All-Purpose Cashew Cream Recipe

This vegan, all-purpose cashew cream is one of those “secret weapon” recipes that I wish I could share with every person who’s nervous about giving up dairy! It’s so easy to make, and it creates luxurious creaminess in vegan soups, pastas, casseroles, sauces, and more.

A glass jar has been filled with dairy-free cashew cream. There's another small bowl of the cream and some soaked cashews in the background.

There are many ways to successfully create creamy textures in vegan cooking without the use of real cream. These include using silken tofu, coconut milk, vegan mayo, and vegan yogurt.

But this all-purpose cashew cream recipe is my favorite dairy-free trick. 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 tried it before. Truthfully, though, it’s a 3-4 ingredient recipe that takes very little time or effort. Soak cashews, blend and serve. That’s about it!

What appliance do I need to make cashew cream?

Using a high-speed, or powerful blender does make blending the all-purpose cashew cream easier. However, it’s not necessary. Cashew cream is totally achievable with a food processor, too. 

You can even make cashew cream in a regular blender, depending on how long you soak the cashews for and how well your blender works.

I have the Breville Super Q, and I love it. After years of being a Vitamix user, I’ve fallen for the Super Q’s speed, easy programming interface, and awesome personal blender attachment, which is what I often use for cashew cream and cashew-based dressings.

That said, I made cashew cream in my food processor for years, and it worked beautifully. Your cashew cream will be ever-so-slightly more grainy than cashew cream from a high-speed blender. But it will still give beautiful, creamy texture to your cooking without dairy.

How to make all-purpose cashew cream

Here are the steps that will get you get you to the best, plant-based dairy replacement you’ve ever had!

A small, white ramekin is filled with raw cashews.

Soak your cashews

I like to soak my cashews in tap water overnight in the fridge. If you don’t have time to do this, the shortcut method is to soak them in boiling water for an hour or two—or however much time you have.

Soaking the cashews beforehand will help them to blend.

A food processor is blending up a creamy vegan dairy replacement.

Process or blend

Next, you’ll drain your cashews. You’ll add the soaked cashews to your food processor or blender along with some fresh water—enough to blend the nuts into a cream—and a pinch of salt. Process or blend till smooth and creamy.

If you use a food processor. Be sure to stop the machine periodically and scrape down the sides of the bowl. This will ensure even processing and no sneaky pieces of cashew in the finished cream.

A jar and round bowl have been filled with vegan cashew cream. Another bowl of raw cashews is in the background.

Store

Transfer your cashew cream to a glass jar or other storage container. The cream will keep in the fridge for about five days. Use it throughout the week to add silky decadence to all sorts of recipes—some ideas below!

Can I freeze cashew cream?

Happily, the answer is yes! I freeze all-purpose cashew cream all the time. In fact, I usually make a double batch each time I prepare it, just so that I can pop an extra into the freezer.

While I used to believe that it was unsafe to freeze mason jars, I’ve learned that it’s totally safe—so long as certain precautions are followed. Be sure to leave at least an inch (I usually leave 2) at the top of your mason jar after filling it with cashew cream. Liquid expands as it freezes, and this will help to ensure that the mason jar won’t burst from being overfilled.

It’s also best to freeze liquid in a mason jar with straight sides, rather than one with shoulders. These are my go-to for freezing my homemade cashew cream.

10 Uses for all-purpose cashew cream

Once you’ve made the cream, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of my favorite culinary uses for it!

Add it to a bowl of morning muesli

If you love thick, traditional muesli and want to create it without dairy yogurt, try using cashew creaminstead. This recipe and this recipe can provide some inspiration!

Use it as a topping for berries or other fresh fruit

See: raw whipped cream.

Create rich and creamy pasta sauce

All-purpose cashew cream is a game changer for pasta sauce! Try it in alfredo, vegan penne a la vodka, creamy beet fusilli, or skillet lasagna.

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), all-purpose 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.

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 my all-purpose 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 all-purpose 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 oat milk. But folding in some cashew cream can create mashed spuds that are particularly decadent/dreamy/delicious.

