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

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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.