Elevate your pasta game with this creamy Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce recipe! Tired of the same old tomato-based pasta sauce? Want to try something new and delicious? Look no further; I've got you covered. Not only is it a healthier alternative to traditional sauces, but it's also surprisingly easy to make. Serve it over your favorite pasta, and you'll have a restaurant-quality, 5-star meal in the comfort of your own home.
Veggie-packed pasta dishes are my favorite style of comfort food. I've shared a few recipes with a similar style, like my yummy Vegan Mac and Cheese (without cashews), Gluten-Free Alfredo Sauce with Fettucine Pasta or the delicious Butternut Squash Lasagna. They all have thick, creamy sauces that are packed with healthy flavors.
If you're new to cooking plant-based, homemade pasta sauces, welcome to a wonderful world of flavor and elevated expertise! After making this recipe, you'll be able to transfer my formula for making homemade pasta sauces to any other sauce-y dish you desire.
Leave the grocery store jar stuff in the pantry for when you are too tired to cook, and with my tips, teach yourself to make this delicious, creamy, cheesy pasta dish tonight.
In this post, I share the following:
- The 5 must-haves to successfully making any delicious pasta sauce from scratch.
- What's the deal with soaking cashews? Ever wonder why recipes are always adding in soaked cashews? I'll explain why it's an important step!
- Substitutions and creative variations to making this sauce your own.
If you want to improve your cooking skills, be sure to read my post, 14 expert tips for enhancing your culinary abilities.
Use this section to jump to areas of interest within the post.
This easy-to-follow recipe uses limited ingredients that maximalize flavor and support the hero, our beloved sweet potato. I've gathered common kitchen ingredients for this recipe so that this homemade sauce is just as convenient as a grocery-store jar of red sauce.
- Medium-sized sweet potato - peeled and cubed
- Raw, unsalted cashews - soaked in hot water until ready to use
- White onion and garlic - roughly chopped and sauteed to enhance their flavors
- Apple cider vinegar - freshen up the flavors with acid
- Dijon mustard - a tangy flavor-rich sidekick
- Coconut aminos (or soy sauce) - the umami-rich ingredient
- Spices - salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and for heat lovers, add in some red pepper flakes.
Homemade sauce must-haves for success:
- Always blend with a soaked nut - for this recipe and almost all my homemade non-red sauces, I chose raw, unsalted cashews that have been soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes. This loosens the fat and, when blended, will bring a creamy and thicker consistency to the sauce.
- Add an umami-rich ingredient - to compliment sweetness while adding a little savory.
- Use an acid - to brighten and add freshness to any dish! Seriously the key to good cooking is understanding how to balance the dish with acid. It's VERY important to taste as you cook so that you can make adjustments and know exactly what to grab when your sample is a little off. Usually, it's either salt or acid.
- Add herbs and spices - get in the habit of tasting as you go and paying extra close attention when you add spices. Start low, then add as you go!
- Use a high-speed blender - or blend for a long time until a smooth consistency is reached. For sauces, I recommend you blend for 1 minute, minimum (high-speed blender).
See the recipe card for full quantities and instructions.
Substitutions & Creative Variations
I love this recipe because there's a lot of creative room for substitutions and variations. The results will yield a slightly different flavor and texture, but adapting and using what's available with creative variations make cooking easy and FUN.
- Allergic to cashews? Swap the cashews and water for 2 cups of oat milk
- No apple cider vinegar? Swap ACV with equal parts lemon juice
- No coconut aminos? Use tamari or soy sauce
- Out of sweet potatoes?! Grab a butternut squash, pumpkin, or kabocha squash instead.
NOTE: If you're making this recipe gluten-free, be mindful when choosing the noodle (Jovial brand is my GF go-to), AND know that oat milk and soy sauce can be made with gluten, so check those labels.
Whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this creamy pasta sauce recipe is an easy-to-cook dish. We use overlapping steps so that this recipe is plated in under 30 minutes!
The first step is soaking cashews in hot water. This leaves enough time for them to 'set' until we need them. Use an electric kettle or boil water on the stove for the noodles and use extra to soak the cashews.
Peel and chop the medium-sized sweet potato into cubes. Cover with water and place on high heat until they start to boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until tender. While the potatoes and noodles cook, roughly chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves. Saute in a pan until translucent and fragrant.
Blend the cashews with water until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. This should take a high-speed blender about a minute. Regular blenders will need more time. Once done, add all other ingredients to the blender.
