If you’re a foodie, you probably know the secret to transforming any dish: sauce. Veggie meatballs are fantastic, but they’re not complete without sauce. Picture a plain plate of pasta and ask yourself, what is it missing? Sauce. You get it. Delicious sauces may be synonymous with Italian cuisine, with varieties ranging from creamy Alfredo to Spicy Puttanesca, but you’ll find that it’s an important part of any cuisine. Where would Indian cuisine be without creamy, spicy curry sauces? The food world just wouldn’t be the same.
When you’re including more plant-based foods in your diet, you’re probably curious about how you can recreate all your favorite foods, sans the meat and dairy. Luckily, it’s so easy. Vegan butter, non-dairy milks, and nutritional yeast are all wonderful substitutes for butter while hearty ingredients like lentils, beans, and textured vegetable protein make amazing stand-ins for meat. This Rigatoni With Avocado Alfredo and Vegetables uses a combination of avocado and non-dairy milk. Or, try this Creamy Cashew Tofu Alfredo. For meaty sauces, try this Lentil and Mushroom Ragu or this Pasta Bolognese, which uses textured vegetable protein to make an unforgettable sauce. For Indian cuisine, this Potato Kofta in Butter Sauce will be the only butter sauce you need in your life.
Are you ready for more recipes? Great! Then, get ready for 15 of the best meat-free, dairy-free sauces that you need to try.
1. Chickpea ‘Meat’ Sauce Over Pasta
This Chickpea “Meat” Sauce is the next best thing next to simmered-all-day pasta sauce. You’ll have all your family and friends guessing how you managed to juggle your day while making such a fabulous meaty sauce – hey, we won’t tell them it was super easy if you don’t!
2. Bengali Jackfruit Kofta
These crispy and flavorful Bengali Jackfruit Kofta are made with jackfruit and potatoes — there’s no doubt that they’re delicious, but like with most recipes, it’s all about the sauce. The gravy is a simple tomato base, thickened slightly with cashew or almond butter and a splash of cashew cream, if you feel a little indulgent. The koftas can be prepped and refrigerated the day before and can be fried just before serving.
3. Baked Penne With Spicy Rose Sauce
This Baked Penne With Spicy Rose Sauce is the perfect pasta dish if you like a little spice. It’s a pretty versatile meal and if you make it in bulk, it can be changed up very easily just by using different sauces and toppings. This version has lots of fresh vegetables, a creamy sauce, and minimally processed ingredients. The sauce is a little spicy, which you can adjust to your preference, and can be made in a matter of minutes with a blender.
4. Coconut Curry Linguini
This dish is called Coconut Curry Linguini and it’s amazing It has the texture and creaminess of a fettuccini Alfredo, but with Thai ingredients and flavors like rice noodles, coconut milk, red curry paste, and lime. It’ll quickly become one of your favorite dishes to whip up last minute when you want something easy that packs big flavor. You can even make the sauce on its own to pair with veggies of your choice!
5. Mini Stuffed Seitan Roasts With Instant Mushroom Gravy
Don’t be intimidated — these Mini Stuffed Seitan Roasts With Instant Mushroom Gravy are the easiest you’ll ever make. The savory bread stuffing in this recipe requires no pre-cooking at all, nor does the gravy, which takes only a minute of your time. Once everything is prepped, you just pop it in the oven and let the magic happen.
6. Vegetables Manchurian
Vegetables Manchurian is a popular Indo-Chinese dish made from vegetable meatballs dipped in cornflour and then deep-fried and served in a delicious gravy. In this recipe, they’re fried, rather than deep-fried with a thick, flavorful gravy spiced with ginger, garlic, and chilis. Serve this favorite dish with a side of fried rice.
7. Cauliflower Carbonara
This healthy Cauliflower Carbonara sauce is exquisitely creamy and indulgent. Cashews and cauliflower are the base of this sauce, making it cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat as opposed to the original version of the Italian classic. Serve with your favorite pasta or spiralized noodles!
8. Indian Butter Chickpeas
Check out this delicious Indian Butter Chickpeas: a plant-based take on the traditional dish of chicken makhani, or Indian butter chicken. In this recipe, tender chickpeas replace the chicken, and cashews and avocados are used to make a lush, buttery sauce. This dish is healthy, rich, and ridiculously flavorful, plus the butter sauce would be amazing paired with other vegetables, kofta, or anything else that makes your taste buds sing!
9. Vodka Cream Sauce
This Pasta With Vodka Cream Sauce is hearty, filling, and is great for busy nights when you don’t want to spend more than 15 minutes in the kitchen. Cashews are blended with marinara sauce and vodka to make the simplest vodka cream sauce. Throw it on a bed of any kind of pasta and voila — you have a delicious sauce and a cheap meal!
10. Smoky Tomato Almond Pasta Sauce
Smoked paprika is a total game-changer in this spicy, creamy Smoky Tomato Almond Pasta Sauce. It makes more than enough for two, so you can pile on the sauce without fear of not leaving enough for your dining companion. For a chunkier, pesto-like sauce, opt for whole almonds over almond meal. Either way, this is a recipe that you’ll want to return to.
11. Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry
The sauce in this Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry is to die for! Chickpeas and spinach are blanketed in a rich, red pepper and coconut sauce. Not only is it spicy and fragrant, it is also good for you. If you’re looking for something that is comforting, look no further. What more could you want for dinner?
12. Sweet Potato Noodle Bolognese With Toasted Crushed Almonds
You don’t need meat to make a wonderful bolognese sauce! This Sweet Potato Noodle Bolognese With Toasted Crushed Almonds keeps the savory tomato sauce and replaces it with a mixture of quinoa and carrots. Protein from the quinoa keeps you full while chopped carrots, celery, and almonds help give it a heartier texture that’s so good with tomatoes. Toss this bolognese with any kind of pasta or try it as the sauce in your lasagna.
13. Pasta With White Wine Tomato Sauce
While cheesy and ultra-tomatoey pasta sauces are delicious, sometimes it’s nice to change things up. This White Wine Tomato Sauce is light, refreshing, and has the perfect balance of wine flavor. For a hearty and nutritious dinner, pair it with spaghetti and veggies.
14. Crispy and Soft Veggie Gnocchi With Spinach and Garlic Sauce
Made of sweet potatoes and spinach, this recipe for Crispy and Soft Veggie Gnocchi packs a healthy punch! Crisp, yet soft, you get the best of both worlds — plus, a pretty fantastic sauce. It’s savory and tomato-y with the right amount of garlic and basil. Make this a weekly dinner and you’ll never get complaints!
15. Avocado Pesto Pasta With Shiitake Bacon
If you’re looking for an effortless dish that looks like a million dollar plate, you need to try this Avocado Pesto Pasta With Shiitake Bacon. The pesto is rich, creamy, and refreshing from the avocado and basil and it’s topped with smoky Shiitake bacon. Nuts are optional, meaning this is a pesto that can be enjoyed by those with allergies!
What’s your favorite kind of sauce? Tell us in the comments!
Lead image source: Indian Butter Chickpeas