A Guide to Making the Best Cashew Cream (with Flavor Variations)

A comprehensive guide to making the best Cashew Cream! Includes tips on achieving that creamy texture every time, figuring out the right liquid ratio, five different flavor variations, and plenty of ideas for how to use cashew cream in your everyday cooking and meal prep.

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If you’re familiar with plant-based cooking, chances are you know about the superpowers of cashews. When soaked, raw cashews liquefy into creamy goodness that makes for indulgent treats from cheesecakes and raw desserts to creamy Alfredo sauces and cashew cream, the subject of today’s post.

Cashew cream is incredibly simple to make, but I’m not going to just leave you with a simple recipe.

  1. First, I’ll share the essential ingredients you need for cashew cream.

  2. Next comes my tips for making the best cashew cream, including the amount of liquid.

  3. Then, I’ll share my go-to basic cashew cream recipe + four flavor variations to spice up your meals.

  4. And finally, I’ll share with you ideas on how to incorporate cashew cream into your recipes and meal prep.

And of course, if you want more details or a more visual approach, I made a whole Youtube video that provides a guide for how to make the best cashew cream!

Ingredients for Cashew Cream: The Essentials

Raw Soaked Cashews

  • Unsurprisingly, cashew cream starts with cashews! But not any old cashes. You need raw cashews (not roasted, dry-roasted, or toasted) cashews.

  • I buy cashews in the bulk bin at Whole Foods or at Trader Joe’s (they are more affordable at Trader Joe’s but not plastic-free).

Water or Plant-Based Milk

  • In order for cashews to liquefy, they need a helping hand from some liquid. Water is the most commonly used liquid, but you could use an unsweetened plant-based milk to make it extra creamy. Some options include oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, or if you really love cashews…cashew milk!

Salt

  • As in all of my recipes, I always use kosher salt or sea salt. Salt is necessary. Sorry, cashew cream will be gross if you don’t add salt.

Lemon Juice

  • It’s important to add an acidic ingredient like lemon juice to neutralize the taste of cashews and to give the cream a bit of fresh pop in flavor. Not that the taste of cashews is bad, but try making cashew cream without lemon juice, and you’ll see what I mean. It’ll taste bland.

cashew cream

Ingredients for Cashew Cream: The Add-ons

The only essential ingredients you need to make cashew cream are soaked raw cashews, water, salt, and lemon juice…but you can make it taste even better by adding a few extra ingredients.

Nutritional Yeast

  • I add a few spoons of this superstar ingredient to all of my cashew cream recipes because it adds that nice kick of umami without being overpowering.

Garlic

  • Garlic adds more flavor to everything! And when you add raw garlic, it adds a nice, sharp, pungent bite. Plus, you don’t even have to mince it up because the food processor or blender will do the heavy lifting for you.

Seasonings

  • I’ll get into more specific seasonings in the flavor variations, but for a traditional savory cashew cream recipe, I like to add a little onion powder (and garlic powder if I’m not using fresh garlic).

Lemon Zest

  • When you want a zingy fresh bite, just a small amount of lemon zest will go a long way!

cashew cream

Tips for Making the Best Cashew Cream

Soaking the cashews

You gotta soak the cashews. Sorry if it’s annoying, but you can’t make cashew cream without soaking the cashews.

The ideal method is to place your raw cashews in a bowl and just cover them with cool or cold water, and soak overnight or for 8 hours.

But, if you forget to soak your cashews, you can try the quick and easy method: place your raw cashews in a bowl and just cover them with boiling water, and soak for 1 hour.

The Right Cashew : Liquid Ratio

This headline is a bit misleading because there isn’t one right ratio. The best cashew : liquid ratio depends on what you are using your cashew cream for.

Also, please keep in mind that if you are using a blender such as a Vitamix, it will be incredibly difficult if not impossible to blend up just 1 cup of cashews with less than 1/2 cup liquid. So if you are looking to make a really thick cashew cream (the first two options), I recommend either (a) using a food processor instead of a blender or (b) making a larger batch so you have at least 1/2 cup of liquid. Also note that cashew cream does thicken considerably as it rests in the fridge.

