Classic Cashew Cream (+4 Flavor Variations)

Jump to Recipe
Cashew cream is an amazing dairy-free all-purpose cream sauce. It's perfect for adding to grain bowls and salads, used as a pasta sauce or a sandwich spread, or stirred into soups, curries, and pasta sauces. This post includes 4 delicious flavor variations!
Cook Time: 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
5 from 107 votes

Cashew cream is a godsend: so creamy, so easy to make, and an excellent substitute for dairy-based items like cream, full-fat milk, sour cream, Alfredo sauce, or cream cheese.

In this post, I share my classic cashew cream recipe, along with four other fun flavor variations that will jazz up a variety of meals. I also share tips on getting the best cashew cream texture, the ideal liquid to cashew ratio, and plenty of ways to use cashew cream in everyday meals.

Ingredients for Cashew Cream

Raw cashews. Cashews are of course required for cashew cream! You need raw cashews (read more why in the FAQ section), but whole cashews or cashew pieces both work fine.

Water or plant-based milk. In order to liquefy cashews, you need some liquid. Water is the most commonly used, but you could use an unsweetened plant milk for extra creaminess. 

Salt. Salt is absolutely necessary. Just like it is any almost any sauce or vinaigrette. Non-negotiable. My recipes call for sea salt. If using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use almost double the amount. 

Lemon juice. An acidic ingredient is needed to neutralize the faint taste of cashews and to brighten it up. 

These are the essential ingredients, but you can make cashew cream taste even better by adding a few extra ingredients.

Nutritional yeast. A superstar vegan ingredient that adds a nice savory, slightly cheesy flavor.

Garlic. A small amount of raw garlic brings a nice, sharp, pungent bite.

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

Additional ingredients. As you’ll see below, you can create flavor variations by adding fresh herbs, hot sauces, and spices.

labeled ingredients on wooden cutting board with cashews, lemons, water, nutritional yeast

How to determine the ratio of cashews to liquid

The best cashew to liquid ratio depends on what you are using your cashew cream for.

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

Super thick cashew cream
Use for: Frosting for cakes/cupcakes/desserts (I recommend using plant milk as the liquid)
Ratio: 1 cup cashews : 1/4 cup liquid
Metric: 135g cashews : 60 mL liquid

Very thick cashew cream
Use for: A dip or as a filling in raw desserts/cake
Ratio: 1 cup cashews : 1/3 cup liquid
Metric: 135g cashews : 80 mL liquid

Thick cashew cream
Use for: A dip; spoon over savory food; stir into soups, curries and pasta sauces
Ratio: 1 cup cashews : 1/2 cup liquid
Metric: 135g cashews : 120 mL liquid

Somewhat thick cashew cream
Use for: A sauce or drizzle onto savory food; stir into soups, curries and pasta sauces
Ratio: 1 cup cashews : 3/4 cup liquid
Metric: 135g cashews : 180 mL liquid

Note: If you are using a small blender cup (e.g., 32 ounces or smaller), you can make a super thick or very thick cashew cream. But if you have a larger blender container (e.g., a 64 ounce container), it will be very difficult if not impossible to do so – you need at least 1/2 cup liquid (for 1 cup of cashews).

So if you are looking to make a really thick cashew cream but only have a large blender container, use (a) a food processor, OR (b) use your blender but make a bigger batch so you have at least 1/2 cup of liquid.

Also note that cashew cream does thicken a fair amount as it rests in the fridge.

pouring cashew cream from blender into glass mason jar

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I soak raw 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.

But, if you don’t have the time, you can try the quick boil method: add the cashews to a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. 

If you have a high-powered blender and a small blender container (e.g., 32 ounces or smaller), you can also cover the cashews in boiling water for just 30 minutes.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to drain the cloudy soaking water (it can be a little bitter and weird in color) and rinse your cashews in fresh water. 

Can I use roasted cashews instead of raw cashews?

No, for two reasons. One, raw cashews are neutral in flavor, which is what you want in cashew cream; pre-roasted cashews have a toasty flavor that you will taste. Second, when raw cashews are soaked, they plump up, which makes them powerful thickeners. Roasted cashews do not behave the same way. 

What kind of blender do I need to make cashew cream?

A high-powered blender works best.

While you can make cashew cream in a food processor, it won’t get as smooth as it does in a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja, etc. It will also take longer to blend (about 4-5 minutes instead of 2 minutes). 

A standard blender would be your last resort, and it’ll never be perfect—you’ll have little cashew bits in your cream. If you are using this, I’d recommend soaking your cashews overnight, rinsing them, and soaking them again in fresh water. A long soak is really necessary for blenders without a powerful blade. 

