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.
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!
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.
Here are the steps that will get you get you to the best, plant-based dairy replacement you’ve ever had!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Once you’ve made the cream, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of my favorite culinary uses for it!
See: raw whipped cream.
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.
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.
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.
Cashew cream is perfect for “cheesy” or creamy vegetables sides (vegan creamed spinach, anyone?).
Cashew cream makes silky smooth, decadent vegan puddings (like Fran Costigan’s warm chocolate cashew cream pudding, above) a snap!
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!)
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.
As you can see, there are so many culinary possibilities for this humble blend of nuts + water.
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!