Food52 in 5

A 5-Minute Creamy Vegan Sauce You’ll Dip, Drizzle & Dollop on Everything

It's ultra-rich and ultra-riffable.

February  8, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.

It’s a dip! It’s a spread! It’s a sauce!’s cashew cream! This five ingredient, five minute recipe is like a superhero in a jar, waiting to swoop in and sauce just about any weeknight dinner you can think of. The only thing missing is a cute little cape.

To make this creamy condiment, all you’ll have to do is break out the blender from your cabinet. You won't even need a knife—just let the blender do all of the work for you. Put the raw cashews, oil, water, lemon juice, and salt into the blender jar and let it work its magic...or, rather, reveal its superpower.

The key to creaminess is to emulsify the ingredients really well. To achieve this, blend the mixture twice. Start the blender on its lowest speed and slowly turn the dial until it's blending on full blast. Then, scrape down the sides and do it once more until the cream is smoother-than-smooth.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Omg, there is no way in the world you need to add any oil to cashew cream!! Oil is pure fat and horrible for your heart! And nuts have plenty of natural oil in them. Cashews, water, and a little salt is all you need. Then add any yummy stuff on top of that - I love adding horseradish. Or lemon. Or spices. The sky's the limit. But PLEASE don't add oil to it!! ”
— Cheri

Since the sauce is a simple blank slate, and this recipe makes a few batches, you can use it anywhere and everywhere. Think of it as a vegan replacement for mayo or sour cream, but also as a base for creamy vegan dressings and dips of all stripes.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use it:

Fake-Out Mayo

To the cashew cream, grate in a clove of garlic and a generous helping of freshly cracked black pepper, and the sauce will take on an aioli-like vibe. It's great for dipping crudite, spreading on a sandwich in place of mayo, or serving alongside these tingly Szechuan tater tots.

Dairy-Free Sour Cream

Mix the make-ahead cream with a little hot sauce, lime juice, and chopped cilantro to drizzle over a tray of nachos. Or, keep it simple and solo, and scoop it on top of a baked sweet potato. You could even maybe even dollop it into this 5-ingredient vegetarian weeknight chili.

Salad Dressing

No need to bust out the ranch when you’ve got this on hand. To the cream, add a handful of fresh chopped parsley, chives, and dill, with a little juice and zest from a lemon, and it practically tastes like the “real” stuff. Or swirl in a spoonful of spicy harissa and toss into a hearty kale salad.

A Quick Dip

If you’re looking to entertain a crowd, combine a cup of the cashew cream with two caramelized onions, a splash of sherry vinegar, freshly chopped chives, and lots of salt and pepper, and serve with plenty of chips to make secretly vegan crowd-pleaser. Or add a drizzle of honey and some Dijon mustard, and pair with some polenta fries.

With endless possibilities, this jack-of-all-trades sauce may quickly become your go-to weeknight dinner companion, as it has mine. And, since it only takes five minutes to make, you’ll have plenty of time to make that cute little red cape to tie onto this superhero.

What would you put your cashew cream on? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Marie Frank
    Marie Frank
  • Ttrockwood
  • Cheri
  • Cyndra813
  • Smaug
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)


Marie F. February 9, 2019
So, obviously, there are natural oils that are good for the body. So I am not understanding this comment. Anybody? Hair, nails and skin benefit from the good fats in the diet. Right? Help me out here!
Ttrockwood February 9, 2019
-quick soak RAW cashews by pouring boiling water over them, when it cools to room temp they’re soft enough to blend well
- i have never used oil in cashew cream, been making it for years so definitely optional

- whisk into a soup at the end of cooking for a “cream of” style soup
- make it thick and use in place of bechamel for dairy free lasagna
- as a base for dairy free alfredo or added to tomato based sauce for a vodka sauce
- for vegan ceasar dressing
Marie F. February 8, 2019
This sauce may not need oil according to your liking, but saying oil is bad for you is ridiculous! Your body needs good oil, like extra-virgin olive oil, is moderation, of course.
Cheri February 9, 2019
Marie, you're absolutely incorrect. People think oil is healthy because of the success of the Mediterranean diet, and that diet contains oil. But experts have determined that that diet works because it is so full of vegetables and whole foods, but it's good despite the oil, not because of it. Read books by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn; read about The China Study. Read about whole food plant-based no oil eating. Oil is pure fat completely devoid of nutritional value. And it's horrible for anyone with a heart condition. There are lots of natural oils in other food such as nuts, seeds, and avocados. And those foods have nutritional value.
Cheri February 8, 2019
Omg, there is no way in the world you need to add any oil to cashew cream!! Oil is pure fat and horrible for your heart! And nuts have plenty of natural oil in them. Cashews, water, and a little salt is all you need. Then add any yummy stuff on top of that - I love adding horseradish. Or lemon. Or spices. The sky's the limit. But PLEASE don't add oil to it!!
Cyndra813 February 8, 2019
This sounds delish. So the cashews don't need to be soaked at all for this recipe?
Grant M. February 8, 2019
If using a high powered blender (Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja, etc.) there's no need to soak. If using a classic blender or food processor, soak the cashews in warm water for an hour for before blending for best results.

Brinda A. February 8, 2019
Nope! If you're using a high-speed blender, you can throw 'em right in—just make sure to blitz up the mixture twice. (If you're using a traditional blender or food processor, soaking the cashews for an hour in hot water might help things along.)
Smaug February 8, 2019
It is my feeling that all cooking writers should be required to look up the word "emulsify".
JK February 8, 2019
They used it properly. To emulsify is "to make into an emulsion." It's my feeling that people being snotty in their internet comments about grammar learn that punctuation goes INSIDE quotation marks.
Smaug February 8, 2019
Then perhaps they should look up emulsion, a combination of non-miscible liquids. We won't go into the question of snottiness here, but the period rather obviously applied to the sentence, not the worde in quotes.
susan G. February 8, 2019
What do you think it means? Where did you learn that?
Smaug February 9, 2019
High school chemistry, but most dictionaries will cover it. It has somehow become used in culinary circles for any sort of mixture, for which there is already a perfectly good word (which, as a bonus, allows you to use up an X).