How To Make Cashew Cream

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Pouring cashew cream from a mini pitcher into a glass jar

We must apologize, friends — we’ve been holding out on you! We’ve used cashew cream for years in everything from soups to pastas to desserts and more, but we’ve never had a recipe dedicated to its creamy and smooth perfection. It deserves its own special place in Minimalist Baker land, don’t you think!? 

This quick and easy, dairy-free “cream” is a great alternative for those who don’t like the taste of coconut milk or anyone looking for an easy replacement for traditional heavy cream in recipes. It’s neutral in flavor (thanks to a quick soak in boiling water) and incredibly versatile! Let’s make cashew cream!

Raw cashews and water

What is Cashew Cream?

Cashew cream is a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream and coconut milk. It’s made by soaking then blending raw cashews with water until smooth. It can be used to add creaminess to pastas and soups, make ganache for desserts, or as a thick and creamy base for salad dressings or overnight oats. And when enough water’s added and it’s strained, it can even be added to beverages!

How to Make Cashew Cream

First, you’ll want to figure out how you’ll be using the cashew cream. Or if you’re not sure, start with the quantities suggested for thicker cashew cream knowing you can always add more water to thin it out!

  • To replace light coconut milk: Use 1/2 cup cashews
  • To replace full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream: Use 1 cup cashews

Once you’ve decided how many cashews to use, you’ll soak the cashews in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Since we’re into saving time in the kitchen, we tested whether soaking actually makes a difference. The verdict: It does!

In our side-by-side comparison, we found that soaking creates a more neutral and pleasant flavor. The good news? Using hot water speeds up the process and works just as well as soaking overnight in cool water!

Pouring hot water over cashews to soak them

When the cashews are done soaking, we drain out the hot water and add the soaked cashews to a blender with fresh water.

Soaked cashews and water in a blender

Using a high-speed blender is important for getting a smooth and creamy consistency (find our blender review here!). Also important: Make sure you’re making a large enough quantity to cover the blades (we find 1 ½ cups to be the minimum necessary volume for most blenders).

Smooth and creamy cashew cream in a blender

The result is cashew cream that’s:

Creamy
Smooth
Neutral-flavored
Quick & easy
& SO versatile!

Use it almost any time you’re looking for a replacement for heavy cream or coconut milk, including for pastassoupsdesserts, and beyond!

More Dairy-Free Recipe Swaps

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Jar and mini pitcher of cashew cream next to a bowl of raw cashews

How to Make Cashew Cream

Quick & easy homemade cashew cream that’s the perfect dairy-free replacement for traditional heavy cream in recipes! Just 1 ingredient and 30 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Jar and mini pitcher or cashew cream next to a bowl of raw cashews
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Helpful How-to
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 1 cup raw cashews (use the lesser amount for the texture of light coconut milk and the greater amount to resemble full-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  • Add cashews to a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water by at least 1-2 inches. Soak for 20-30 minutes.
  • Drain the cashews and add them to a high-speed blender with 1 cup (240 ml) fresh water. Blend on high until completely smooth — about 1 minute.
  • Use in place of coconut milk or dairy cream in pasta, soup, overnight oats, beverages (only if using the lesser amount of cashews — and strain for best texture), desserts, and anything else that would benefit from a creamy boost! Sadly, it doesn’t work for making whipped cream (we tried!).
  • Store leftover cashew cream in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. We haven’t tested freezing it, but suspect it would work, though it’s always best when fresh.

Video

Notes

*Recipe as written makes 1 ½ cups cashew cream.
*Photographs reflect using the greater amount of cashews.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of cashews.

Nutrition (1 of 12 servings)

Serving: 1 (2-tablespoon serving) Calories: 30 Carbohydrates: 1.6 g Protein: 1 g Fat: 2.4 g Saturated Fat: 0.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1 mg Potassium: 36 mg Fiber: 0.2 g Sugar: 0.3 g Vitamin A: 0 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 2 mg Iron: 0.3 mg

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  1. Allie says

    You said that this wouldn’t work to make whipped cream– but I wonder if you added aquafaba and cream of tartar if it might work! Like maybe 3/4 cup aquafaba, 1/4 cup of cashew cream to add the nice fatiness, a pinch of cream of tartar and powdered sugar to taste…

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Deborah, great question! We’d suggest a mix of coconut cream and cashew cream to create enough richness and prevent it from being icy. Hope that helps!

      • Deborah Piccurelli says

        Thank you. Unfortunately, I can’t take much coconut anything. I was planning on using cashew or macadamia milk with the cashew cream to add the richness. Then incorporate any items needed for a variety of flavors.

  2. Enid says

    Just curious.
    Lemon is excluded in this recipe.
    Is the reason for taste or simply a question of versatility of use when other ingredients can be added?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Enid, it’s to keep the recipe more simple/versatile. Feel free to add lemon!

  3. Anonymous says

    Any way to make cashew cream without a high speed blender? I have a food processor, an immersion blender and I just remembered a smoothie maker (essentially a small blender that can handle ice cubes). I’m thinking the smoothie maker will be the most successful?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Agreed – the smoothie maker sounds like the best choice! We don’t think it would get creamy with the other two.

  4. Sam says

    Hi Dana. Do you think this recipe would work with a mixture of nuts, say, cashews and macadamias? I’ve been interested in trying out a chocolate frosting recipe that uses cashew-macadamia cream rather than coconut cream.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sam, we find macadamia nuts are a pretty close substitute for cashews, but don’t get quite as creamy or absorb as much moisture. Hope that helps!

