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March 21, 2019

by Alyssa

Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Brought to you in partnership with Thrive Market
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How to make Vegan Cacio e Pepe. A healthy version of the classic Italian, this creamy vegan pasta is full of flavor, super peppery and seriously delicious!

Vegan Cacio e Pepe Recipe

A few months ago I went out to LA for a conference and met up with a friend for dinner at Plant Food and Wine in Venice. It's a vegan restaurant and as soon as we sat down, my friend that we had to order the kelp noodle Cacio e Pepe.

Oh em gee. My love affair with pasta reached a whole new level after tasting that dish. No joke it's one of the best pastas I've ever tried.

And as soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to recreate it for you. So that's what we're doing! I'm giving you my own version of a vegan Cacio e Pepe with gluten-free pasta, a peppery vegan cream sauce and sprinkled with a touch of fresh basil.

Why do Soak Raw Cashews

Why do You Soak Raw Cashews?

First things first, let's talk cashews! You've seen me use cashews many times before in my “creamy” recipes (like my White Quinoa Chili and my vegan lemon creamy sauce) and it's because, when blended, raw cashews have the most luxurious, smooth, creamy texture.

They lend themselves very nicely to making vegan cream-based recipes.

However, the trick with raw cashews is that you need to soak them. Because we're going to blend them, soaking the cashews ahead of time softens the flesh of the nut and makes it easier to blend. I recommend soaking cashews overnight, but if you're short on time, simply pop them in some hot water for two hours and you should be fine (especially if you have a high powered blender!).

One thing to keep in mind is that raw cashews can be a little pricey. I buy mine from Thrive Market because they're organic, raw and way cheaper than anything else I've seen in stores! They're typically at least 35% off which is an incredible deal. In fact, I recommend checking out all their nuts and seeds because they're always cheaper than what you see in stores.

p.s. want to try Thrive Market for yourself? Get 25% off your first order + free shipping by shopping through this link!

How to Make Vegan Pasta

How to make Vegan Cream Sauce

Once you've got your cashews nice and soft, it's time to make your sauce. Like most vegan creamy sauce recipes, we're using our handy dandy blender!

You'll add your cashews into the blender, along with the rest of our ingredients:

  • nutritional yeast: for a cheesy flavor
  • lemon juice: for some acidity and brightness
  • peppercorns: because…cacio e pepe!
  • miso paste: adds a nice umami flavor and some salt
  • sea salt: for even more flavor

And then we just blend it all up with some water and call it a day. Honestly, couldn't be easier to make!

Healthy Cacio e Pepe Pasta Recipe

What is Cacio e Pepe?

Cacio e pepe is a classic Italian pasta dish that comes from Rome. Its literal translation is “cheese and pepper” which is exactly what it's made with.

It's one of the easiest pasta recipes to make because it's so simple. Traditionally, you would only use 3 ingredients: pecorino romano cheese (which is usually a sharp sheep cheese), pepper and pasta. That's one of the things I adore most about Italian food; it's simple, yet delicious!

Creamy Vegan Pasta Recipe

The Ultimate Vegan Cacio e Pepe Pasta

For our vegan cacio e pepe, we're swapping the cheese for our vegan cheese sauce. While it's not exactly like the original, it's still got that satisfying creaminess, that spiciness from the pepper and a simple ingredient list.

But what's also great about this recipe is that the sauce is actually super versatile. It's obviously SO good on pasta, but it could also be used as a base for white pizza, in lasagna, in a baked “mac and cheese” style dish, or it could even be thinned out and used as a salad dressing.

Either way, I think you're going to adore this dish! It's so comforting but also feels really light, which is great for this time of year!


Healthy Cacio e Pepe Pasta

More Healthy Vegan Pasta Recipes to try:

Vegan Cacio e Pepe

This vegan cacio e pepe pasta is a healthy version of the Italian classic. Made with a base do cashews, this creamy vegan pasta sauce is loaded with flavor, super peppery and delicious!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Soaking time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 412kcal
Print Pin
Creamy Pepper Pasta Recipe
4.73 from 48 votes


  • 1 lb gluten-free spaghetti (I like Banza)
  • 1 cup raw cashews , soaked at least 2 hours
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon miso paste (or sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • Garnish with fresh basil , cracked pepper & grated macadamia nuts


  • Add the cashews into a bowl and cover with hot water. Allow cashews to soak for at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to make the sauce, place a pot of water to boil on the stove. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, drain and rinse the cashews. Add them into a blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
  • When pasta is done cooking, reserve some of the water, and then draining it. Add the pasta back into the pot along with the sauce and 1 - 2 tablespoons of pasta water. Toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with desired toppings.



Recipe adapted from Matthew Kenney's restaurant Plant Food & Wine


Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 257mg | Potassium: 771mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 6mg

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. It’s Cacio and pepe. Which means pepper and cheese. If it’s not pepper and cheese, it’s not Caicos pepe. You can’t take a traditional dish, add a bunch of shit, and say it’s even a version of a traditional dish. This is something new.

    • Appreciate the feedback, but I’m not sure that I agree. Whenever you change a recipe from the original version it would be a “version of the traditional dish”. The point of this recipe is to help people who are following a plant-based diet or are dairy-free, enjoy a recipe that is reminiscent of a traditional Italian dish. Just because something isn’t exactly like the original, doesn’t mean it can’t be a version.

  2. Made this tonight, was so excited to try a vegan version after watching Stanley Tucci eat the real thing a few weeks ago on the Rome episode of his new show. Measured out all the sauce ingredients carefully and used closer to a tbsp of whole peppercorns .. sadly that was too much, sauce was so intensely peppery. Might try again with lesser amt. Full disclosure that I’ve never had the real thing so maybe it’s meant to be pepper-dominant but I found it to overwhelm the other flavors

  3. Hi, this looks so delicious and i’m excited to make it. How long would it last in the fridge? or should it be made and used straight away? Thanks

  4. This is a delicious dish. However, I wonder if the 1-½ Tbs black peppercorns is a typo. I used slightly more than 1 Tbs and it was very, very spicy. The Matthew Kenney recipe lists only ½ Tbs.h

  5. Thanks for this recipe! Just a note for anyone using ground pepper: I used ground pepper in this recipe instead of whole peppercorns. I looked up the conversion and it told me to use 6 1/2 tsp of ground pepper. I thought that was way too much so I started with 3 tsp and planned to add more to taste. I tasted after using the 3 tsp and it was so spicy I couldn’t even eat it. Just a heads up. Planning on trying this recipe again soon using whole peppercorns like the recipe suggests.

  6. I have just come across your page today, think there is plenty for me to discover here 🙂 one question, do you use white or dark miso paste? I only have the dark one (I live in Switzerland so not available everywhere) and so am curious if you have both miso pastes and if you use them differently. Thanks!

    • Dark is totally fine! I find it actually has more flavor 🙂 Your sauce might be a tiny bit darker in color, but taste will be the same! xo

  7. Hey! I definitely want to make this ???? But I’m wondering… with the soaked cashews, do you add them and the water they soaked in to the blender? Or you pick them out of the water? Thank you so much!!


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