Can I Use Almond Milk for Alfredo Pasta Sauce?

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Alfredo sauce is a favorite component of many traditional Italian dishes. Because it features milk, cream and Parmesan cheese prominently in one creamy sauce, it goes well with pasta, salty meats and savory vegetables. However, if you don’t eat dairy or are simply trying to cut back on your milk intake, you can substitute a non-dairy option like almond milk in your Alfredo pasta sauce.

Why Almond Milk?

Almond milk is a versatile cooking option to use as a creamy base for Alfredo sauce. It’s protein-rich and comparable to other milks in terms of calories and nutritional value, which means it has become increasingly popular for those trying to cut back or eliminate dairy consumption altogether. Its recent spike in popularity also means you likely won’t need to go to a specialty grocery store to find it.

Selecting Almond Milk

Almond milk comes in many different varieties from a number of different popular brands. It’s easy to substitute for regular milk, but choosing the right variety is important. For instance, almond milk comes in both sweetened and unsweetened flavors. For Alfredo sauce, avoid sweetened almond milk or any variety that contains flavors like vanilla or chocolate. Chocolate is definitely not recommended, but if you only have vanilla or sweetened almond milk and want to try it in your Alfredo sauce, add more salt or garlic to taste in order to combat the sweetness.

Substitution Considerations

Most Alfredo sauce recipes call for equal parts milk and heavy cream. Because it’s made of nuts, almond milk is fatty enough to substitute for cow’s milk at a one-to-one ratio and will yield a creamy Alfredo sauce. If you are trying to eliminate all dairy in your Alfredo sauce, use almond milk as a substitute for any cream your recipe calls for as well. Thicken the almond milk with cornstarch, or add ground almonds. While your sauce is simmering, sprinkle in up to 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch or ground almonds ½ teaspoon at a time and stir vigorously to combine. Similarly, ground salted almonds or nutritional yeast can be used in place of Parmesan cheese to add a salty, nutty flavor to your Alfredo sauce.

Other Considerations

All almond milks, especially organic varieties, need to be shaken before use. Over time, especially if the milk has sat on a counter in the grocery store, solids in the almond milk (sediment from the almonds themselves) may begin to settle. Any sediments will combine during the cooking process, but shaking the almond milk first will make it easier to pour. If you make your own almond milk or are especially worried about sediment, filter the milk through a cheesecloth.