This caramelized leek and cauliflower cream sauce is light and healthy with a luxurious creamy texture without dairy! Easy to make any meal a comfort food.
Why you'll love this cauliflower cream sauce
- It is like a vegan Alfredo sauce without flour and without cream. It can also be use as a vegan béchamel sauce.
- The sauce is thick and creamy yet tastes light and healthy with nutrient-dense cauliflower that's loaded with vitamin C. It has a luxuriously creamy texture and a great way to sneak in vegetables into an otherwise indulgent dish.
- Super versatile and can be eaten on pasta, pizza, baked sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, eggs, or anything else you like to slather with a delicious savory creamy sauce.
- Coconut milk makes it super creamy but it can definitely be made without coconut milk.
- Quick and easy to make and ready in 30 minutes.
Clean eating tip: stay away from jarred sauces, they can be full of hard to pronounce, unrecognizable ingredients, as well as high in sodium and fat.
Noteworthy ingredients and substitutions
- Leeks, shallots and garlic: add a savory flavor with a touch of sweetness from the caramelized leeks. The leeks or shallots can be substituted with onions or omitted if you prefer not to have a savory depth to your vegan cream sauce. You can also bump up the amount of garlic if you enjoy that pungent punch.
- Cauliflower: will cook quickly when roughly chopped into small florets. You can also use frozen cauliflower rice or frozen cauliflower. Note that large pieces of frozen cauliflower may take longer to soften.
- Nutritional yeast: helps to thicken the sauce and adds a cheesy flavor.
- Vegetable broth: adds nutrients and flavor.
- Lemon: added with a squeeze when serving gives a vibrant fresh flavor to the cauliflower sauce.
- Coconut milk: is completely optional. The sauce will be creamy without it but it's only a small amount and does add a more luxurious creaminess to the sauce.
see recipe card for all ingredients and quantities
How to make vegan cauliflower cream sauce
Warm oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and shallots and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring every so often, until the onions just begin to caramelize. Lower heat to low if they are cooking too quickly. Before removing from heat, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Tip: If the leeks and onions begin to dry in the pan, add a splash of water or broth, about 1 tablespoon or less at a time, so they don't burn.
Meanwhile, add the cauliflower to a large pot of boiling water. Cook on medium-high heat until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
Transfer the cauliflower to a high speed blender, add leek mixture, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth and coconut milk if using. Blend on high for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth.
If using a food processor to blend ingredients you may need to stop and scrape down the sides frequently to make sure all ingredients are well blended.
Tip: If you only have an immersion blender, return the cauliflower to the pot, add the leek and shallot mixture and the rest of the ingredients and blend. The sauce may not be as creamy as it would in a blender.
Tips, tricks and variations
- Chop you leeks and shallots into smaller pieces to help them brown quicker. Keep an eye on the heat. There should only be a slight sizzle sound. Turn the heat to low if you feel the onions are cooking too quickly and may burn. You can also add a small splash of water or broth if the pan is drying out, about 1 tablespoon or less at a time.
- If you don't want to use coconut milk than leave it out. It does add a little extra creaminess but you'll still have a velvety sauce without coconut milk.
- The sauce works really well as a vegan alfredo sauce for a simple pasta dish. Add it to your favorite gluten-free pasta with extras like peas, mushrooms or pepper. Or, add some protein with edamame, meat, fish, chickpeas, beans or cooked lentils.
- Large sauté pan with high sides or large skillet
- Medium-large pot
- High-speed blender, food processor or immersion blender
The leek and cauliflower cream sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. The sauce can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge and when reheating, mix continuously to combine any ingredients that may have separated during freezing.Print