An easy vegan Chipotle Crema recipe that's creamy, dreamy, and smoky! Spoon it over your tacos, burritos, nachos, rice bowls, or try it as a spicy dipping sauce. (Vegan & gluten-free with oil-free and nut-free options.)
This silky Chipotle Crema will add so much smoky, creamy deliciousness to your life!
It's my version of a Mexican crema which is a condiment similar to sour cream. It typically includes heavy cream and buttermilk.
But for this dairy-free version, we make a creamy cashew "sour cream", then infuse it with smoky, earthy flavors. So good!
Plus it's incredibly versatile in ways you can use it. Enjoy it as a spicy dip, or dollop it on your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes and beyond.
Ingredients for Chipotle Crema
For this recipe you will blend together in a small high-speed blender:
- Raw cashews: We'll use soaked cashews for this recipe which softens them so they're easier to blend. Most often I use the "quick soak" method with hot water which only takes about 10 minutes. See recipe notes for guidance.
- Chipotle in adobo sauce: This comes in a small can. We'll only use one chipotle pepper for this recipe because they're fairly spicy. But you can adjust as desired for more or less spice. You can also add a little adobo sauce if you'd like.
- Fresh lime juice: We'll need one tablespoon which is about a half lime. For a stronger flavor, you could even include some lime zest. If you don't have lime, then fresh lemon juice works too.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Salt: I use fine grain salt for this recipe. Use as much or as little as you prefer to bring out the flavors. You can also add black pepper to taste if desired.
Oil-free option: Canned chipotles in adobo sauce contain a small amount of oil. So if you are strictly oil-free, replace the canned chipotles with ground chipotle powder instead. Start with a quarter teaspoon (or less) and go from there.
Making your own chipotles in adobo: Check out this tutorial from Cook's Illustrated on making your own Chipotles in Adobo from dry powder. It's a neat idea on capturing the essence of chipotles in adobo sauce, but without having to purchase an entire can or use any oil.
Cashew-free version: If you need nut-free or prefer not to use cashews, then try this Creamy Chipotle Sauce made with either dairy-free yogurt or silken tofu instead!
Add sweetness: Pour in a tablespoon (more/less) of pure maple syrup or your own favorite sweetener for a touch of sweetness.
Flavors: Change it up with your own favorite seasonings or add more of the ones listed. Try chili powder, ancho chili powder, ground cumin, sweet paprika, dried oregano, or anything else that sounds good.
Fresh herbs: Pulse in some chopped fresh cilantro after blending the sauce together. You don't want to completely blend it in or else the sauce will turn a greenish color. Just a couple pulses to incorporate it works great.
Condiment: Drizzle this sauce over your tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, fajitas, rice bowls, burrito bowls, enchiladas, taco salad, veggie burgers, baked potatoes, sandwiches, wraps, the list goes on. I'd love to hear all the ways you find to enjoy it!
Dipping sauce: Serve it as a dip with your favorite tortilla chips, whole grain crackers, oven fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, roasted vegetables, etc. It's a great option for an appetizer, side dish, or even party platters.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. (I store mine in a sealed mason glass jar.) Stir again before using.
Chipotle Crema (Vegan!)
- 3/4 cup raw cashews (soaked*)
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Place all ingredients in a small high-speed blender. (I use a NutriBullet.) Blend for 20-30 seconds until smooth.
- Taste and adjust if needed. (More water for a thinner sauce, more salt, vinegar/lime juice for acidity, or more chipotle or adobo sauce for spicier.)
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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