This dairy-free and vegan cashew sour cream is a beloved sample recipe from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. It’s a great dairy alternative to use in both sweet and savory recipes, and EVERYONE loves it!
I thought it would be fun to share this vegan cashew sour cream recipe just before Cinco de Mayo, and wanted to show how wonderful it is in an “authentic” recipe. But when I searched online to find traditional dishes served in Mexico for the occasion, I discovered that Cinco de Mayo as we know it is a U.S. holiday!
So I decided to enjoy it in some classic Mexican-American dishes. I swirled a large dollop of it into my Mexican Bean Soup (recipe on page 298 in Go Dairy Free) and used it for the creamy filling in my Guacamole Enchiladas (recipe on page 334 in Go Dairy Free). Talk about delicious.
Recipe Tips for Perfect Vegan Cashew Sour Cream
Choosing the Best Cashews for You
I use raw (unsalted) cashews because they yield the creamiest finish and the mildest flavor. I don’t recommend roasted cashews because the flavor is more intense, and the finish is a little less creamy. Raw cashews are typically unsalted. If you use salted cashews, you will want to omit the salt or add it to taste.
If you typically soak nuts for easier digestion, then I recommend using sprouted cashews in this recipe. They’ve already been soaked, sprouted, and dried for you. Or did you know that you can pre-soak and dry nuts to have a the ready for snacking and recipes? If you do opt to pre-soak the cashews with salt, add the salt in this recipe to taste. The nuts can absorb just a little saltiness in this process.
What is Neutral-Tasting Oil?
I cover oils in detail in Go Dairy Free because oils provide so much richness (without dairy!) and they also have a variety or properties. Some oils have a very pronounced flavor, like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and most nut oils. They can overwhelm or even conflict with the flavor in recipes like this vegan cashew sour cream.
A neutral-tasting or mild-tasting oil doesn’t compete, adding richness, but not flavor. My go-to neutral oils are grapeseed oil, rice bran oil, and extra-light olive oil. Some other oils that are mild in flavor include canola oil (preferably non-GMO), sunflower oil, and safflower oil.
Why Do I Use Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a bit milder than white vinegar, and doesn’t have as pronounced of a flavor as some other vinegar like red wine or balsamic. And it has a very light sweetness that tends to meld well with cashews.
In a pinch, you can substitute a little rice vinegar to taste. But if needed, you could omit the vinegar. The vegan cashew sour cream will just have a little more of a lemony finish.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Cashew Sour Cream
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup water, plus additional as needed (see Instant Variation below)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed, rice bran, or other neutral-tasting oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
- Generous ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Put the cashews in your spice grinder (in batches, if needed) or food processor. Process until they pass the powdered stage and begin to clump a bit, about 1 minute.
- Put the ground cashews in your blender and add the water, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, and salt. Blend until very smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the sour cashew cream to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. It will thicken as it chills. If it thickens too much, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If it thickens too much in the refrigerator, just whisk in more water, as needed.