This creamy vegan Cashew Cilantro Sauce is a great for tacos or a flavorful appetizer dip! It's made with garlic, jalapeno, and lime juice.
This Cilantro Lime Sauce makes for a tasty all-purpose topping for tacos or any Mexican inspired meals. It's also perfect as a dip served with chips or fresh veggies.
I love recipes that serve double duty when it comes to how they can be utilized. This sauce is one of those recipes. It serves as a topping for tacos, an appetizer dip, or a spread for sandwiches or burgers.
Another great thing about this sauce is that it's dairy free, gluten free, and vegan. The 'creaminess' of the sauce comes from cashews that are soaked in water and then pureed in a food processor with garlic, jalapeno, lime, and cilantro.
It's great when you want to add a lot of fresh flavor to a dish, without overloading it with a lot of heavy ingredients.
There's really no 'wrong' way to enjoy a sauce like this one. It lasts for a few days in the refrigerator and is great to have on hand when you're looking to add a healthy flavor boost to any dish!
What Is Cashew Sauce?
In general, I'm a huge fan of sauces and adding sauce to whatever it is I'm eating. Sauces are an easy way to add great flavor to almost any dish.
This Cashew Cilantro Sauce is great, because it's made with only a few simple and healthy ingredients.
Cashew sauce is similar in appearance and texture to creamy sauces that are traditionally made with dairy or heavy cream. Cashews are naturally creamy and provide a 'creamy' base for a sauce, without the use of dairy.
The key to creating a cashew sauce is to soak raw, unsalted cashews in water for a few hours, drain them, and then puree them with some water and salt.
The great thing about cashew sauce is that the flavor can be adjusted by adding any number of other ingredients. This version has a Mexican twist and is flavored with the addition of cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and lime juice.
The result is a thick and rich concoction that can be drizzled onto any of your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, or used as a dip for tortilla chips or any crunchy veggies.
Ingredients For Cashew Cilantro Sauce
Here's what you'll need to make it.
- 1 cup Cashews (raw, unsalted)
- 1-2 cloves Garlic
- ½ cup Water
- 3 Tbsp. Lime Juice
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper (seeds removed for less heat)
- ½ cup Cilantro
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
- ¼ tsp. Pepper
What Does Soaking Cashews In Water Do?
This recipe calls for raw, unsalted cashews that are soaked in water prior to use. It's important to soak the cashews for optimal texture when making this sauce.
Soaking cashews allows them to absorb more water, creating a 'creamier' texture when they're pureed in a food processor or blender.
It also helps to remove phytic acid, which aids in nutrient absorption.
The cashews need to soak in water for 2 hours, so it's important to plan ahead when making this recipe.
- To soak the cashews, simply place 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashews in a small bowl. Top with enough water to cover the cashews.
- Allow the cashews to soak for 2 hours (it's fine if the cashews soak for a few extra hours, but they can become slimy if soaked too long).
- After 2 hours, drain and rinse the cashews with cold water.
Make sure that the cashews used are raw and unsalted and that the brand is gluten free if gluten is an issue for you.
How To Make Cilantro Cashew Sauce
- To make the sauce, peel 1-2 cloves of garlic and cut them in half.
- Cut 1 jalapeno pepper in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Chop the jalapeno into chunks.
- Roughly chop a heaping ½ cup of fresh cilantro.
- Place the rinsed cashews, garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse all of the ingredients a few times.
- Slowly pour ½ cup of water and 3 Tbsp. lime juice into the food processor or blender. Puree the mixture until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
How To Get The Best Consistency
The hallmark of cashew sauce in any form is that it's smooth and creamy, much like sauces made with dairy.
There are a few factors that can contribute to a cashew sauce that is creamier or more on the grainy side. I like to use this Cashew Cilantro Sauce as a topping for tacos, or as a dip for chips, so I prefer the 'texture' of a grainier sauce.
To get a creamier sauce, you can soak the cashews for a few extra hours, or puree the mixture longer in your food processor or blender.
A high quality blender will help you achieve a super creamy texture. I used a small food processor to create this sauce and it's not powerful enough to create a super creamy sauce, but I am happy with the results.
What To Serve With Cashew Sauce
As mentioned, this is a great all-around sauce that can be used in any variety of ways. The cashews themselves don't have a lot of flavor, but the flavors of the cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and lime shine in this sauce.
As a result, this sauce is perfect served with Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes like tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. It's a great way to add richness to vegetarian or vegan tacos like these Roasted Veggie Tacos or Sweet Potato Tacos.
It can be used as a topping for nachos or as an appetizer dip for tortilla chips, or fresh veggies like bell peppers, carrots, or jicama.
This sauce can be used to drizzle over roasted or grilled vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, or eggplant.
How Long Does This Sauce Last In The Fridge?
This sauce lasts 5-6 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can It Be Frozen?
I have not tested freezing this sauce, so cannot recommend that it be frozen. For the best texture and flavor, I recommend using this sauce right away or within a few days.
Love sauces? Check out these recipes!
- Lemon Herb Tahini Sauce
- Poblano Avocado Sauce
- Lemon Tarragon Sauce
- Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing
- Spicy Thousand Island Dressing
- Herb Ranch Dressing
- Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce
Looking For More Healthy Sauces and Dip Recipes? Don't Miss These!
Cashew Cilantro Sauce
- Food Processor or high quality blender
To Soak The Cashews:
- Place 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashews in a small bowl. Top with enough water to cover the cashews.
- Allow the cashews to soak for 2 hours at room temperature.The cashews may soak for a few extra hours if needed. Do not allow them to soak too long, or they may become slimy.
- After 2 hours, drain the cashews and rinse with cold water.
To Make The Sauce:
- Peel 1-2 cloves (depending on how strong of a garlic flavor you prefer) of garlic and cut them in half.
- Cut 1 jalapeno pepper in half and remove the seeds and membranes for less heat. Chop the jalapeno into chunks.
- Roughly chop a heaping ½ cup of fresh cilantro.
- Slowly pour ½ cup of water and 3 Tbsp. lime juice into the food processor or blender. Puree the mixture until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.See notes below on achieving your desired sauce consistency.Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
- To Serve: Serve on top of tacos or any of your favorite Mexican inspired dishes. Alternately, this sauce can be served as a dip with chips or fresh veggies, drizzled on roasted vegetables, or used as a spread on a sandwich or burger.