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Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing {oil-free vinaigrette}

Salad dressing without oil? Yes! My creamy cashew salad dressing is the solution. This oil-free vinaigrette is naturally vegan and takes about 2 minutes to make in your blender.
Glass bottle filled with creamy cashew dressing. Salad is in the background in a metal dish.

The Best Salad Dressing is a Vinaigrette

I grew up with one version of salad dressing: vinaigrette.

My family ate green salads often. Make that very often. The greens varied (hearts of Romaine, mesclun, bib lettuce, butter lettuce, arugula, red leaf, you name it). But the dressing was constant: 3 parts virgin olive oil, 1 part vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. It’s perfect, and, creature of habit that I am, it’s still my preferred way to eat salad.

Habits are hard to break, so I opt to bend instead. For example, by making a newfangled, nourishing vinaigrette that simultaneously thrills my taste buds: my Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing (an oil-free vinaigrette).

Metal bowl with gold handles filled with mixed baby lettuce and topped with a cashew based oil-free vinaigrette

How to Make Salad Dressing without Oil

My bendy compromise is a velvety, creamy, oil-free vinaigrette. No magic required, just a blender. And some raw cashews. 

You may have tried one or more bottled, oil-free salad dressings. They taste like despair. Or perhaps you sprinkled your greens with plain vinegar for an aseptic jolt. Life is too short for either option.

Instead, give my delectable dressing a go. Blended raw cashews make a luscious cream (for use in everything from chocolate truffles to alfredo sauce). Thin the cream, add some traditional flavorings and you have the makings of a creamy vinaigrette, ideal for any and all lettuces. 

It’s so creamy and lush, you would swear it has oil, mayonnaise or cream of some sort, but it’s all the result of humble cashews.

Ingredients for Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing

In addition to raw cashews, you will need the following:

  • Vinegar (you pick: red wine, white wine, balsamic, sherry, apple cider, etc).
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic
  • Seasonings (salt, pepper, dried herbs, an optional touch of sweetener)
Ingredients for creamy cashew salad dressing, including rawcashews, vinegar, garlic, mustard and herbs

How to Make the Salad Dressing

Step One: Soak the Cashew in Boiling Water

Place the cashews in a bowl. Add enough boiling water to the bowl to cover the cashews. Soak 10 minutes and then drain the cashews.

Step Two: Blend the Ingredients

Place the drained cashews and the remaining ingredients in a blender (high-speed, if you have one).

Blend until completely smooth. I recommend stopping once of twice to scrape the sides of the container for any stray bits.

Blender filled with the ingredients for cashew salad dressing, before blending

Step Three: Adjust Seasonings

Taste the dressing and adjust any of the seasonings (more vinegar? more salt? Another clove of garlic?), and blend again, as needed.

Blender filled with the ingredients for cashew salad dressing, after blending

Step Four: Refrigerate to Thicken the Dressing

The dressing will seem thin immediately after blending. Fear not, it is not quite finished.

The last step is to chill the dressing. Give it at least 2 hours, and then give a brief re-shake or whisk, as needed. It will have a thickness in between a classic oil-based vinaigrette and Ranch dressing.

Gass bottle of creamy cashew salad dressing, close up

How to Use the Dressing

Use the dressing on any and all of your favorite salads in the days and weeks to come. It coats lettuce like a dream, but don’t stop there. It’s wonderful on potato salads, slaws, chopped vegetable salads, and drizzled over grilled vegetables. 

Like any vinaigrette, you can adjust the flavorings as much as you like. For example, different dried or fresh herbs, lemon or lime juice in place of all or part of the vinegar, spices, additional sweetness (e.g., for slaws), and more. 

Cashew salad dressing drizzled over mixed baby lettuce in a metal dish

Happy blending, everyone!

Cashews salad dressing drizzled over salad greens

More Delicious Cashew Recipes:

Yield: About 2 cups (16 oz)

Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing {oil-free vinaigrette}

Glass bottle filled with creamy cashew dressing. Salad is in the background in a metal dish.

Love a good vinaigrette, but not the oil? If so, you will go nuts for my creamy cashew salad dressing. This oil-free vinaigrette takes about 2 minutes to make in your blender & keeps for weeks.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (150 g/ 5.3 oz) raw cashews
  • boiling water to cover
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (325 mL) cold water
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoons (52 mL) vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sweetener (e.g., coconut sugar, maple syrup, cane sugar)

Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews (in enough boiling water) to cover for 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Process on high until completely blended and smooth, stopping to scrape down the container once or twice (note: the dressing will be fairly thin at this point).
  3. Taste the dressing; adjust any of the seasonings to taste (e.g., salt, pepper, herbs, vinegar, garlic) and re-blend as needed.
  4. Pour the dressing into a jar or other container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to thicken.
  5. Shake the container, as needed, to remix the dressing.

Notes

Storage: Store the dressing in an airtight jar or other container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Vinegar Options: You can use the vinegar option you prefer. For example, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

2 tablespoons (30 mL)

Amount Per Serving Calories 46.5Total Fat 3.5gSaturated Fat 0.5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 124mgCarbohydrates 2.1gFiber 0.5gSugar 0.5gProtein 1.3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Marc

Friday 27th of May 2022

Excellent recipe. I made a slight modification, 1/2 cup of soaked cashews and 1/2 cup of raw sesame seeds just to change up the nutrition profile. Unlike a lot of oil free dressings it's very balanced, this is going to me house dressing from on. I'm going to try it on steamed vegetables, I think it will go great with them too.

Camilla

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Ooh, I am going to try your adaptation with the sesame seeds TODAY, that sounds so good, Marc. I use this dressing on steamed vegetables all the time, hope you like it that way, too :)

Theo

Friday 11th of March 2022

Did you soak the cashews first?

Camilla

Thursday 17th of March 2022

Yes :)

Teresa

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

This recipe is sooo delicious!! It's my new favorite! Thankyou for posting. It's so hard to find delicious, healthy recipes. I can't wait to try more of your recipes!

Camilla

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Fantastic, Teresa!!!

Sarah

Monday 22nd of February 2021

I stumbled onto your website yesterday and made this salad dressing today. It is AMAZING! I used balsamic and had to stop myself from drinking it. I’m so excited to find a good dressing that will keep in the refrigerator.

Camilla

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

I am so glad you found my site and that you enjoyed the dressing, Sarah!

Natalie

Thursday 4th of June 2020

Oh wow, this looks amazing! I am definitely trying this with balsamic vinegar soon!

Camilla

Thursday 4th of June 2020

I hope you like it, Natalie! I have made it with balsamic, love it :)

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