How to Make Cashew Cream

This easy vegan cashew cream is a delicious dairy-free alternative to sour or heavy cream! It's creamy, versatile, tangy, and bright. What's not to love?

Cashew cream

If you’re interested in eating more plant-based recipes, cashew cream will be your new best friend. It’s easy to make, it requires just 6 ingredients, and it’s every bit as rich and creamy as sour or heavy cream. I love to add it to creamy vegan pasta sauces, top it onto baked potatoes, serve it over burrito bowls, and more!

My vegan cashew cream recipe uses basic ingredients. Raw cashews make it thick and creamy, water helps it blend, extra-virgin olive oil adds richness, and lemon juice, garlic, and salt give it a bright, tangy flavor. To make it, just add the ingredients to a blender, and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender canister, as needed, to make sure everything is thoroughly combined. Then, enjoy!

Cashew Cream Tips

  • Use raw, not roasted, cashews. Roasted cashews will give the cream a nutty, cashew-y flavor. Though I love cashews, that’s not what we’re going for here. By contrast, raw cashews yield a neutral creamy taste, which is delicious in all sorts of savory recipes.
  • To soak or not to soak? That is the question, and the answer depends on your blender. If you have a high-speed blender, there’s no need to soak cashews. However, if you have a less powerful blender, I do recommend soaking cashews for at least 4 hours. Just place the cashews in a bowl, cover them with water, and set them aside. After they’ve soaked, drain and rinse the cashews and proceed with the recipe below. Otherwise, your cream will be grainy.
  • Invest in a high-powered blender. If you’re someone who plans to make homemade basics like cashew cream frequently, getting a powerful blender is totally worth it. You’ll be able to create plant-based milks and sauces at a moment’s notice, and they’ll be creamier than they would be with another blender, regardless of whether or not you soak any nuts ahead of time. I use a Vitamix, but I’ve also heard good things about high-speed Blendtec and KitchenAid blenders.

Cashew sour cream on a potato

Cashew Sour Cream Recipes

My cashew cream recipe varies depending on how I plan to use it. The basic recipe below uses a 2:1 ratio of cashews to water, which yields a texture similar to sour cream or Greek yogurt. I drizzle this thick cashew cream over bowls, salads, vegan pizza, and more. As you can see below, if I’m planning to use it as a sour cream substitute, I amp up the flavor with white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and onion powder. Try it in any of these recipes:

Cashew Cream Variations

I also like to use cashew cream as a dairy-free replacement for heavy cream. Then, I use a lower cashew:water ratio, which makes a runnier cream sauce. It’s not as thick as the sour cream above, but it’s still richer and creamier than cashew milk. It’s a delicious addition to my Herb and Garlic Mushroom Pasta, Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells, and other pasta recipes.

Occasionally, I use my basic recipe to create a creamy sauce with an entirely different flavor profile. For example, I blend cashew cream with baked sweet potato and rosemary to make a luscious, aromatic sauce for my Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli.

Feel free to play with the base recipe below to make a sauce you love! Adjust the cashew:water ratio to reach your desired consistency. Then, try adding nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor, lime juice instead of lemon, fresh herbs, spinach, or a pinch of your favorite spice.

Cashew cream on pizza

More Favorite Sauces and Spreads

If you love this recipe, try making one of these delicious sauces or spreads next!

Cashew Cream

rate this recipe:
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
This easy vegan cashew cream is a delicious dairy-free substitute for sour cream! If you prefer a texture closer to heavy cream, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach your desired consistency.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews*
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Cashew Sour Cream

  • Replace 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Add ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Add ¼ teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  • Place the cashews, water, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
  • For Cashew Sour Cream, make the cashew cream recipe replacing 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and add the mustard and onion powder for extra tang.

Notes

*Cashew cream is best made in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix. If you have a less powerful blender, you may have to blend longer (up to 1 minute). You can also soak the cashews for 4 hours or overnight to soften and make them easier to blend.

 

13 comments

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  1. Jcb from Wordpress
    01.26.2020

    Can you leave the oil out or sub with something else?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.26.2020

      you can use water instead!

  2. Julia from heirloommkt.com
    01.27.2020

    do you add the garlic if you are using for a sweet application?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.27.2020

      Hi Julia, this recipe is specifically for a savory application. If you’d like a sweet one, let me know and I can come up with a good ratio. I’d probably alter the lemon amount, change the olive oil to coconut oil, and add some maple to sweeten it a bit.

      • Julia from heirloommkt.com
        01.28.2020

        Ok, Good to know! I just discovered your blog and cookbook and have been having so much fun making your delicious recipes. My husband has to be dairy free and I also own a cafe where I do all the pastries and baking and we have lots of demand for vegan and gluten free, so Thank You!!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          02.03.2020

          I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying the recipes! xo

  3. Ellen
    01.29.2020

    How long can you store in refrigerator? Or is this recipe amount meant for immediate use? Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.29.2020

      Hi Ellen – about 5 days! If it starts to separate after being in the fridge, give it a stir before you use it.

  4. Elizabeth
    02.02.2020

    5 stars
    Made the sour cream version to go with your salt baked potatoes. So so so so so yummy! A true keeper. I did soak the cashews for an hour because that’s how I roll. It was creamy and amazing. And easy!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.03.2020

      I’m so glad the baked potato bar was a hit 🙂

  5. Katie
    02.21.2020

    I recently got a Vitamix and have struggled to get my cashew-based sauces as creamy as they look in your photos (though they always come out delicious)! Most recently, it was the vegan caesar from L&L Everyday. It felt like there wasn’t enough volume in the blender and everything was splashed up on the sides rather than running through the blades. Any advice?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.21.2020

      Hi Katie, you could try getting a smaller canister or doubling the recipe. I use the Vitamix 32 oz. Wet Blade Container (I think it’s only available through Williams Sonoma right now) for smaller recipes and the larger one (the one it came with) for soups and larger quantity recipes. I find it super handy to have both.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.