Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce and Zoodles

A fresh and creamy zoodles (zucchini noodles) recipe from Chef Hillori Hansen, with a deliciously easy Vegan Cream Sauce.

how to make creamy vegan pestoThis Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce recipe is packed with fresh basil flavor and a touch of garlic. It’s so delicious, you’ll never miss the dairy. My beautiful friend Chef Hillori Hansen perfected the recipe. (You may remember her from our video about Spatchcocking.) We’ve served this sauce on fresh gluten-free pasta, over grilled fish, and we both love it with zoodles. This sauce is truly stand-alone delicious, and could easily be called “Creamy Vegan Pesto” or something similar.

I often make it without the miso (you make need to kick up the salt a touch) because the stores in my town don’t carry it.  I’ve made it without the nutritional yeast too. I like the funky faux Parmesan flavor the yeast adds when I’m serving it on pasta or warm quinoa salad, but I prefer it without when I’m using the sauce for a salad dressing or with fish. I suggest you try it Hillori’s way first (as written) and then make your own customizations.how to make zoodles - zucchini noodle

We’ve shared the super-easy recipe for Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce below, and showed you how-to with a video. The biggest part is soaking the cashews – once you do that, you’re off to the races. (Sometimes I forget, and soak them for 1.5 hours in really warm water. It’s not as good, but it works in a pinch.)  I usually make a double batch of the sauce and stow some in the fridge – it’s easy if you have a big blender.

Along with the sauce recipe, we’re sharing directions for making the zoodles (zucchini noodles) and assembling a colorful, flavorful meal. The recipe serves three as a main course or four as a side. Just make a few more zoodles if you’ve got a bigger crowd.

Seriously – don’t skip soaking the cashews, that’s an important step!

If you’d like to add a little more protein to this dish, these Roasted Shrimp with Sweet Peppers are fabulous on top. For a meat-free meal, serve alongside Warming Root Vegetable + Turmeric Soup in the winter or Traditional Gazpacho when it’s sunny out. They’re all plenty fabulous for a party and simple enough for a weeknight meal.

Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce And Zoodles Recipe

A fresh and creamy zoodles (zucchini noodles) recipe from Chef Hillori Hansen, with Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce that's deliciously garlicky and super easy.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Soaking3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cream sauce recipe, dairy free sauce recipe, gluten-free pasta, zoodles recipe
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 466kcal
Author: Hillori Hansen


For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup cashews soaked until soft*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
  • 2 teaspoons miso
  • 2 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • *Typically you need to soak nuts a minimum of 3-6 hours to get them soft. Soak in water rinse and drain.

For the zucchini noodles and assembly

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • Salt for sprinkling noodles
  • 1 cup cherry or pear tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup basil cream sauce
  • 3 large basil leaves, chopped


  • Blend cashews, water, lemon juice and zest, nutritional yeast, miso & garlic until smooth.
  • Add chopped garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Blend on lowest speed to incorporate.
  • Spiralize the noodles or use a peeler to shave around the zucchini into thin strip pieces (roughly 4 cups).
  • Sprinkle salt over noodles and let rest for about 15 minutes (this should pull out water from the noodles).
  • Rinse and pat the noodles dry with paper towels.
  • Stir in the sauce, tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.
  • Garnish with chopped basil.



Calories: 466kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 1282mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1188IU | Vitamin C: 79mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 6mg

Photos: Meg van der Kruik – she had to make more sauce because her family couldn’t stop eating it!

Dairy-Free Basil Cream Sauce recipe

Eat your colors, friends. But do it deliciously.