Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing Recipe

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

A Classic Favorite

Let’s face it. It’s hard being plant-based in our modern dairy- and meat-obsessed world. One thing I’ve struggled with in my plant-based journey is the craving for comforting favorites, and I have a hard time feeling satisfied with a dressing that isn’t creamy. I LOVED ranch dressing. It was my favorite dressing, and it helped me get more vegetables into my husband, too. So when I turned plant-based and dedicated myself to cooking from scratch as much as possible, ranch dressing seemed to be on the list of things I’d just have to give up.

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

Well Good News, Folks!

We live in an amazing time for vegans and vegetarians. Cooks and chefs all over the world are working to find innovative new ways of making plant-based versions of classic favorite recipes. One of my favorite innovations is the cashew. It is truly incredible what this nut becomes when you grind it down. And if you add a touch of seasoning, you can transform the cashew into something rich, creamy, and delicious. 

A Simple Base

It all began for me with the Vegan Cashew Sour Cream recipe. Once I nailed down the flavor for that, I quickly saw the possibilities. One of my earliest trials was a vegan cashew Alfredo Sauce (recipe coming soon, I swear!). It was incredible, and completely dairy free! Ever since then I’ve been working on a Ranch replacement recipe that was great on salads but yummy enough for a veggie dip. Well guess what? I nailed it! And I can’t wait to share it with you!

Easy Breezey

I have two young kids, one of which has special needs, so I really can’t be bothered with overly complicated recipes that require lots of cooking and attention. It’s time consuming enough just to stand around chopping vegetables! This is why I LOVE this recipe. You just throw most of the ingredients into a blender, much like the Vegan Cashew Sour Cream recipe, and then afterward you stir in dill to taste and water until it’s the consistency you’re looking for; a little more for salad dressing, not too much for a good dip. So easy!

The Right Tool For The Job

I use my Nutribullet Rx for my dressings and hummus. It makes it really easy to whip up and is very easy to clean. I also recently got the Nutribullet combo set which can make nut butters, and I love it as well! The combo set has a larger capacity jug that’s great for all the things I try to shove into my smoothies. It also has more options for speed, which gives me more options in what I can make. 

I only mention it because when I began a plant-based journey I deliberated over which blender to buy. While I couldn’t afford to spend a lot, I also didn’t want to get something that would break on me within a year. Finally I settled on the Nutribullet Rx as my first blender, and it’s served me well over the past year and a half. Just remember, if you choose that blender, to never blend hot liquids and always use the key tool to get a tight seal. 

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

Just As Versatile As The Original

I always test my dips and dressings and adjust to taste as needed. Well, at the time I first made this dressing I was chopping up veggies for a big salad, and tried it with a carrot stick and a celery stick and oh my gosh! It was so good! Now I always make a dish of chopped carrots and celery to keep in the fridge for a quick and tasty snack. Even my four year old daughter can’t get enough of it! Today I used it as a dressing for a lettuce and veggie pita filling inside a toasted, whole wheat pita. Yummmmmm. And last week I tossed it on my kale and mixed-veggie salad. It’s seriously good on absolutely everything where you would use traditional ranch dressing. I can’t get enough! 

What dairy or oil based dressing do you miss the most? 

Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Cuisine: American, Oil Free, Plant Based, Vegan
Keyword: cashew, dairy free, dressing, oil free, plant based, ranch, salad, vegan, whole food


  • Blender


  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1 c water Plus extra, to thin to desired consistency.
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste


  • Place all ingredients except dill in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Move to a glass container.
  • Add dill and stir. Adjust to taste as needed.
  • Add additional water as needed to achieve desired consistency.


Keeps in a sealed glass jar for up to a week. This recipe makes enough dressing for several salads. 

Italian Spice Blend Recipe

Go-To Italian Spice Blend

Today I’m going to share my absolute favorite go-to Italian spice blend recipe. I use this all the time, in all kinds of ways, and I hope it becomes a staple for your cooking too!

