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10 Surprising Ways to Cook With Cashews

From creamy spreads to cheesecake, we're amazed with just how versatile cashew nuts can be.

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Raw cashews close-up in wooden bowl on sackclothShutterstock/Elena M. Tarasova

Thought that cashew nuts only had a place as a snacking nut or in cashew chicken stir-fries? Think again! These soft, sweet buttery nuts can be used to make ultra-flavorful spreads, soups, milk and more. They’re great for those following a dairy-free, plant-based, or paleo diet (and they’re pretty tasty for the rest of us, too).

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vegan cheese with cashewShutterstock/margouillat photo

Cashew Cream Cheese

Soak cashews in water overnight to soften them. Then, drain them and blend them up with some lemon juice, salt, and a splash of water until they’re super smooth and spreadable. It doesn’t get easier than that!

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carrot cakeTaste of Home

Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake isn’t the same without cream cheese frosting. That same cashew cream cheese you made can be whipped into a sweet treat by adding honey or maple syrup. Let it set up in the freezer before frosting your favorite desserts.

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cheesecakeHB133235C07_19_5bC

Vegan Cheesecake

Who doesn’t love cheesecake? Anyone on a diet, that’s who! Luckily, vegan cheesecake recipes use cashews instead of all of that heavy cream cheese. Combining whipped cashews with coconut milk is a great way to get a creamy texture without skimping on all that comforting cheesecake flavor. Looking to indulge? Try our top 10 cheesecake recipes.

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cashewShutterstock/ Elena M. Tarasova

Cashew Mayonnaise

Using mayonnaise becomes a problem if you have an egg allergy or you’re trying to follow a plant-based diet. (Find out more about plant-based diets.) Once again, cashews save the day! Blending soaked cashews with a few ingredients like cauliflower, olive oil, lemon juice, and a little water makes a perfect mayo replacement.

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Fancy organic fetuccine pasta with creamy alfredo mushroom sauceShutterstock/Ezume Images

Faux Alfredo Sauce

Some of our favorite pasta sauces involve heavy cream, but it’s a little indulgent to eat creamy Alfredo all the time. Making a creamy “Alfredo” sauce with cashews is the perfect way to ease my guilt. Blending soaked cashews with garlic and olive oil does the trick.

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cashewShutterstock/Viktor Kochetkov

Cashew Dip

It doesn’t always have to be about turning a recipe into a vegan or dairy-free meal. This recipe for Cashew & Olive Feta Cheese Dip combines cashews with a salty cheese like feta or cotija and a bunch of herbs to make a tasty appetizer or sandwich spread.

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Heap of raw cashews and a glass of cashew milk, on wooden surfaceShutterstock/Gts

Cashew Milk

If you’re looking for a dairy-free milk alternatives, cashew milk is one of the best. It’s as easy as blending 1 cup of soaked cashews with 4 cups of water (plus sweeteners, if you like). As a bonus, this tasty drink packs 45 percent of your daily dose of calcium!

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Nicecream - ice cream made of frozen bananaShutterstock/JRP Studio

Vegan Ice Cream

Cashew ice cream is a great alternative for those on a vegan or dairy-free diet. Take equal parts soaked cashews and almond milk and churn away in an ice cream maker.

Psst! Here’s how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker.

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Salsa dip with tortilla chipShutterstock/pilipphoto

Cashew Salsa

Using nuts in salsa is traditional in Mexico to make sauces rich and creamy. They can be pureed until they’re unnoticeable or left chunky for texture. Roasting a few cashews and tossing them in your favorite salsa recipe is a sure-fire way to make it stand out!

Simply add 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped, roasted cashews to this speedy homemade salsa recipe.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup:Shown served with grilled bread and side saladShutterstock/Janet Moore

Creamy Soups

Instead of adding heavy cream to your favorite cauliflower soup, add vegetable broth pureed with cashews instead! They’ll have the same sweet flavor and creamy texture without all of the added saturated fat.

Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.

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