I love myself a creamy pasta, but you know what I love even more? Spicy Alfredo sauce!
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💭Why make this recipe?
- Easy (but not boring) weeknight dinner - one pot recipe ready in just 30 minutes!
- Super easy to customize: make it vegan by adding coconut cream, add veggies to make it more nutritious, or switch up the pasta type!
My spicy Alfredo sauce uses red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, habanero peppers, heavy cream, and fresh Parmesan cheese. I know what you're thinking, is it even an Alfredo anymore? Technically, Alfredo sauce is any type of rich, creamy sauce typically made with Parmesan and butter, so yes it is!
📖 Ingredient notes - tips and swaps
- Adjust spice levels: seed or leave out habanero to reduce spiciness considerably or substitute it with jalapenos to retain a bit of the kick.
- Adjust creaminess: use half and half, or fat-free half and half in place of heavy cream without affecting the creaminess of the dish
- Use long pasta: cream sauces go best with long and flat noodles like fettuccine, spaghetti, tagliatelle or pappardelle
⏲️ Step-by-step instructions
Blend red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and habanero peppers (optional) to make the base. I typically just add vegetable stock to this as I'm blending (since you'll need to add that to the pot to cook the pasta anyway).
Saute onions in a large pot or Dutch oven. Then add the red pepper base along with vegetable stock and bring it to a light boil.
Now, add the pasta into the pot and cook for about 3-4 minutes until it's fully submerged. I try to move the pasta every 30 seconds to make sure it doesn't stick.
Develop the cream component using heavy cream (if you eat dairy) or coconut cream (if you're vegan). If you're vegan, you can also use nutritional yeast with almond milk or coconut milk for a nuttier flavor!
Once the cream is in, turn the heat to a low simmer, close the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. The pasta should be cooked by now. Finally, add freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, top with fresh herbs like basil or even a handful of scallions.
👩🏽🍳 Quick tips for spicy Alfredo sauce
Yep. If you have a jar of Alfredo sauce sitting in your fridge, just add the blended red pepper paste to that on a stove top and saute for 3-5 minutes until they are mixed. You will have to cook the pasta separately in this case.
You can oven roast the peppers before blending. I slice them, remove seeds, add some olive oil, and throw them in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes. You can also throw the tomatoes and onions in there on the same sheet. This gives the sauce a more charred flavor
You can add fresh mushrooms, shallots, asparagus, peas, broccoli, or corn to this spicy Alfredo sauce! I suggest adding them along with the broth to allow them to cook through. Mushrooms add moisture, so you might end up with a bit more sauce than if you make this recipe without mushrooms (but it's still great for scooping up with some bread!)
♨️ Storage & serving suggestions
This spicy Alfredo pasta stays well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Portion into airtight containers before you store, then reheat each portion. To ensure creaminess, add a tablespoon of cream or a couple of tablespoons of milk before you reheat.
If you enjoyed this recipe, check out some of my other "spicy" recipes:
- Blender or Food Processor
For the pepper base:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tomato, medium
- ¼ onion, medium yellow
- 1 habanero pepper, optional! Adjust to spice - they're really spicy.
- 1 cup vegetable broth
For the creaminess:
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup parmesan, shaved
For the pasta:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¼ onion, chopped, medium yellow
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 8 - 10 oz long pasta, dry (spaghetti, fettuccine, papparadelle)
- 2-3 tablespoon fresh basil, for garnish
- 2 tablespoon parmesan, shaved, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- Bkend red bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and habanero peppers with water in a blender (puree like consistency). Sometimes, for convenience, I like to add my broth here while blending - this helps with blenders that are not super high-powered and makes sure there's enough liquid.
- Heat a pot or Dutch oven with vegetable oil and saute onions for about 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the pepper base (and broth if you haven't already) as well as minced garlic to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat until the sauce starts to boil
- Now, add the pasta to this pot and stir every 30 seconds until the pasta is fully submerged in the liquid (about 2 to 3 minutes). Then, close the lid, turn the heat to medium, and cook for about 8-9 minutes (total cook time so far should be about a minute or two under package directions)
- Add the cream to the pot, give it a good stir along with any seasoning (salt, pepper, etc. that you'd like) and cook uncovered for another 1-2 minutes (the total cook time should be roughly the package time). Finally, turn off the heat, add Parmesan and give it a good mix.
- You can garnish with fresh basil, scallions and more Parmesan and serve hot (all optional!)
- Vegan substitutions: Substitute heavy cream with coconut cream or blend equal parts nutritional yeast, almond milk and a handful of soaked cashews
- Vegetables: You can add vegetables when you add the red pepper base and broth so it can cook through. Note that some vegetables (like mushroom) can increase water content in the recipe (doesn't impact overall quality of dish, but you might end up with a bit more sauce than outlined in this recipe - great for scooping with bread!)
- For additional charred flavor: roast red peppers, tomatoes and onions in oven at 375F for 20 minutes before blending!
Note: This post was originally written February 24, 2020 as a vegan red pepper Alfredo recipe. It was updated on August 16, 2020 significantly (including actual recipe).