Go-To Italian Spice Blend

Ingredients vs Marketing Terms

I personally can’t stand it when a recipe calls for something ambiguous like “pumpkin spice” or “Italian blend.” They are marketing terms used to sell a product, and erodes away our ability to make our own food. I never learned to bake bread (before now) because bread is made in a factory and put into a bag and sold to me from a grocery store shelf. If the grocery store went away, it would be a struggle for me to have bread until I learned how to properly combine the ingredients. It’s simply a way for businesses and corporations to exert financial control over us, the consumers.

I first encountered this concept watching a start-up show where someone had an idea for a level (the hardware kind) where other tools are stored inside, including a small hammer, two kinds of screwdriver heads, and a small box of nails and screws. The professionals analyzing the product commented that there wasn’t really a market need for the product because the hammer wasn’t as good as a regular hammer you can get for the same price or less. It was instead what they called a “marketing product” for “convenience” to be marketed to people who weren’t really serious about their construction work. The kicker was that they decided to paint it pink and market it to women. Now, I don’t know about you, but I was a little offended by this because I want a tool that gets the job done, pink or not. And clearly they were willing to market an inferior product to women simply to make money. That doesn’t seem fair, but it does seem symptomatic of our consumerist culture and why we as a planet are drowning in stuff that simply isn’t meant to last.

Looking Past the Veil

Now I try to look past marketing to see the quality and value of the essential product itself. Is it made of good materials? Is it meant to last? How does it compare to what a professional in the industry would use? Is it something that’s composed of other things so that I could make it myself for less but with better quality components? This was the founding principle of my jewelry. I was frustrated by the over abundance of cute but cheap jewelry sold absolutely everywhere. I won’t name names, but there are brands that are marketed heavily and sold through fine retailers for fairly high prices, but aren’t even sterling silver. It tarnishes quickly and often times gives me a rash or changes the color of my skin. Then it becomes garbage. These aren’t the kinds of things that become special heirlooms treasured by future generations. So I decided to begin making jewelry where all of the components were, at the very least, surgical steel, and where possible finer metals like gold and sterling silver.

In the same way, I always try to drill down into the essentials of ingredients. I am skeptical when a recipe calls for a premade vegan sour cream, or a store-bought something or other. Some things you can’t really get away from, such as nutritional yeast (which is insanely complicated to make yourself.) But many others are easily and cheaply made from scratch. My own vegan sour cream, my own bread recipes, my own marinara sauce. And it was when I exploring my own marinara sauce recipe that I discovered my absolute favorite go-to Italian spice blend.

So Versatile, So Easy

It’s so simple, and probably uses spices you already have in your pantry or cupboard. I use it for any recipe that calls for an Italian Spice Blend, including the Beefless Stew recipe from Straight up Food by Cathy Fisher, which I will be reviewing over at Blueshift Books this month. (Spoiler Alert: It’s amazing!)

In fact, I’ve got a whole stack of vegan cookbooks I’m ordering this month and will be cooking through and reviewing each one, including a vegan Indian, vegan Thai, vegan Southern, and vegan Mexico. Yum! I’m so excited!

Releasing the Flavor

One note about my process. For this blend, I put them in a small wooden spice grinder and give them a good crush to open up the flavor. I found this olivewood mortar and pestle set at Cost Plus World Market. I then brush clean rather than wash with soap and water, because I only use it for these kinds of leafy, savory spices and over time the flavors from my spice blends will grow in complexity.

Go-To Italian Spice Blend


My Go-To Italian Spice Blend in my Olivewood mortar and pestle.

You can also see pictured my stainless steel measuring spoons, which I purchased from Amazon and absolutely love. I’ve been gradually working all the plastic out of my kitchen, and these measuring spoons were one of my first and best purchases. You can get them here.

My Go-To Italian Spice Blend

This simple and easy spice blend can be used in any Italian recipe that calls for an Italian blend. I use it in my marinara sauce and the Beefless Stew recipe from Straight Up Food by Cathy Fisher.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Spices
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: foundation recipe, italian, marinara, spice blend, spices, staple
Author: Vera Lyndon


  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Measuring Spoons


  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme


  • Mix well.
  • Optional: Mix a double batch and store in a recycled glass spice jar that once contained one of the spices above.
  • Optional: Put all of the herbs into a small mortar and pestle and crush to release the flavor.

