cashew hummus

Steal This Meal: Cashew Hummus

All of you Whole30 participants know that discovering new foods that you can actually eat while staying on plan is a fantastic experience.  We had one such experience while visiting a local health food store in Fort Walton Beach, FL.  While browsing the produce section, we discovered a hummus substitute made not from chickpeas, but from cashews. The ingredients were 100% Whole30 approved, and included a base of cashews mixed with olive oil and a ton of fresh herbs and spices.  The locally-made 6 0z. tub was expensive as heck, but we bought it anyway, happy to have something new to try that day.  We dipped all of our veggies in the spread, and deemed it a delicious once-in-a-while treat.*

*Once in a while because it’s a dense source of fat, and as easy to over-eat as any other nut or nut butter.

The trouble is, we searched health food stores far and wide all across the country over the next two months, and never again discovered a similar product.  Undaunted, we did the only thing we could… and called in our resident (though virtual) Culinary Expert.  Of course, we’re talking about our good friend and gourmet goddess Melissa Joulwan, of the blog The Clothes Make the Girl. We knew Mel could come up with a recipe for our cashew pate that would be just as good – if not better – than the original.  Going on nothing but our description of the product, Mel created several varieties in her own laboratory (her Austin, TX kitchen), and enlisted some friends to taste-test the final product.  Here are the results from Mel and group:  “General consensus last night was that all of the varieties were tasty.  The olive variety was my favorite – the lemon and tahini flavors really come through so it taste the most hummus-like… even more than the base recipe.  Two others liked the roasted red pepper best, with the sun-dried tomato coming in a close second.”

We knew Mel could re-create our fabulous cashew pate, and we’re happy to share her unique creation with you here today. Here’s the base recipe, plus the info for making the different versions:  plain, olive, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato.

Cashew Hummus


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • water
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water for at least three hours. Drain and rinse a few times, then drain well and place in food processor.

2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and puree until well-blended. The texture will be very thick. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness. (To make a dip that didn’t drip, use 1/2 to 3/4 cups of water – added gradually to get the right consistency. Less water makes it edible with a fork; lots of water would turn it into salad dressing.)

3. Sprinkle the top with freshly chopped parsley before serving.

4.  For the variations, keep the base recipe the same and add the following:

  • Olive:  Add black olives to the mixture before blending. For canned olives, 20-30 is a good number. For fancier cured Greek olives, start with 10-15 and add more to taste.
  • Roasted Red Pepper: Add 1-2 roasted red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon paptrika to the mixture before blending. To roast peppers, cook on a grill or under the broiler until charred and soft. Place in paper bag for 10 minutes, then peel. Or take the easy route, and buy them in a jar at the store.
  • Sun-dried Tomato: Add 5-7 sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture before blending.

A big thank you to Mel for opening up her kitchen to us – and our readers – yet again. If you haven’t already, check out Mel’s fabulous “Dino-Chow recipes” on her web site, and get some inspiration to steal YOUR next meal!

Subscribe to the Whole9 Newsletter

Fill out the form below to stay updated about Whole9 articles, discounts and events.


  1. says

    Melissa and Dallas, you are WAY too nice to me. Thanks for the loving shout-out. And Whole9 readers, I’m really interested in what you think of this recipe. If you make it, please post back and give us the skinny on which version you made and if you liked it.

    I’m thinking that a drizzle of olive oil on the top would not be remiss.

  2. says

    Mmm… sounds tasty. Reminds me of a cashew sauce I once made as an alternative to an alfredo sauce — not that I’m eating pasta anymore, of course! On zucchini noodles, though…

    … aw, now look what you went and did! ;-)

  3. says

    @Mel: You’re genius, and everyone should know about your fabulous recipes. We’re lucky to have you on “virtual staff”! Love to Austin.

    @Adam: We dig zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash. Your cashew sauce sounds pretty darn good too!

  4. Alycia says

    Wow. Looks amazing. Thanks for including the warning about it being a ‘once in a while’ treat. I have a feeling a serving too large could send me on a nut butter/spread bender. I’m totally making the roasted rep pepper one for my next party.

  5. J.Spice says

    Wow! I can’t wait to make the sundried tomato version this weekend. They all look so yummy!!!

