This Vegan Chipotle Crema is creamy, smoky, and so tasty! It’s perfect as a dip for tortilla chips or drizzled over tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burritos, and more! This recipe needs just 5 ingredients and is made in just minutes!
If you’re looking to elevate a dish from good to great, you know that the sauce makes the meal!
This Vegan Chipotle Crema is quick and easy to make and is so versatile. The smoky, tangy, spicy flavors pair so well with a variety of dishes.
It’s so good, you’ll want to drizzle it on everything!
Ingredients you need
Ingredients notes and substitutions
Cashews ~ Raw cashews is what you want to use here. They have a mild flavor and they blend up super creamy making them a great alternative for typical dairy-based sauces.
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce ~ Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapeño peppers. The ones that come canned in adobo sauce have been rehydrated. The sauce is a rich, smoky, tangy tomato based sauce.
For this spicy Mexican crema recipe, you’ll need 1 to 2 of the peppers and a tablespoon of the sauce.
Chipotles in adobo sauce are spicy and most recipes call for using just 1 or 2 peppers from the can. Use leftovers to make my Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce and freeze the rest if you won’t be using them right away. They can be frozen for up to 6 months.
You can find canned chipotles in adobo sauce in the international aisle of grocery stores, near the jarred salsas, taco sauce, and canned diced green chiles.
Pineapple juice ~ I like a little sweetness added to this chipotle sauce. Pineapple juice from a can of pineapple works great! It adds extra liquid that we need to make it saucy and the pineapple flavor pairs so well with the spicy, smoky heat of the peppers.
Our favorite way to use this sauce is drizzled over Black Bean Patties topped with Pineapple Avocado Salsa. It’s such a great combination and a perfect way to use up the whole can of pineapple and juice!
If you don’t have pineapple juice, you can use orange juice or apple juice. Or just use water and add a tablespoon or two of pure maple syrup if you want to sweeten it up.
Lime ~ A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds a nice tang.
I have used apple cider vinegar as a substitute in the past and it works great as well.
Salt ~ A pinch of salt rounds out the flavors.
Extas ~ Feel free to add a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, or smoked paprika to enhance the flavors even more.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
After soaking the cashews, drain them and add them to a high speed blender, along with all other ingredients, except water.
Blend until smooth, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
Note: I do not recommend making this sauce in a food processor. The cashews won’t blend quite as creamy and may result in a gritty texture. And it definitely won’t work with an immersion blender.
A thicker consistency is great for dipping. A thinner consistency is great for drizzling.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store this Vegan Chipotle Crema in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze this spicy cream sauce. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag and freeze for up to 4 months.
Defrost in the fridge overnight. It will thicken, and possibly separate, as it sits, so you may need to reblend with additional liquid before serving.
Here are some of our favorite ways to use this creamy Vegan Chipotle Crema.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Be sure to soak the cashews in hot water so they blend up smooth and creamy.
~ For a nut-free alternative, use the same amount of soaked sunflower seeds or ¼ cup of dairy-free unsweetened plain soy yogurt or silken tofu.
~ Use just 1 chipotle pepper for a mild heat. Use 2 if you like a spicier sauce.
~ Add less water for a thicker chipotle crema sauce that’s perfect for dipping. Add more water for a thinner sauce that works best for drizzling.
Crema is the Spanish word for cream. Mexican crema is a dairy-based sauce made with buttermilk and heavy cream. It’s creamy and tangy and similar to American sour cream. Crema is typically used to top Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas.
Chipotle cream, or chipotle crema, is made from Mexican crema blended with chipotles in adobo sauce, lime juice, and Mexican spices. This vegan chipotle crema uses blended cashews instead of dairy.
While I definitely recommending making the recipe as is, you can substitute chipotle powder for the canned chipotles in adobo sauce if you are in a pinch. Use ½ to 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder depending on how spicy you like your sauce.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Chipotle Crema
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons water to thin
- Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse.
- Add the soaked cashews and all remaining ingredients, except water, to a high speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add water 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.
Recipe yields about 1 cup. Serving size estimated at 2 tablespoons.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.