Classic Cashew Cream (+4 Flavor Variations)

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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 5 mins
Soaking Time 15 mins
Total 20 mins
5 from 115 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 plus four other fun flavor variations that will jazz up a variety of meals. You’ll also find tips on getting the best texture, the ideal liquid to cashew ratio, and plenty of ways to use it in everyday meals.

five different cashew cream flavors on a plate: original, cilantro lime, rosemary miso, ginger sriracha, and cinnamon
So many great flavors, so little time.

Ingredient Spotlight

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

Raw cashews. Cashews are, of course, required. 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. 

The above ingredients are essential, 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.

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

Thick
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
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 version. 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 version 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 we’re looking for here; 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?

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 it?

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.

Watch! How to make this recipe

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

Below is a recipe for the classic version. But you can keep reading for more flavor variations and ideas for how to use cashew cream.

Classic Cashew Cream

5 from 115 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
Serving size: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) 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

Flavor Variations

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

Ginger-Sriracha Cashew Cream

5 from 105 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
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 102 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
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 107 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
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 102 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
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 version.

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 version 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 version, 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 version, 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.

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

  1. Manuela

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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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