Learn how to make cashew cream to use as a replacement for heavy cream in recipes and so much more. This simple, versatile sauce is vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, sugar-free and easy to make in a blender.

Overhead shot of thick cashew cream in a small glass dish with some raw cashews sitting beside it.

What is cashew cream?

Cashew cream is a plant-based staple that can be used to replace heavy cream in vegan soups, pastas, sauces and more. It’s made by blending soaked raw cashews with water until smooth and creamy.

The thickness can be adjusted by adding more or less water to achieve a thick mayo-like spread, heavy cream or a thinner, half-and-half consistency.

Plain cashew cream is the perfect base for additional ingredients, sweet or savory, depending on the use.

A spoon in a small glass dish of cashew cream.

How to Make Basic Cashew Cream

This tutorial will show you how to make basic cashew cream with just cashews and water. You will need a bowl for soaking, a high-speed blender and a sealable container for storing if you don’t plan to use it all right away.

Step 1. Soak the cashews.

Place raw cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 8-12 hours. After soaking, drain and rinse. They’re now ready to use to make cashew cream.

I’ll go into more details about whether or not it’s necessary to soak the cashews below, but the short of it is, yes, I think you get a better result if you soak the cashews first, so I would recommend soaking.

Raw cashews soaking in a glass container.

Step 2. Blend the cashews with water.

Add the cashews to a high-speed blender and start by adding 1/2 cup of water. If you soaked the cashews overnight, you should need between 1/2 and 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of cashews. If you did not soak the cashews, you may need as much as 1 1/2 cups of water.

I like to add a generous pinch of salt and I usually add some lemon. The salt and lemon help balance out the natural sweetness of the cashews.

Raw cashews in a blender with water.

Cashew Cream Tips and FAQ

  • Make sure you use raw, unsalted cashews. Raw cashews are soft and pale in colour. They should not have any other ingredients listed.
  • Cashew cream will thicken as it chills in the fridge.
  • It will seem grainy at first, keep blending until it’s velvety smooth. The whole blending process may take 3-6 minutes depending on the cashews and soaking time.
  • Add a good pinch of sea salt to enhance the flavour. I like to add some lemon too.
  • If I have extra cream I don’t plan on using, I like to blend with more water, dates and vanilla to make cashew milk. This also works well for coffee creamer.

Do I have to soak the cashews before blending?

For the creamiest, smoothest result, I recommend soaking the cashews for at least 4 hours if using a high-speed blender and at least 8 hours if using a less powerful blender or food processor. That being said, regardless of what you’ll be using to blend the cashews, an overnight soak is your best bet.

I have made it without any soaking and while possible in a Vitamix, it takes longer and more stopping to scrape down the sides to get a completely smooth cream.

Can I boil the cashews instead of soaking them?

Yes. There are two ways to do a “quick” soak with boiling water.

  1. Bring cashews and water to a boil stovetop. Remove from heat and let sit for an hour.
  2. Pour boiling water over cashews in a bowl and let soak for an hour.

If you’re really in a pinch, you can boil the cashews for 15 minutes and use those but again, an overnight soak will yield the best result.

How long does cashew cream last?

Cashew cream will last up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge. It can also be frozen up to 4 months and thawed in the fridge.

How to Use Cashew Cream

Now the fun part! How to use cashew cream:

  1. Stir it into soup, stew or chili. Try it over this easy vegan chili, curried cauliflower sweet potato soup or butternut squash soup.
  2. Use to replace cream or coconut milk in curries. Try it in this vegan butter chicken.
  3. Use it to make vegan bechamel, alfredo, mushroom sauce, vodka sauce and pasta primavera.
  4. Try it drizzled over baked oatmeal, strawberry rhubarb oatmeal or sautéed apple oatmeal.
  5. Use it in homemade muesli as an alternative to yogurt.
  6. Drizzle it over warm apple crisp and other baked desserts.
  7. Blend with maple syrup or dates and vanilla and use minimal water to make a sweet dip for fruit, or layer with fresh berries to make a parfait.
  8. Add more water, vanilla and a few dates or maple syrup and vanilla to make coffee creamer.
  9. Blend it with cocoa powder and sweetener to make a decadent chocolate pudding.
  10. Mix it with fresh herbs, use a little extra water and drizzle over roasted veggies or baked sweet potatoes.
  11. Blend into mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.
  12. Blend with a little extra water, lemon, apple cider vinegar and salt to make a crema for tacos and other Mexican dishes. This is good with cilantro blended in too.
  13. Blend with an sriracha or adobo pepper in chipotle sauce to make it spicy. Great for tacos, burritos and Mexi-bowls.
  14. Add a spoonful of pesto for a quick and easy pasta sauce.
  15. Add 1 tbsp nutritional yeast for cheesy cashew sauce.
  16. Make cashew sour cream by using 1/2 cup water and adding adding 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar.
Cashew cream in a sealed glass jar.

Cashew Cream Recipe

This beautifully rich cashew cream is the perfect replacement for heavy cream in recipes. This simple recipe acts as a versatile base for additional ingredients like lemon, salt and herbs or sweet additions like maple syrup and vanilla.

Make it extra thick to use as a base for sour cream or mayo or use more water to reach a half and half or coffee cream consistency. You can also add up to 4 cups of water to make deliciously creamy cashew milk.

More Plant-Based Basics

Print
Overhead shot of thick cashew cream in a small glass dish with some raw cashews sitting beside it.

How to Make Cashew Cream

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours
  • Yield: approx. 1 cup
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Use this versatile, basic cashew cream as a replacement for heavy cream and yogurt in soups, pastas and sauces. It can also be blended into mashed potatoes, drizzled over oatmeal, berries, soup and roasted veggies or used to make vegan mayo and sour cream.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked 8 hours
  • 1/21 cup water (see notes)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • optional: 1 tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste

For Sweet Cashew Cream

For Savory Cashew Cream

  • 12 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • experiment with fresh and dried herbs like paprika, cumin, cilantro, dill and ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak at least 8 hours at room temperature. Drain and rinse.
  2. Add the cashews to a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup of water and the sea salt. Start blending on low and slowly increase the speed. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed and continue blending until it’s completely smooth and creamy, adding more water as necessary to reach your desired consistency. It will thicken further when chilled and can always be thinned later with additional water.
  3. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Notes

For a thick, spreadable dip consistency (good for mayo or sour cream), use 1/2-3/4 cup water. For a heavy cream replacement use 3/4-1 cup water. For half-and-half consistency, you may need up to 1 1/2-2 cups water. For cashew milk, add up t to 4 cups water. I find the amount of water needed depends on the quality of the cashews and how long they were soaked. I’ve used up to 2 cups of water and still had it be quite thick.

See posts for notes on soaking and additional flavour variations.

Nutrition facts are for if you use 3/4 cup water, which makes just over 1 cup.

If it’s too thick after sitting in the fridge simple re-blend with additional water.

Keywords: how to make cashew cream, basic cashew cream, simple, easy