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The Life-Changing Magic of Cashew Cream

Spoon drizzling cashew cream into a turquoise bowl full of more cashew cream.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Vegan, Gluten-Free6 hours
Omnivores and herbivores alike will love this cashew cream. Use it anywhere you’d use heavy cream or half and half!

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Cashew Cream

Whenever people talk about why they could never give up dairy, normally you hear reasons like, “but I’ll miss the cheeeese!” or, “but I love ice cream so much!” and while I do love a good sharp cheddar and a nice bowl of pistachio ice cream, my dairy sticking point came from unusual suspects—half-and-half for my coffee and sour cream for my chili. These two items were what kept me from going dairy-free for years (even though I knew dairy made me feel not-so-great—it was worth it for a good cup of coffee!).

I literally couldn’t picture a world where I didn’t put a big glug of half-and-half in my coffee each morning or ate a bowl of chili without a dollop of sour cream. I’d tried all the plant-based alternatives in the supermarket, and, quite honestly, hated them all. I had decided that I was just going to have to be mostly dairy-free, except for my daily half-and-half and occasional sour cream. Life is too short to drink my coffee black.

Cashew Cream

Thankfully, I eventually discovered the magic of cashew cream! This multipurpose cream has the texture and thickness of dairy. Depending on how much water you use, it can be the thickness of regular milk all the way up to the the thickness of sour cream—and everything in between.

Cashew cream is crazy versatile! 

Since I discovered cashew cream, I’ve turned cashews into sour cream (yup, it works!), ice cream (so gloriously buttery!), creamy salad dressings and dips (best. ranch. ever.), queso (so spicy and yum!), alfredo sauce (much easier than making a béchamel sauce), and so many other things I’ve lost count. Now, cashew cream is not a new idea and anyone who frequents any plant-based blogs, websites, or restaurants will probably know all about it. For some reason though, it hasn’t really entered the mainstream healthy eating community. We’re changing that today.

Trust me, this life-changing magic shouldn’t be exclusive to the plant-based and vegan communities. EVERYONE needs to make cashew cream. Omnivore or herbivore, you can use it and love it. And I’m going to show you exactly how.

You’ll need a good blender for cashew cream

First things first: to do all this cashew cream magic, you’re going to need a good-quality, high-speed blender. I’ve tried to do the cashew cream thing in my food processor, and it just doesn’t quite give you the same results (although, it does work just fine for cashew ricotta—which is supposed to be a little crumbly instead of smooth). I’ve used both a Ninja blender and a Vitamix blender, and they both work beautifully.

Cashews in Blender

You’ll also want to get your hands on raw, unsalted cashews

You’ll want to get raw, unsalted cashews. The better quality (fresher, fattier, more delicious) your cashews, the better your end result will be. My favorite place to order cashews is from Thrive Market. They have their own brand, which is super high quality and cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found.

You might be looking at the price of raw cashews and thinking, “Um, that’s WAY too expensive to use for something like coffee creamer.” Well, okay, you’re right, good quality nuts ain’t cheap. But when you compare it to the price of all the non-dairy alternatives that those cashews can replace (sour cream, coffee creamer, ice cream, etc.), the price starts to feel a lot more reasonable. Plus, if you happen to get them on sale (or use my referral link at Thrive Market, which gets you 25% off your first order), you can stock up and freeze the raw cashews for many months.

Cashews

How to soak cashews for cashew cream

No matter what your end result is going to be (from alfredo to ice cream), your first step will be to soak your cashews. Some folks have luck not soaking cashews—especially if you have a really high-powered blender and good quality cashews—but I’ve always had better luck with soaked cashews. There are three methods, all depending on how quickly you need ’em.

Cashew Cream

  • Overnight Soak—If you’re on the ball, cover one cup of raw cashews with cold water in a jar and let them soak overnight on the counter. In the morning, drain, rinse, and proceed with the recipe.
  • Quick Soak—Need your cashews fast? Pour boiling water over one cup of raw cashews in a jar and let them soak for about an hour before draining and rinsing. This is my favorite method.
  • Really Quick Soak—Need your cashews RIGHT NOW? Mix one cup of raw cashews with three cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and proceed with your recipe. Sometimes this method doesn’t result in quite as smooth results in my experience, but it works in a pinch. You also might get a weird gray (or sometimes even purple!) gunky film on top with this method—just rinse it off before proceeding.

Next up, blend your cashews with water

And that’s it. Pour the drained cashews into your blender with water (how much water depends on how thick you want the final result to be—see the recipe below for more info on this), and blend the dickens out of it until it’s crazy smooth and creamy. It can take 3-5 minutes depending on your blender to get it dreamy smooth—just keep on blending. And once it is smooth as can be and your desired consistency, you’ve now made cashew cream! We make this a quart at a time in our house and use it for everything from pasta sauces to casseroles to soups—any dishes where you’d use half-and-half or heavy cream, you can substitute in cashew cream.

Get your recipe for Basic Cashew Cream

Making just a base recipe of basic cashew cream is a great place to start. Here is a printable recipe for that, then, below the recipe, you’ll find more variations on the cashew cream theme!

 
Cashew Cream

Basic Cashew Cream

Yield: 1 1/2 - 4 cups
Prep Time: 6 hours 3 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 3 minutes

Omnivores and herbivores alike will love this cashew cream. Use it anywhere you’d use heavy cream or half and half!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Place cashews in a bowl or jar (I like using a wide-mouth quart mason jar) and cover with water. Let soak overnight (at least 6 hours).
  2. Once soaking is finished, drain and rinse the cashews, and place in the basin of a high-powered blender. Add one cup of water for heavy cream thickness, two cups of water for half-and-half thickness, and three cups of water for milk thickness, and blend on high until very smooth—about three minutes.
  3. Store in covered container in the fridge for up to 10 days. The cream will get thicker as it cools.

