How to soak cashews before blending into homemade vegan plant-based sour cream, cashew cream sauce, vegan crema, mayo, desserts and more. Smooth, thick and creamy, cashews are perfect for a versatile and finger-licking sour cream. You'll make it again and again, consistently finding new meals to drizzle it over.
Soaking cashews is easy and there's several ways to do it, depending on how much time you have. We'll show you 4 different methods to have at your disposal.
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If I could pick one recipe on my website that has the most uses, the most versatile recipe, it would be this one. A plate of spicy Jamaican rice and peas? Drizzle some cashew cream on.
Need a super fast weeknight pasta sauce? Thin out some cashew cream with almond milk, nutritional yeast and salt.
To top it off, this recipe requires only 3 ingredients (if you don't count water and salt). It's vegan, whole food plant based (wfpbno), gluten-free, oil-free, dairy-free and can easily be made SOS-free.
🧄 Ingredient notes
Cashew cream is a quick homemade sour cream that's easy to make.
- Raw cashews - unsalted raw, not roasted, cashews are important for this sour cream to be as fresh as clean tasting as possible. Cashews have a subtle sweetness and transform into an unbelievable cream when blended.
- Fresh lemon juice - fresh lemon juice is preferred for a fresh acidity and brightness to cut through the richness of the cashews.
- Apple cider vinegar - a touch of vinegar amps up the acid in this recipe, to bring home the "sour" in the sour cream.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some substitutions you can try for this recipe:
- Raw cashews - you can use roasted cashews as a substitute for raw cashews, but the flavor and taste will be different. Be sure to soak them first to hydrate and soften them, since roasted cashews are drier than raw cashews. If your roasted cashews are salted, then omit the added salt and taste it after blending. Add more salt, as needed. If you don't want to use cashews at all, try one of these alternative sour cream recipes:
- Fresh lemon juice - use bottled lemon juice instead. Or, use lime juice.
- Apple cider vinegar - use white wine vinegar, distilled vinegar or extra lemon juice instead of ACV.
- Sea salt - use twice the amount of kosher salt (I recommend Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt) instead of sea salt, as kosher salt is about half as salty as sea salt. If you are SOS-free, omit the salt.
Want to switch up the flavors? Here are some variations to try with this recipe:
- Spicy - add sriracha, chipotle pepper powder, cayenne powder, taco seasoning or cajun salt to infuse a little heat to this sour cream.
- Vegan crema - increase the water to ¾ cup or even 1 cup to thin it out and make it more of a vegan crema texture
- Habanero crema - add a de-seeded habanero pepper when blending, along with a pinch of onion powder to make my habanero crema or aioli
- Chipotle lime crema - add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce when blending and substitute the lemon juice for lime juice to make chipotle lime crema
- Cilantro jalapeño lime crema - add diced jalapeños, fresh cilantro and lime juice instead of lemon
- Nut-free - make this nut-free by making my Tofu Sour Cream or Sunflower Seed Sour Cream, both of which have no cashews.
- SOS-free - make this SOS-free by omitting the salt
Step by step instructions for making plant-based cashew sour cream in a blender.
Soak your cashews in very hot water for 20 minutes. Then, drain and rinse cashews. See below for alternate ways to soak your cashews.
Add to high speed blender jar with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and fresh, cool water.
Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides, if necessary.
How to soak cashews: 4 methods
#1 Boiling the cashews
- TIME - 15 minutes
- PRO - This method is the fastest, but requires you to actively keep an eye on them on the stove.
- HOW - Place cashews in small pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil the cashews for 15 minutes. Then, drain and rinse in cool water. They are ready to use for your recipe.
#2 Soaking cashews in very hot water on counter
- TIME - 20 minutes (can sit up to 2 hours)
- PRO - This method is very fast and is hands-off. This is my preferred method of soaking cashews for almost all applications.
- HOW - Place cashews in a heat-proof bowl or glass measuring cup. Bring water to a boil in your electric kettle (or on the stove). Pour hot water over cashews so they are covered. Let the cashews soak on the counter for at least 20 minutes, but up to 2 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.
#3 Soaking cashews in room temperature water on counter
- TIME - 4 hours
- PRO - This method is hands-off but requires thinking ahead of time. The cashews are not heated, so it's acceptable for raw recipes.
- HOW - Place cashews in a bowl, cup or jar. Pour water over cashews so they are covered. Let the cashews soak on the counter for 4 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.
