The Best Homemade Mexican Crema Vegana Recipe
Are you looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to Mexican crema? Look no further than this creamy, tangy and rich crema vegana recipe!
A drizzle of vegan crema is the special extra touch that all of your favorite Mexican dishes and recipes need.
This dairy free, nut free,soy free, gluten-free, and oil-free crema vegana recipe, or Mexican sour cream, needs just 5 ingredients!
It’s incredibly easy to make and so delicious that you’ll soon want to be pouring it over all of your favorite foods.
Amigos, in this recipe I’m going to guide you through everything you need to know about making a perfect vegan crema – and why it’s a great alternative to the traditional dairy Mexican crema.
What is Mexican Crema
Crema or crema fresca is a creamy and slightly tangy dairy-based condiment sauce used in Mexican cuisine that pairs well with spicy foods.
Mexican crema is quite unique and not exactly the same as American sour cream. The American kind is more tart or tangy than the creamier Mexican variety.
In a pinch you could interchange them, but if you’re looking for that extra tartness of the American version you won’t find Mexican crema as strong. So the American kind may not suit all recipes.
The closest “sour cream” to crema or a good substitute would be French crème fraîche or the one used in Eastern European cuisine called smetana.
Some people make their own dairy based Mexican crema by blending a combination of heavy cream with buttermilk, lime juice and salt. Others also mix in regular sour cream.
Types of Mexican Crema
In Mexico we use thin crema to drizzle over our food as a topping and we occasionally cook with thicker ones too — actually, we also make desserts with it too.
If you’ve ever been in a Mexican food store chances are you’ve seen crema, crema fresca and crema agria.
The difference between these Mexican cremas is in the way they are produced, and the level of tartness they each have.
Crema and crema fresca tend to be on the milder more neutral taste, but still have a slight tartness to them. Whereas, crema agria is more like American sour cream.
Mexican Vegan Crema
Crema vegana is a dairy-free vegan alternative to the traditional Mexican crema.
It’s a popular topping used in many vegan Mexican dishes and with just a few simple ingredients you can make it at home.
I promise it’ll become your favorite perfect topping for tacos de papa, sopa and so much more!
Why Choose Vegan Crema?
There are so many great reasons to choose crema vegana over the traditional dairy Mexican crema. Here are just a few.
- Healthier: Vegan crema doesn’t contain any animal products, so it’s cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat, and contains beneficial nutrients like plant protein and healthy fats.
- Better for The Environment: Plant-based foods have a lower carbon footprint.
- Everyone Loves It: Vegan crema is a delicious treat that can be enjoyed by everyone. In fact many people can’t see a huge difference between the two types.
- Tastes So Delicious: Mexican crema vegana is rich, creamy, a little tangy and it complements so many Mexican dishes.
Ingredients Needed for Crema Vegana
To make homemade crema vegana or Mexican cream you need just a few basic simple ingredients that are pantry staples for just about everyone.
- Almonds: Buy them whole and with the skin still on, they’re cheaper this way.
- Water: To blend the ingredients.
- Corn Starch: To thicken up the cream a bit.
- Fresh Lime Juice: For that tangy touch.
- Salt: To bring out the flavors.
There are some people that some people that also like to add additional seasonings like onion powder or even garlic. This is up to you.
Other versions of this vegan sour cream are to add herbs or even avocado to make different flavors.
Almond Vegan Sour Cream
The magical main ingredient used in my vegan crema recipe is almonds.
Yes, almonds, isn’t that crazy?!
Some people like to use cashews but those aren’t as easy to find raw and unsalted, plus they’re a lot more expensive than almonds.
We want to use whole almonds with their skin still on them. You can buy them just about anywhere. Just make sure they’re unsalted.
To remove their skin we need to soak overnight or blanch them.
Blanching means to quickly submerge something in hot liquid, but you’re not cooking it nor killing off vital vitamins and nutrients. In the case of almonds all we’re doing it helping to release the skin for easy peeling.
You could use store-bought blanched or peeled almonds but I highly recommend you either blanch them yourself, or soak them overnight to so you can insure optimum freshness of the almonds.
Watch my video on how to easily and quickly blanch almonds here.
Mexican Crema Vegana F.A.Q
Can I use a different type of nut to make vegan crema?
Yes, you can use other nuts like cashew or even macadamia nuts, but the consistency and flavor may be slightly different than my almond version.
Can I use lemon juice instead of lime juice?
Yes you can, the taste will be a bit different but still delicious.
How long can vegan crema be stored in the refrigerator?
It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Well, that is if you don’t eat it all before then!
What are some dishes that I can use vegan crema in?
You can use it as a topping for tacos, burritos, nachos, sauces, pasta, desserts, or to make dips for veggies or tortilla chips.
What About Tofu Crema?
There are many people that like to make vegan crema with tofu, I haven’t done it yet.
How to Make Vegan Crema at Home
While it’s easy to go out and buy vegan crema alternatives, making it at home is quite easy. An added benefit is that you’ll be sure no strange ingredients went into it.
You’ll notice in the recipe that I’ve given you two options for this recipe.
The first option is for “sour” cream, which is made tart by simply adding lime juice to get that slight tartness of sour cream.
The second option is for “neutral” crema, which isn’t tart and can be used for desserts or recipes where you don’t want that slight tartness. You could even add a sweetener to it when making desserts.
You could prepare the recipe then separate half before adding the lime juice and have two different creams to use each version for your different needs!
1. Soak and Blend
Soak the almonds overnight with plenty of water, and place in the refrigerator. Soak at least 8 hours.
The next day, drain and rinse the soaked almonds. Peel away the skin from all of the almonds.
Place the peeled almonds, water, cornstarch and salt in the blender and puree until a smooth texture is achieved.