You might also try using all-purpose 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 blend of nuts + water.

A glass jar has been filled with dairy-free cashew cream. There's another small bowl of the cream and some soaked cashews in the background.
4.78 from 40 votes

All-Purpose Cashew Cream Recipe

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Soaking time 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

Optional savory flavoring:

  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Dash paprika
  • Dash onion powder

Optional sweet flavoring:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (if desired, or a pinch of cardamom, ginger, or chai spice)

Instructions

  • Place the cashews in a mixing bowl and cover them with enough water to submerge them by a few inches. Transfer the bowl to the fridge overnight. Alternatively, pour boiling water over the cashews for 1-2 hours or more. Drain the cashews.
  • Place all ingredients, starting with only 1/2 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 processing Drizzle in extra water as needed to reach a creamy and very smooth consistency.
  • Add sweet or savory flavorings of choice, if desired. Serve or store an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Video

A round bowl has been filled with a creamy, white cashew cream. Raw cashews are placed in a ramekin nearby.

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!

xo

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    51 Comments
  1. How much does this recipe make, and more specifically, would that amount be enough to substitute a can of coconut milk?
    Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    Just made a basic batch of this and it’s so good! I plan on using throughout week but adding sweet or savoury elements as required.
    Dauphinoise potatoes here I come!!
    Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Why is this only good in the fridge for 5 days? What happens after that? Does it spoil? Is it dangerous to eat? Or does it just lose quality somehow? Thanks…

    • Amy, the five days is just my best estimate of storage time, and I try to err on the side of caution. I’ve had batches turn sour after five days and develop a slightly sour odor. But if your batch tastes just fine, I’d probably feel OK using it at that point!

      • 5 stars
        Thanks so much! I feel better now! I hate nuts, both taste and smell, particularly peanuts. But this is amazing and is helping ease my transition to a healthier diet!

  4. Hi I was wondering are there any alternatives to cashews as they are on the expensive side? Will this work with sunflower seeds? Thanks

    • Hi Tahira,

      I like the mildly sweet and buttery flavor of cashews for the cream, but it will work with sunflower seeds as well!

      G

  5. Yay! Thanks! I also wanted you to know that Joe Yonan in his new book, Cool Beans, gives you a very big compliment! Way to go!

  6. Can you freeze cashew cream in 2 Tablespoon portions? I won’t be able to use it up in 5 days. Thanks for your help.

  7. Sitting on my couch trying not to cry at 62 I’ve developed horrendous allergy to all dairy (painful blisters and skin cracking open ☹️) I am about to order a high speed blender from Amazon and try your cashew cream so I can continue making my favorite foods… Thank you for printing this…God bless

  8. 5 stars
    I toasted butternut slices in my bread toaster (3 times till it was done), topped it with your sweet version of the cashew cream (forgot to add the ginger) and then topped the cream with blue berries. It was DELICIOUS!!!! Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe!

  9. Just want to show love and support for giving the world more delicious vegan options to choose from!! I will be making this tomorrow, thank you for posting!
    I also LOVE how you listed possible uses for this cashew cream deluxe. people like you are soooo great 😀
    Plant based for life!!

  10. 5 stars
    This one is the easiest cashew cream recipe I’ve come across. So delicious and works with so many dishes. Great work, Gena. 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    Hi! I really like your recipes! It’s great that this one can be used for a wide variety of things. I have a question. Would a mini food processor work?

    • Hi Joshua! I haven’t had success with this recipe in a mini food processor, unfortunately. I find that they’re great for chopping things, but not as good for pureeing nuts. You’re welcome to give it a shot, but don’t want you to be bummed if it doesn’t work out!

  12. 5 stars
    Cashews are amazing!

    Have you tried using it in coffee? I’ve been desperately trying to find a dairy alternative for my coffee but everything plant based milk I’ve tried are far too watery.

