Flavorful Garlic Cashew Cream sauce is a lovely on its own or as a topping for tacos or chili. You can also use it as the base for creamy dips and sauces, like Spinach Artichoke Dip!
Cashew cream sauce is super versatile, and it's also incredibly easy to make. You only need a handful of ingredients and a blender to do it.
Let's do this.
Choosing and soaking your cashews
Most cashew cream sauce recipes call for raw cashews, but I have a secret to tell you. You really don't have to splash out for raw cashews, if you don't want to.
Yes, raw cashews will blend up more easily, but you can absolutely use roasted cashews. Trust me. If you use roasted cashews, just add 5 minutes to the soaking time to soften them a bit more. You also may need to do a bit more blending. But it will totally work!
Soaking your cashews softens them, so that they blend more easily. I don't recommend skipping the soaking step in this or any other cashew cream recipe.
Many recipes will tell you that you need to soak your cashews overnight, and this isn't true, either. I don't recommend making cashew sauce without soaking, but you don't need to soak for 8+ hours to get a smooth, creamy sauce.
The trick to cutting the soaking time down from hours to minutes, though, is to use hot water.
To soak your cashews, cover them in enough hot water so that they are totally submerged. Then, figure out your soaking time.
- If you're using a high speed blender, you only need to soak for 10 minutes.
- For a regular blender, soak for 15 minutes.
- If you are using roasted cashews, add 5 minutes to your soaking time.
When the soaking time is up, drain your cashews and discard the soaking water. The soaking water gets kind of slimy and funky, so I do not recommend using it for anything other than watering a plant.
Once you finish soaking and draining, it's time to blend! This step will vary depending on your blender. Here are the deets.
In a high speed blender, you should be able to get a nice, smooth cashew cream in just 1-2 minutes of blending. Make sure that you stop every 30-60 seconds to scrape down the sides of your blender, so all of the cashews hit that blade!
In a regular blender, this process will take longer, but it will work. Just don't quit! Keep blending in 1-minute increments, until you have a velvety-smooth cashew cream sauce. When you take those blending breaks, make sure to scrape down the sides of your blender, so you'll end up with an even texture.
How to store and use it
Your finished Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce will keep for around 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
You can also freeze it for up to 6 months. Just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then give it a whisk before adding to your recipe of choice.
Speaking of recipes! Here are some stellar ways to use my Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce!
- to make the sauce base for Spinach-Artichoke Pasta (pictured above)
- straight up as a sauce for pasta -- It's almost like a garlicky alfredo!
- for making Spinach Artichoke Dip rich and creamy
- as a topping for your favorite Vegan Chili
- drizzled over tacos
- as the sauce for a Burrito Bowl
It works well as a replacement for heavy cream in savory recipes, like soups and sauces.
You can also use it anywhere you'd use vegan mayo or vegan sour cream. It's seriously versatile and a staple in my own kitchen.
Garlic cashew cream sauce
- 1 cup cashews - soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then drained (see note)
- 1/2 cup water - NOT the soaking water
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper - to taste
- Combine all of the cashew cream ingredients in your blender, and puree until smooth (see note).
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- About the Cashews: I've discovered that you don't really need raw cashews to get a smooth cashew cream, so if you can't find raw, roasted is fine. Soak raw cashews for 10 minutes or soak roasted ones for 15 minutes. If you are not using a high speed blender, add 5 more minutes to the soaking time.
- About the Blending Process: If you have to blend for more than 1 minute to get a totally smooth mix, be sure to give your blender's motor a minute or two to rest before blending more. Don't stop blending until you have a completely smooth cashew cream, and don't give up! Just keep on blending, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed, until you achieve the creamy texture you're going for.