Easy Vegan Cashew Sauce Recipe (Essential in the Vegan Kitchen!)

This vegan cashew sauce recipe is one of the simplest yet most valuable assets of a vegan kitchen, and can be used in so many delicious vegan recipes as well as served on the side or as a dip.

I’ve always loved eating cold sauce on hot food, so for me this vegan cashew sauce is an essential in my repertoire.

Another favourite of mine is the basil version, served with raw vegetable sticks. Oh and I’m totally addicted to the cilantro flavoured cashew sauce.

Vegan cashew sauce recipe with basil & garlic, in a blue bowl
Vegan cashew sauce with basil

When you first make this sauce, you unlock potentially hundreds of different dishes.

How to eat Vegan Cashew Sauce

  • To replace mayonnaise with potato, sandwiches, salads or anywhere you’d use mayonnaise.
  • As a substitute for sour cream (more lemon and vinegar added).
  • In cooking to make the vegan ‘cheesy’ effect, like in vegan cauliflower cheese for example.
  • As a dip with crudités or gluten free crisps for dipping, maybe with a garlic version of the sauce.
  • As part of a salad dressing or on the side of salads.
  • Drizzled over your hot veggies, like steamed broccoli in olive oil with cashew sauce on the side.
  • As an accompaniment to any meal you’re having!

With this basic recipe, you’ll be able to create loads of variations on the base vegan cashew sauce and use those variations in your cooking or as a side, like in this zucchini casserole, vegan eggplant parmesan dish, in a buddha bowl, in zucchini carpaccio salad and on the side of this grilled summer vegetable salad.

Slice of zucchini casserole
Zucchini casserole made with vegan cashew sauce

The limit is only in our imagination of thinking up new ways to use it.

Nutritional Value of Cashew Nuts

Nuts are considered to be one of the essential components of a healthy diet. They’re considered health-promoting for the heart and beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels and heart disease.

Cashews are a good source of protein and have a high level of copper, which has a role in eliminating free radicals from the body, as well as zinc and magnesium and smaller amounts of other vitamins.

They’re rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and have a high percentage of selenium, which may give them anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cholesterol free, gluten free, low glycemic food and low in saturated fats. Nuts are an important part of a healthy diet. The recommended amount to eat is 30g / 15 cashews / a small handful of nuts daily.

Vegan Cashew Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • Cashew nuts, soaked
  • Salt & pepper
  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water

Method for Making Vegan Cashew Sauce

Measuring cup full of cashew nuts

Take a cup of cashews and soak them for a couple of hours or for 30 mins in boiling water. It isn’t essential to soak them and I often make this with cashews straight from the packet, but unless you have a very good blender, the result with not be as smooth.

I don’t mind the nutty bits to be honest.

Drain the soaked cashews and put them into the blender. Add a little water and blend. Keep adding more water until you start to see it becoming a paste.

Add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and a little salt and pepper.

Make the sauce a bit thinner than you eventually want it to be, as it will thicken in the fridge. Taste, and alter the level of lemon juice, vinegar and salt according to what you’re making the sauce for, and to suit your taste.

Goes really well with easy homemade vegan burgers too – unless you’re more one for a spicy sauce on your burger.

Blending the vegan cashew sauce recipe in a food processor
Blending vegan cashew sauce

Put the cashew sauce into a bowl and place the fridge and leave to chill and thicken. If you’re short on time, put it into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Vegan Cashew Sauce Recipe Variations

Vegan Sour Cream

For a vegan sour cream substitute, just add higher levels of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to your basic cashew sauce. Make sure to soak the cashews first and blend really well to get a perfectly smooth texture.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

To make it into a cheese sauce, use the basic recipe and add 3 tbs or more, of nutritional yeast and substitute the water with plant milk. If you’re going to use the sauce in a casserole, plant milk can be really successful in giving it a cheesy twist.

You can use this vegan cheese sauce in recipes like cauliflower cheese or vegan cheesy vegetables.

Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan
Eggplant layers cooked with vegan cashew sauce

Vegan Garlic & Parsley Sauce

Add one very small clove of garlic and some fresh parsley to the basic cashew sauce recipe and a little extra water. You can also add a couple of leaves of fresh basil but the overall theme of the flavour is parsley.

Taste the salt and adjust the balance with more lemon, vinegar or salt. It’s just delicious.

Vegan Cilantro Cashew Sauce

My all time favourite of all the variations, this vegan cilantro sauce recipe brings flavour to everything it touches.

Made on the same basis as a cashew sauce but with plenty of fresh cilantro added to the food processor.

Fresh Basil Cashew Sauce

Making a basic cashew sauce and then adding some fresh basil gives it a sweet tang which changes the taste profile of this sauce.

Cashew Nuts – Fun Facts

  • The word cashew in English comes from the Portuguese word, caju.
  • Cashews aren’t really nuts; they’re actually seeds of the cashew tree, which is native to Brazil and now grown in other hot, humid countries throughout the world.
  • The cashew ‘nut’ (seed) grows stuck onto the end of the cashew apple – which is classified as a false fruit as it doesn’t contain any seeds.
Cashew attached to false fruit on the cashew tree
Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay
  • The cashew apple is considered a delicacy in many countries, including Brazil.
  • The cashew ‘nut’ is covered by a shell which contains urushiol, the same toxic resin and skin irritant as found in poison ivy. It causes irritation and even burning of the skin when it comes into contact.
  • You will never find cashews in their shells in the shop because of the toxin.
  • When you buy raw cashews, they aren’t raw! Urushiol is also toxic when ingested and cashews are always steamed, boiled or roasted before selling.
  • The colour of the cashew is not the raw cream colour you’re used to seeing. Before preparation for sale, cashews are green.
  • Cashews belong to the same family as pistachios, mangos and poison ivy.

Cashews growing on the tree
Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

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