Have you ever seen a recipe ask you to soak cashews and thought, "Huh?" I'm here to help! We're diving into How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews Properly, with both an overnight and quick method. I've also got all of the best recipes to use this creamy vegan ingredient in delicious, innovative ways!
If you've browsed the recipes on my site, you may have noticed that lots of my recipes call for soaked cashews! I always include recipe notes about how to do that, but I thought I'd dive in a little deeper in this article. Why do I soak cashews? How do you do it? And is there a faster way to do it? You've come to the right place, because I am fascinated by all of the elements of vegan cooking, and I've tested out all the methods for you!
In this post you'll find How and Why to Soak Cashews, and you'll also see photos of the different methods all compared. Find the process that works for you, and you'll be creating delicious, creamy, vegan dishes in no time!
Finally, if you're nut-free, don't despair! I've made a delicious nut-free swap for cashew cream with my seed-based Sunflower Seed Cream Sauce. The same theories apply, and you can use this in all of my recipes for a nut-free option!
All About Cashews
I buy raw, unsalted cashews in the bulk section of my grocery store and store them in the refrigerator (or freezer) in a large, airtight mason jar. In the refrigerator cashews can last up to six months, and they can actually last up to a year if you store them in the freezer!
Cashews are considered an excellent source of copper and a good source of magnesium, manganese, vitamin K, phosphorous and zinc. In the photo above you'll see raw cashews (middle), with overnight-soaked cashews on the left and quickly soaked cashews on the right!
For more information on cashews, check out my complete guide on Cashews Benefits for Vegans (+ Recipes).
How Long Does it Take to Soak Cashews?
There are two methods: a fast and a slow way! You can pick which one works best for you and your schedule. I am including both a fast and slow method, along with the benefits of each one. If you have ever made a cashew-based recipe with gritty results, you probably didn't fully soak the cashews! Luckily it's an easy fix with delicious results.
In the photo above you can see the difference between an overnight and a quick soak. The nut on the left in both photos has been soaked overnight, while the one on the right was done with a quick-soak method using boiling water! You can see the overnight soak allows the cashew to swell more since it has more time to absorb the water.
Soaking Cashews Overnight
Soaking cashews overnight keeps your nuts raw, which helps them retain more of their nutrients. If you have extra time and are committed to a raw diet, then this method is for you!
I also like to use this option if I'm planning ahead and know I'll need them for a recipe the next day. This is nice because I have ingredients ready when I make dinner and I don't even have to wait for water to boil!
My main caution with the overnight method is that you don't want to soak the cashews for too long. After 16 hours or so, I find they start to get a bit slimy. I suggest rinsing and refreshing your water after 12 hours if you aren't yet ready to use them. After 16 hours, if the cashews are gel-like and really slimy (say you forget about them completely), I would recommend tossing them.
How to Quickly Soak Cashews
The quick-soak method is what I use most of the time! This is done by pouring boiling water over your raw cashews and letting it sit for 1-2 hours. If you are in so much of a rush that you don't have time to quick soak them and wait the hour, you can do the super speedy method by boiling them on the stovetop for 15 minutes.
I’m usually in a rush so I sometimes have to skip soaking my nuts in advance altogether. Luckily, I have a high speed blender that actually does a great job of making dry cashews into cream! I simply add a bit more water and blend longer. Soaking the cashews definitely creates smoother, creamier results, but in a pinch my high-speed blender comes through!
Benefits of Soaking Cashews
Some people like to soak cashews in advance to make them more easily digestible. I’ve also read that soaking helps make the nutrients more available! One of the main things that happens when cashews soak is they absorb the water and soften. The softer the cashews, the smoother and creamier your recipe will turn out!
Soaked cashews also swell in size because of water retention, so skipping this step may affect the outcome of your recipe. If you skip soaking, you will likely need to add more liquid to your recipe to compensate. As you can see in the photos above, cashews that are soaked overnight (the cashews on the left in both photos) retain more water and are fluffier! They will create silkier, creamier results.
How to Use Soaked Cashews
Now that you've soaked your cashews, let's use them to create something incredible and delicious! Cashews are awesome for using in vegan, dairy-free, and paleo cooking. Many of my recipes have cashews as a main element!
I most often use soaked cashews in my Homemade Vegan Cashew Cream, which blends into so many other recipes to create a smooth, creamy, silky consistency. It's a great addition to smoothies for added nutrients and creaminess! Don't forget to tag me on Instagram if you make any of these recipes!
Recipes that call for soaked cashews:
- Condiments and sauces: Easy Green Onion Cashew Sauce, Poppy Seed Dressing, Creamy Vegan Pasta Sauce
- Dips: Vegan French Onion Dip, Cinnamon Vanilla Fruit Dip, Creamy Roasted Garlic Dip
- Soups: Speedy Creamy Broccoli Soup, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Carrot Ginger Soup, Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Entrees: Creamy Mexican Casserole with Black Beans & Quinoa, Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Black Lentils and Creamy Marinara, Creamy Butternut Squash "Risotto" (no rice needed!), Easy Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (for pizza!), Creamy Vegan Garlic Mushroom Fettuccine, Vegan No-Boil Pasta Bake, The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese
- Sides: Cucumber Salad with Dill & Red Onion, Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes, Creamy Vegan Picnic Pasta Salad
- Desserts: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Grain-Free Key Lime Pie Bars, 5-Ingredient Vegan Peppermint Patties, Berries & Cream Popsicles, No-Churn Blender Vanilla Ice Cream, Vegan & Paleo Pecan Pie Bars, Easy Vanilla Blender Icing, No-Churn Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream, Vegan Pumpkin Pie Pudding, No-Cook Vegan Blackberry Vanilla Pudding, No-Bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie
For soaking overnight:
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 cups filtered water, room temperature or cold
For quick soak:
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 1.5 cups boiling hot filtered water (depending on which method you use)
For soaking overnight:
- Add cashews and water to a 3 cup glass jar or any 3-cup or larger container with a lid and an airtight seal.
- Place the jar in the refrigerator overnight (~ 8-12 hours).
- After soaking is complete, remove the lid, pour water through a strainer and rinse the soaked cashews thoroughly with fresh tap water. Now, you are ready to use the soaked cashews in your favorite recipes.
- Do not allow cashews to over-soak and get slimy/gel-like. This usually happens after 16 or more hours.
For quick soak:
- Add raw cashews and boiling hot filtered water to a 2-cup glass measuring cup with pour spout (or any glass bowl or container).
- Allow to sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature. The longer you allow them to soak in the water the more they will soften and the more water they will absorb and swell. If time, longer is better for most recipes. Usually one hour is best but if you are extremely rushed for time then 30 minutes can work in a pinch.
- After soaking is complete, pour water through a strainer and rinse the soaked cashews thoroughly with fresh tap water. Now, you are ready to use the soaked cashews in your favorite recipes.
- Do not allow cashews to over-soak and get slimy/gel-like.
I recommend using soaked cashews right away for best results. Always look for signs of spoilage before using.
I like to use filtered water for the best taste/flavor. I find when I use tap water that gets absorbed into the cashews and I taste the tap water in the final recipe results.
For the quick soak method, water should be boiling hot for best results.
- Prep Time: 5
Keywords: How to Soak Cashews Overnight