    Thanks for all the recipes you are posting on here. I’m pretty basic in the kitchen and the weekly recipes are really helping to keep my paleo lifestyle from becoming bland and boring:)

  6. says

    @Alycia: Let us know how it goes over! I’ve made bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds for Paleo Parties in the past, and damn if they don’t fly off the plate. They’re sugar-bombs for sure, but so yummy I can justify it as a once-in-a-while treat.

    @J Spice: When are you going to submit a Steal This Meal recipe? I’ve had your cooking, and you don’t give yourself enough credit. You’re super creative with vegetables, and I know you’re grilling every weekend these days… Get on it, girl!

  7. Adam says

    Sounds delicious.

    Here is another hommus alternative that is even more Paleo friendly (cashew haters). It is from Mario Batali’s (I know, a very unlikely paleo source) Spain: A Culinary Road Trip. This recipe is great and the book is amazing.

    Walnut Beet Dip:

    1 cup walnuts

    1 bunch large beets, roasted, peeled and cut into large chunks

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 tablespoons sesame tahini

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    sea salt

    Mix all ingredients together until the consistency of hommus.

  8. Brandy says

    @Adam, mmmm Walnuts and Beets! I am going to try that!

    @all So, ‘splain to me something, my understanding is that Cashews are not Paleo Approved…. not that that means anything extremely significant to me, as I am not a Paleo legalist. But if Cashews are sketchy, and Garbanzo beans are sketchy, why should I bend over backwards to make hummus with cashews rather than garbanzos? I mean, is it that big of a deal one way or the other? – Discuss.

    @melicious – you are the best! Thank you so much for sharing your cooking skillz with us all. I am benefiting so much from all that goodness!

  9. nicole v. says

    sounds awesome!

    i just (as in, like 10 minutes ago) tried my hand at some paleo hummus, except i tried it with zucchini, and added macadamia nuts (in addition to the other hummus basic ingredients) to it. the original plan was to use all mac nuts (and skip the zucchini altogether), but like you mention, making hummus with nuts makes it extra-specially fat-dense, so i figured adding zucchini would make it a little more…balanced.

    i think it worked.

    i definitely wanna try it this way, too though.

    food is good. yeah!

  10. says

    @Brandy: Cashews may not be technically “Paleo” according to the purists, but that’s not what we base our food recommendations on. We’ve done our homework and are okay with including them in moderation in your diet. Which means as a treat, a cashew hummus is good to go. (We’re assuming you’re doing only a tablespoon or two at a time on veggies, not hoovering the whole bowl.)

    @NicoleV: Love the zucchini and macadamia version!

  11. KimA says

    Made the roasted red pepper version over the Memorial Day Holiday. It was really difficult to not hoover the whole bowl. In one sitting. :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  12. Karl says


    I’ll pre-empt with the “I’m no expert” line but I’m with Brandy on this. My understanding (and I can chase up references if you like) is that Cashews are not technically a legume (they’re actually a seed) but, in terms of toxitiy to the human condition, Cashews are worse for you than peanuts and should be avoided completely.

    In the scheme of things, from my understanding, Chickpeas would be a better choice than cashews as they can be eaten raw straight from the plant . This would imply they are non toxic to humans. Whereas, Cashews contain toxic urushoil and need cooking to reduce/eliminate this prior to consumption. It is suggested that this cannot be removed completely.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  13. says


    Cashews are not a legume, that is correct. And (again) we don’t care whether something is “technically paleo” – we care about whether the downs sides of eating this food outweigh the up sides. As such, the whole “could you eat it raw” argument doesn’t hold much interest to me. After all, bitter zucchini and parsnips may contain potentially toxic compounds if eaten raw – but that doesn’t make them an unhealthy food choice.

    The defense mechanism of legumes (including chickpeas) are found in the SEED itself. When you eat the seed, you expose yourself to these anti-nutrients, many of which can’t be completely destroyed by soaking, cooking, fermenting or sprouting. In contrast, the defense mechanism of cashews include the hard outer shell, and a skin irritant external to the seed itself. (The urushiol is actually trapped between the two layers of the shell.) By consuming only the seed, you are encountering none of these “defense mechanisms” – therefore making cashews a healthy and “safe” food choice in our book.

    That having been said, we still don’t want you to OD on any nut or seed on a regular basis – but if you’re having a party or just really missing your hummus, using cashews as a base is a perfectly good choice for a once-in-a-while treat.



    That having been said,

  14. Dannielle says

    this was amazing.. loved the recipe… added the roasted red peppers and some sesame oil… it’s delicious!!!!