Cashew cream is one of those “secret weapon” vegan ingredients that I wish I could share with every person who’s nervous about giving up dairy. It’s so easy to make, and yet it can create a world of difference in vegan soups, pastas, casseroles, cream sauces, and more.
There are, of course, many ways to successfully create creamy texture in vegan cooking without the use of real cream. They include silken tofu, coconut milk, vegan mayo, and avocados. But this all-purpose cashew cream recipe is my favorite trick of the dairy-free trade, both for its authenticity and also for it’s mild flavor. It’s a lot more neutral tasting than coconut milk, and I think it comes closer to replicating real dairy or cream than silken tofu does.
Cashew cream can feel like a bit of a project if you’ve never cooked with it before, but the truth is that it’s a 3-4 ingredient recipe that takes very little time or effort. A high speed blender makes it easier, but it’s totally doable in the food processor, too. It works in some regular blenders, too, depending on the model and on how long you soak your cashews.
Once you have a jar of cashew cream at the ready, you can store it for up to 5 days, using it throughout the week to add silky decadence to all sorts of recipes (more ideas below!). Here’s my all purpose, easy peasy recipe.
|All-Purpose Cashew Cream Recipe|| || |
- 1 cup raw cashew nuts*, soaked overnight** and drained of water
- ½-3/4 cup water (varies depending on desired thickness of cream)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Dash paprika
- Dash onion powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons minced, fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- Place all ingredients, starting with only ½ cup water, in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until completely smooth (the process should take about 1-2 minutes in a high speed blender and about 4 minutes in a food processor). If using a food processor, stop a few times to scrape down the bowl and then continue blending. Drizzle in extra water as needed to reach a desired consistency and add sweet or savory flavorings of choice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
**If you're using a high speed blender, the nuts will only need 2 hours of soak time.
Once you’ve made the cream, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of my favorite culinary uses for it!
10 Things to Do with All-Purpose Cashew Cream
Stir it into a soup or stew
As you can see above (that’s a simple carrot ginger soup I made, based off of this recipe), cashew cream can work wonders in a soup. Try it in my cream of broccoli and quinoa soup, my creamy curried cauliflower soup, my minted pea soup, or my roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup.
Create rich and creamy pasta sauce
The obvious use for cashew cream in pastas would be a vegan alfredo recipe, but cashew cream can also create a rich tomato sauce, a vegan penne a la vodka, or a creamy pasta primavera.
Add it to a bowl of morning muesli
If you love thick, traditional morning muesli and want to create it without dairy yogurt, try using cashew cream (or a mixture of cashew cream and non-dairy milk) instead. This recipe and this recipe can provide some inspiration!
Use it as a topping for berries or other fresh fruit
See: raw whipped cream.
Use it as a sweet dip for apple slices
I love to stir some fresh cinnamon, ginger or cardamom (or a combination of all three) into a very thick batch of cashew cream, and then use it as a dip for apple or pear slices in the fall. Yum!
Dress up a casserole
If you’re looking to make a traditional vegan casserole or gratin, cashew cream is your new best friend. My cheesy vegan quinoa and broccoli bake uses a spin on cashew cream for its base.
Dress up your veggies
Cashew cream is perfect for “cheesy” or creamy vegetables sides (vegan creamed spinach, anyone?).
Make a pudding
Cashew cream makes silky smooth, decadent vegan puddings (like Fran Costigan’s warm chocolate cashew cream pudding, above) a snap!
Make a pie
Many vegan pie fillings (especially pumpkin pie or chocolate silk pie) can be created with blended cashews or cashew cream. If the pie pilling is taken care of, you can still use cashew cream as a rich and delicious topping for your slices (or for topping a plate of vegan crumble or crisp!)
Make your mashed potatoes extra creamy
For mashed potato recipes, I often rely on the tried-and-true combination of Earth Balance and soy or almond milk. But folding in some cashew cream can create mashed spuds that are particularly decadent/dreamy/delicious. You might also try using cashew cream or cashew cheese as part of a filling for savory twice baked sweet potatoes (you can see my macadamia cheese version of this idea above).
As you can see, there are so many culinary possibilities for this humble mixture. If you’re working toward a more plant-based diet, trying to avoid dairy due to an intolerance or allergy, or if you’re simply hoping to explore more vegan recipes and cooking techniques, cashew cream is a great place to start. If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it goes–and feel free to tag me on social media if you try it and manage to snap a picture!
I’ll be back in a day or two with a new soup/stew recipe that’s simple, richly spiced, and super nutritious. And it’s even better with a swirl of cashew cream 🙂