Cashew cream is a luscious dairy free wonder that can be used to replace heavy cream in savory to sweet recipes alike. Made with just water and raw cashews, it’s quick and easy to whip up. It will transform the way you look at dairy free cooking, and make your life easier and more delicious! Vegan, Whole30 compatible, and paleo friendly.
The best cashew cream
Cashew cream is my most cherished substitution for heavy cream in dairy free recipes.
In all my years of cooking it’s the closest thing I have found to mimic the texture and flavor of actual cream.
The flavor of raw cashews is mild, which makes it the perfect starting point to add whatever other ingredients you’re highlighting in a recipe without overtaking the other flavors.
And did I mention the texture?!
Silky smooth, and OH-SO-CREAMY. Like out of this world creamy.
It is truly a match made in heaven if you’re searching for a dairy free alternative and don’t want to sacrifice the enjoyment of your meals!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- So easy to make – just 2 ingredients! For a basic batch, all you need is raw cashews and water. It can then be added to recipes instead of dairy or coconut milk or spiced up with other ingredients to make a standalone sauce. I have included some suggestions for ingredients that can be added in a section below.
- Versatile and convenient – The perfect match for any recipe where you usually use cream. Keeping a jar handy in your refrigerator to use throughout the week is a great weekday meal hack!
- Full of good-for-you fats and other essential nutrients – Cashews are rich in unsaturated fats and fiber and boast a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, which makes this recipe a healthy alternative to dairy.
- Extraordinarily creamy – Once blended, the texture is truly a wonder. So convincing that whomever you’re serving will likely have no idea that the recipe is dairy free!
What is cashew cream?
Cashew cream is a dairy free alternative to heavy cream, milk, or even coconut milk that can be used in savory and sweet recipes. It’s a simple blend of soaked raw cashews and water that, once blended, transforms into an irresistibly creamy sauce that is mild and neutral in flavor.
What to make with cashew cream
Cashew cream can be used in so many different types of recipes, essentially anywhere you would typically use heavy cream!
It works well in pasta sauces, creamy soups, tacos, bowl meals, condiments, dips, or as a sweetened cream to top your favorite desserts.
In the section near the bottom of this post, I’ve included a list of our favorite recipes on NK that use raw cashews as a substitute for dairy.
Ingredients and substitutions
Raw cashews are the star ingredient of cashew cream.
Their soft texture and mild flavor make them ideal for creating the perfect substitute for heavy cream. You can use roasted cashews; however, they’ll likely need to be soaked for longer, and the roasting process will alter the flavor (think less mild, more nutty).
Water is blended with the raw cashews to create your desired consistency. How much water you use will depend on how thick or thin you want your cashew cream to be.
One great thing about cashew cream is that it can always be thinned more as you go – even after you’ve added it to a recipe.
You could use a savory broth instead of water for savory recipes to infuse more flavor into the cashew cream from the start. I use this technique often when using cashew cream in soups or pasta sauces.
Why are cashews so expensive (and where to find affordable options)
Harvesting and processing cashews is quite labor intensive, and much of it has to be done manually, making them more expensive than other types of nuts.
But if you shop around, there are certain places where you can find them at affordable prices.
Pro tip: Often, stores that sell cashews in bulk will have the option to buy whole cashews and cashew pieces, and cashew pieces are typically a bit lower in price. Making something like cashew cream using cashew pieces instead of whole cashews works just as well (and they actually soak faster!).
Some of my favorite places to buy cashews
- Online – These cashews from Amazon are organic and very reasonably priced.
- Trader Joe’s – Nuts from Trader Joe’s are generally an excellent deal, and cashews are no exception! They are sold both as whole cashews and cashew pieces.
- Your local grocery store’s bulk section – Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, and many natural food stores carry cashews in bulk and can be very competitively priced.
- Costco – If you have a Costco membership, add cashews to your next shopping list! Their cashews are some of the least expensive I’ve ever found in stores.
How to make homemade cashew cream
To make cashew cream at home, all you need is raw cashews, water, and a blender. After cashews are soaked, the recipe comes together in just 5 minutes!
Step 1: Soak cashews
In a heat-proof bowl, cover cashews with just boiled water to soak for 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, cashews can be soaked overnight in room-temperature water.
Step 2: Drain cashews and blend
Drain cashews and add to blender container with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water – depending on desired thickness.
Step 3: Store or use immediately!
Once made, cashew cream can be used immediately or stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Thick vs thin cashew cream
As mentioned in the recipe card below, you can adjust the amount of water used in your cashew cream to vary the level of thickness. 1/2 cup of water will yield a cashew cream that is close to the texture of sour cream, and increasing to 3/4 cup water will result in a more pourable consistency.
