Inspired by the famous French onion soup, this vegan French onion pasta is a definite crowd-pleaser. The rich flavours and creamy sauce make this caramelized onion pasta the perfect comfort meal for a chilly night.
A bowl of French onion soup is the epitome of comfort food, but what happens if you take those rich flavours and make them into a pasta dish (and veganize it in the process)?
I decided to find out and the result was beyond delicious!
This vegan French onion pasta takes a while to cook because caramelizing the onions is a labour of love, but the result is totally worth it.
You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a delicious dairy-free French onion pasta, and apart from having to keep an eye on a pan of onions as they caramelize, this is a pretty simple recipe.
Ingredients and substitutions
Olive oil + vegan butter — A mix of extra virgin olive oil and vegan butter is the perfect base for caramelizing onions. You’ll get a high smoking point from the olive oil and just the right amount of creaminess from the butter.
Onions — Any onions are good options for caramelizing. I used yellow onions, which have a bright flavour with lots of sweetness, but you can also try this recipe with red onions with less sweetness but a deeper flavour.
Agave syrup — The natural sugar in the agave syrup helps with the browning process while also enhancing the onion's natural sweetness.
Red wine vinegar — A bit of red wine vinegar takes the caramelization process a step further.
Coconut milk — I make this caramelized onion pasta sauce with coconut milk, which you can feel a bit. If you don’t like it, you can use a plant-based soy or cashew nut cream instead. If you go for coconut milk, full-fat is best here because it makes the sauce extra creamy.
Nutritional yeast — This is optional, but I highly recommend it as a vegan substitute for Parmesan. You can sprinkle some nutritional yeast on individual bowls before serving if you like.
Pasta — I made this caramelized onion pasta with pasta shells, but just about any type of short pasta would be perfect here.
How do you make vegan French onion pasta?
Add the onion and toss well to cover in the olive and butter mix. Fry the onions for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Lower the heat to low-medium (or low, depending on how strong your burner is) to prevent the onions from drying out and continue to fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the 10 minutes have passed, stir in the agave syrup and red wine vinegar. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fresh thyme.
Continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is brown and starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.
It’s important to make sure the onions don’t burn — you should cook them enough to caramelize, though.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water, according to the instructions on the package. Reserve some pasta water before draining.
When the onions are caramelized, stir in the coconut milk. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then stir in the nutritional yeast.
Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens, then stir in the nutritional yeast.
Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well to cover in sauce. Stir in the fresh parsley, season to taste and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes and tips
- Make sure you slice your onions as evenly as possible. If there’s a big difference in the size of the slices, it won’t cook evenly.
- To further help with the caramelizing process, you can add a teaspoon of sugar with the agave syrup and red wine vinegar.
- You don’t have to use a lid to caramelize the onions, but you can cover the pan for the first couple of minutes of cooking. That way, the onions will release their liquid quicker.
- This pasta is best served immediately, but leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. You can reheat the pasta in the microwave.
If you liked this vegan French onion pasta, you might also like some of my other easy vegan pasta recipes:
- Easy Vegan Lentil Bolognese
- Vegan Pasta alla Norma
- Creamy Vegan Lemon and Basil Pasta
- Vegan Caponata Pasta
- Spaghetti Arrabiata