Notes

Quick soak method: Cover cashews with boiling water and let sit 1 hour before proceeding.

Super quick method: Place cashews and three cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse before proceeding.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

More cashew-cream based recipes

Once you have the basic idea of cashew cream down pat, you can turn that glorious, velvety cream into all kinds of wonderful kitchen concoctions. Cashew cream holds up really well to heating and baking—no separating—so you can use it almost anywhere. Drizzle the sour cream over tacos or baked potatoes! Use the queso in a quesadilla or sandwich instead of cheese! Spread the creamy pasta sauce on a spinach alfredo pizza!

Here are some of the favorite flavor variations and ways we use it in our house. Click on the title to head on over to the full post for each cashew cream recipe:

Like I said above, these recipes aren’t even close to all the uses for cashew cream, but hopefully these will give you a good primer into the glorious world of cashew cream. Once you start using it in your kitchen, you’ll be amazed at how versatile it is!

Come tell us on Instagram how you’re using your cashew cream!

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

83 Responses
    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Danette! Raw cashews sold in stores are not truly raw cashews—they are cooked to remove a toxin that can make you sick. No need to worry about any of that with this recipe!

  1. Tamara Hanel

    Hey, thanks for posting. Any tips to prevent separation in the coffee? It tastes great, but it does tend to coagulate in my coffee.

    1. Cassie Johnston

      It’s a bit annoying, but I keep a spoon in my mug and stir regularly. Also, I’ve found fresh cashew cream mixes in much better than older cream.

  2. Cindy

    I just wanted to tell you the cashew cream has truly been life changing for me. I’ve been trying to get off dairy and have tried every substitute for my half and half in my coffee but none of them were thick and creamy enough for me. I made the cashew cream heavy cream level and it is amazing!! I can’t wait to try some of the other versions of this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Annette Robertson

    I made this for my husband and myself as we were trying to get away from so much dairy. We found it to be a wonderful substitute. Thanks so much!

  4. KIM

    Hi,
    I have been trying to make your cashew cream, but my blender isn’t up to it. When I follow the link to see which blender you use, I get an error stating an ‘Insecure Connection’. Please could you let me know which Ninja blender you use to get such fantastic results? I have new allergies since having children, and have had to give up not only milk, gluten, soy and coconut but also ALL the dairy free milks and creams available from shops! So this information would be a game changer for me. Thanks so much.
    Kim

      1. Tammy

        Kim, I just (Jan 2019) made my 1st batch of the coffee creamer and it is “OMG” amazing. I used 1c soaked raw cashews, 1.5c water, pinch salt, 1t pure vanilla extract, 2T maple syrup. Blended 2 cycles (2 min, I’m so impatient, it should have been 3 min) on high in Blendtec blender.
        Cassie – I LOVED this, total game changer. My new AlmondCow will handle milk, THIS is the only way to replace cream.

  5. The ice cream recipe has a mistake in it, it calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, I thought that was a bit much but I put it in thinking that because the cashews are really bland raw it might call for it. Horribly salty. I had to add a bunch of corn syrup and shredded flaked coconut and chocolate chips so it’s more of a “salted coconut chocolate” flavor. I’m guessing you meant 1/4 teaspoon or even 1 pinch salt?

  6. I just want to thank you for these recipes. I have been searching forever for an alternative to coffee creamer and I honestly am in LOVE with this cashew creamer! I just received my second order from nuts.com per your suggestion (they are AMAZING btw so thank you for that as well!) and am making batch number three of this delicious and super healthy alternative. THANK YOU!

    1. Cassie

      Unfortunately, no. Coconut milk is the only plant-based milk that does a good job of staying creamy when frozen. You can try it with almond (or other) milks, but it’ll be pretty frosty/icy.

  7. Fanny

    I love your article and will try the cashew sour cream recipe tonight. I am totally crazy about vegan cheese and alternatives to dairy !
    Thank you !

  8. Megan Lamken

    OMG! I am vegan, and I am also allergic to soy, dairy and wheat making it harder find yummy vegan options. I love coffee with creamer, but have been forced to drink it black for years now. I made your coffee creamer recipe this morning and it is amazing! It tastes great, I know what ingredients are in it, and it is healthy too. You are a life saver.

    I made your sour cream recipe last night and put it on red beans and rice. So good. Thanks again!

    Meg Lamken
    Fernandina Beach, Fl

  9. meredith

    Great recipes! I was despairing about not being able to find a milk alternative for my tea but your cashew nut creamer is fantastic, I think it makes my tea taste better. I have drastically reduced the maple syrup to about 1 TBSP or less and increased the water a bit so I guess it is a little more like slightly sweet cashew milk. Thanks for making my efforts to become dairy-free a little bit easier.

  10. Leah

    Hi, I’m sensitive to both dairy AND coconut which is a real bummer when you want something creamy! So I’m very excited about this! Question- can I just use the water used for the overnight soak as opposed to tossing it and using new water? I always try to preserve nutrients lost during boiling/soaking/etc so just curious if there’s a reason we want to discard the soak water. Thanks!!

      1. Teri

        Are you though? Is that the reason for soaking them, and do you know what it is that is being removed? I thought soaking was just to soften them, to make them easier to blend?

        1. Nicole

          It’s for both reasons 😉 Also good to soak in something that can kill the fungi/mycotoxins. Sadly cashews is full of these issues… but still my favourite substitute.

Meet Cassie
Meet Your Host

Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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