  5. Tiina says

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been looking for a substitute for coconut milk and this was perfect. I used in your Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Curry recipe and the curry was rich and delicious. So good!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Wendy, we love that idea, but haven’t tried it ourselves! We think it would be runny unless you add something to thicken it. Let us know if you try it out!

  6. Emily says

    Do you think this could be frozen? I’d like to make a larger batch (for the blender’s sale) and freeze in in ready-to-go portions that I can add to recipes.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes! It may separate with freezing, but just give it a shake and it should be good to go. Hope that helps!

  7. Kat says

    Hello This looks unbelievably creamy and delicious!
    I’ve been searching for a decent diy creamer w little success. Have you considered using sun flower seeds? I see that used as a cheaper option for cashews at times.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kat, we find cashews are more neutral in flavor than sunflower seeds. But if you don’t mind the flavor, it could work!

    • Patrice says

      Hi Kat, sunflower seeds work well for sour cream substitute. You don’t need to soak and will need 1:1 ratio so it’s thicker, just add powered onion and powered garlic and salt and some lemon juice to taste. Only problem is that you need to use it the day you make it otherwise it will go grey

  8. Heather says

    I love cashew cream but when I make it, I guess my blender is not so great. My cream comes out kind of like a ricotta cheese consistency, which is still very tasty but I’d love to make it nice and creamy like yours. Any tips on how to do that without a Vitamix?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ah, yes! A good blender is definitely key! Make sure to soak the cashews and make a big enough batch to get above the blades. We’ve had success with a Nutribullet for a lower cost alternative to a Vitamix. Hope that helps!

    • Laura says

      Hi Heather!

      If you have a food processor, that’s what I use. I basically make cashew butter, just add the cashews, no water, to the food processor. Process until smooth like peanut butter, then add water a little at a time, or whisk in by hand. I’ve done that and it works perfectly! Course you need a food processor…

  9. Brooke says

    Why does the cashew cream only last in the refrigerator 3 – 4 days? Whole cashews last much longer than that. Does blending the cashews alter them in a way that causes them to go bad quickly?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Brooke, introducing moisture (from the water) causes it to go bad sooner. It may last up to a week, but 3-4 days is a safer estimate. Hope that helps!

  10. Cynthia says

    Hello! I’ve been an avid follower of your blog for many years—love all your vegan options! I was wondering if you knew about the unfortunate production process for cashews, since you use them in many of your recipes.

    There are many articles on cashew production. Just passing along the information so we can all make informed decisions on the food we buy! Thanks for all you do!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cynthia, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We’ll look into it! Cashews are so unique in their neutral flavor and ability to make dairy-free dishes creamy. If you’ve found any great alternatives, we’d love to hear!

      • Cynthia says

        Depending on the recipe, I’ve used varying firmnesses of tofu to get the job done for vegan ricotta, frostings, desserts, cheese-type sauces for pasta, etc. For soups, coconut milk usually works, or I can achieve some creaminess from blending. It’s definitely a work of trial-and-error!

    • CD says

      Hi Cynthia…I just googled ‘ethical cashews’ and read an article speaking to the horrible conditions of women working in India for next to nothing so we can eat cashews in North America. I had no idea. Their poor hands, burned black from the toxins in the nuts as they’re being processed.

      I’m wondering, do you know of any brands that are ethical? As cashews are such a staple in a dairy free diet, it’d be great to be able to use them but know it’s an ethical purchase.

      Thanks!

      • Cynthia says

        Hi CD–first off, I’m super glad you looked into the issue and replied here! I was nervous about commenting about cashews because I don’t want to be “that person,” so it makes me really happy to see the information spreading!

        In terms of ethical cashews–because of their funny shape, cashews most often need to be hand-cracked, and it’s the contact with the toxic oils in the shells that lead to permanent adverse health effects on the workers. There seem to be some ways to reduce contact through use of protective clothing and oil barriers, and cashews certified as Fair Trade come from producers that are required to provide their workers with these supplies, but it seems like there’s no way to make the process completely safe. Besides that, cashews (and almonds and many other nuts) require insane amounts of water to produce, so it’s definitely a difficult and multi-faceted issue.

        One of my projects this year is to focus on eliminating cashews and almonds from my vegan while still getting the creamy-goodness from my recipes so I can be happy with what’s in my shopping cart. I’ll report back on my findings, and hope that you can find your way to love what you buy!

        • Joanna says

          You can buy cashews from Equal Exchange.
          They’re a co-op focused on sustainability and fair trade with close relationships with the farmers they work with. They have cashews from fair trade alliance farmers in Kerala, India and also from El Salvador.

  11. Carol Bradstreet says

    This recipe got me to thinking, would it be possible to make a homemade cashew yogurt from this (or a similar) recipe? I’ve made yogurt, but it always seems to be runny. I buy a vegan starter online and keep that in the freezer. How many cashews to water would you recommend in order to make a nice, creamy yogurt? Or even a Greek-style yogurt? P.S. I make mine in the Instant Pot.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Carol, we love that idea, but haven’t tried it ourselves! We think it would be runny unless you add something to thicken it. If you try it, we’d suggest using the 1:1 ratio of cashews: water.

  12. Linda says

    I use this recipe in place of whipping cream when making my scones. The only thing I add is a splash of vanilla. They turn out great and no one knows the difference!

  13. Suzette says

    This is very helpful and easy! I was wondering, you use a lot of cashews in your recipes. What type of bulk brand of cashews do you buy?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Suzette, we typically buy from the bulk bins at health food stores. We also like Natural Grocers because they refrigerate nuts/seeds to preserve freshness. Hope that helps!

    • Ilene Ungerleider says

      I buy bulk cashew pieces from Nuts.com. They are a lovely small company and you receive your nuts in very funny boxes in a short time.