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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. 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?

  2. 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 ?

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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! 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  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. 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)

    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).

  17. 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. ;))

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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