#4 Soaking cashews in the refrigerator
- TIME - 8-12 hours (overnight)
- PRO - This method is hands-off but requires thinking ahead of time. The cashews are not heated, so it's acceptable for raw recipes. The cashews are refrigerated, so if you're concerned about soaking them at room temp out in the open, try this option.
- HOW - Place cashews in a bowl, cup or jar. Pour water over cashews so they are covered with water. Cover with a lid or wrap. Place in refrigerator and let the cashews soak overnight for up to 12 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.
⭐️ Expert tips
Add cool water when blending cashews! I made the mistake of using hot water when making this recipe once. The cashew cream thickened so much I could barely get it out of the blender jar. So, be sure to use fresh cold or cool water when blending up your vegan sour cream.
- High speed blender - for blending a completely smooth vegan cashew sour cream
- Electric kettle - for quickly boiling water to soak the cashews so they will soften
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
How long do soaked cashews last?
Soaked cashews should be used right away, after you have soaked them for the allotted time. However, if you need to store them, drain and rinse them well. Then, refrigerate for up to 24 hours in a covered container. Rinse again before using for your recipe.
How long does vegan sour cream last?
Prepared cashew sour cream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
How long do cashews last?
Typically, nuts last for up to 12 months after you buy them, but check the expiration date to be sure. Store raw cashews (and all nuts and seeds) in the refrigerator to maintain freshness and make them last longer.
Raw cashews sold in stores are not technically completely raw. They have already been steamed to remove the toxin found organically in cashews. So, the raw cashews you buy in the grocery store are indeed absolutely safe to eat.
It depends on the temperature of the water you're using, mostly. If you boil the cashews on the stove, 15 minutes will work. If you soak them in very hot water on the counter, 20 minutes (or up to 2 hours) will be long enough to soften them. In room temperature water on the counter, soak them up to 4 hours. In room temperature or cool water in the refrigerator, soak them overnight.
It depends on what you're making with the cashews, but if you're blending them up into a sour cream, you can use raw sunflower seed kernels or silken tofu instead. For a mayonnaise, silken tofu works really well. If you're using the cashews to thicken a dessert, silken tofu works well there also as in this pumpkin pie recipe. If you're using the cashews whole, as a nut, a good substitute would be walnuts, pecans, sunflower seed kernels, pistachios or almonds.
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
This vegan sour cream can be used as a 1:1 substitute in any recipe that calls for sour cream. It is rich and creamy, just like normal sour cream.
Here are some dishes that become extra scrumptious with a dollop of cashew cream on them.
- Loaded Vegan Nachos
- Lazy Vegan Chili
- Conchiglie Rosa with Vegan Pink Pasta Sauce
- Jamaican Rice and Pigeon Peas
- Vegan Saag Paneer
- Vegan Chorizo Potato Tacos
- Avocado Tostadas
- Creamy Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
- Vegan Saag Chana
- Vegetable Korma
- Vegan Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you loved this tutorial on how to soak cashews and my sour cream recipe, then try these other wfpb vegan sauces and condiment recipes!
Vegan Cashew Sour Cream + How to Soak Cashews
How to Soak Cashews - 4 Methods (choose one)
- Method #1 - Boil the cashews: Place cashews in small pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil the cashews for 15 minutes. Then, drain and rinse in cool water. They are ready to use for your recipe.
- Method #2 - Soak cashews in very hot water: Place cashews in a heat-proof bowl or glass measuring cup. Bring water to a boil in your electric kettle (or on the stove). Pour hot water over cashews so they are covered. Let the cashews soak on the counter for at least 20 minutes, but up to 2 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.1 cup boiling water
- Method #3 - Soaking cashews in room temperature water on counter: Place cashews in a bowl, cup or jar. Pour water over cashews so they are covered. Let the cashews soak on the counter for 4 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.
- Method #4 - Soaking cashews in the refrigerator: Place cashews in a bowl, cup or jar. Pour water over cashews so they are covered with water. Cover with a lid or wrap. Place in refrigerator and let the cashews soak overnight for up to 12 hours. Then, drain and rinse. They are ready to use for your recipe.
Make the Sour Cream
- Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Then add cashews to a high speed blender, along with all other ingredients.1 cup raw cashews, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, ⅔ cup cool water
- Blend until smooth and creamy, about 60 seconds. Stop blender and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula, as needed. You may need to blend longer, if you still have pieces of cashew in the blender. Blend until it is completely smooth and no little chunks of cashew are present.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Freeze leftover cashew cream for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
- Enjoy with nachos, tacos, chili, tostadas, curry, pasta and more! This cream is incredibly versatile.