Dairy-Free Baked Ziti! This recipe will AMAZE you. The cashew cream sauce sets up just like ricotta – but totally dairy-free!
You also might like this dairy-free lasagna!
I feel like I’ve been holding out on you with this recipe. I’ve made this Dairy-Free Baked Ziti many times now and have perfected the recipe.
Just like this dairy-free mac and cheese, dairy-free spinach artichoke dip and dairy-free potato soup, believe me when I say it – this recipe will amaze you and fool anyone who tastes it!
I love hearty, cheesy pasta dishes and have really missed them since cutting out most dairy. Instead of a classic ricotta cheese mixture, this dish uses a dairy-free cashew and egg based “cheese”.
Serve it with this gluten-free garlic bread that includes a dairy-free option!
And before you get all confused about the eggs let’s remember – eggs are not dairy! People with food allergies will know the difference.
Eggs are often mistaken for dairy because of the 90s food pyramid and the “dairy” section of the grocery store. However, eggs are from chickens and dairy is from cows. It’s a totally different animal and protein.
I personally can eat eggs but can’t eat much dairy. Many people do better on gluten-free/casein-free diets. Eggs have no casein so this recipe is meant for people with dairy allergies or intolerances – not for vegans.
My dairy-eating family absolutely loves this pasta. Every time I make it my husband asks me if I used real cheese. You have to taste it to believe it! The cashew sauce will look liquidy and runny when you first make it, but will set up perfectly in the oven thanks to the eggs. So don’t be alarmed with it looks nothing like ricotta initially!
My favorite gluten-free pasta to use is the Jovial Brown Rice Penne. It’s my favorite gluten-free pasta and I always have it on hand. Not sponsored – just my favorite. That pasta is also delicious with this gluten-free spaghetti sauce.
I hope you enjoy this dairy-free dish as much as we do! If you’re dairy-free but can eat eggs you should also try this:
Dairy-Free Buffalo Chicken Dip
Dairy-Free Baked Ziti (Gluten-Free)
For the Creamy Sauce:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
For the Baked Ziti:
- 1 lb gluten-free tubular pasta I use Jovial Foods Penne
- olive oil
- 1 lb Italian sausage or ground beef
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 26 oz jar marinara sauce I like Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- Place the raw cashews in a bowl. Cover with boiling water (the 1 cup of water will be used later, just use enough boiling water to cover the cashews) and let sit for 30 minutes. You can make the pasta and tomato-meat sauce in the meantime.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the pasta according to package instructions - but subtract a minute or so from the boil time so the pasta is al dente.
- In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil along with the Italian sausage and onion. Cook, breaking up into small pieces until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook until heated through for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup of fresh water along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until completely smooth. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. (The sauce will look very liquidy and runny but will set up in the oven.)
- Add a scoop of the tomato-meat sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread out evenly. Mix the pasta with 1/3 of the remaining tomato-meat sauce. Pour half of the pasta into the pan. Drizzle over half of the cashew sauce followed by another 1/3 of the sauce mixture. Add the remaining pasta followed by the rest of the cashew sauce and tomato-meat sauce.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
This looks delicious and I have not tried it yet but is there something I can use other than eggs for the sauce? I can’t have eggs. Thanks!
Unfortunately there isn’t a good substitute for the eggs! Sorry about that.
This pasta is just amazing! I absolutely love cheese and creamy sauces but about 2 months ago my pediatrician told me my breastfeeding baby may not be able to process the protein in dairy. Sure enough, not eating dairy makes all the difference to him. I on the other hand have been having craving dreams of Italian food for about the past three weeks. Finally I found this recipe and decided that the cost of cashews was worth an attempt if it cured my dairy fix!
Absolutely delicious! I love it more than the baked ziti recipes I made with real cheese. I feel like the cashew sauce has a bit more flavor than typical ricotta and it balances out the flavors amazingly. I did add a bit of basil, extra garlic, salt, pepper, and a spoonful of sugar to the sauce (it was just basic prego and needed a little extra). I did do almost an entire 46 oz jar of sauce as well…primarily because I spilled some spice and needed to rebalance it but would honestly stick to the extra sauce. I also read the directions wrong and mixed the pasta with all the sauce minus what I spooned into the bottom of the pan but it still worked great!
This is an amazingly flavored recipe and a fantastic fix for a good, dairy-free, Italian food craving! So grateful for this recipe and so happy I gave it a try! If your doubting, try it!
I’m so happy the pasta satisfied your creamy pasta cravings! Thanks for the comment!
This was amazing! My whole family loved it and it wasn’t too difficult to make. I got a Nutr machine and it made the sauce so quick and easy too.
I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂
Winner in our household! We haven’t had a pasta bake in so long due to the cheese aspect and not finding a good dairy free sub that melts. A definite crowd please that will be making a regular return – thank you:)
I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! It really is so exciting to have a creamy pasta bake when you’re dairy-free!
This is by far one of the best dinners I’ve eaten… ever. The prep was easy, everything came together beautifully and tastes AMAZING! I added in a little bit of plant based mozzarella through it as well.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the baked ziti! Thanks for the comment!
I bought all the ingredients for this but was concerned about the prep time and cleanup with making the cashew sauce. I have a 12 month old and she isn’t fond of the play pen. So I used a container of dairy free sour cream (made from cashews) and added the eggs to it. Worked great! I don’t have anything to compare it to since I’ve never made this recipe before but I will probably continue to “cheat” since it turned out so well.
Great to know it turned out well with dairy-free sour cream! Great idea! Thanks for the comment 🙂
Can this be made a day in advance and re heated?
Yes that works great!
Hi, my son is allergic to cashews. Will it taste good if I sub with almonds instead?
Unfortunately almonds won’t work the same as cashews!
This was delicious. Thank you for the recipe. If I half this recipe, do you think if I just add half of the ingredients, the pasta sauce and not the can of tomatoes, that would work?
Yes that should work great! I’m glad you like the recipe 🙂
This will become a frequent favourite in our household. My husband needs the dairy free gluten free option but my 20 year old twins and I loved it! Thanks so much for your recipe.
I’m so glad your family enjoys it! Thanks for the comment 🙂
Can I add in dairy free mozzarella on top for the extra cheesyness
Yes that will work great!
I made this tonight for my family it was excellent. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood on the lower east side of manhattan so I was basically weaned on italian food. My daughter doesn’t eat cheese and is visiting for the holidays. I haven’t made a ziti, stuffed shells, manicotti or lasagna in over 10 years because she doesn’t eat cheese..on a whim I googled cheese less ziti and your recipe popped up. I thought what the hell since I wanted something I could prepare early in day and then just reheat in oven for dinner. Well we absolutely were amazed how delicious this ziti turned out!!! I give it 10 plus! Absolutely delicious and like a traditional ziti I’m betting it will taste even more delicious tomorrow. Thank you for posting recipe.
This is the best comment ever! I’m so happy to hear you liked it. Happy your daughter could enjoy it!
Can this be set in the fridge to bake the next day? Or would the egg mix be not good?
Yes that should work great! I would worry more about the pasta holding up – but a day should be ok.
Excellent dish for my dairy free gluten free household! I’m looking at the posted nutrition facts. Do you have a tip on how to cut down on the sodium a little? Thank you for this recipe!