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The Life-Changing Magic of Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream
Recipe At-A-Glance
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 eat 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

And then, one day, I was out of half and half, and I did a desperate Google search for a plant-based coffee creamer recipe that I could make using pantry staples. A lot of recipes called for coconut milk or coconut oil (love coconut, but I’m a coffee purist, so no go) or almond milk (which I know from experience has some separation issues). And then I stumbled onto Cashew Coffee Creamer on Kitchen Treaty, and I thought, “Well, that’s something I’ve never tried before!” and went for it.

Dude. Life changed.

It looks like half and half. It’s thick, fatty, and creamy like half and half. It doesn’t separate or curdle. It doesn’t taste like coconut. It. Was. Perfect. Better than any of those $5 a pint plant-based coffee creamers on the market. With that first blitz in my blender, a love affair with cashews was born.

In the months since, I’ve turned cashews into sour cream (yup, it works!), ice cream (so gloriously buttery!), creamy salad dressings (best. ranch. ever.), queso (so spicy and yum!), alfredo sauce (much easier than making a bechamel sauce), and so many other things I’ve lost count. I have a whole other post coming up in a few weeks about cashew cheeses (ricotta, parmesan, feta, oh my!), but for now, we’ll stick to creamy uses.

Cashew Ice Cream

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. Watch the video below to get a full primer on using cashew cream, or scroll down for the text and photo version.

Before We Start: You’ll Need A Good Blender…

First things first: to do all this cashew cream magic, you’re going to need a good-quality, high powered 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—more on that in my future cashew cheese post). I use my Ninja and it works beautifully. She’s seen more cashews than a cashew farmer.

Cashews in Blender

…and Some Good 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. As a Nuts.com ambassador, I might be biased, but I think they have some of the best raw, organic cashews on the market (they aren’t sponsoring this post, BTW). I love that you can get bulk discounts from Nuts.com. Since I go through so many cashews in my house, buying in bulk saves me some serious cash!

Cashews

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, let’s break it down:

  • A pound of raw, organic cashews from Nuts.com is $12.99.
  • You can get about six pints of cashew cream from a pound of cashews, making it $2.17 per pint.
  • A pint of organic half and half in my area is $3.19 (I just looked it up).
  • And that’s all the math we’re going to be doing today.

First Step: Soak Your Cashews

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.

Second Step: Blend 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. You’ve now made cashew cream! We make this a quart at a time in our house and use it for everything from casseroles to bisques—anywhere you’d use half and half or heavy cream.

Basic Cashew Cream

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Cashew Cream

Basic Cashew Cream


  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 6 hrs, 3 min
  • Total Time: 6 hrs, 3 min
  • Yield: 1 1/2 - 4 cups 1x

Description

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


Scale

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.

  • Category: Vegan

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. Here are some of the favorite ways we use it in our house:

Dairy-Free Cashew Coffee Creamer

Dairy-Free Cashew Coffee Creamer

Cashew Sour Cream

Dairy-Free Cashew Sour Cream

Dairy-Free Cashew Ranch Dressing

Dairy-Free Cashew Ranch Dressing

Cashew Alfredo Sauce

Dairy-Free Cashew Alfredo Sauce

Dairy-Free Cashew Queso

Dairy-Free Cashew Queso

Dairy-Free Cashew Ice Cream

Dairy-Free Cashew Ice Cream

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 cashews! Stay tuned in the next few weeks for a whole separate post on making nut cheeses using cashews—you’ll be amazed at how tasty they are!

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.

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76 Responses
      1. Cassie

        Sure is! Freezes nicely in ice cube trays (although we use it almost everything, so we rarely have any leftover to freeze).

    1. Cassie

      If there are no chunky bits (like the garlic the alfredo sauce), you can just stir stuff in afterward. I tend to make a big batch of plain/basic cashew cream, and then turn it into sour cream and coffee creamer.

  1. Nikki

    I’m so excited to try all of these! How does the flavor of the creamer compare to almond milk creamer? Can you taste the cashew-iness or is it pretty neutral?

    1. Cassie

      I’d say it’s WAY more neutral-flavored than almond milk creamer. I can’t handle almond milk creamer in my coffee, because I think it just makes my coffee taste like almonds—I like almonds, but I want COFFEEEEEEEEEE, you know? I think the flavor of cashew creamer is very mild!

  2. Alaina

    Oh my gosh! 7 recipes?!?! You have been busy, girl!

    Have been looking at replacing my beloved half and half for a while now – can’t wait to try this! And the ice cream looks divine. Thanks for the plethora of recipes to try!

