Looking for substitutes for cashews? Maybe you don’t have any on hand and need a quick replacement? Perhaps you can't eat them due to an allergy? No matter the circumstances, here are some simple swaps you can make!
Cashews are a pantry staple in my house! They are perfect for blending into cream sauces, vegan cheese, snack boards, and more.
But there are plenty of amazing cashew substitutes out there for whatever reason you may need one.
In this blog post, I am going to teach you how you can still make your favorite recipes without cashews!
Whether you’re looking to save money, have a cashew allergy, or want to experiment with your favorite recipes- I've got you covered!
What are Cashews?
Cashews are not a nut at all- it's a seed that grows on a cashew apple. Cashew apples grow on trees in warm, humid climates like Vietnam, Nigeria, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Cashews are typically grouped with tree nuts but they also have a lot in common with legumes and seeds.
Cashews have a slightly buttery and sweet flavor.
Cashews are regularly enjoyed as a snack in granola or trail mix but have become a staple in vegan cooking when it comes to making cream sauces and cheeses.
As a snack: Cashews are a popular ingredient in trail mix, granola, and energy bites.
As a milk alternative: Cashews can be blended with water and turned into cashew milk or a heavy cream substitute.
As a cheese substitute: Cashews are often used in vegan alternatives, including cheese sauce, cheese spreads, and vegan parmesan. Mixed with nutritional yeast- it is a great substitute for cheese.
As a cream sauce: Cashews can be soaked and blended with water to create a cream sauce that is perfect for soups, curries, and sauces.
Make cashew butter: Cashews can be blended into smooth and creamy cashew butter.
As a topping: Chop up cashews and add a crunchy element to salads, grain bowls, and more!
As a dip or spread: Cashews are often used to make vegan sour cream, cream cheese, and ricotta.
Choosing an Alternative
When it comes to choosing a cashew substitute, you need to realize what purpose they are serving in the recipe or dish.
If you're making granola, you may go for almonds or sunflower seeds.
However, if you're making a cream sauce, you might choose silken tofu instead.
Read through the options below and choose which is best for you!
Almonds are probably the most popular alternative to cashews. They can be used in granola, trail mix, and energy bites.
But they also can be soaked and blended into cream sauces and almond milk.
They have a nutty flavor but work well in sweet recipes and savory dishes.
Almonds contain healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Walnuts can be used in various ways just like almonds. They are great in trail mix, granola, and as a topping.
They may be a less popular choice when chosen between almonds and macadamia nuts but they can be blended into cream sauces as well or ground into walnut butter.
Walnut milk may not be on the shelves at your local grocery store but it can definitely be blended with water to make homemade walnut milk. It's surprisingly delicious and creamy and has a similar flavor to cashew milk.
They are a good source of a variety of vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Macadamia nuts are high in fat and delicious which makes them wonderful for trail mix and granola.
Since they are high in fat and creamy, they are a great alternative when you are wanting to blend them into sauces.
They can be made into macadamia milk as well.
Macadamia nuts are low in sugar and carbohydrates- they also contain a good amount of protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
They can also be crushed and used as a topping for salads or rice bowls.
Pistachios or Pine Nuts would be a great alternative as well for the same reasons.
Hemp seeds can be blended into sauces or used as a topping.
While it may be less common, hemp seeds can be made into hemp milk as well.
I love to add them to homemade granola or use them as a topping for salads.
Hemp seeds are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Sunflower seeds are a versatile ingredient, especially in plant-based cooking. I've seen people use this to make vegan cheese and cheese sauce. When combined with nutritional yeast, it has a surprisingly cheesy flavor.
It can also be used in granola and trail mix.
If you're allergic to nuts or peanuts, you can find sunflower seed butter.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of many vitamins and minerals.
Pumpkin Seeds would be a good alternative as well for the same reasons.
Tahini is made from sesame seeds. It's similar in texture to nut butter but nut-free.
If you looking to make a recipe like a salad dressing or sauces, tahini would make a great alternative to cashews.
The taste of tahini is a lot stronger than cashews but if you're a fan of that earthy almost bitter flavor, give it a try!
Zucchini may be a unique choice to include here but it can be blended into sauces to make them creamy.
This is particularly a good substitute for cashews if you're making a creamy pasta sauce.
When blended, cauliflower is creamy just like a cashew cream sauce but completely nut-free.
It can be used as a base for salad dressings and cream sauces like alfredo.
If you're looking to replace cashews when it comes to sauces, silken tofu is one of the best substitutes.
Blend silken tofu and add it to soup, cream sauces, and even salad dressing to give it a creamy base without cashews.
Silken tofu has a mild flavor so it won't add extra flavor to your recipe but instead give it a creamy texture.
Canned Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is a lot thinner than cashew cream but it is a great alternative to cashew cream.
If you're making a recipe that calls for a creamy sauce, try using canned coconut milk or coconut cream. Coconut milk is great in curries, soups, stews, and pasta sauces.
If you're looking to replace cashew milk, you can use any other non-dairy milk. My favorites include oat milk, soy milk, and almond milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Almonds are the most similar to cashews. They can be used in trail mix, granola, vegan cheese recipes, cream sauces, and made into milk.
If you're going for a nut-free alternative, try silken tofu or cauliflower for a cream sauce.
Cashews are a great source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals including magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K.
Cashews are used in vegan cooking because when blended they become creamy which makes them great for cream sauces without heavy cream. They can be used to make spreadable cheese recipes as well.
Cashews, water, and salt! Garlic, onion, and lemon juice are optional but tasty add-ins.
Sunflower butter and almond butter are great alternatives for cashew butter.
Oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk are great alternatives to cashew milk.
Recipes without Cashews
Choose a substitute that best fits your needs!
If you are making trail mix or granola, go for hemp seeds or a different type of nut like almonds.
If you are trying to replace cashews in a cream sauce, go for almonds.
Need it to be nut-free? Go for coconut milk or silken tofu.
If you are trying to add a crunch to a salad, go for sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts.
Hope you found this article helpful!
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