If you're looking for a vegan Mexican crema recipe that's rich, creamy, and tangy, you better buckle up.
Fair warning — you will soon be topping all your favorite dishes with this sauce.
Mexican crema has a consistency slightly thinner than sour cream with the tartness of crème fraîche. It usually contains four common ingredients:
Heavy cream, buttermilk, lime, and salt.
As you can tell, this sauce is not very vegan friendly.
But since moving to Mexico, we've made it our goal to re-create Mexican staples into dairy and meat-free versions.
This creamy sauce is widely used to tame the spicy flavors of chili peppers.
Curious why the vegan version is better than original Mexican crema?
It's way easier to make and requires zero dairy products (saving most of us from bloating and stomach issues).
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free. Its perfect for all occasions, but it does come with a warning...
It may disappear quicker than anticipated.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: cashews have a rich, nutty flavor. When blended, they transform into the creeeeamiest texture, which is perfect to replace dairy. We love cashews.
Health: cashews help your brain, bones, and energy production centers thanks to their copper, magnesium, and manganese content. They also contain heart-healthy fats that have shown to decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Taste: acidic, tangy, and slightly sweet. Yup, that's lime juice! We wanted to keep this recipe as close to the original version as possible, which is achieved with lime (obviously).
Health: in such a small package, limes are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and many other nutrients. Squeeze lime into or on anything to enjoy a blast of vitamins and minerals.
Taste: one of the five universally accepted flavor profiles. It would be hard to describe salt any other way than "salty". In any case, it's used in cooking to enhance taste and bring out natural flavors.
Health: did you know salt is essential for our bodies to function? It helps our nerves work properly and allows our muscles to contract (sounds pretty important). Some people aren't affected by sodium, while others may develop high blood pressure and bloating. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting salt to 2300mg per day.
Step 1: it's very important to soak your cashews overnight, especially if you don't own a high-speed blender. You'll know they're ready when you can easily split them in half (like butter). Once your cashews are nice and soft, drain them and add everything to your blender.
Step 2: blend your sauce on high until the cashews are smooth. Be patient! This process can take anywhere from 3-10 minutes depending on your blender. Make sure you stop and scrape down the sides a few times to catch all the little cashews bits.
Step 3: if the crema is a bit thick for your liking, add in more water a tablespoon at a time until you achieve your preferred consistency. Serve your cashew crema over sopes, tacos, burritos, soups, rice dishes, etc.
Fridge: keep this sauce in the fridge for up to 3-5 days to ensure optimal freshness. We keep ours in a mason jar with an airtight lid.
Freezer: if you go through this sauce slowly, try freezing it for up to 6 months! Just make sure you store it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag.
Thaw: Once you take the crema out of your freezer, thaw it in the fridge overnight. The next day, stir or quickly re-blend it, and bam! Good to go.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Allow the cashews to soak for the full 12 hours. If you don't have time to leave them overnight, soak them for 1-2 hours in boiling water.
- Bulk stores usually have better prices for broken cashew pieces and halves, which work equally as well in sauces.
- Start slow and work your way up with the water. You can always add more, but you can't take it away!
- If money or calories are important, measure out your servings to avoid going overboard.
🍴 Tasting notes
We are head-over-heels for this recipe, and we know you will be too. It's:
If you try our Mexican crema recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Vegan Mexican Crema
- High-speed blender
- Mason jar
- Small bowl
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked ($1.72)
- ¾ cup water ($0.01)
- 1 ½ tbsp lime juice ($0.09)
- ½ tsp salt ($0.01)
- ⅛ tsp onion powder ($0.01)
- To begin, soak the cashews in room temperature water for about 12 hours, or overnight (they should be very soft and split easily). After they've soaked, drain the cashews and place in a blender with the water, lime juice, salt, and onion powder.
- Blend on high until completely smooth, which takes anywhere from 3-10 minutes depending on your blender. Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides of your blender a few times. If it's too thick for your liking, add more water in 1-2 tbsp at a time (it will thicken up in the fridge).
- Serve this crema over sopes, tacos, soups, burritos, rice dishes, etc. Transfer to an airtight container or jar for storage.
- If you don't have onion powder, don't worry! It's not 100% necessary, but it does give the recipe a rich, well-rounded flavor.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dips and dressings, check out our:
- Avocado cream sauce to swap out cashews for this buttery-smooth fruit.
- Creamy vegan Caesar for another cashew-based dressing to serve over your next kale salad.
- Spicy chili garlic aioli if you want to take your tacos to the next level.
- Creamy vegan ranch because you don't need dairy to make a delicious ranch dressing.
You can use an basic cashew cream sauce (cashews and water), or check out our spicy chili aioli. For non-vegans, the closest thing to Mexican crema is crème fraîche.
You can try making this recipe with almonds, but you won't be able to achieve as smooth of a consistency as with cashews.
Yes, this recipe contains no oil. It's just cashews, water, lime, salt, and onion powder!
Yes, this Mexican crema is gluten-free.