Spoon drizzling cashew cream into a turquoise bowl full of more cashew cream.
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!).

Cashew Cream

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.

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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.

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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!

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83 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. Loving all the plant-based recipes and ideas lately! We go through a downright embarrassing amount of cashews in our house.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. Yes I love cashew cream! It’s the best! This post is such a great explination of what cashew cream is and how/why to use it. Love it! Thank you!

  8. 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.