Does Cashew Sauce Taste Like Cashews? (& Super Easy Recipe)

Does cashew sauce taste like cashews? No, actually it doesn’t. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say it shouldn’t.

Because it depends a bit on how you make your sauce. If you just soak and blend some cashews, then yes, you will still taste the cashew flavour. But generally speaking this sauce is so frigging good I’d bet that you like it even if you aren’t a fan of cashews.

And how can I be so sure? Because I didn’t like cashews before I started making this sauce. And now I wouldn’t be without them in the kitchen.

Also, cashew sauce is just sooo versatile. You can make it raw, plain, flavoured, hot, cold, cheesy . . .

Why is this Easy Cashew Sauce So Good?

This vegan cashew sauce recipe is one of the simplest things you could make in your vegan kitchen to go alongside almost every other dish imaginable.

And it can be used in so many delicious vegan recipes, as well as served on the side or as a dip.

I love eating this cold from the fridge, either on the side of my hot food or as a dip with raw veggie sticks.

Does cashew sauce taste like cashews? Vegan cashew sauce with basil & garlic
Vegan cashew sauce with basil

Another variation on the cashew sauce is cashew sauce with basil added. And I’m totally addicted to the cilantro flavoured cashew sauce.

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. 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.

How to Make Vegan Cashew Sauce

Soak a cup of cashews for 5 hours or overnight in cold water (or you can soak them for 15 mins in boiling water if you don’t have enough time to do the cold water method.

Soaking the cashews will reduce the anti-nutrients (phytates) present in them, which will in turn make it easier to absorb the nutrients.

It will also make the sauce smoother.

It is possible to make this with cashews straight from the packet, but unless you have a very good blender, the result with not be as smooth. And as mentioned, they will be more nutritious if they have been soaked.

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.

Blending the vegan cashew sauce recipe in a food processor

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.

This sauce goes really well with everything, these easy homemade vegan burgers too – unless you’re more one for a spicy sauce on your burger.

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.

Bowl of vegan cashew sauce with basil & garlic
Vegan cashew sauce with basil and garlic

Easy Vegan Cashew Sauce Recipe

Serving Size:
1 jug
5 minutes


  • 200g cashew nuts, soaked
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water


  1. Soak the cashew nuts overnight or for 15 minutes in boiling water. Discard the water and rinse the cashews.
  2. Place the cashew nuts into the food processor and add enough water to be able to blend. You will need to add more water as you continue to blend the nuts. Continue until you have a smooth paste.
  3. When you have a smooth, thin paste, add a good pinch of salt, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of cider vinegar. Taste to check the balance and add more of whichever one is necessary.
  4. Transfer the sauce into the fridge (or freezer if short on time). It will thicken slightly when left in the cold for an hour or so.

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

Final Thoughts on Does Cashew Sauce Taste Like Cashews?

No it doesn’t.

And it has many, many variations on the flavour, from cilantro sauce to cheese sauce and everything in between.

When it’s made well, this sauce can be a replacement for cream, sour cream, dips, cooking sauces, side sauces and more.

I hope you enjoy your cashew sauce as much as I do. It’s my number one favourite sauce.

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