  3. Amy Schlicht

    I love you! I have a dairy allergy and spend a fortune on so-so store bought non-dairy products. I’ve always been leery of trying cashew cream, but you make it so simple! I’m so making Alfred this week!

    Thank you

  4. Katie O'Brien

    Can you freeze cashew creaml? (I freeze buttermilk, half and half, and heavy whipping cream… there’s only two of us in our house and we never get through it before it goes bad, so we freeze it!)

    1. Cassie

      YES! Freeze it in ice cube trays. Although, I will say, cashew cream lasts a lot longer in the fridge than dairy cream—and you can make it in whatever amounts you want!

  5. lauramich

    I have a big tub of roasted, salted cashews that I bought before my husband realized they upset his stomach. Do you think I could turn those into a passable cashew cream? Well, it looks like most of these recipes call for 1 cup of cashews. I have way more than that on hand, so if a roasted, salted cashew cream is a complete flop, they haven’t all gone to waste!

    1. Lisa

      Raw cashews are really important to achieve the neutral flavor and smooth texture these recipes require. You CAN use roasted cashews, but the cashew flavor will be much more pronounced and it won’t be as smooth and creamy. And using salted nuts is not really a good idea because the salt content will ruin most of the recipes. But hey, you could always try a small batch of one of them and see how you like it. It might be the flavor profile you like.

      1. Linda

        You could make cashew butter, in the blender, if you wanted to. I’ve done it in both a food processor and my big strong Vita-Mix blender. There are many recipes for it on Pinterest.
        I’ve added salt, maple syrup and cinnamon.

  6. Lea

    Thank you so much for posting plant based meals. I recently went plant-based (vegan) for health reasons and I was so bummed that I wouldnt be able to stalk wholefully recipes anymore so I am over the moon about this post! Will you be revisiting some of your old recipes in a plant-based light? Would love to see your thoughts on vegan meet substitutes for your salads and etc.

    1. Cassie

      I’m so glad you’re liking the plant-based focus! And yes, we’re reworking a lot of recipes from the archives to include both omnivore and plant-based preparation ideas! We’re gonna cover everyone. 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Cassie! Funnily enough I have been a cashew coffee creamer freak for awhile now but I am only now really venturing into other areas with cashew cream and I agree, cashews really are SO versatile, they deserve to be far more mainstream! LOVE this amazing resource you’ve created and I can’t wait to try cashew sour cream next.

  8. Sarita Sandmann

    Thank you very much. I will try this for my coffee and for my family in general (hope my blender cuts it 🙂 ) it sounds really great!

  9. Brigitte

    Thanks for this awesome post. I am stirring towards a plant-based lifestyle and I was sad to lose my cream in my coffee and cheese. The almond creamer just doesn’t cut it. Very excited to try all these recipes!

  10. Lauren

    Okay, this might be a weird question. But I have some lightly salted cashews. Do you think I can just rinse them off prior to soaking them? Or would they still be too salty? I guess it might be worth a go in a small batch.

  11. This is such an awesome guide, Cassie! I gave up dairy about a year ago and cashew cream has been a life saver. I have yet to try it in coffee and dressing though. I’m loving all of these ideas!

  12. Erin Stratton

    Have you tried the mac and cheese with the cashews and nutritional yeast blend…GURLLLL GET THE ON THAT! It is so delicious and something I have done for a while now

  13. Jana

    Beautiful photos, excellent recipes, and your wonderful writing. I love what you’re turning your blog into, Cassie! (Though I was a huge fan of BTHR too. ;))

    1. Cassie

      I’ve never tried! I do make it pretty frequently into ricotta cheese—which can be used similarly to cottage cheese in cooking (although I wouldn’t recommend just eating it with a spoon like you do cottage cheese).

  14. Note to self: Make sure you blend the coffee creamer for long enough… because otherwise it separates and gets lumpy and that’s not delicious in coffee.

    Yay learning experiences! (the second batch was MUCH tastier)

  15. Well, it looks like most of these recipes call for 1 cup of cashews. I have way more than that on hand, so if a roasted, salted cashew cream is a complete flop, they haven’t all gone to waste!

  16. I can’t add this to my ingredient list as the BF is allergic to nuts (cashew, almond, hazelnut and walnut are the worst) but I will totally come back to it when my vegan friends will come over! I always felt my chili was not complete without a big dollup of sour cream, not to mention my other go-to recipe for creamy mushroom tagliatelle, and now I have a great substitute! Thank you!

  17. Cassie, I made the cashew ice cream this weekend for Easter dessert because half of my family is dairy-free and it was a huge hit with everyone, dairy-free or not! It was “just barely icy” like you said, but it was THEE creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had and the coconut milk made it so rich and delicious. I think I’m going to try the cashew coffee creamer next!

