This is the BEST Vegan Chipotle Aioli! It's creamy and spicy with hints of garlic and lemon. You'll want to slather this creamy chipotle sauce on everything from burgers, fries, grain bowls, and more!
This vegan aioli is the best sauce to jazz up sandwiches, burgers, tofu nuggets, fries, and more! Soak the cashews ahead of time and then you've got the best dipping sauce in minutes!
Typically, aioli would be made with mayo but I went with cashews for my mayo-free vegan version and it was a good choice! Cashews become super saucy and creamy and the perfect consistency for dipping or spreading on everything.
What is Aioli?
What most people recognize as aioli is basically a fancy mayo dip. Traditional aioli was oil emulsified with garlic but now it truly is just flavored fancy mayo. But nevertheless, it’s a tasty dip.
Instead of mayo, I decided to make this easy vegan chipotle aioli dip out of cashews. When cashews are blended they become super creamy and make the perfect fluffy spread. You won't miss the mayo!
What are Chipotle Peppers in Adobo?
If you are unfamiliar with chipotle peppers in adobo, you're missing out! This small can of peppers packs a huge punch! This is an essential pantry staple for me- and for good reason. Basically, it is dried jalapeño peppers that are rehydrated and canned in an adobo sauce. Adobo sauce is made up of tomato puree, vinegar, and garlic among other spices.
You can add this ingredient to recipes when you want a rich depth of flavor that adds smokiness and spice. Chipotle peppers in adobo work well in chili, sauces, soups, bean dishes, marinades, glazes, and this aioli!
- Unsalted Raw Cashews
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
- Lemon Juice
- Nutritional Yeast
The main ingredient in this vegan chipotle aioli recipe is cashews. When blended, cashews become super creamy. Add some chipotle peppers, seasonings, and lemon juice and you've got yourself the perfect dipping sauce.
- Unsalted Raw Cashews: Unsalted raw cashews are preferred,
- Water: Water is needed to help it blend! Cashews are creamy as is so you won't need non-dairy milk or any other ingredients- water works best.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: You can find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the canned section of the grocery store. This ingredient is key to this recipe for a nice spicy flavor! You gotta have it. This small can of magic is filled with whole chipotle peppers soaked in a tomato-based sauce- it's incredible!
- Lemon Juice: Only 1 small tablespoon of lemon juice to balance out flavors. Add more if you want it to be more of a prominent flavor but I think a splash works best.
- Agave: Just a very small amount to help balance out the flavors.
- Nutritional Yeast: Typically nutritional yeast is added to sauces to add a cheese flavor but that's not what it's doing in this recipe- it's added for umami.
- Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt is added for flavor and are such important additions! If you'd prefer to use fresh garlic, go for it! Toss a garlic clove into the blender or add roasted garlic- yum.
How to Make This Recipe
Making this vegan chipotle sauce is incredibly easy! It comes together in two simple steps and can be added to so many different dishes for a boost of flavor.
Add the cashews to a heat-safe bowl. Then, boil a cup of water and pour it over the cashews.
Allow to soak for 30 minutes- this will help the cashews soften and create a smoother textured sauce.
Add the soaked cashews, water, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, agave, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and the seasonings to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy!
Tips & Tricks
Soak the cashews! You can soak them in hot water for 30 minutes or soak them overnight in the fridge. Soaked cashews will create a smooth, less gritty sauce. This is crucial to a good aioli.
If you're sensitive to spice, start with 1 chipotle pepper. I recommend 2 to 3 for this recipe but if this is your first time trying chipotle peppers in adobo and you're unsure how hot they are, start with 1 and work your way up.
Substitutions & Additions
Making this spicy chipotle aioli is incredibly easy but is also super customizable to your personal preference. Change what you want to create your perfect sauce- more spice, more lemon, more garlic!
- Cashews: Nut-free? Go classic and make vegan chipotle mayo. You can use the same amount of everything else but omit the water- you may need a splash to blend it up but I doubt you'll need the entire ½ cup.
- Lemon: Make a vegan chipotle lime aioli by substituting the lemon with lime juice. If you want more lime flavor, add more. If you don't have citrus, try apple cider vinegar.
- Water: I don't think it's necessary because I can always count on trusty cashews to make a creamy sauce but if you want to add unsweetened almond milk or soy milk instead, you can!
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo: I haven't personally tried to substitute them because the flavor of this spicy sauce is based on them. I don't recommend replacing it with chili powder simply because I can't guarantee it will taste as good. If you'd like to try it, let me know how it goes!
- Agave: You can use brown sugar or maple syrup.
- As a Dip: Use this vegan chipotle aioli as a dip to dunk your favorite vegan chicken nuggets in! I recommend my Tofu Nuggets. You can also use it as a dip for potato wedges, onion rings, french fries, or sweet potato fries.
- As a Sauce: Drizzle over burrito bowls, black bean burgers, veggie burgers, a salad dressing, tacos, grain bowls, and roasted vegetables.
Store: Pour cashew aioli into an airtight jar or container and store it in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Freeze: Place in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months- allow it to thaw before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, that will not yield the same results.
Sure, you can use silken tofu or vegan mayo to make this nut-free.
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Best Vegan Chipotle Aioli
- 1 cup Unsalted Raw Cashews soaked
- ½ cup Water
- 2-3 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce see note
- 1 tablespoon Adobo Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon Agave
- 1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Salt more or less to taste
- Pinch of Black Pepper
- Add the cashews to a heat-safe bowl. Then, boil a cup of water and pour it over the cashews. Allow to soak for 30 minutes- this will help the cashews soften and create a smoother textured sauce.
- Add the soaked cashews, water, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, agave, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and the seasonings to a blender- see tips & tricks for more information on chipotle peppers in adobo
- Blend until smooth and creamy!