Cashews have a wonderful balance of nutrients for making dairy-free milk beverages. The fat provides a creamy consistency, the protein helps create structure and body, and the carbohydrates lend pleasant flavors to each sip. This is my basic homemade cashew milk recipe adapted from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook.
Homemade Dairy-Free Cashew Milk is Versatile & Insanely Easy
I first shared this easy dairy-free cashew milk recipe way back in 2007. Since then, nut milks have really taken off – including store-bought. But nothing beats homemade in my opinion. It’s far more versatile and seamless than manufactured brands since it doesn’t contain any additives. It’s richer, thicker, and more natural, and it won’t curdle in sauces or coffee. Seriously!
In chapter 12 of the 2nd Edition of Go Dairy Free, I share full details on all of the nut options that I tested with this recipe. You can read about the taste, cost per quart, nutritional merits, what it works best in (sweet, savory, coffee, sauces, etc), and more. As you might guess, almonds are a stand-out option, but each nut has something to offer and performs differently.
Is a Nut Milk Bag Worth It?
Short answer: YES! Cheesecloth is great for homemade dairy cheese, but it can get messy quick with homemade milk beverage. A fine mesh sieve works in a pinch, but some nut bits will probably get through, and squeezing the pulp is challenging. Plus, nut milk bags are pretty darn cheap, and they work well for all types of fine straining. They’re also reusable and easy to clean.
The one I’m using in the picture is Ellie’s Best, which is very popular. It’s larger than your average nut milk bag, so it’s perfect for making small or large batches. It actually fit around the mouth of my very large pitcher!
Nut Pulp Uses
After you strain the cashew milk, you’ll be left with what looks like lifeless nut grounds. It’s often referred to as nut pulp. Nut pulp is very fibrous and quite flavorless. However, you can add it to hot cereal or stir it into homemade granola before baking to avoid waste. It won’t provide many nutrients, mainly fiber, since you have squeezed a lot of the goodness out into your cashew milk.
How to Use Homemade Cashew Milk
Cashews make one of the creamiest nut milk options, and their flavor works in many applications.
- Coffee or Tea – Cashew milk makes a lightly sweet creamer that doesn’t tend to curdle or separate.
- Smoothies – Creamy cashew milk was made for smoothies and homemade dairy-free shakes.
- Cereal – This is one of my favorite milk beverages to douse on granola.
- Sauces – The flavor of cashew milk pairs well with most sweet and savory sauces, and it provides a lightly creamy finish. It does have a slight natural sweetness, which is important to keep in mind with your recipe.
- Baked Goods – Feel free to swap cashew milk in for dairy milk in baked good recipes.
- Desserts – Dairy-free cashew milk also works well in various creamy desserts, like pudding!
- Improving Creamy Consistency – If you are making a dairy-free sauce that is heavy on starches, you can add cashew milk to improve the creaminess.
- Drink It! – Homemade nut milk is more “rustic” than store-bought, but we think it tastes pretty darn good straight up. Add a little vanilla extract or make it chocolate for a special beverage.
Special Diet Notes: Homemade Cashew Milk
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup cashews ("raw" unsalted)
- 4 cups water, plus additional for soaking
- Pinch salt
- Sweetener, to taste (optional; see Note below)
- Put the cashews in a container and cover with a few inches of water. Cover and place in the refrigerator to soak for 4 to 6 hours, or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse the nuts.
- Put the soaked cashews in your blender with about 2 cups of the water. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups water and salt. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Pour the milky mixture through a nut milk bag or a few layers of cheesecloth lining a sieve to strain. Squeeze the pulp to extract as much milky goodness as possible.
- If desired, return the milk beverage to your blender and blend in some sweetener.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Stir before each use; it will separate as it sits.
Creamier Option: If you need a thicker milk beverage, like half and half, use just 3 cups water.