Typically, refurbished blenders are sold at a significant discount, like this Vitamix.

How do you store cashew cream? Can you freeze cashew cream?

Store cashew cream in a glass jar in the fridge for one week (occasionally, it lasts a little longer!).

Yes, you can freeze cashew cream! Pour it into a freezer-safe container and store for 4 to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge until thawed (smaller containers defrost quicker).

The texture gets a little chunky but the taste is still great. Stir well before using, or to get it totally smooth again, give it a quick blend.

spooning cashew cream over glass jar

Watch! How to make Cashew Cream

MY MEAL PREP SECRET WEAPON | vegan meal prep essentials (+ PDF guide)
MY MEAL PREP SECRET WEAPON | vegan meal prep essentials (+ PDF guide)

Classic Cashew Cream

5 from 107 votes
Cashew cream is an amazing dairy-free all-purpose cream sauce. It's perfect for adding to grain bowls and salads, used as a pasta sauce or a sandwich spread, or stirred into soups, curries, and pasta sauces. This post includes 4 delicious flavor variations!
Cook Time: 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, no added oil, soy-free
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (135g) raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight (or boil with water in a saucepan for 15 minutes)
  • ½ – ¾ cup (120 – 180 mL) 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

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and rinse with fresh water.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along with the water, garlic, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and onion powder. 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.

Notes

For flavor variations, please scroll past this recipe card within the blog post.

Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

Cashew Cream Flavor Variations

In addition to the classic cashew cream recipe, I’ve included four fun flavor variations to add more variety to your meals!

five flavor variations of cashew cream on spoons sitting on plate with labels

 

Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream

5 from 100 votes
This cashew cream has a spicy bite thanks to ginger and sriracha. It's perfect paired with rice noodles, tofu and tempeh, roasted veggies, or in a rice bowl.
Cook Time: 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Thai-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, no added oil, soy-free
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (135g) raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight (or boil with water in a saucepan for 15 minutes)
  • ½ – ¾ cup (120-180 mL) water (see the cashew : liquid ratios in the blog post)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh 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 rinse with fresh water.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the water, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper to taste, nutritional yeast, lime juice, Sriracha, and agave. 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.

Notes

* If you are strictly vegan, buy an organic Sriracha (the classic green lid Huy Fong Sriracha is made with refined sugar processed with bone char). 

Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Rosemary-Miso Cashew Cream

5 from 96 votes
This Rosemary Miso cashew cream adds decadence to hearty fall and winter foods and is a particularly great flavor booster for dishes featuring winter squash, pumpkin, or mushrooms.
Cook Time: 10 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 cup (135g) raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight (or boil with water in a saucepan for 15 minutes)
  • ½ – ¾ cup cup (120 – 180 mL) 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 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 rinse with fresh water.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the rosemary-infused olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper to taste, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso, and mustard. 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.

Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 103mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream

5 from 101 votes
This Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream is perfect as a dip for quesadillas, spooned into burritos, or dolloped on top of tacos. You can also drizzle it over fries, roasted potatoes, or bowls of rice.
Cook Time: 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican-inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, no added oil, soy-free
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (135g) raw cashews soaked in cool water overnight (or boil with water in a saucepan for 15 minutes)
  • ½ cup (120 mL) 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 (9-12g) cilantro leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers*, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and rinse with fresh water.
  • 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.

Notes

*I use 2 jalapeños for a spicy version. Use 1 pepper and/or remove the membranes for a milder version. 

Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 63IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream

5 from 96 votes
This Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream makes for an amazing filling in raw cakes and tarts. Or for a healthy quick treat, drizzle it on top of fresh fruit or stuff it into dates and briefly freeze.
Cook Time: 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, no added oil, refined sugar free, soy-free
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (135g) raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight (or boil with water in a saucepan for 15 minutes)
  • ½ cup (120 mL) creamy plant-based milk (oat milk, carton coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, etc.)
  • 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 to 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

Instructions

  • Drain the cashews and rinse with fresh water.
  • Add the cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor along the milk, salt, lemon, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla (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.

Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

five flavor variations of cashew cream on spoons sitting on brown plate

How to use cashew cream

The beauty of cashew cream is that it’s so versatile, especially when you have so many flavor variations to choose from. Below is a roundup of fun and easy ways to incorporate cashew cream into your meals.

Drizzle over roasted veggies. Roasted winter squash is particularly good with the Rosemary-Miso Cashew Cream. Broccoli is particularly good with the Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream.

