta for up to 3 months. I recommend using Soupercubes to freeze 1 or 2 cup servings to make it easy to defrost just 1 serving at a time. Be sure to store the frozen pasta long term in a freezer safe bag or container with the name, date and use by date on the container.

Defrost in the fridge overnight or in the microwave for a quick and easy meal anytime.

Substitutions

  • Cashews: You can use hemp hearts (no soaking required) or raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in place of the cashews. If you cannot find raw cashews, you can also use roasted cashews.
  • White beans: If you don’t have white beans on hand, omit them and use 1 full cup of cashews. Follow the rest of the instructions as stated.
  • Vegetable broth (or vegetable stock) – you can use just plain water here. The flavor won’t be as rich but it will still be delicious. If you are not vegan/vegetarian, you can use chicken broth/stock/bone broth as well.
  • Lemon juice – lemon juice provides some bright flavors to the sauce. You can use 1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice.
  • Pasta – you can use whatever pasta you love the most! You could also use a gluten free orzo, potatoes, gnocchi, rice or pour the sauce over zoodles, spaghetti squash, heart of palm pasta or your favorite protein.
  • Broccoli – you could use finely chopped cauliflower in place of the broccoli. Alternatively you could use sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers.

If you love this recipe, you should try:

Vegan Sundried Tomato Pasta

Creamy Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

Mushroom Pesto Pasta

Lemon Tahini Pasta

Chimichurri Pasta

Creamy Tomato Pasta

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Vegan broccoli pasta in a white bowl, lemon on one side, blue napkin on the other.

Vegan Broccoli Pasta

Creamy vegan broccoli pasta is quick, easy and so comforting! Ready in just 15 minutes, this healthy recipe is great for weeknight meals but could easily be served for guests too! The creamy vegan white pasta sauce is made with beans, making this dish more filling!
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: vegan broccoli pasta, vegan creamy white pasta sauce, vegan white bean broccoli pasta
Prep Time: 7 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Total Time: 14 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Soak cashews (I cover with boiling water from an electric kettle – see other options below).
  • Rinse and drain the white beans. Soak in fresh water.
  • Chop the broccoli florets into small bite-size pieces.
  • When water comes up to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  • Make the creamy white sauce: drain cashews (discard water), drain beans. Add cashews, beans, vegetable broth, lemon juice and spices to a high speed blender. Blend on high at least 1 minute until thick and creamy.
  • With 1 minute left on the pasta, add the broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water.
  • Drain pasta and broccoli. Return to the pot. Add creamy white sauce and stir well. Serve hot.

Notes

Top tips
  • Chop the broccoli into small, bite size pieces, using mostly the florets (not too much of the stalk) so it can cook quickly in the boiling water. 
  • If you want a cheesier flavor (make this a vegan mac-and-cheese dish), add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the sauce ingredients before blending.
  • Short on time? Buy broccoli florets at the store. I would still recommend cutting down larger florets, but this can save you time! You can also use frozen broccoli florets as well.
  • Be sure to take the time to soak the cashews before making the sauce, this helps to ensure the sauce will get thick and creamy and not have a gritty texture.
  • Rinse and soak the white beans in clean water before using them in this recipe. I have found that using organic beans and soaking them in clean water for a minute or two can really help relieve any gastrointestinal issues that are caused by eating beans.
  • Using vegetable broth instead of water in the sauce gives the sauce a deep flavor. Tip: you can freeze leftover vegetable broth in 1/2 or 1 cup portions in Soupercubes to use at a later time so you never waste vegetable broth.
How to soak cashews
  • Pour boiling water over top – this is my go-to method, as it’s easy to do with an electric kettle. Once the water has come up to a boil, pour it over the cashews and let them soak at least 5 minutes.
  • Boil on the stove – If you don’t have an electric kettle, you can add the cashews and water to a pot and bring it to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes then allow to cool at least 5 minutes before using the cashews.
  • Microwave – Add the cashews to a large cup or bowl. Add just enough water to cover the cashews. Microwave for 1:30-2 minutes. Allow the cashews to rest in the microwave at least 5 minutes. Remove carefully with oven mitts (the container can get really hot).
  • Countertop – add water to a bowl or glass with cashews. Leave out on the counter for 8 hours to soften the cashews. If you plan on leaving them out longer to soak, put them in the fridge.
Can you make this nut free?
Yes, you can make this creamy vegan white pasta sauce nut free. You can simply omit the cashews and just have a creamy white bean sauce, or you can add hemp hearts (no soaking required) or raw sunflower seeds (these need to be soaked like cashews). The hemp hearts and sunflower seeds will change the flavor of the sauce slightly but not drastically.
Can you make this without beans?
Yes, simply replace the beans with cashews. For this recipe, you will want to use 1 cup soaked cashews total (instead of 1/3 cup).
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
376
Fat
 
9
g
Carbohydrates
 
58
g
Fiber
 
15
g
Sugar
 
7
g
Protein
 
25
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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