Cover the cooked noodles with the sauce and gently stir until covered.
Blend until you've reached a thick, creamy, and hot sauce!
Sprinkle red pepper flakes, chives, or green onion on top for extra goodness!
Time-Saving Tip: Use an electric kettle to boil water for the cashews! No kettle? Start by boiling water for your noodles. Transfer a little boiling water to cover and soak the cashews. While the noodles cook, batch your steps by sauteeing the onion/garlic and cooking the sweet potato.
You'll need a high-speed blender to make this sauce recipe with ultimate ease. The blender I use is the Vitamix Profession Series 750. It's an expensive kitchen gadget, but often Vitamix owners, like me, claim to use it every day, and it encourages new, healthier ways of eating. I do think it's a modern-day luxury but a necessity for my health-focused kitchen.
A regular blender will work, too. You will need to blend longer, though.
What's the deal with soaked cashews?
As a cooking enthusiast, you may have come across a recipe that calls for soaked cashews. And you might be wondering, why are we soaking nuts? Soaking cashews before using them in a recipe makes them soft and creamy, which is perfect for making sauces, dips, and dressings!
Soaked cashews have a higher nutritional value by breaking down their phytic acid, which is an antinutrient and enzyme inhibitor. This process allows your body to absorb more nutrients, win-win! But more importantly, soaking cashews makes them easier to blend, which is crucial when making vegan cheese, cream, or milk. Soaking softens the cashews and reduces the risk of breaking your blender or food processor.
It also makes a significant difference in the texture and nutritional value of your dish. It's an easy and straightforward process that is worth the extra effort. So, the next time you come across a recipe that calls for soaked cashews, don't skip this step!
If cashews are on the 'I can't consume' list, I got you! Check out my Vegan Mac and Cheese (without cashews) - just as delicious sans nuts 😉
This recipe will yield about 30 ounces of sauce, and I use all of it. Gluten-free noodles tend to soak up more sauce than their wheat counterpart. Add half the sauce at first, then up it to reach your desired consistency.
Keep a little extra on the side so that you can add it in when heating up leftovers!
To prepare sweet potatoes in advance, it is recommended to cut them and store them in refrigerated cold water. However, if you have already cooked the sweet potatoes, you can store them in a sealed container without any concern.
For this recipe, we need soft, cooked sweet potatoes. You can 100% bake them in the oven, although it will add to the cooking time, and sweet potatoes hold more nutritional value when boiled versus baked.
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Sweet Potato Sauce
- High-Speed Blender
- 16 ounces pasta noodles
- 2 cups peeled & chopped sweet potato (1 medium-sized sweet potato)
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 medium white onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (substitute for soy sauce or tamari)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
- Read the recipe twice, set up the kitchen & gather your equipment: a small bowl and lid for soaking the cashews, a medium-sized saucepan for cooking the sweet potato, a medium-sized pot to boil the noodles, and a small pan to sautee the onion and garlic. You'll also need a blender, a cutting board, and a sharp knife for this recipe.
- First, add the cashews to a bowl and cover them with boiling water and a lid. This allows them to soak for 20-25 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Roughly dice the white onion and mince the garlic cloves. Peel the potato and chop it into cubes.
- Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a medium-sized pot. Cover with water and set heat to high until a rapid boil is reached. Once boiling, decrease the heat to medium-high and allow to cook until tender. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are set up and cooking, boil the second pot of water. Just before the water bubbles, add a tablespoon of salt, then the uncooked pasta. Cook the pasta per package instructions and taste test for doneness. Once the pasta is al dente, transfer it to a colander, drizzle a splash of oil, stir, and set aside.
- Add the diced onion to your sautee pan with a splash of water coating the bottom. Allow them to cook until fragrant, add in the minced garlic and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, being mindful not to burn.
- Drain the cashews and place them in the blender with 2 cups of filtered water. Blend until smooth and creamy, at least one full minute.
- Transfer the diced onion, garlic, cooked sweet potatoes, and the rest of the sauce ingredients (ACV, coconut aminos, mustard, paprika, salt & pepper) into the blender with the cashew milk and blend again for at least one minute or until creamy, smooth, and pourable.
- Place the cooked noodles in a large mixing bowl and pour the sauce overtop, starting with half, then add more until you reach your desired sauciness. Gently stir until well combined.
- Optionally top the pasta with red pepper flakes and/or chopped chives or green onions. Serve warm!