Make a creamy pasta sauce. A great alternative to dairy-based creamy pasta sauces. Add your favorite spices and herbs and get creative, like in this Spicy Turmeric 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. You can find my cashew sour cream recipe in my Crunchwrap Supreme blog post.

Spoon over grain bowls or proteins. Serve burrito bowls with the Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream

Drizzle the Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream over baked or fried tofu and rice bowls.

Stir into mashed potatoes, soups, or pastas for added indulgence. If you love my Lentil Bolognese recipe, it’s even better with cashew cream stirred into it. If you have my cookbook The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, cashew cream is SO good stirred into the Pumpkin Farrotto.

Dips or spreads. Serve the Cilantro-Lime Cashew Cream as a dip or sauce for quesadillas, spoon into burritos, or dollop onto tacos.

In casseroles. Replace dairy-based cream sauces with cashew cream in gratins and casseroles, like this Creamy Lentil Winter Bake.

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

An alternative to mayo. Use cashew cream as a sandwich spread or lather it onto wraps, like the below wrap filled with smashed chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, kale, and cashew cream.

In desserts. Use a sweet cashew cream, such as the Cinnamon-Vanilla Cashew Cream, as a filling for raw cakes and tarts, or make this Fig Tart with Coconut-Cashew Cream. Or, stuff into dates for a healthy and quick treat.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

Leave a Comment & Rating

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider giving it a star rating along with your comment! It helps others discover my blog and recipes, and your comments always make my day :) Thank you for your support!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe




88 comments on Classic Cashew Cream (+4 Flavor Variations)

  1. Louise

    These variations look fabulous. I plan to make them in quantity –and freeze in portions! Hallelujah for my chest freezer, and thanks so much for your detailed instructions.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wonderful! You’re very welcome for the detailed instructions, we hope you love the cashew cream!

  2. Louise

    Wondering if I can use cashew cream in recipes where it needs to be added before boiling. I know I can’t do that with coconut milk.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there, in which recipes are you asking about? If you’re wondering if cashew cream can be baked… it definitely can! It’s a component in this delicious lentil and vegetable bake! Cheers!

    2. Limperis

      5 stars
      Good evening thanks for the recipe I would like to inform you that my English is not very good thank you very much I would like to ask I put soy milk instead of water I can keep it in the freezer for three to four months thank you very much I wait thank you….

  3. Laurie L

    5 stars
    Thanks. I really appreciate the ratios for the different uses as well as how to use ideas.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      You are very welcome, Laurie!

  4. BA

    Delicious plain !
    Can you bake it as a sauce?
    How would you flavor it for a warm sauce with scallops?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “Yes, you can bake it. It does thicken quite a bit so keep that in mind. For an example of how I use it baked, check out this post: https://rainbowplantlife.com/creamy-lentil-winter-bake/
      Since I don’t eat seafood, I’m not entirely sure, but maybe more lemon zest and juice to make it very lemony, and/or a handful of parsley.”

  5. Candice

    5 stars
    Wow! So good! Slightly reminds me of a Caesar dressing! I added a jalapeño for some heat. Using it for tacos tonight!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Candice!

  6. Stacie

    Thanks, Nisha

    I absolutely love your recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad you do! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Janelle Martinez

    5 stars
    Oh my the plain cashew cream is delicious! I can’t wait to make the cilantro lime cream!!! Thank you for the recipe

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Janelle. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  8. Mallika

    5 stars
    Loved loved it!!! Thank you for your wonderful creations. I used it on gnocchi. Was soooooooo good!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Mallika. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  9. Joan

    5 stars
    This is a great sauce and I plan on using it on grains and salads, but I can see using it in pasta and soups as well.
    I only tried the classic one so far.
    So easy to make too!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Joan, So glad to hear you love the cashew cream!

  10. Patti

    5 stars
    I made the cilantro lime cashew Cream. It’s delicious! I’ve used it on a pasta. Can’t wait to use it in a wrap!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Patti!

  11. Henrietta

    5 stars
    Delightful! I make the ginger-sriracha and cilantro lime flavors on the regular. Such an easy way to add a little something to otherwise boring meals.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Henrietta, So glad to hear you love the cashew cream!

  12. Michael Meeker

    5 stars
    I really appreciate the detail and thoroughness of your recipes–case in point, your explanation of why roasted cashews will not work like raw cashews in the cashew cream!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for the wonderful comment, Michael!

Development Alchemy + Aim
braised chickpea stew in dutch oven

5 Secrets to Cooking Amazing Vegan Food

free email series

Learn the pro-tips that will take your plant-based cooking to the next level!