Dairy-free thickened “cream” to serve with fruit, pies, tarts and cakes

I’ve been craving stewed fruit and thickened cream for the last few weeks. So last night, thanks to getting some extra pears in our organic veggie delivery, I decided to whip up this simple thickened cream alternative.


(Stewed pears with a home-made dairy-free thickened cream alternative. Yum!)

Here’s how you make it:


  • 3/4 cup raw cashews soaked in water, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup rice milk (or any milk alternative which suits your diet)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rice malt syrup (or any sweetener that suits your diet)


  1. Add the cashews, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and sweetener to your food processor and blend for 30 sec – 1 minute.
  2. Scrape down the sides and add another 1/4 cup of the milk alternative (if you want a runnier thickened cream alternative you can pour the remaining milk in and blend one last time).
  3. Transfer to an airtight jar to chill in the fridge before serving.
  4. Store it in the fridge for up to 2 days – and discard it if you see any sign of pink developing.


Top tips:

Can I use vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract?

You could use the seeds of a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, but if you don’t have a high powered blender like Glenys or Hayley use on the show then I’d recommend using liquids as they’ll blend in better and you won’t be left with “gritty” bits.

Can I use a different sweetener?

As above, if you don’t have a high-speed blender like Glenys or Hayley use on the show I’d recommend using syrup based sweeteners instead of granulated sweeteners (like coconut sugar) as they’ll blend in better. Although if you wanted to use coconut sugar, you could dissolve it  in the milk alternative first (you may need to heat it up to help it dissolve better). Also, you can add a little more sweetener if you prefer.

Other top tips:

To get a fine puree, you may need to scrape down the sides a few times between blending to ensure all the cashews are ground up. (Also check around the base near the blade with your spatula as this is a spot where “chunky pieces” can collect (obviously make sure everything is turned off!:-) NB. The blades are quite sharp and if you’re not careful you can lose a piece of your spatula (I’ve done this before – so it’s helpful to have a bright coloured spatula;-)

What about if I can’t have nuts?

If you can’t have cashews, but you can eat coconut, then you might like to check out this thickened cream alternative recipe using coconut cream. If you can’t tolerate tree nuts at all, you can find commercial dairy-free whipped cream alternatives in many supermarkets now, so keep a lookout for them at your local shops. I’ve seen a rice-based whipped cream alternative, and a soy one.

How can I learn more about cooking with alternatives?

Making alternatives that suit your diet involves a combination of understanding which foods you can substitute in recipes, the roles those foods play in recipes and the right tools and technique for the job (eg. You can’t make the cream above very well with a stick blender). We cover how to do all of this in our Episodes and our Recipe Books.