In order of thickness, here is my recommended cashew : liquid ratio for 1 cup of cashews.

1 cup cashews : 1/4 cup liquid

  • Texture: Super thick

  • Use for: A frosting for cakes/cupcakes/desserts (I recommend using plant-based milk as the liquid)

1 cup cashews: 1/3 cup liquid

  • Texture: Very thick

  • Use for: A dip or as a filling in raw desserts/cakes

1 cup cashews: 1/2 cup liquid

  • Texture: Thick

  • Use for: A dip, stir into or spoon over savory food

1 cup cashews: 3/4 cup liquid

  • Texture: Somewhat thick

  • Use for: A sauce or drizzle onto savory food

The Right Equipment: High-Powered Blenders or Food Processors

I don’t want to make it sound like you need to spend $$$ on a Vitamix to make cashew cream (though the one I linked to is a refurbished one, so it’s less pricy than usual), but you can’t use a standard kitchen blender. Unless you want cashew bit cream. Because you will have lots of bits of unblended cashew pieces in your uncreamy cashew cream.

You’ll need either a high-powered blender or a good-quality food processor. A high-powered blender like a Vitamix takes about 2 minutes to blend up cashew cream into a really smooth cream, and a food processor takes closer to 4 minutes.

I recommend scraping down the sides of the blender and food processor as you go. This ensures that all the cashew bits get pulverized/liquefied. Because cashew cream is so much better than cashew bit cream.

Five Cashew Cream Recipes

All of these recipes use 1 cup of raw cashews and make about 1 cup of cashew cream, slightly more. You can store cashew cream in a glass jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (sometimes it lasts longer).

cashew cream

Cashew Cream

5 from 13 votes
Your basic, all-purpose cashew cream. Perfect for adding to grain bowls, as a pasta sauce, or even as a spread in a sandwich.
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 5 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in cool water for 8 hours (or in boiling water for 1 hour)
  • ½ - ¾ cup water (see the cashew : liquid ratios in the blog post)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the remaining ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as you go. This will take about 2 minutes in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.
  • Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more salt for saltiness, more nutritional yeast for cheesy/umami flavors, or more lemon juice for acidity.

Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream

5 from 11 votes
This cashew cream has a spicy bite thanks to ginger and sriracha. Perfect paired with roasted veggies, rice noodles, or in a buddha bowl.
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 5 mins
Course: Condiment
Keyword: dairy-free
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in cool water for 8 hours (or in boiling water for 1 hour )
  • ½ - ¾ cup water (see the cashew : liquid ratios in the blog post)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1- 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha, adjust to your spice tolerance
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the remaining ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as you go. This will take about 2 minutes in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.
  • Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more Sriracha for a spicier cashew cream, more nutritional yeast for cheesy/umami flavors, or more lime juice for acidity.

Rosemary-Miso Cashew Cream

5 from 9 votes
This Rosemary Miso cashew cream adds decadence to hearty fall and winter foods and is a great flavor booster for pumpkin or mushroom-flavored risottos.
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 10 mins
Course: Condiment
Keyword: dairy-free
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in cool water for 8 hours (or in boiling water for 1 hour )
  • ½ - ¾ cup water (see the cashew : liquid ratios in the blog post)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard or Dijon mustard

Instructions

  • Make the rosemary-infused olive oil: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the rosemary sprigs. Allow the rosemary to cook for a bit, tossing the sprigs around occasionally, until the oil is bubbling and smells very fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the herbs using a slotted spoon and reserve the oil.
  • Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the rosemary-infused olive oil and all other ingredients. Blend on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as you go. This will take about 2 minutes in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.
  • Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more miso paste for a rich umami bite, more lemon juice for acidity, or more mustard for sharp pungency.

Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream

5 from 11 votes
This Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream is perfect as a dip for quesadillas, spooned into burritos, or dolloped on top of tacos
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 5 mins
Course: Condiment
Keyword: dairy-free
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked in cool water for 8 hours (or in boiling water for 1 hour )
  • ½ cup water see the cashew : liquid ratios in the blog post; the cilantro has some water so I use a bit less than normal
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3/4-1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1-2 chopped jalapeño peppers I use 2 with the seeds/membranes for a spicy version; use 1 pepper for a milder version
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the remaining ingredients. Start with 1 jalapeño pepper and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Blend on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as you go. This will take about 2 minutes in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.
  • Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more chopped jalapeño for a spicier cashew cream, more salt for saltiness, more nutritional yeast for cheesy/umami flavors, or more lime juice for acidity.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream

5 from 10 votes
Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream makes for an amazing filling in raw cakes and tarts. Or if you're being healthier, drizzle it on top of dates or fresh fruit for a wholesome dessert.
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 5 mins
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in cool water for 8 hours (or in boiling water for 1 hour )
  • ½ cup creamy plant-based milk (I used coconut milk from a carton)
  • A pinch of sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 4-inch vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the remaining ingredients. If using vanilla extract, start with just 1 teaspoon. Blend on high speed until smooth, thick and creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as you go. This will take about 2 minutes in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or about 4 minutes in a food processor.
  • Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding more maple syrup for sweetness, more lemon juice for acidity, or more cinnamon and/or vanilla as desired.
row of vegan cashew creams on cutting board

Recipe Ideas for Cashew Cream

Drizzle over roasted veggies

  • Roasted winter squash (such as butternut squash, honeynut squash, kabocha squash) is particularly good with the Rosemary-Miso Cashew Cream

  • Broccoli is particularly good with the Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream

Warm Lentil Salad and Roasted Delicata Squash with Cilantro Cashew Cream

Make a creamy pasta sauce

Simple Cashew Cream Pasta

An alternative to sour cream

  • To get that characteristic sour cream tang, add a bit of apple cider vinegar to your cashew cream recipe.

  • Here’s my basic recipe for cashew sour cream.

Spoon over grain bowls or proteins

  • Serve burrito bowls with the Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream

  • Drizzle the Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream over baked/fried tofu

Stir into mashed potatoes, soups, or risotto

  • Add a little decadence to hearty fall and winter foods by stirring in some cashew cream at the end of cooking or as a garnish

  • Stir the Rosemary-Miso Cashew Cream into pumpkin or mushroom-flavored risottos

  • Stir into mashed potatoes for an extra decadent holiday treat

Dip or spreads

  • Serve the Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream as a dip for quesadillas, or spoon into burritos, dollop on top of tacos

  • Use as a spread for wraps or as a spread for sandwiches in lieu of mayonnaise

Smashed Chickpea Wraps

In casseroles

  • Replace heavy dairy-based cream sauces with cashew cream in casseroles, gratins, or baked dishes

In oatmeal or porridge

  • Stir a sweet cashew cream, such as the Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream, into cooked oatmeal or porridge for a breakfast treat

In dessert

  • Use a sweet cashew cream, such as the Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream, as a filling for raw cakes and tarts

  • Spoon the Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream into dates or drizzle on top of fresh fruit for a healthy dessert.

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30 comments on A Guide to Making the Best Cashew Cream (with Flavor Variations)

  1. Chelsea Flacke

    IS sriracha vegan? If not, could I use Franks?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Chelsea, the Huy Fong brand uses sugar that is filtered through bone char, but there are many different vegan-friendly versions of Sriracha out there. We use Sky Valley Sriracha over here at the Rainbow Plant Life headquarters but any organic brand will have vegan sugar in it! Other vegan sriracha brands are Yellowbird, Natural Value and Ninja Squirrel. You could also use Frank’s Hot sauce in place of Sriracha if you’d like. Hope that helped!

  2. MaryCatherine Morin

    5 stars
    These cashew cream recipes are the best that I have ever made. Thank you so much Nisha for your recipe development and especially for your gracious sharing. I have shared your recipes with my son in Australia, he gives them rave reviews as well. Mary

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We are so happy to hear that MaryCatherine. Thanks for the kind words, we are so glad you enjoy the recipes!

  3. Rayleen Norman

    5 stars
    I just made the cilantro lime cashew cream and it is amazing!!!

  4. Sarah Carter

    5 stars
    You have really helped me up my whole foods game. Thank you! I love all the variations and suggestions on uses!

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