This vegan Irish whiskey sauce is loaded with flavor from mushrooms, herbs, garlic, creamy cashews and half a cup of Irish whiskey. Serve it for dinner this St. Patrick's Day over my grilled tofu steaks in an Irish whiskey marinade (recipe coming next) for a double whammy of deliciousness.
I can't claim any Irish heritage, but I've rarely felt as close a connection to any country as I did when we visited Ireland a couple of years ago.
This is a beautiful land, home to friendly people with a wicked sense of humor and a fabled love for drinking. Ask an Irishman for directions, they say, and they'll probably take you there themselves. This is exactly what happened on our very first day in Dublin.
What made the experience of being in Ireland all the more fun was the food. Looking in from the outside, one's view of Irish food might be limited to colcannon, boxty, shepherd's pie and meat stew. All washed down with whiskey and Guinness.
But the food we encountered on the ground was anything but limited in terms of creativity and imagination. There was a plethora of tasty options to be found, even in pubs, even for a vegan.
I came home with lots of lovely memories, and an urge to try so many of the wonderful foods I had encountered or admired on Desi's omnivore plate. One of those was a creamy, gorgeous Irish whiskey sauce.
This vegan version I have for you today is all that, and more.
One of the key flavor ingredients in this sauce is Irish whiskey. In case you're wondering, Barnivore affirms that all Irish whiskey is vegan, including Jameson's, which I used.
I am not a big whisky drinker, although I do occasionally enjoy a nip of Desi's single malt Scotch. (Irish whiskey, spelled with an "e" like the American version, differs from Scotch in a few key ways, including a smoother flavor and a lighter color.) But I do love cooking with whisky. While beers like Guinness can be assertive and work well in dishes like hearty stews, whiskey, in my opinion, is a better option for sauces where it adds richness without too much personality.
Whiskey definitely makes this vegan Irish Whiskey Sauce a keeper. Even if you are not an alcohol drinker, it is well worth trying it out here. The alcohol cooks out leaving just pure deliciousness behind, and you won't taste it nor will you get drunk (if you really think that's a good thing ;))
What you'll love about this vegan Irish Whiskey Sauce
- It's smooth and creamy
- It's delicious
- It's full of flavor from the whiskey and mushrooms. Herbs add a pop of flavor.
- It's super easy to make.
- It's healthy
- It's certified kid friendly! Jay, for once, didn't even bat an eyelid at the mushrooms.
Tips and tricks
- Soak the cashews for the sauce about 30 minutes ahead of blending, for a smooth texture. A high powered blender will do the trick even if you don't soak, but soaking the cashews doesn't hurt either way.
- Allergic to nuts? Use pumpkin seeds instead of cashews. Make sure they are raw.
- There is flour in the recipe, to thicken the sauce. You can use all purpose, or, if gluten-free, use rice flour or gluten-free flour.
- Make sure you cook out the alcohol in the whiskey. To do this, after you add the whiskey, let most of it reduce and disappear. Then add the remaining ingredients.
- I use crimini mushrooms in the recipe, but any mushroom would work here, including wild mushrooms or dry mushrooms. If using dry mushrooms reconstitute them by soaking in hot water for 30 minutes. You can use the soaking water to replace some of the stock in the recipe.
- Use mushroom stock for more umami. I'll share my mushroom stock recipe at some point soon but basically you can just throw in a few mushrooms with some aromatics into a pot, boil them, and let them simmer on a low fire for about an hour. As I often tell you on this blog, mushrooms have the elusive fifth taste found in meat. and they add a big wallop of flavor--a characteristic that makes them invaluable in vegan cooking. Although you have mushrooms in this recipe, adding mushroom stock will only enhance the flavor even more. If you don't have it, however, a regular vegetable stock will work just fine.
- Use lots of herbs. I add rosemary and sage, which are great, smoky flavors in this sauce. You could sub with thyme or oregano--either would work here. Finish with a shower of parsley.
Make ahead and freezing
This sauce can be made up to three days ahead. Refrigerate after it cools down.
You can freeze it for longer periods, up to three months.
What to serve this sauce with
I love serving these vegan Irish Whiskey Marinated Tofu Steaks with this sauce. Together, they make a hearty, hefty and delicious meal anyone would love.
You can use the same marinade for tempeh or cauliflower steaks.
This sauce would also be great with a ribbon pasta like fettuccine, or with vegan meatballs.
More tasty vegan Irish recipes
- Vegan Irish Hand Pies
- Vegan Irish Shepherd's Pie
- Vegan Colcannon (with Sauerkraut)
- Vegan Cabbage, Leek and Potato Tart
- Vegan Irish Leek and Potato Soup
Vegan Irish Whiskey Sauce
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion (minced)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed and minced)
- 1 heaping tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms (or button mushrooms, cut into slices or chopped. You can also use wild mushrooms, or dry mushrooms. If using dry mushrooms, reconstitute them by soaking in hot water for 30 minutes. You can use the soaking water in lieu of stock in the recipe)
- ½ cup Irish whiskey (Jameson's is vegan, as are a few other brands)
- 1 tsp rosemary (dry. Use 1 tbsp if using fresh rosemary)
- 1 tsp sage (dry. Use 1 tbsp if using fresh sage)
- 2 tbsp flour (either all purpose or gluten-free are fine)
- 3 cups vegetable stock (mushroom stock is even better, Or use the water remaining from soaking dry mushrooms)
- 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce (optional. Use more soy sauce or tamari instead)
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp parsley (chopped)
- Soak the cashews in ½ cup of the vegetable stock for 30 minutes. You can skip this step if you've got a high-powered blender. Blitz into a very smooth cream and set aside.
- In a saucepan or wide skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the onions turn translucent but are not yet beginning to brown.
- Add the mustard and the mushrooms to the pot and saute until the mushrooms soften, a couple of minutes.
- Add the whiskey to the pot and mix in. Wait until most of the liquid in the pot has evaporated. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking. This should take no more than 5 minutes.
- Add the herbs to the pot, then mix in the flour until the mushrooms have absorbed it.
- Add the remaining vegetable stock along with the tamari and the worcestershire sauce and mix in. Bring to a boil and let the sauce simmer five minutes.
- Stir in the cashew paste, which should further thicken the sauce a bit. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add more vegtable stock. If you want it thicker, let it continue to reduce a bit longer over heat.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.