Vegan Cashew Sour Cream Recipe

Vegan Cashew Sour Cream

Let’s Talk About Foundation Recipes

When I started my own life improvement journey, I struggled to find foods that were simple and unprocessed but still delicious and fit into the way I like to enjoy food. I don’t like the idea of focusing my diet on things like fake vegan cheese that acts the same way as real dairy cheese because it’s loaded with chemicals that make it act that way. I’m okay with not having the melty goodness of a real cheeseburger if I’m satisfied in other ways, such as flavor.

One way I’ve decided to approach this problem is by working hard to develop foundational recipes that can be a base for other things and fill in those spots where a recipe calls for something I would have otherwise purchased from the store. From marinara sauce to beans and bread, I’m determined to stop using canned and jarred store bought foods. All too often they have added sugar, salt, and additional unnecessary ingredients geared toward making them more appetizing on a store shelf, and to compensate for what is lost when a food is mass produced.

the first, most magical, most eye opening and delicious result of this hunt was the vegan cashew sour cream recipe. It’s so simple, with ingredients that are affordable and accessible in my city of Des Moines.

Cooking With Cashews

The raw cashews are by far the most expensive and challenging part of this recipe. I first struggled to find raw cashews at all, and then I was disappointed by how expensive they were at my local grocery store in the bulk section. But keep in mind you only need one cup for this recipe, and it’s best to buy only as much as you need because they can go rancid if not stored properly, or kept for too long.

One sign of this is an overpowering fishy smell. Now, I’ve learned through all of this that cashews *always* have a fishy smell to me. So don’t get overly worried if you open your new bag of cashews and they have it. But if they smell fishy and off, you’re probably better off tossing them and getting a new batch. Use your gut.

I eventually found them at Trader Joes for the best price, and they seem to be excellent quality. They are just the pieces, but since I blend them up it doesn’t matter to me if they are whole or in pieces. It’s all the same in the end!

A Note About Soaking Cashews

I’ve read a lot of different thoughts about this and tried it all. When I soaked in cold water overnight, my cashews turned purple and were too soft. The purple color isn’t harmful or a sign of anything wrong, it just means they’ve soaked for too long. When I didn’t soak at all, my cream was a little too gritty. In the end, what worked best was covered the cup of cashews in plain old tap water and setting it on my counter for about two hours. Then I drained them and rinsed them and they were ready to go.

UPDATE: I’ve made this recipe for more than a year and, frankly, I don’t always remember to soak my cashews before using or I’m feeling lazy and don’t really want to. And you know what? It always comes out the same. So really you can skip the soaking step and just toss those bad boys into a blender with the rest of the ingredients. It’ll be fine. 

A Simple Base With Delicious Possibilities

The actual cooking time couldn’t be easier. Once your cashews are soaked and drain, you toss everything into your favorite blend and blend until smooth and creamy. And that’s it! I store mine in a short, wide-mouthed Ball jar and it keeps for up to two weeks.

When I first made this recipe, and it worked out so well, I immediately started dreaming up new ways to expand on it and it worked EVERY SINGLE TIME. It was exhilarating. Two of my favorites are a creamy vegan alfredo sauce and a vegan ranch dressing that I am eating on roasted root veggies as I type this. (Both of those recipes will be coming soon, I promise!) It’s just that versatile, and a true staple recipe in my box.

What variations can you think of? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


Vegan Cashew Sour Cream

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Sour Cream Recipe from Vera Lyndon
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time2 hrs 12 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Oil Free, Plant Based, Vegan
Keyword: alfredo, cashew, dairy free, oil free, plant based, ranch, sour cream, vegan, whole food
Author: Vera Lyndon


  • 1 c raw cashews, soaked and drained
  • 2 medium lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt add more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 cloves garlic add more or less to taste, or use garlic powder for a milder flavor


  • Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Enjoy on anything you would otherwise put sour cream on. I love them with chives on a baked potato! Keeps 1-2 weeks in a sealed glass jar.


A previous version of this recipe suggested soaking the cashews, but I have since found that to be unnecessary. It blends very smooth and creamy without soaking, and it's less prep time to worry about.