Keep this cashew cream recipe on hand for adding vegan or dairy-free versions of your favorite soups, pasta dishes, dips and spreads, or desserts.
This creamy sauce is made with just water, cashews, and a high-speed blender or food processor. Its neutral taste allows it to blend seamlessly with other ingredients without overpowering the dish.
It's the perfect vegan substitute for heavy cream!
If you need a starting point for vegan recipes or dairy-free recipes, we have plenty to share. One of our favorite ways to adjust recipes for dietary needs is by making easy staples at home, like our oat milk recipe.
This homemade plant-based milk is another vegan staple recipe that's creamy, naturally sweet, and takes just five minutes to make. You can make it with dates and vanilla extract or add cocoa powder to make a chocolate version.
Why this Cashew Cream Recipe Works
Dairy-free alternative & plant-based alternative: This easy vegan cashew cream is the perfect substitute in a variety of recipes.
Creamy texture: It has a smooth and creamy texture that makes it a great base for sauces, soups, and creamy salad dressings.
Simple recipe: This recipe comes together with just two simple ingredients and one high-powered blender. Doesn't get much easier than that!
Versatile: Cashew cream has a neutral flavor that makes is easy to add to just about any of your favorite dairy-free or plant-based recipes.
Grab These Ingredients
Here are the simple ingredients for this cashew cream recipe. Most are pantry staples and are easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Unsalted cashews: Use raw cashews, unroasted and without salt or seasoning.
- Water: You can adjust the amount of water as needed to obtain your desired level of creaminess.
- Pinch of kosher salt
That's it! Just two main ingredients for this basic cashew cream: cashews and fresh water.
The basic recipe for cashew cream requires three simple ingredients, but here are a few options to add some more flavor.
- Lemon juice adds some acid to balance out the rich flavor.
- Add more cheesy flavor with a couple Tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
- Add fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, especially if you're using it in a creamy pasta sauce like this chicken sausage pasta.
- Make a sweet cashew cream by adding maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Use less water to keep the sauce thicker and use it like a vegan sour cream for Mexican recipes.
How to Make Cashew Cream
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This cashew cream is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will ensure it turns out every time.
Soak the cashews: Place the cashews in a large bowl and add as much water as you need to cover them completely. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Carefully drain the hot water from the cashews in a colander. Run the cashews under cold water to cool them down.
Blend: Transfer the cashews to a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, or food processor. Add ½ cup of fresh water and a little bit of kosher salt. Blend on high for 2-3 full minutes, until all of the cashews are broken down and the mixture is really smooth.
Note: You may need to blend it longer depending on the strength of your blender.
Check consistency: Open the lid and use a spoon or spatula to scoop some of the cream out. It should at least be thick enough to easily coat the back of a spoon but not so thick it globs. Add up to ½ cup more water as needed to reach your desired consistency. I ended up adding the full cup of water to our batch
Tools for this Recipe
You only need a few basic household appliances to make cashew cream at home!
1. High Powered Blender: A powerful blender, like a Vitamix, makes all the difference when it comes to rich and creamy sauces and nut butter. A regular blender will work, but it will take a little longer to blend and may not be quite as smooth. This is the Vitamix I own and love.
2. Colander: any basic colander or mesh strainer will work to drain the water from the cashews.
3. Microwave-safe bowl or jar: my favorite bowls and jars to microwave and store sauces are a mason jar or Weck jars!
What is Cashew Cream a Substitute For?
Cashew cream is a versatile dairy-free substitute and plant-based alternative for a variety of ingredients in cooking and baking. Here are some common uses:
- Heavy Cream: Cashew cream is a great vegan substitute for heavy cream. It provides a creamy texture and richness. It's often used in soups, sauces, and creamy pasta dishes.
- Sour Cream: In both savory and sweet dishes, it adds a tangy creaminess. Think tacos, nachos, and baked potatoes, as well as desserts like cheesecake.
- Whipping Cream: Sweetened and whipped cashew cream can substitute for traditional whipping cream in desserts such as mousses, trifles, and fruit parfaits.
- Cream Cheese: It can be used to make dairy-free cream cheese spreads for bagels, sandwiches, and vegan cheesecakes.
- Yogurt: When blended and thinned slightly, cashew cream can mimic the texture and tanginess of yogurt. It can be used in breakfast bowls, smoothies, and other yogurt-based recipes.
- Milk: Use it as a dairy-free milk alternative in coffee, tea, cereal, and baked goods. Adjust its thickness by varying the amount of water added during blending.
- Ice Cream: Serve it as the base for dairy-free ice cream when combined with sweeteners and flavorings.
- Alfredo Sauce: In vegan cooking, it's often used to create vegan Alfredo sauce, delivering a creamy texture to pasta dishes.
- Custards and Puddings: Cashew cream can replace dairy milk in custards, puddings, and creamy desserts.
What to Have Cashew Cream With
Need inspiration for using this cashew cream? We have plenty of recipes to incorporate it:
- Have it as a coffee creamer in this delicious pumpkin cream cold brew.
- Mix it in with an overnight oats recipe like these pumpkin pie overnight oats or strawberry cheesecake overnight oats.
- Blend it with sweet potatoes in this sweet potato casserole dish. Just substitute the almond milk.
- Use it to make a dairy-free alfredo sauce or pasta sauce in this chicken alfredo stuffed spaghetti squash or chicken sausage pasta.
- Mix it into a creamy soup instead of heavy cream or coconut milk like this creamy sausage gnocchi soup, creamy chicken tortilla soup, or chicken florentine soup.
- Substitute the almond milk in this vegan chocolate banana ice cream.
I love it because it doesn't include any ingredients that tend to cause inflammation in the body (gluten, dairy, sugar), so I can continue to keep that in control. With struggling with IBS and other chronic inflammation symptoms, having a recipe like this is so nice!
Cashew cream is much thicker and richer than cashew milk, which is a thin, liquid beverage similar in texture to skim milk. Cashew milk is primarily used as a dairy milk substitute in cereal, coffee, tea, smoothies, and baking. It doesn't help to thicken or add creaminess to dishes on its own.
Freezing and Storing Tips
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days. Make a double batch and freeze the extra cream in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. A great trick to freeze smaller portions is to pour the cream into an ice cube tray and only take out what you need. Place the frozen cream in the fridge to allow it to thaw. If it has a chunky consistency when you thaw it, just throw it in a standard blender for a few minutes.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Recipes With Cashews
Need another cashew sauce? Our vegan cashew queso is the absolute best!
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
- ½ - 1 cup water plus more for soaking
- Pinch of kosher salt
- High speed blender or food processor
- Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover them with water. Microwave on high for 5 minutes (Note 1 soaking options). Carefully drain the hot water from the cashews in a collonder. Run the cashews under cold water to cool them down.
- Transfer the cashews to a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, or food processor. Add ½ cup of fresh water and a pinch of salt.
- Blend on high for 2-3 full minutes, until all of the cashews are broken down and the mixture is really smooth. Add up to ½ cup more water as needed to reach your desired consistency. I ended up adding the full cup of water to our batch. The cashew cream should be thick enough to easily coat the back of a spoon or spatula when you dip it in. You may need to blend it longer depending on the strength of your blender.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.