  18. I love you! I have a dairy allergy and spend a fortune on so-so store bought non-dairy products. I’ve always been leery of trying cashew cream, but you make it so simple! I’m so making Alfred this week!

  19. MJ

    Hey Cassie!

    Just letting you know that when I click on the Print Recipe button of all these recipes an error message shows (it says 404 error).

    PS: Thanks for the awesome recipes on this post. You rock!

  20. JR Reed

    Brilliant, so far I’ve made the creamer and the dressing with both far surpassing expectations and frankly test much better than the products they are replacing. Bravo and Thanks, Cassie.

  21. Ivy

    Hey! Thank you for these recipes! Did I do something wrong? I made the coffee creamer. When I wanted to try it, I heated it up in the microwave and used it in my tea. It was pretty good, except some settled on the bottom of my cup. Which is the same problem I have with store-bought coconut milk creamer. I did shake it up. Is settling natural?

    1. Cassie

      I would recommend trying to blend even longer then. Sometimes that happens to me when I don’t quite blend it long enough. It looks nice and smooth, but it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully that solves it! 🙂

  22. Mary

    Thanks so much, I have used cashews in place of the cream in Butter Chicken Masala which led me to exploring further and finding this page with all your recipes. Just wanted to say price is now $13.99 per pound at nuts.com, plus $5.99 shipping.

  23. Just stumbled onto this post and it is awesome! Talk about an all-inclusive guide to cashew cream! I recently made it for the first time to make a cream pasta (ohsheglows recipe) and I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before. My husband is lactose intolerant and I’m just salivating thinking of all the recipes I stopped making which I need to try with cashew cream! Going to try the coffee creamer first through as the non-dairy ones at the grocery store always let me down. I already prefer maple syrup in my coffee so your recipe sounds delicious!

  24. Love these recipes! I went vegan and I had a choice to upgrade 1 kitchen appliance so I chose the food processor. I tried to do this in my new $600 Kitchen Aid food processor. Epic fail! I blended about 3-4 minutes, scraped it down 3-4 times and still lumpy! I kept blending and it just would not get smooth. I have a Kitchen Aid blender I want to try next but I am worried about the lumps. What constitutes a “high powered” blender? Is it the motor size? I really can’t afford to buy a $400 blender. Will the one I have work?

    1. Cassie

      Sorry you’re struggling—this definitely is more of a job for a blender than a food processor (although you will get plenty of awesome use out of it, so good investment)! A high-powered blender is usually listed as “professional” level. The standard Kitchen-Aid blender won’t cut it, but they do have a professional line that should do the trick.

  25. Debbie

    I can’t wait to try every one of these! Thank you for posting so many! I do have one question, can another “milk” be substituted for the coconut milk in the ice cream? I am allergic to coconut 🙁 but would LOVE to try this cashew milk ice cream!
    Thank you again!

    1. Cassie

      The coconut works really well because it doesn’t tend to ice over as badly as other plant-based milks, but I don’t see why you couldn’t’ try it with any other nut milk and see how it turns out!

  26. Eloisa

    I have to say I’m impressed. I’ve tried other nacho cheese recipes and they weren’t that great. Feared I would never be able to have nachos again. I made the Cashew Queso with a couple of modifications since I didn’t have the chiles in adobo sauce and it was outstanding. I also made the cashew coffee creamer and it is way better than I expected. I feel like I need to use a little more than the amount of regular dairy creamer but it’s way better than the store bought almond milk creamer. Anyway thank you for these recipes!! Can’t wait to try the others.

  27. Tree

    Thank you for the great recipes. I have A LOT of cashew paste left over from making mylk, which I have frozen. Would I be able to use that instead, especially for ice cream? I find so many recipes starting with raw cashews, which is great and I do use, but would like to find some use for the paste. Thanks!

    1. Cassie

      This is a really good question! I have the feeling that you could just reconstitute the pulp with hot water for a few hours, and then try the recipes—but I’ve never tried it!

  28. Penny

    Finally accepted that I am lactose intolerant (it runs in the family), I have been looking for a substitute for sour cream. I made the basic cashew cream and added grated garlic, chopped onion, 1 tsp homemade taco seasoning and salt and pepper. It tasted awesome on top of my taco salad. Now I am anxious to try the coffee milk and alfredo sauce ?

  29. Cindy Brown

    For the first time I’ve made cashew cream sauce suggested with a vegan stuffed red pepper dish. I’ve made it all and am now puzzled if I’m serving hot stuffed red peppers and cold cream sauce … seems weird … can I heat the cream sauce?

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

  32. 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

  33. 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 !

    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.

  34. 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!

  35. 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?

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

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