Using either a nut bag or a fine mesh sieve, strain the liquid into a bowl. Use a spoon to push down on the pulp and get all the liquid out.
Don’t Toss Out The Almond Pulp
Make sure you save all of the almond pulp from this recipe. I use it to make a delicious vegan almond “cheese”.
The cheese can be made and used like a dairy-free cheese spread or a vegan cotija alternative.
Get the recipe by going to the page here.
2. Cooking The Crema
Once everything is blended the crema needs to be cooked in a large pan.
Carefully pour in the almond “milk” into a large pan. Turn heat to medium-low and stir until it begins to thicken up. It should coat the spoon.
This step is done to help thicken it up and give the mixture that thicker and creamy smooth texture of regular crema.
This step is probably the most involved because you’ll have to keep stirring to prevent bubbling over and burning of the crema.
3. Add The Lime Juice
The last step, once the desired consistency has been achieved, is to remove the pan from the heat and mix in the lime juice if you’re wanting to make this a sour cream or crema agria.
Add salt as desired and give the crema a taste test.
Pour the crema into a container and allowed to cool down.
Once it has come to room temperature the crema may be stored in the refrigerator to use cold later as desired.
What Does Vegan Crema Taste Like
The result is a creamy, thick texture that drizzles and spreads on smoothly.
The taste, well it’s insane how much like regular dairy this crema tastes. It doesn’t have a strong almond or almond milk taste.
This crema makes the best non-dairy sour cream substitute I have tasted thus far!
How to Serve
This creamy, thick, delicous vegan crema can be used in countless of ways. Below are some ideas.
- Espaguetti Verde or Creamy Poblano Pepper Pasta
- Rajas con Crema or Poblano Pepper Strips in Cream Sauce
- Mexican White Spaghetti
- Top desserts with the less tart crema
- Use it on Esquites
- Top Tortas de Milanesa
- Torta de Jamon
- Sopa de Habas
- Tinga Tostadas
- Enchildas or Enfrijoladas
How To Store Crema Vegana
Allow to come to room temperature then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’ll keep fresh for up to 6 or 7 days.
Mexican Crema Vegana Recipe
Vegan crema is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional Mexican crema.
With a few simple ingredients, you can enjoy this delicious creamy sauce and jazz up all of your favorite meatless or vegan Mexican dishes.
This vegan version is cruelty-free, healthier than dairy-based, has authentic Mexican flavors, and it’s so incredibly easy to make!
Thank you amigos for stopping by, I really hope you give this crema a try sometime. Have a beautiful day!!
Vegan Crema | Vegan Sour Cream
- spatula or spoon
- glass container with lid for storing
- 1/2 cup almonds soaked & skin removed
- 2 cups water room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 small lime adjust to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- Soak the almonds overnight or for 8 hours until they plump up and become softer, drain before using.
- One by one being removing the skin off of all the almonds. Place the almonds in the blender, half the salt, and 1/2 cup of water and blend for a couple of minutes. Add all the cornstarch, the remaining water and blend until completely smooth. Place a colander over a small bowl and pour the mixture into and strain into the bowl. Squeeze out as much water from the remaining pulp and set the pulp aside to make my almond cheese.
- Pour the strained liquid into a large deep pan and over medium heat cook the mixture until it thickens. This will take about 10 minutes.It's very important that you keep stirring the whole time to prevent it burning or bubbling over. As it cooks you'll notice that little by little the cream begins to form as the mixture thickens.You'll know that the crema is ready when it has a thick creamy consistency. When ready, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes while you keep stirring it.
- Once allowed to cool slightly, little by little add freshly squeezed lime juice and salt to the crema. Stir until well combined, allow to sit a couple of minutes, then taste and if needed add a bit more lime juice and/or salt until you get the tartness you're happy with.
- Pour into a container and if serving it right away allow to cool a bit more, otherwise store in the fridge covered for up to 7 days. Enjoy it over all of your favorite Mexican dishes, or as desired.
To Make a Neutral Crema:
- If you want a more neutral tasting crema you can simply omit the lime juice and additional salt. Let cool completely before storing.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…
I wonder what you might suggest for a non-vegan alternative to Mexican crema? Perhaps some sour cream mixed with whipping cream or… ?
Creme fraiche, Frank! It’s the best alternative and second to that I would say the heavy cream mixed into sour cream. But really even just American sour cream is a decent alternative, we used it growing up before there were Mexican markets in our neighbourhood.
Wow I can’t wait to try this! So happy I found your website. Muchas gracias!
Thanks so much, Zara!
Did you by any chance test with raw cashews as well? Just wondering ….
No I have never used cashews, but I’ve seen lots of recipes where people do to make sour cream and vegan cream cheese. Give it a try and see if you like it. Enjoy! Thanks!
Just found this recipe – thank you, it looks fantastic! I wonder if it could be done starting with almond milk rather than blanching the almonds, etc. Have you tried that?
Hey Nancy, I love mexican food. This dressing is delicious, would be great on the Mexican spiced cauliflower quasadilla.
Hi Rahul! Thanks & yes absolutely you could quesadillas with the crema.
It says nut free but the recipe has almonds? Am I missing a link somewhere?
Hi Karey! Almonds are not considered nuts, they are actually a seed. Of course if you’re allergic to almonds then avoid them too!
Nancy, this looks like a wonderful recipe and I look forward to trying it. I would like to respectfully add my comment especially since it is food allergy awareness week). While almonds, in botany terms, are not a nut, they are considered a tree nut when it comes to allergies. That is critical if someone is serving this to others who are allergic.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Lisa!
great alternative for those that are vegan
Thank you, I think this tastes really good and a much cheaper alternative than store bought.
Lovely. I can’t wait to try
Thank you Michelle, enjoy!
Im making this and your cotija cheese
Let me know how you like it, enjoy!