The Life-Changing Magic of Cashew Cream

Spoon drizzling cashew cream into a turquoise bowl full of more 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 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 (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-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). 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, 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.

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
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. Here are some of the favorite 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!

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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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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