This creamless crema recipe packs heat

Chipotles and lemon juice flavor this cashew-based crema.
(Ren Fuller / For The Times)

Creamy and complex, this crema gets its richness from pureed cashews and is elevated by the addition of a chipotle in adobo. Spoon it all over vegan chilaquiles or any other dish. For the smoothest crema, soak the cashews overnight.

Vegan Chipotle Crema

10 minutes plus soaking. Makes about 1 ¼ cups.


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt


  1. Put the cashews in a medium bowl and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Soak until the cashews are softened, at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. When you squeeze a nut between your fingers, it should break apart easily. If soaking for longer than 1 hour, cover and refrigerate.
  2. Drain the cashews and rinse well. Transfer to a blender, along with the chipotle, lemon juice, ½ cup fresh water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until very smooth, scraping down the blender occasionally. If needed, add another ¼ to ½ cup fresh water to get the mixture to an extremely smooth crema consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Make ahead
The crema can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.