Cashew Crema (Easy Vegan Crema Recipe)

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Creamy Cashew Crema is here to take any & all of your meals completely over the top! This simple vegan crema is the perfect dairy-free alternative to crema Mexicana or sour cream. Made in just 10 minutes with pantry staples, this cashew crema adds an element of dairy-free creaminess to any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal (& it doubles as a cooling & creamy dipping sauce for veggies, fries, & so much more!).

A blue speckled ceramic bowl rests on a light blue background and is filled with Vegan Cashew Crema. Loose raw cashews surround the bowl and a blue and white striped linen napkin is tucked against the bowl in the lower right hand corner. A spoon is being dipped into the bowl of vegan crema.

Pin this Cashew Crema recipe for later!

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with sauces & condiments. They’re easy to throw together, store like a dream, & they’re the best way to add an instant punch of flavor to any meal.

This creamy cashew crema is a longtime fave here at PWWB. Truly, if you took a peek into my fridge at any given moment in time, I can almost guarantee you’d find a jar of it! Similar to quick pickled red onions or chimichurri, I like to prep a batch of this dairy-free crema when I do my mise en place meal prep for the week. It takes less than 10 minutes to blend up & I love having it ready & waiting in my fridge whenever I want to use it.

There’s so much to love about cashew crema – it’s quick, simple, easy to customize, & makes pretty much everything a little bit tastier! Whether you’re cutting back on dairy or trying to eat more plant-based meals, you’ll love that it introduces a crave-worthy creamy texture to everything it touches. An all-purpose sauce worthy of obsession!

Creamy Cashew Crema – Recipe Highlights

This creamy cashew crema is…

  • QUICK & EASY. You can whip up a batch with just 5 staple ingredients in 10 minutes or less!
  • VERSATILE. Not only can you drizzle it over pretty much anything, it’s also a great base recipe to which you can easily introduce other flavors. 2 of my favorite variations are below!
  • NATURALLY VEGETARIAN, VEGAN, & DAIRY-FREE. It adds creamy texture & loads of bright flavor to everything it touches. The perfect finishing touch for all of your favorite plant-based meals!

Borderline life-changing, pinky swear! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Easy Cashew Crema, or jump straight to the recipe & get prepping!

An angled shot of an open mason jar filled with Vegan Cashew Crema sits on top of a light blue surface. A spoon has been dipped into the crema and is being pulled out covered in the tan-colored creamy sauce & falling off the spoon back into the mason jar. A blue & white striped linen napkin rests on the surface in the background & raw cashews surround the jar of crema.

Cashew Crema Ingredients:

Made with just 5 of the simplest pantry ingredients, cashew crema couldn’t be easier to whip up any night of the week.

An overhead shot of ingredients for Vegan Cashew Crema on top of a light blue surface. Ingredients include raw cashews, garlic, lemon & lime juice, water, kosher salt & ground black pepper.
Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

What you’ll need…

  • Raw cashews – My go-to foundation for any creamy vegan sauce! Cashews create smooth & creamy consistency while also keeping things completely dairy-free. Plus, their flavor is mild…you’d never guess that they were there!
  • Lemon & lime juice – The combination of fresh squeezed lemon & lime juice adds just the right amount of brightness for the signature tanginess of crema Mexicana or sour cream. For an even more pronounced citrus flavor, use the zest too!
  • Garlic – Because everything is better with garlic!

That’s it – super simple, right?!

How to make Easy Cashew Crema:

Another thing to love about this vegan crema Mexicana is how quickly it comes together. It takes about 10 minutes start-to-finish, with no soaking necessary!

Here’s what you’ll do…Add all of the ingredients to high-speed blender. Blend until smooth & creamy, about 1 minute. Easy as that!

To soak or not to soak the cashews So long as you use a high-speed blender (think, Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc.), this recipe takes a no-soak approach! The powerful motor & blades of a high-speed blender will absolutely break the cashews down into a smooth & creamy sauce.

If you don’t have access to a high-speed blender, there are 2 easy approaches to soaking cashews prior to blending.

  1. Soaking overnight: Soak the cashews overnight at room temperature. Drain them prior to use & they’ll be ready to go!
  2. Soaking in hot water: If you are pressed on time, soak the cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes prior to blending. Drain & voila – softened cashews ready to blend!

Make-ahead cashew crema I love making a batch of cashew crema when I meal prep for the week. I keep it in my fridge & love having it on hand whenever a meal needs a little extra flavor or creaminess! It keeps nicely in an airtight container for up to one week. Note, cashew-based sauces naturally thicken as they sit. If needed, add a splash of water to loosen it up. Simple!

Quick Variations:

This vegan crema recipe is amazing as-is, & it’s also a really beautiful blank canvas. You can easily play around with it to introduce other ingredients & create different flavors to obsess over. A few of my faves?

Smoky Chipotle Cashew Crema ⇢ Add chipotle peppers, smoked paprika, & ground cumin to the base recipe & your cashew crema will take on a delicious smoky & spiced heat. (See the Recipe Notes below for full details!)

An open mason jar filled with Cilantro Lime Vegan Cashew Crema sits on top of a light blue surface. A spoon has been dipped into the green-colored vegan crema and is being pulled out covered in the creamy sauce & falling off the spoon back into the mason jar. A blue & white striped linen napkin rests on the surface in the background & raw cashews & sprinkled chili powder surround the jar of crema.

Cilantro Lime Cashew Crema Add cilantro & jalapeno to the base recipe & your vegan crema Mexicana will have fresh zippiness & vibrant green color. This is my personal favorite variation! (See the Recipe Notes below for full details!)

