This vegan cashew cream sauce is an easy dairy sub. Add walnuts for a unique twist or stick with cashews, super customizable for any recipe!
However there are other nuts that give you great tasting creamy sauces too, which is good for those allergic to cashews. In all my testing, my second favorite nuts to throw in are walnuts. Walnut cream is tasty on it's own or even when mixed with cashews, which is the option I give in this recipe.
Almonds are another popular base for dairy free cream sauces, especially in ricotta. In sauces however, the flavor is pretty pronounced so they aren't my first go to there unless that is the flavor I am looking for.
How do you make cashew cream sauce?
It really is a no brainer, dump and blend. The key to creamy smooth is in the prep and technique. If you want the best of the best dairy free creamy texture, you will fare best using a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. But there are other tricks if you're not there yet.
How to get a smooth cashew cream sauce without a high speed blender:
- Soak your nuts overnight.
- Boil your nuts for 30 minutes.
- Grind your dry cashews into a fine powder using a coffee grinder. This is my favorite option and the one I think works best.
This technique works for all of my creamy sauces. It will work for a variety of nuts as well. Some nuts are harder than others however, so you may need some trial and error.
Step by step instructions for making cashew cream sauce:
It really doesn't get any easier than this. You simply:
- Dump all the ingredients in a blender, then
- Blend on high for creamy smooth deliciousness.
I mean, I know you can easily just open a carton of dairy cream, but then you'll get bloated and feel awful so let's just skip that step and make this. K?
What is cashew cream used for?
You really can sub it for almost anything that calls for a dairy version of cream. Exactly how to use it depends on the original recipe but it's super versatile! I like to play around with using the walnut cream mixed in too.
Recipes where I use walnut and/or cashew cream sauce:
- Vegan Moussaka
- Greek Pastitsio
- Green and White Lasagna
- Anywhere that requires cream!
Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce
- 2 cups raw cashews (see note)
- 1 cup water , plus more for desired consistency
- 2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice , start with 2 and add more for desired taste
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ground black pepper , to taste (optional, see note)
- 1 cup walnuts , sub this for 1 cup of the cashews (see note)
- Put all ingredients (except the pepper) into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Add more water or salt to get the flavor and consistency you want.
- Add pepper if using and pulse to incorporate.
- This makes a little under 2 cups of cashew cream. Serving size is ¼ cup.
- If you are not using a high speed blender, there are a couple of options for making your sauce smooth: You can use a coffee grinder to grind the nuts into a fine powder, or make sure to soak your them overnight, or for at least 2 to 3 hours. If you forget, you can also boil them for 30 minutes.
- Add the pepper depending on the recipe you are using this for.
- Be aware that your cream may have a slight purple tint if using walnuts. This is due to the walnut skin that could be on your walnuts. It's totally normal and can come out when walnuts get wet and heated which happens while blending the cream.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
Do you do all 3 steps, soak, boil and then wait till dry and blend? Or do you do just a soak and blend or boil and blend?
Hi Sam! Nope, you just pick one to use. Mostly this is if you don't have a high speed or very good blender. I don't do any of them. But if you want to try one, then pick either to soak them overnight, boil them or grind them dry with a coffee or spice grinder. I personally find the grinding yields the smoothest end result!
It came out perfect. I used all Walnuts that I soaked overnight.
I'm so happy to hear! Thanks for the great review!
Finally experimented with this one. I added it in place of heavy (dairy) cream in one of my fav recipes from my pre-vegan days. This cream sauce made it every bit as creamy as dairy cream did. My only caution was that it turned the creamy soup a little gray/tannish color instead of staying white. However, the flavor/texture was perfect. I'll be making this one often!
I'm so happy to hear!! Did you add any walnuts? Those give off a purplish color. But it's definitely a great sub for heavy cream!
No, no walnuts were added. Taste and texture totally on point with dairy cream. I’ll be making that same chowder again next week with cashew cream. Delish!
Thank you so much Lue! I am thrilled you like it!!
Thanks so much for sharing this, I can use it for so many different recipes!
Have you ever used unsalted sunflower seeds and mixed with cashews or walnuts?
Hi Terry!! I have not tried that. It sounds like a good experiment! Let me know if you try it and if it works out.
If you make a batch of this, do you know how long you can keep it in the frig?
Hi Sherry, I make huge batches and freeze a bunch in 2 cup glass containers. I keep what I need for the week in the fridge. I'd say don't keep it longer than a week. But it freezes well so don't be afraid to freeze some. When you defrost, it may need some more water or veggie broth to bring back consistency.
Perfect! I'm making a batch tomorrow to have on hand. Thanks!
I'm going to try making this to veganize a few of my recipes! I use the bechamel sauce all the time...how do you use this cashew cream to replace the butter/flour/milk combo to make a bechamel sauce? Do you use it directly or do you thin/thicken it with some other non-dairy milk? Thanks!
Hi Anjali! It really depends on the recipe. I don't use nondairy milk because I don't like the taste it gives so I usually thin/thicken with water or even veggie broth. I am going to try adding some pasta water in a few weeks when I trial a Vegan Carbonara type recipe I'm working on. But the non dairy milk would work too if you like the taste! I do use it directly, like in my Creamy Tomato Soup or Lasagna recipes. The more you blend, the creamier and smoother it gets. If you want a more ricotta feel blend less so its chunkier. I think the addition of walnuts cuts some of the sweetness that plain cashews gives so it's easier to sub for bechamel. Just try it as you make it and add spices to get the taste you want. I alter what I add depending on what I'm using it for. For example I added a little white wine when using it in my Broccoli Artichoke Casserole. Let me know if you have questions for particular recipes you want to use it for!
It sounds very good, I love sauces with the walnut flavor. Can't wait to try it.
It was in my green and white lasagna you tried the other day that you loved!