These photos show cashew cream made with 1/2 cup of water.
These photos show cashew cream made with 3/4 cup of water.
How to make cashew cream without soaking your cashews
If you’re using a high speed blender, you can likely get away with making cashew cream without soaking your cashews.
But, because the cashews won’t have an opportunity to absorb some of the soaking liquid, the texture and consistency will be slightly altered if using the ratio of measurements provided in the recipe below.
Pro tip: Instead of skipping the soaking altogether, my favorite shortcut when I don’t have extra time is to simmer the cashews in water on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes.
This option speeds up the process of softening the cashews and still provides excellent results and texture!
There are so many flavor possibilities when making cashew cream!
If you’re using it as a sauce to add to tacos, bowls, salads, or desserts, you may want to try one of these flavor combinations.
Simply blend the ingredients into the cashew cream base in your blender when processing.
- Cilantro lime – Fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, nutritional yeast, and a small amount of honey or maple syrup. Fresh jalapeño would be delicious for a little bit of heat!
- Ginger Miso – Miso paste, grated ginger, grated garlic, and lemon juice.
- A basic savory cashew cream – Nutritional yeast, lemon juice, grated garlic, and salt.
- Sweetened cashew cream – 2-3 dates, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a small pinch of salt.
Can you freeze cashew cream?
If you have extra cashew cream you know you won’t use before it goes bad, pop it in an air-tight container and freeze until you’re ready to thaw and use.
Depending on how long it’s been frozen, you may need to briefly re-blend it to emulsify again after thawing.
Prepared cashew cream should keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Recipes on Nyssa’s Kitchen that use cashews instead of dairy
To keep my recipes streamlined and easy to make I often include the blending of cashews into other ingredients in the recipe instead of making a batch of cashew cream on it’s own and then adding it to the recipe.
As you get more comfortable using cashews instead of dairy you’ll be able to make those simple swaps, too! But of course you can always just keep it on hand to add to recipes the same way you’d add heavy cream.
Dips, condiments, and sauces
- Mayo-less Dairy Free Ranch Dressing
- Dairy Free Sour Cream
- Creamy Cashew Queso
- 5-Ingredient Cashew Beet Dip
- French Onion Dip
- Dill Pickle Dip
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Cashew Cream Queso Fundido with Ground Beef
- Make Ahead Gravy
- White Bean and Kale Soup
- Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup
- Shepherds Pie Soup
- White Chicken Chili
- Dairy Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Chicken and Vegetable Soup
- Health Zuppa Toscana
- Pumpkin Turkey Chili
- Dairy Free Corn Chowder
- Creamy Tomato Sausage Pasta
- Vodka Pasta Sauce
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- Dairy Free Fettuccine Alfredo
- Cashew Cream Mushroom and Kale Pasta
- Dairy Free Mushroom Stroganoff
- Healthy Chicken Sausage Pasta
If you enjoyed this recipe, we’d love it if you would take 5 seconds to rate and review it below! It’s also super helpful for other readers if you share any modifications you made to the recipe.
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Cashew cream is a luscious dairy free wonder that can be used to replace heavy cream in savory to sweet recipes alike. Made with just water and raw cashews, it’s quick and easy to whip up. It will transform the way you look at dairy free / vegan cooking, and make your life easier and more delicious! Vegan, Whole30 compatible, and paleo friendly.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- Hot water to soak
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water, depending on desired thickness
- Soak cashews. In a heat proof bowl, cover cashews with just boiled water to soak for 20-30 minutes until pale and plump in appearance. Alternatively, cashews can be soaked overnight in room temperature water. For an even faster option, simmer cashews in a small saucepan on the stove top for 5-10 minutes until pale and plump.
- Drain cashews and blend. Drain cashews and add to blender container with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water – depending on desired thickness. 1/2 cup of water will yield cashew cream that is close to the consistency of sour cream. Use 3/4 cup water (or more) for a more pour-able consistency. Blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, until completely smooth and creamy. An additional tablespoon of water can be added at a time to ensure smooth blending.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days until ready to use. Can be used to substitute heavy cream in a variety of recipes. We particularly love it for soups, pasta sauces, and pan sauces! See the blog post above for recipe recommendations and flavor variations.
Cashew cream can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for 5-6 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
See blog post for serving suggestions and flavor variations!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: Healthy
Keywords: cashews, cashew cream, sauce, condiment, dairy alternative, cream