Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry


Mooove over, real cream - this curry is made rich and creamy with (cow-free) cashew cream, which is remarkably similar to heavy cream in appearance, taste, and in-sauce behavior. In fact, cashew cream actually thickens up faster. Make this straightforward recipe with some garam masala, and garnish with whole cashews, lime wedges, and cilantro. Serve with rice, garlic naan, or both!

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 50 mins
8 servings


For the Spice Mix:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 2 cups cold water

  • ¾ cup whole roasted cashews

  • cup sliced green onions

  • cup freshly chopped cilantro

  • 1 lime, juiced


  1. Mix salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, and garam masala together in a small bowl.

  2. Cut a chicken thigh in half lengthwise along the crease. Halve the thicker portion to end up with three 2-inch pieces. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs.

  3. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Add oil and about 1/2 of the spice blend; mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 4 to 12 hours.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan over high heat until melted and golden brown. Add the chicken in a single layer. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Return chicken and accumulated juices to the bowl.

  5. Heat remaining butter in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, remaining spice blend, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger. Cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices.

  6. Combine water and cashews in a blender; blend on high speed until very smooth. Stir cashew cream into the pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in green onions and cilantro; taste for seasoning. Squeeze in lime juice.

    close up view of Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry over white rice, garnished with fresh herbs and a lime wedge in a black bowl
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Feel free to substitute garam masala with any other prepared curry spice blends.

After adding the cashew cream, you can simmer this for as little as 5 to 10 minutes, or just until the chicken is cooked. Or you can reduce the heat and simmer for up to 45 minutes, depending on how thick you want your sauce.

Try this with my recipe for garlic naan.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

287 Calories
19g Fat
9g Carbs
22g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 287
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 824mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 7mg 36%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 346mg 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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