This simple coconut milk pasta sauce is creamy and rich with a velvety texture and lots of flavorful spices. With under 10 ingredients and ready in under 30 minutes, it’s perfect for busy weeknight dinners. This tomato sauce has the loveliest hint of coconut flavor and is an excellent choice for coating your favorite pasta like rigatoni.
Why You’ll Love This Coconut Milk Pasta
This vegan coconut milk pasta sauce is as delicious as it is easy to make and it’s easily becoming my favorite pasta dish (along with my Cashew Cream Pasta)! Here are a few reasons why you’ll fall in love with this recipe:
- Creamy and rich – made with full-fat coconut milk, this sauce has a velvety texture that will coat your pasta perfectly.
- Flavorful and satisfying – with the combination of garlic, onion, herbs, and spices, this sauce is packed with mouthwatering flavors that will leave you craving more.
- Simple ingredients – made with less than 10 ingredients, most of which you likely already have in your pantry.
- Quick and easy – ready in under 30 minutes, it’s perfect for weeknight dinners when you’re short on time.
- Versatile – this sauce pairs beautifully with your favorite pasta and can be customized with different vegan proteins or sides.
You can create this easy vegan pasta sauce with just a few pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need:
- High quality extra virgin olive oil – essential for sautéing the onion and garlic, adding richness to the sauce.
- Yellow onion – provides a mild sweetness and depth of flavor to the sauce.
- Garlic – a key ingredient for infusing the sauce with delicious aroma and taste.
- Full fat coconut milk – the secret to this sauce’s luscious, creamy texture. Coconut cream can be used for an even creamier texture.
- Pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes – the base for your sauce, creating a rich and tangy tomato flavor. I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce, but you can use your favorite store-bought marinara, tomato sauce, or regular crushed tomatoes! If using crushed tomatoes, be sure to add more seasonings to taste.
- Dried oregano – adds an earthy, slightly sweet taste to the sauce.
- Fresh basil – brings a vibrant, aromatic touch to the dish.
- Salt and red pepper flakes – essential for seasoning and adding a subtle kick to the sauce.
- Sugar (optional) – to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and add a touch of sweetness.
- Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes – a tasty garnish that adds a burst of flavor and color.
- Rigatoni pasta – the perfect pasta shape to hold the creamy sauce and make every bite delicious.
If you’re looking to make a few changes, here are some possible substitutions:
- Olive oil – coconut oil or another oil can be used in place of olive oil. You could also use vegan butter.
- Yellow onion – shallots or red onion can be used instead of yellow onion.
- Pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes – tomato paste with water or diced tomatoes can be used instead of pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes. The sauce will like be lighter in color if using diced tomatoes.
- Fresh basil – dried basil can be used in place of fresh basil but the flavor will be slightly different.
- Other spices – feel free to add in a bit of onion powder, garlic powder, or other spices to taste.
- Red pepper flakes – black pepper, chili powder, or cayenne pepper can be used instead of red pepper flakes.
- Rigatoni pasta – feel free to substitute with your favorite pasta or use gluten-free pasta.
- Large skillet or saucepan
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Pot for boiling pasta
Follow these simple steps to make this creamy coconut milk pasta sauce:
STEP 1: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
STEP 2: Stir in the spices and sauté for 1-2 more minutes. Then, add the can of coconut milk and pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes. You can also add in the sun-dried tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, until the sauce has reduced by half.
STEP 3: While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside. You can drizzle a bit of olive oil on the cooked pasta to keep them from sticking together.
📌 TIP: For the best results, cook your pasta al dente!
STEP 4: Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is evenly coated. Add a pinch of salt, sugar or pepper to taste. Garnish with more fresh basil.
Serve your vegan coconut milk pasta immediately, garnished with additional fresh basil leaves or other fresh herbs and oil-packed sun dried tomatoes. To make it a complete meal, consider adding one of the following sides or vegan proteins:
- A fresh mixed greens salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
- A flavorful arugula salad with toasted almonds, and a lemony dressing.
- For a cheesy flavor, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese.
- Grilled or roasted vegetables like brussel sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, seasoned with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Steamed or sautéed spinach or kale with garlic and a splash of lemon juice.
- Add baked or pan-seared tofu, tempeh, or your favorite plant-based protein for an extra boost of nutrients and heartiness.
Store any leftover coconut cream pasta sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The sauce coated pasta can also be stored in the fridge.
To reheat, gently warm on the stove or in the microwave, adding a splash of water or coconut milk if needed to thin the sauce.
Follow these tips for the best vegan coconut tomato pasta sauce!
Taste the sauce as it simmers and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You can add more red pepper flakes or black pepper for extra heat.
Be sure to use canned coconut milk for the best texture and results!
If using crushed tomatoes, add dried oregano, salt, basil, or Italian seasoning to taste. For an extra touch of sweetness, add sugar to taste.
Simmer the sauce to help reduce the volume and to create a thicker texture. Keep in mind, the sauce will also thicken as you mix in the cooked pasta and as it cools.
While light coconut milk can be used, the sauce will be less creamy and rich. For the best texture, I recommend using full-fat coconut milk or even coconut cream.
Yes, you can freeze the sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 months. However, the texture may change slightly when reheated, so I recommend enjoying it fresh when possible.
Absolutely! Feel free to add sautéed mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, or any other veggies you like to make this dish heartier.
Yes, you can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the sauce gently on the stove or in the microwave, and cook your pasta fresh for the best results.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes:
- Creamy One Pot Zucchini Pasta
- Vegan Tomato Pasta Bake
- Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Lemon Tahini Pasta with Garlic
- Vegan Baked Ziti
Did you make this vegan Coconut Milk Pasta Recipe?
I’d love to know! Leave a star rating and comment below!
- 2 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced small
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced (about 4-5 cloves)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup tomato pasta sauce of choice or crushed tomatoes * see notes
- ⅓ cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes
- ½ tsp cane sugar, optional- to taste
- ½ cup fresh chopped basil
- ½ lb dried pasta of choice like rigatoni
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
- Stir in the dried oregano, salt (if using), red pepper flakes and sauté for 1-2 more minutes.
- Then, add the can of coconut milk, the pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by half.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside. For the best results, cook your pasta al dente.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is evenly coated. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
- Add the fresh chopped basil, sugar (if using) and a pinch of salt or pepper to taste. Serve warm.
If using crushed tomatoes, add dried oregano, salt, basil, or Italian seasoning to taste. I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce in this recipe.
Be sure to use canned full fat coconut milk for the best results.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 158mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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