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This cilantro sauce is creamy, tangy, savory, sweet, and totally delicious! It’s plant-based and perfect for dolloping on baked potatoes, tacos and more.

Cilantro Sauce
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Meet our new favorite sauce: this bright green cilantro sauce. And guess what? It’s 100% plant-based too, so it works for all sorts of eaters! For a while now, Alex and I have been using the idea of cashew cream to make creamy, dairy free sauces. It’s just soaked cashews blended with a bit of water, but it becomes so intensely creamy that it makes the perfect sauce for dolloping. This tangy green one is a big favorite in our household. It’s even pretty mild on the cilantro flavor: so it’s not even offensive to avowed cilantro haters!

Cilantro Sauce

What’s in this cilantro sauce?

For this creamy cilantro sauce recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Raw or roasted cashews (unsalted)
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro leaves and stems
  • Salt

Look for unsalted cashews. If all you can find is salted, simply add half the amount of salt in the recipe below, then taste and adjust the salt as needed. Also, note that freshly squeezed lime juice will give you the best flavor in this sauce. We’re not big fans of the bottled stuff around here: it doesn’t have the right flavor!

How to make it!

This cilantro sauce is based on the concept of cashew cream. What is cashew creamCashew cream is a creamy blend of soaked cashews and water. You can use it in vegan recipes as a non-dairy substitute sour cream, heavy cream, yogurt, or mayonnaise. It’s what makes the creaminess in our Vegan Pasta Marinara and our Wild Rice Soup (and many of these cashew recipes).

This cilantro sauce is basically a cashew cream made with cilantro and lime! Here’s how to make cilantro sauce?

  • Soak the cashews: Soak cashews for 1 hour (30 minutes if you have a high speed blender). You also can soak them overnight if you think of it, but that’s not required. Whatever is easiest for you!
  • Add seasonings: To a blender, add the drained cashews, cilantro, lime, and kosher salt.
  • Blend: Blend until a thick, creamy green sauce forms!
Cilantro and lime

A note on soaking cashews

To soak the cashews for this cilantro sauce, you simply place them in a bowl and cover them with water. Then let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour! You may be wondering, though:

  • Can you soak the cashews any less than 1 hour? Alex and I have tried some shortcuts. The  least amount of time we can get away with is 30 minutes, and that’s with our high speed blender. (It’s more difficult work with a standard blender because it’s not as powerful.) We recommend soaking for 1 hour if you can, or try this trick for shortening the soak time.
  • Can you soak the cashews more than 1 hour? Absolutely! Longer is better for this cashew cilantro sauce. Start the soak the night before, then refrigerate in the morning until making the cilantro sauce.
Mexican Sweet Potatoes
Cilantro sauce on Mexican Sweet Potatoes

Ways to eat this cilantro sauce

There are endless ways to use this cilantro sauce — and we have several recipes on our website already that use it! Here are some of our favorite ways to eat it:

  1. Dollop it on roasted potatoes like in our Mexican Sweet Potatoes recipe! Or it would be delicious over these Roasted Smashed Potatoes.
  2. Drizzle it over nachos like our Greek Nachos or Mexican Fried Rice Nachos.
  3. Use it as a taco sauce like in our “Verde” Lentil Vegan Tacos.
  4. Use as a sauce for seafood like our Baked Salmon or Grilled Shrimp.

There are many more ways to use this cilantro sauce! What would you use it for?

This cilantro sauce recipe is…

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and refined sugar free.

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Cilantro Sauce

Creamy Cilantro Sauce


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Description

This cilantro sauce is creamy, tangy, savory, sweet, and totally delicious! It’s plant-based and perfect for dolloping on baked potatoes, tacos and more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup raw or roasted cashews*
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup lime juice (juice from 2 limes)
  • 2 large handfuls cilantro leaves and tender stems**
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak for 1 hour (or the very least, 30 minutes if you have a high speed blender). For preparation in advance, you can soak the cashews overnight, which is even better.
  2. Juice the limes.
  3. Drain the cashews. Add the cashews, water, lime juice, cilantro, and kosher salt to a blender, then blend on high for 1 minute. Stop and scrape, then add additional liquid if necessary to come to the desired creamy consistency (we added 2 additional tablespoons; you could add more for a more drizzle-able sauce). Blend for several minutes until creamy and smooth. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for several months.

Notes

*This recipe doesn’t call for salted cashews, but if that’s all you can find, add only half of the kosher salt when you first blend the sauce. Then add additional salt to taste.

**The cilantro flavor is fairly mild, so if you’re a big cilantro lover, add another handful or so of cilantro. You may have to add a bit more water too to get the desired consistency.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Looking for other essential recipes?

Whether it’s how to make salad dressing or homemade Yum Yum Sauce, our essential recipes are easy DIYs to make at home! Here are few more of our essential and DIY recipes:

Last updated: January 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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13 Comments

  1. Betsy S says:

    I’m a big fan of your website and recipes! Our recent favorites have been the tuna Pattie’s and the falafel burgers. I love the Cucumber Dill Sauce! . I’m wondering if you can use Greek yogurt instead of the cashew cream in this Cilantro sauce. Thank you.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Thank you for the kind words! Great question. You could, but it would come out pretty tart (the cashews balance with sweet and savory notes). Instead we’d recommend trying this cilantro dressing recipe that includes Greek yogurt! https://www.acouplecooks.com/cilantro-lime-dressing/

  2. Allyson says:

    Super yummy. I love this sauce on roasted vegetables; the sauce is so satisfying that it makes a meal.






  3. Mary L Brown says:

    Why doesn’t the nutritional information include sodium content? I have viewed several recipes – none contained this info. This is a glaring omission. For those of us who are following a heart healthy diet, this is essential information. Please consider adding sodium content.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! We omit the sodium because many ingredients we use such as beans, soy sauce or broth can have vastly different amounts and we don’t want to give false information. Even different brands of kosher salt can vary. 1 teaspoon of Morton kosher salt has 1920 mg of sodium if that is helpful.

  4. Eva says:

    This sounds so good! I’ve been discovering the world of plant-based Mexican food and the flavors are fantastic.

  5. dmitri says:

    I pour boiling water over my cashews and let it sit for 15 minutes. comes out with only a 1/4 tsp or so of “pulp” left without a high speed blender.

  6. Sarah says:

    This recipe sounds so delicious! Do you think any other nut would work in place of cashews? My husband is allergic so I’m always looking for alternatives. We just got your cookbook and are getting into the delicious recipes!

    1. Alex says:

      Hi! I’ve read that raw pumpkin seeds are a good alternative, but I’ve not tried it! Let us know if you do :)

  7. Bethanie says:

    I’ve been looking for sauces to splash on my mostly vegetarian cooking. Many recipes have yogurt or creme. I LOVE nuts so the cashews are perfect. My husband and I ate the full batch within a week, and they added so much to our tacos!

    1. Sonja says:

      Oh we’re so glad to hear it! It’s easy to find ways to use it up :) Thanks for trying it!

  8. Laura says:

    This was totally delicious!! Thank your for sharing. Fresh and perfect for tacos!

    1. Sonja says:

      So glad you enjoyed it on tacos! Thanks for making it :)