  13. My Grandchildren and daughter-In-law are all vegans, I have been trying different recipes to see which one they like the most.
    I didn’t know what Cashew Cream way, but your web site gave me a recipe to try, which I will do.
    Thank you for the recipe.

  14. 5 stars
    I made this with raw sunflower seeds which I soaked overnight. I chose to make the sweet cream adding powdered sugar and vanilla extract. It turned out very nice! I plan to try to incorporate the cream into an almond milk ice cream recipe.

  15. 5 stars
    I made this to thicken and “cream” a cream of broccoli soup. It was amazing!

  16. Great been looking for DF cream option with cashew nuts. Hoping it will work in my GF Lemonade Scone Recipe.

  17. A couple of newbie questions about making the cashew cream.

    1) soak overnight. Do I leave them on a counter top or put in fridge to soak? What temp water is used for the soaking. Hot warm or cold?

    2) can it be frozen and if he’s best way to defrost?

    Thank you!
    Robin

    • Hi Robin!

      1. If you’re soaking overnight, I recommend leaving them and the water they’re soaking in the fridge, and
      2. Yes! I always freeze. I recommend following standard food safety precautions and defrosting overnight in the fridge, but I’ll admit that I’ve defrosted at room temp in the past to save time 🙂

      G

  18. 5 stars
    Would love your take on this as a base for a cashew sour cream for use over potatoes, etc with chives. What ingredients could spin it in that direction?

  19. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe yesterday and found it worked great! I soaked the cashews overnight and used my food processor. I just kept adding water until I got the consistency I was after (heavy cream). I used it to make a potato/celeriac puree and it worked perfectly. Neither myself or any of our dinner guests could tell that it wasn’t dairy cream. I also made a second batch that I left thicker to make a sweet lemon cream for fruit parfaits (http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/nectarine-parfait-recipe-with-lemon-cream/). That also worked out well. That one I did push through a sieve after processing to give it a smoother feel since it was standing on it’s own.

  20. 5 stars
    Cashew cream never lasts 5 days in our home. We put it on almost everything we eat! Valerie taught me how to make cashew cream, and I stick pretty close to her recipe, but I love your variations and will enjoy trying them out!

  21. So perfect that I see this post by you today after making my first savory cashew cream this afternoon! It truly is magical <3 love all of your ideas on ways to use it here too Gena! Must give it a try in pudding sometime. xo

  22. Thanks for sharing this recipe, & especially the tips for using it in all sorts of ways from sweet to savory. I will definitely give it a whirl .

    Happy spring! I always looked forward to spring blooms, & even though it’s summer year round in Maui, I still miss the feeling of renewal that comes with spring.

  23. 5 stars
    cashew cream is one of the most used by me and i love it 🙂 so much love in this post and very detailed. <3

  24. 5 stars
    I love cashew cream and I love how you flavored it for both sweet and savory options! Beautiful post.

  25. 5 stars
    Oh hell yes.

    Love the tip about soak time being as little as 2 hours with a great blender.

    Making this tomm!

  26. I love this post. Not just because of the cashew cream (which is awesome!) but for all the different ways you can use it. It’s so versatile and is a good way to add extra nutrition to any dish! I would love more people to give it a go, and not just vegans or dairy free individuals. Thanks for sharing!

  27. 5 stars
    Hi & Greetings from the UK.

    BIG thanks for your fab post, so informative and inspiring. I can’t wait to try your suggestions out. I have given up dairy cream and do not want to sub with coconut cream and milk. This is such an amazing concept and brilliant healthy food swop. Thanks again, look forward to seeing some of your recipe ideas using the cashew cream in future posts.

    Best Wishes,

    Nina

  28. 5 stars
    This cashew cream looks so inviting and delicious that I am going to try this. And I even have a bag of raw cashews in the freezer! Will soak them tonight and can’t wait to make the cream. Many thanks for the recipe, Gena! 🙂

  29. I agree! Coconut cream makes dairy free more decadent and is a perfect addition to dishes. I loved that you added sweet and savory flavor combos to the recipe! and your photos are gorgeous!