Very creamy vegan grits with cashew cream

This plant-based twist on a classic comfort food has all of the creaminess with none of the dairy.

Contributed by Linda Shiue, MD

Very creamy vegan grits with cashew cream

It's been a busy summer for me, so I've been cooking very simply at home. But being the food lover I am, simple still has to mean tasty and satisfying, and here’s one recipe that fits the bill.

This is a recipe from a Thrive Kitchen class I taught on foods of the African diaspora, adapted from Bryant Terry's cookbook, Afro-Vegan. They’re grits like the grits you might be familiar with, but even better. The grits used here are yellow corn grits, also known as polenta, and they are creamy not only from all the stirring I will insist you do but from the genius vegan addition of cashew cream.

Plant-based eaters will be familiar with cashew cream, but for those of you who are not, consider yourselves introduced! This is nut milk’s creamier cousin and really works well wherever you might use heavy cream. I made these grits at home recently and topped them with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, but grilled asparagus and tender peas would also be lovely. This is great for lunch or a light dinner — and could definitely find a place at your brunch table this weekend. To your health!

Servings: 6 to 8

Cook time: 35 to 50 minutes, plus time to soak cashews and make cashew cream


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup yellow corn grits (stone-ground, not instant)
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup minced Italian parsley


  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Slowly pour in grits, whisking constantly until no lumps remain. Return to a boil, then turn down heat to low. Simmer uncovered, whisking occasionally to prevent sticking, until grits have absorbed most of the liquid and are beginning to thicken, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add remaining 1 cup water and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, until most of liquid has been absorbed. 
  4. Stir in the cashew cream, cover, and simmer, whisking frequently, until soft and fluffy, another 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Add parsley and whisk to combine. Serve immediately. 

To make cashew cream (vegan substitute for heavy cream)

Slow method: Soak 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews in enough water to cover until softened, at least 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Quick method: Add 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews and enough water to cover to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let soak for 15 minutes.

Once the cashews have finished soaking (either method), drain the soaked cashews. Place softened cashews and 1/2 cup of fresh water in a blender at high speed and blend until creamy and fluffy.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 135
  • Total fat: 6 g
  • Sodium: 278 mg
  • Total sugars: 0 g
Cashew cream (per tablespoon): 
  • Calories: 58
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 1 g
  • Sugar: 0