Whether you're hooked on sweetgreen or Trader Joe's Spicy Cashew Dressing, you're going to love this homemade copycat recipe! It's easy to make in just 5 minutes, incredibly flavorful, gluten free and vegan. Use it as a veggie dip, salad dressing or for drizzling over dozens of delicious bowls!
Making cashew salad dressings at home is a healthy and delicious way to add so much flavor to your life! They're creamy, but also dairy-free. Recipes like my Vegan Poblano Ranch Dressing and Creamy Vegan Chipotle Cashew Sauce are easy to make and use all week long.
I fell in love with Trader Joe's Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing and knew I had to recreate it so I could have it anytime! The cashew butter creates the perfect creamy texture, the cilantro and ginger offer a beautiful fresh flavor, while red pepper flakes give it a spicy kick.
So mix up this spicy cashew salad dressing in 5 minutes, then drizzle it all over salads, bowls, veggies, and more!
- Cashew butter - in the grocery store, this can be found in the aisle next to the peanut butter, near the nuts in the bulk food section at some grocery stores, or sometimes in the refrigerated section, near the vegan foods, like tofu and tempeh.
- Note: you can also use ½ cup soaked cashews instead of cashew butter. To do this, add the cashews to a small pot, cover the cashews with water. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and cover. Wait 15 minutes, then remove the lid from the pot and drain the cashews.
- Olive oil - the extra-virgin olive oil will contribute to the flavor of the dressing, so it's best to choose an olive oil that you enjoy the taste of on its own. You can also use another mild oil such as avocado oil or sunflower oil.
- Rice vinegar - you can find this either with the vinegars or next to the soy sauce in your grocery store. It has a subtly sweet taste that's the perfect complement to the other ingredients. In a pinch you can try using white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead, just note that it will result in a slight taste difference.
- Sesame oil - this will likely be in the Asian section of the grocery store, or next to the other oils.
- Maple syrup - this is my preferred sweetener for the sauce, but you could also use honey or agave nectar.
- Lime juice - fresh-squeezed lime juice will always give you the best flavor.
- Ginger puree - this will be in the refrigerated case in the produce section, usually in a tube, but sometimes in a jar.
- Fresh cilantro - you can use both the leaves and stems in this recipe.
- Garlic cloves - freshly minced garlic will give you the best results.
- Umami seasoning <-- click the link to learn how to easily make your own! Pre-made mixes are also available at Trader Joes, or other major grocery stores. In a pinch, you can substitute the seasoning mix with ½ teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon onion powder.
- Crushed red pepper flakes - add more or less to fit your spice preference.
Step by step instructions
- Blend the ingredients. Add all of the ingredients to a blender, or food processor, and blend until smooth. I use a Nutribullet to both blend and store the sauce.
Seriously, that’s it! One step and you’re done!
Frequently asked questions
- How long will it last in the refrigerator? This sauce will last for up to one week. Seal it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator.
- How spicy is it? This dressing is both sweet and spicy, but it does have a slight kick to it! If you'd like to reduce the spice level, you can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes added to the dressing.
- What does it taste like? The flavor of the cilantro and fresh ginger really stand out creating a fresh taste, while the red pepper flakes give it some heat and the maple syrup gives it a slight sweetness.
- How many calories are in the dressing? There are 60 calories per tablespoon in this spicy cashew dressing recipe.
- Is it gluten free? Yes, all of the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten free.
How to use it
There is no wrong way to use this Spicy Cashew Dressing! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- As a salad dressing - use it with your favorite salad, try it on this Blackened Chicken Salad, or toss it with fresh greens like spinach, kale or arugula. Load up the salad with carrots, cucumber, edamame, and broccoli. You can also make a taco salad with vegan taco meat, corn, beans, and avocado! Or, try it on a Veggie Fajita Salad.
- As a bowl topper - like in the Chicken and Wild Rice Bowls seen pictured above! It will also taste great on a fish taco bowl or your favorite buddha bowls.
- Drizzle it over roasted vegetables - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, and potatoes will all taste great with this sauce!
- As a vegetable dip - pair this dressing with crisp celery, pepper strips, carrot sticks, or jicama for a healthy snack.
- On grilled meats - slather it all over a juicy grilled steak, chicken breasts, or pork chops.
- As a sandwich spread - use this on your favorite deli or veggie sandwiches for a fresh and spicy kick!
More sauces and salad dressings
Looking for more healthy sauces and salad dressings? Check out these popular recipes!
- Zhoug Sauce (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) - another Trader Joe's copycat recipe that I can't get enough of!
- Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing - another Trader Joe's copycat win! This salad dressing is fresh, healthy and so flavorful!
- Whole30 BBQ Sauce
- Garlic Tahini Sauce
- Chipotle Vinaigrette Dressing
- Creamy Vegan Chipotle Sauce - the most popular recipe on the blog for 3 years running, with all 5 star reviews!
- Sweet Sesame Sauce
Spicy Cashew Dressing
- ½ cup cashew butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lime juice fresh-squeezed
- 2 teaspoons ginger puree
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon umami seasoning or ½ teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- This recipe makes approximately 12 ounces of sauce. The nutritional information provided is for 1 ounce of sauce, which equals 2 tablespoons.
- This recipe makes a thick dressing. If you'd like a thinner dressing, add 1 tablespoon water.
- This recipe is naturally gluten free and vegan.
- Leftover sauce will last for up to one week. Seal it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator.
- To reduce the amount of spice in the sauce, reduce or omit the red pepper flakes.