This ultra creamy Coconut Milk Pasta Sauce comes together in less than 20 minutes making it the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal. It's dairy-free (even vegan), nut-free, soy-free and gluten-free.
There's nothing more satisfying than a really simple dish that's ready in 20 minutes, yet flavorful and super delicious. Pasta dishes most often fall into this category which is why we have pasta in different variations at least twice a week 🙂
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- For the coconut milk sauce (without the mushrooms) you'll only need 6 basic ingredients most of which are simple pantry staples.
- It's ready in 20 minutes!
- It's super versatile! You can play around with the flavors in this sauce by adding different spices and toppings (suggestions below).
Ingredients & Substitution Notes
- Coconut Milk: The base ingredient for this recipe is canned coconut milk. The fat content and thickness of coconut milk can vary a lot depending on the brand you choose. If you prefer a really creamy coconut milk sauce I would recommend choosing a full-fat coconut milk. The higher the coconut content, the creamier the coconut milk (you can check the label at the back of the can). If you prefer a sauce that's lower in calories you can opt for a light coconut milk. The sauce will probably be less creamy though.
- (Vegan) Parmesan: Together with the nutritional yeast it adds some cheesy flavors to the sauce. Choose a vegan parmesan to keep this recipe vegan or skip and add more nutritional yeast instead.
- Nutritional Yeast: Adds some additional flavor. You can find nutritional yeast in most bigger stores or in health food stores. Similar to the parmesan you could skip it and replace it with more (vegan) parmesan.
- Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce. Alternatively, you could use any other starch such as potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder.
- Mushrooms (optional): If you decide to include the crispy mushrooms (highly recommended) you could go for any mushroom type you like. I prefer using mushrooms with slightly more texture such as Shiitake or Oyster but button mushrooms would also work.
- Soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika (optional): ingredients needed to prepare the crispy mushrooms.
- Pasta: Any pasta such as spaghetti, tagliatelle or fettuccine would work here. It also tasted great with whole wheat pasta. Opt for a gluten-free pasta to keep this recipe gluten-free.
How to Make Pasta Sauce With Coconut Milk
The basic recipe for this coconut milk pasta sauce includes only 6 ingredients. To keep it quick and easy I chose to throw everything into a blender. However, this vegan pasta sauce could also be prepared without a blender.
Step 1: Prepare crispy mushrooms (optional)
If you choose to add the crispy mushrooms (which I highly recommend) then start by whisking together all the ingredients for the sauce that the mushrooms soak in. Add soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup and smoked paprika to a small to medium-sized bowl and whisk until well combined. Add chopped mushrooms of choice and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Drain any excess liquid from the mushrooms.
Then transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15-20 minutes until slighly cripsy.
Step 2: Prepare Coconut Milk Sauce
- With a blender: Now it's time to prepare the coconut sauce. Add coconut milk, garlic, parmesan, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth. Then add the sauce to a large skillet or pan.
- Without a blender: Take away about ⅛ cup of the coconut milk and put it into a small bowl or mug. Add the corn starch and whisk until fully dissolved. Then heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for a couple of seconds. Add the coconut milk (including the ⅛ cup with the dissolved corn starch), parmesan, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to the saucepan.
Step 3: Let simmer + add mushrooms
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer over low-medium heat while constantly whisking until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add your crispy mushrooms and enjoy over your pasta of choice!
- Canned Tomatoes: Coconut milk and tomatoes pair very well (think of curries). This vegan coconut milk sauce can easily be turned into a creamy tomato sauce by adding 1 can of chopped tomatoes.
- Fresh Tomatoes: Add a couple of cherry tomatoes if you don't want to turn the whole sauce into a marinara sauce and prefer subtle tomato flavors instead.
- Fresh Herbs: For an Italian twist on this pasta sauce, add some herbs such as fresh basil or parsley.
- Cheese: The sauce already includes parmesan as well as nutritional yeast. If you're after some extra cheesy flavors though, try adding some cheese (cheddar being our favorite). Additional parmesan tastes amazing as topping. You could try our Vegan Parmesan for a dairy-free alternative.
- Peas: Another one of our favorite add-ins are peas. They add some additional flavor, texture as well as plant protein. You could use frozen or canned ones.
- Leafy Greens: For an additional nutritional boost, feel free to add some leavy greens such as a handful of baby spinach or chard.
- Coconut Milk: The fat content and thickness of coconut milk can vary a lot depending on the brand you choose. For an ultra creamy coconut milk sauce I would recommend choosing a full-fat coconut milk. You can check the label at the back, the higher the amount of coconut extract in the can, the creamier the milk. Anything above 65% is usually pretty creamy.
- Refrigerate: The sauce keeps up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Freeze: Alternatively, you can freeze the sauce for up to 3 months in a freezer-friendly container. Let thaw in the fridge or on the counter overnight
- Reheat: Add a tiny splash of vegetable broth and reheat the sauce in the microwave or a pan.
Most people think of curries and stews when it comes to coconut milk. However, coconut milk is super versatile and tastes amazing in a huge variety of dishes. Because of its high fat content it adds a lot of texture and creaminess to a dish. Hence it makes an amazing pasta sauce ingredient for creating a super creamy yet dairy-free sauce.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Yes. You could pour leftover coconut milk into ice cube trays and freeze it.
Thanks to all the other ingredients, especially the cheese and smoked paprika, the coconut flour is veeeery subtle in this dish.
Other Coconut Milk Recipes To Try
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Coconut Milk Pasta Sauce
Crispy Mushrooms (Optional)
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder (or liquid smoke)
- 7 oz mushrooms *see notes
Coconut Milk Sauce
- 13,5 oz can (full-fat) coconut milk *see notes
- 2 garlic cloves (or garlic powder)
- ⅓ cup (vegan) parmesan (or more nutritional yeast)
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast (or more parmesan)
- 1 tablespoon corn starch (or tapioca, potato, arrowroot)
- salt + pepper
- 6 oz pasta of choice (or more/less depending on preferred portion size)
- Start by cooking your pasta according to package instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Add soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup and smoked paprika to a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Add chopped mushrooms of choice and set aside for about 10 minutes (the mushrooms will absorb most of the liquid).
- Drain any excess liquid from the mushrooms. Then transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15-20 minutes until slightly cripsy.
- In the meantime, prepare the coconut milk sauce. Add coconut milk, garlic, parmesan, nutritional yeast, corn starch, salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Taste and adjust salt.
- Then add the sauce to a large saucepan.
- Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer over low-medium heat while constantly whisking until sauce is slightly thickened.
- Add crispy mushrooms and enjoy over your pasta of choice!
- Mushrooms: I prefer using mushrooms with more texture such as shiitake or oyster mushrooms. Button mushrooms would also work but leave you with a less chewy texture.
- Coconut Milk: If you prefer a really creamy coconut milk sauce I would recommend choosing a full-fat coconut milk. For a sauce lower in calories can opt for a light coconut milk (the sauce won't be as creamy though).
- Storage: Refrigerate sauce for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Feeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight. To reheat, add a tiny splash of vegetable broth and reheat the sauce in the microwave or a pan.
- Recipe without a blender: Take away about ⅛ cup of the coconut milk and put it into a small bowl. Add the corn starch and whisk until fully dissolved. Then heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add grated garlic and saute for a couple of seconds. Add the coconut milk (including the ⅛ cup with the dissolved corn starch), parmesan, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to the saucepan. Continue with the steps above.