Cashew Crema FAQs

  • Can I substitute cashews for almonds or another nut? If you are avoiding cashews, I recommend omitting them altogether. Instead, try blending the other ingredients with a cup of your favorite dairy-free yogurt instead.
  • How to make sure it is thick enough? Once blended, your cashew crema will naturally thicken as it sits to a perfect drizzly consistency. As always, tailor to your liking by adding more cashews or reduce water to achieve your desired consistency.
  • How long can you keep cashew crema? ⇢ Cashew crema will keep for up to one week in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator.
  • Can you freeze cashew crema? Yes! I like using silicone storage containers (like these Souper Cubes!), which allow you to divide the crema into smaller individual portions that you can then thaw as necessary! Frozen cashew crema is best used within 3 months. Keep in mind after thawing you may need to add a little bit of water, lemon or lime juice to liven it back up!

How to serve your Vegan Crema

Cashew crema is super versatile! It’s the perfect dairy-free creamy finishing touch for any your favorite plant-based meals! I love drizzling it over my favorite tacos, burritos, & enchiladas or using it as an easy dipping sauce.

A few of my favorite ways to use this vegan crema recipe:

An overhead and angled shot of an open mason jar filled with Vegan Cashew Crema sits on top of a light blue surface. A spoon has been dipped into the vegan crema and a spoonful is hovering over the mason jar. A blue & white striped linen napkin rests on the surface in the background & raw cashews surround the jar of crema.

I can’t wait for you to try Vegan Cashew Crema! It’s so easy to make & adds the perfect extra bit of creaminess to any plant-based meal. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Want more quick & easy flavor bombs? Check out this Summer Sauce (a twist on a classic chimichurri with creamy avocado), Chermoula (an easy Moroccan herb sauce), or these Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions next! Happy cooking! ♡

Print
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A blue speckled ceramic bowl rests on a light blue background and is filled with Vegan Cashew Crema. Loose raw cashews surround the bowl and a blue and white striped linen napkin is tucked against the bowl in the lower right hand corner. A spoon rests inside the bowl of crema.

Cashew Crema (Dairy-Free, Vegan)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook, Blender
  • Cuisine: American, Mexican & Tex-Mex

Description

Easy Vegan Cashew Crema made with just 5 simple ingredients & a quick zip in a blender. Use it to add bright flavor & a touch of dairy-free creaminess to any meal!

Meal prep & make-ahead friendly, & incredibly versatile – See Recipe Notes, below, for flavor variations & storage instructions. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large, juicy lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon each kosher salt & ground black pepper

An overhead shot of ingredients for Vegan Cashew Crema on top of a light blue surface. Ingredients include raw cashews, garlic, lemon & lime juice, water, kosher salt & ground black pepper.

 


Instructions

  1. Prep: Add all listed ingredients to a high-speed blender (Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc.)An overhead shot of Vegan Cashew Crema ingredients inside a high-speed blender carafe. Including raw cashews, garlic, lemon & lime juice, water, kosher salt & ground black pepper.
  2. Blend: Blend ingredients until smooth & creamy, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender canister as needed.An overhead shot of blended Cilantro Lime Cashew Crema inside of an open high-speed blender carafe.
  3. Serve: Serve immediately, drizzled over your favorite tacos (roasted veggie tacos & vegan taco meat tacos are PWWB faves!), burrito bowls, as a dipping sauce, or with any plant-based meal you’d like to give a little extra boost of dairy-free creaminess. Enjoy!


Notes

  • Storage: Cashew crema will keep, stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. The crema will thicken up quite a bit as it sits. Feel free to stir in a splash of water & it’ll thin back out to your desired consistency easily.
  • Freezing instructions: You can also freeze cashew crema in an air-tight freezer container for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen cashew crema in the refrigerator overnight & reblend as necessary to smooth out any clumps that may have formed while frozen.
  • A note on blending cashews: If you have a high-speed blender (Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc.), you shouldn’t run into any achieving a smooth & creamy sauce following the directions above. Do NOT prep the cashew crema in a food processor – the blades won’t break the cashews down into the smooth, creamy consistency we’re after here. If you are concerned about the cashews breaking down in your blender or you do not have a high-speed blender, you can:
    • Soak the cashews overnight at room temperature. To make your cashew crema, drain the cashews, then proceed as described in the Recipe Directions, above, using fresh water to blend.
    • Soak the cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes. To make your cashew crema, drain the cashews, then proceed as described in the Recipe Directions, above, using fresh water to blend.
    • Swap out raw cashews with cashew butter. Replace the raw cashews with 1/2 cup cashew butter (no sugar added). Proceed as described in the Recipe Directions, above, or combine all listed ingredients in a medium bowl & whisk together, using some elbow grease, until creamy & smooth.
  • Easy Variations:
    • Smoky Chipotle Cashew Crema: To the base recipe, add 2-3 chipotle peppers from a can (or 2 tablespoons adobo sauce for less heat) and 1 1/2 teaspoons each chili powder, ground cumin, & smoked paprika
    • Cilantro Lime Cashew Crema: To the base recipe, add 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro and 1 small jalapeno (deseeded as desired for less heat).

Keywords: cashew crema, cashew cream, vegan recipe, dairy-free recipe, gluten-free, healthy, quick, no-cook

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

A blue speckled ceramic bowl rests on a light blue background and is filled with Vegan Cashew Crema. Loose raw cashews surround the bowl and a blue and white striped linen napkin is tucked against the bowl in the lower right hand corner. A spoon rests inside the bowl.

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Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

Don’t forget to pin this Cashew Crema recipe for later!!!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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