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 10 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 7 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 6 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 8 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 6 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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24 comments on A Guide to Making the Best Cashew Cream (with Flavor Variations)

  1. Manuela

    This sauces are epic! Sooooo delicious and creamy ☆☆☆☆☆
    I soaked the cashews like forever because I do not own a potent highspeed blender 😅 It still worked and there were no chunks left in the sauces. Thanks you so so much for this incredible recipe. Can you just never stop creating new recipes? 😁 Your site is my go-to-place whenever I need a new inspiration.

  2. Cathy

    This is such a good recipe! I’ve made it a couple of times now and will always have some on hand. And I look forward to exploring more — you have so many good recipes and ideas here, thank you! For those who wonder, the plain freezes beautifully; I put a batch into several smaller containers and use as needed. And mostly stop myself from just eating one with a spoon.

  3. Dena

    I have been WFPB for a little over a year now. I love to cook but have found a lot of the WFPB recipes a bit bland and boring–a little too simple. I just discovered you this week and am SO happy I did! Your recipes are the perfect balance between do-able but still chef-y. I made the cilantro-lime and sriracha-ginger cashew cream sauces last night. Yum!! Was honestly eating them by the spoonful! I have a feeling they will be a new staple at my house :-)

  4. Diane

    The sriracha cashew cream made buying my Vitamix totally with it. I want to drink this sauce. Plus, my husband does not like cashews at all and he really liked this!

  5. Jean

    They all look so delicious! Which would be the best on a salad? Thanks.

  6. Payal

    Thank you for posting this! Learning your technique has taught me to get comfortable making the perfect cashew cream base that I can now customize with my own variations! So delicious and so creamy. I used cashew cream in a mushroom+peas (matar) Punjabi style curry I made yesterday and it was so good! Thanks, Nisha!

  7. Laura

    I’ve been sprucing these creams up and making dressings out of them by using things like salsa, teriyaki sauce, mustards, and different herbs and spices. The varieties are endless! Love this and you Nisha ❤️

  8. Stompy Cat

    I made the ginger-sriracha today to go on salad with red curry tofu. it was DELISH!!

  9. Carla Jackson

    It looks like you are a real professional and have done a great job on this site! I’m delighted, because you collected almost all the necessary information about professional photography.

  10. Carmen

    I made cashew cream first and absolutely love it with pasta. Today I made cilantro cream and omg it is so flavorful. Can’t wait to try it on everything. The jalapeno packs a punch, and even though I love spice, one was enough for me (it was large). I used the juice of one lime to suit my tastebuds. A great recipe. Thank you Nisha!

  11. Mélissa

    Hi Nisha, I’ve just made the cilantro and it taste marvellous ! It is sure going to be my new addiction … how long can we keep it in the fridge ? Thank you

  12. Isha

    Hi Nisha! All these versions sounds amazing. Would taste be different if I don’t use nutritional yeast? That’s the only thing I currently don’t have. Thanks!

  13. Mary

    I haven’t made the cashew cream yet but I really want to. Do you think that instead of soaking the cashews would it work to put them in the instant pot with water? And if so, for how long would you?

  14. Anna

    Hi Nisha,I just had the original cashew cream with spaghetti and it’s amazing! So delicious , it really tastes like cheese sauce! Thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      So nice to hear that you enjoyed it, Anna! I love how creamy and cheesy it is too :)

  15. Kim

    My husband is allergic to cashews. Is there another nut you’d recommend in place of cashews, perhaps walnuts? If so, do walnuts need to be soaked overnight? Thanks!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Kim, you should be able to use walnuts. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you’ll need to soak them. If you do have a high-speed blender, I still recommend a quick soak, even if for just 15-30 minutes in hot water. Walnuts have a brownish skin that turn purplish when soaked, so it might affect the color. Also, I have tried this with sunflower seeds and it works! I prefer the cashew flavor and think the sunflower seeds need more seasoning/salt/lemon juice, but still works :)

  16. Marianne Dupuis

    Since my new go to is Cashew Cream, these are all great ideas I look forward to trying. Can you say how long fresh home made cashew cream will keep in the fridge?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Marianne, most of these will last for a week in the fridge. Hope you enjoy the recipes!

  17. Debbie

    Can it be frozen? Thank you.

  18. Kristy

    I recently made the cashew cream, and used it atop stuffed sweet potato, chickpeas and kale from your cookbook. All I can say is A. MAZ. ING. All the flavors were spot on! My husband enjoyed it so much, he asked me to pack the leftovers to use on his salad for lunch the next day. This most definitely will be in my rotation, and can not wait to try the other cream recipes. !!

  19. Maneesha

    Hi Nisha! I made the cilantro lime cashew cream and paired it with vegan barbacoa tacos – it was absolutely a delicious combo! Thanks so much for all your inspiring recipes! Love them!

  20. Krista

    Nisha – I just made the cilantro lime cashew cream and it was delicious on my refried bean tacos! The only thing is in the recipe you left off how much cilantro to use. I used around 1/2-3/4 cups.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Krista! Refried bean tacos with cilantro cashew cream on top sounds AMAZING! Such a good combo. Silly me, I forgot one of the main ingredients – but I used 3/4 to 1 cup, so good guess :)

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