Sumptuously thick and creamy, this cashew cream sauce recipe is quick and easy to prepare and makes a delicious dairy-free alternative to heavy cream. It is such a versatile little sauce, it can be dressed up with savoury flavours or given a sweet overhaul for use in desserts. It can be thinned to a pouring consistency or left lusciously thick and creamy.
Once you have tried using this amazing vegan sauce, you will be blown away by just how easy it is to make and the many ways you can use it to level up your vegan food!
Why you will love this Cashew Cream sauce recipe
I love cashew cream so much! Here are the reasons why this sauce will become your new best friend in the kitchen:
- It takes just a few minutes to make, especially if you have a high-speed blender.
- It is extremely versatile because its mild flavour can be adapted to suit whatever food you’re cooking.
- It is just 2 simple ingredients (cashews and water) that you likely already have so you can make it whenever you fancy!
- It performs all the functions of dairy cream so makes a perfect dairy-free alternative.
- The healthy fats in this cashew cream make it a nutritious addition to your meals.
Before I went vegan, I was massively into dairy cream. I just loved that thick creaminess that it added to dishes and I was worried about missing it when I decided to cut out dairy. Discovering cashew cream was a real game changer for me! It serves exactly the same functions and is easy to make whenever you need it as long as you have cashews in your pantry.
How can you use cashew cream?
The wonderful thing about cashew cream is how versatile it is. Cashews have such a mild flavour that this simple sauce can be used in so many different ways. It can be thinned with vegetable stock and mixed with savoury ingredients to make a delicious pasta sauce (think carbonara or alfredo sauce), or left sumptuously thick and dolloped onto food like soured cream or sweetened up and served with dessert.
In this cashew cream sauce recipe I will give you a base recipe for a basic vegan cashew cream sauce and then some options for different versions of the sauce.
The base recipe for a very basic cashew cream is:
- Raw Cashews – It is important to use cashews that have not been roasted or salted, just plain raw cashews. Actually truly raw cashews straight from the tree are poisonous so don’t eat those (see this Healthline article). However, cashews labelled as raw in the shops have been processed to remove the poison making them safe to eat.
- Water – you will need water for soaking the cashews and then after you’ve drained and rinsed the soaked cashews, you will add fresh filtered water to the blender to make the cashew sauce. As to the amount of water to add, the basic ratio for a thick cashew cream is equal weights of cashews to water. However, if you want to make a thinner sauce, you just adjust the consistency by adding a little water. To avoid diluting the flavour, you could even use cashew milk or almond milk to thin it down to your desired consistency.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities of ingredients.
The basic method for making cashew cream is blending raw cashews with an equal weight of fresh water (or just a touch more) and a pinch of salt. Then you adjust it by adding additional ingredients into the blender as you please. (see Variations below)
To get that super smooth creamy texture, the cashews need to be soaked in water before blending. You can either soak them for 15 minutes in boiling water or 8 hours in cold water. The better your blender, the smoother cashew cream will be. High speed blenders give the best results for this recipe. If you have a regular blender, you should soak your cashews for as long as you have time so that they give the creamiest result.
If you have a really high power blender, you might just be able to get away without soaking the cashews at all but I would say try to at least soak them in boiling water for 15 minutes to get the best result.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.
I use cashew cream so frequently that I always seem to have a jar on the go in the fridge. If you make a double batch of the base recipe and keep whatever you don’t use in the fridge, then you can dress it up with different flavours as and when you need it.
You can add all sorts of other ingredients to adjust the flavour of the base recipe to suit whatever you’re cooking.
- Sweet – to make a sweetened cream to go with desserts, add 2 teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup to the blender while whizzing the cashews with the water. You could also add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or even a little coconut milk to make a delicious sweet cashew cream.
- Cheesy – for a dairy-free, vegan cheesy flavour you can either add a 1-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (adjust to your taste) or some grated vegan cheese (warm the sauce after blending to melt the cheese).
- Garlic – add a teaspoon of garlic powder or, for a truly luxurious garlic flavour, a tablespoon of black garlic paste or a few cloves of a roasted garlic bulb (cut off the top of the bulb, wrap in foil and roast at 180°C / 350°F for 45 minutes). I have a few recipes on the blog that use different versions of garlic cashew cream because it is SO delicious! See these for ideas:
- Mustard – add some mustard and vegetable stock for a savoury pie sauce – see this vegan green bean casserole recipe.
- Pesto – add a few spinach leaves and a dollop of pesto for a delicious pasta sauce or see this Asparagus and Pesto Macadamia Tart recipe to see how to use this cashew cream (as an alternative to macadamias) for a savoury tart filling.
- Tomato pasta sauce – see this vegan creamy sun-dried tomato pasta recipe for how to make this cashew cream into a very quick dinner that the whole family will love!
- Smoky cashew cream – add smoked paprika to give a delicious smoky flavour, perfect with these Black Bean Tacos.
I have given quite a few serving suggestions for using this cashew cream sauce recipe in the Variations section above. You can see just how versatile it is. Once you learn how to make this simple vegan sauce, you will find you never miss plain old dairy cream again!
You can use this sauce whenever you would have used dairy cream or as a dairy-free replacement for soured cream too.
Cashew Cream FAQs
It depends what you mix into your cashew cream of course but the basic cashew cream is made from just cashews and water so it is a very healthy option as a fully plant-based, dairy-free alternative to cream.
Whilst you could make a cashew sauce in the food processor, it would not come out as smooth and creamy as it would when made in a high-speed blender. If you only have a food processor, your best bet would be to cook the cashews first so that they are much softer to blend. I would follow the recipe but between soaking and blending, add another step of boiling them for 15-30 minutes in water then drain, rinse and add to the food processor with an equal amount of fresh water (or more water if you want a thinner consistency).
If you have a very high powered blender, you might be able to make the cashew cream without soaking. Most blenders however require soaking to get the cashews soft enough to go that ultra smooth consistency.
I keep cashew cream in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 1 week.
Cashew cream is not really suitable for freezing as it tends to separate on defrosting and doesn't retain its thick creaminess.
📖 Recipe 📖
- 60 g cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours in water or 15 mins in boiling water
- 60 g water, (plus extra for soaking)
- a pinch of salt
- Drain the cashews from their soaking water and rinse in a colander under the tap. (Throw away the soaking water)60 g cashews
- Place the soaked and drained cashews into a blender (preferably a high-speed blender but see notes below).60 g cashews
- Add the water to the blender and season with a pinch of salt.60 g water
- Blend until completely smooth and thick and creamy (usually about a minute but it will depend how high powered your blender is).a pinch of salt
- The consistency of the cashew cream will depend on how high powered your blender is. The higher the power, the smoother the sauce. To aid a lower powered blender, soak the cashews for longer to make them softer.
- This recipe gives a thick dolloping consistency. To thin it down, just add more water. You could also replace the water with nut milk or vegetable stock for additional flavour.
- This sauce will keep for about 1 week in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Add flavourings as desired. I find it best to leave it fairly neutral as a base sauce in the fridge and then flavour at the time of using. Savoury flavourings could include garlic puree, harissa, herbs, etc. For sweet use, I might add a touch of maple or date syrup and lemon juice. See blogpost for further suggestions and quantities.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
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