Heavy cream is a popular ingredient in many recipes, but on occasion, we may need to look for a good alternative, be it because we're out of it, or for a lighter option. Whether you are searching for an alternative with the same creamy texture, or for one with a lower fat content, I have done the work and ate my way through many options to find the best substitutes for heavy cream!
- What is Heavy Cream?
- Uses in Cooking
- What are the Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream?
- 1. Evaporated Milk
- 2. Greek Yogurt and Milk
- 3. Whole Milk and Butter
- 4. Skim Milk and Cornstarch
- 5. Half & Half and Butter
- 6. Heavy Whipping Cream Powder
- 7. Sour Cream
- 8. Cream Cheese and Milk
- Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes
- 9. Coconut Cream
- 10. Silken Tofu and Soya Milk
- 11. Cashew Cream
- 12. Soymilk and Olive Oil
- People Also Ask [FAQs]
- Wrap Up: Heavy Cream Substitute
What is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream, also known as whipping cream or heavy whipping cream, is a dairy product made from cow's milk.
It has a high-fat content (usually 36% or more) compared to light or half-and-half cream, and as a result, it's thicker and richer in taste. It is usually found in the dairy section of grocery stores, either in cartons or cups, sweetened or unsweetened.
Its texture and fattiness makes it ideal for certain cooking techniques, particularly when you need to thicken a sauce or create a whipped topping for your desserts.
Uses in Cooking
One of the most popular uses for heavy cream in cooking is to make whipped cream to top various pies, cakes, and other desserts, however, it can also be used to make ice cream or butter!
As a dairy product, heavy cream is ideal for adding to rich and flavorful soups, sauces, and curries, such as dal makhani, or chicken tikka masala!
It also adds a creamy flair to pasta dishes, like these mushroom pappardelle, and can even help tenderize meats, a bit like yogurt in some Indian recipes.
What are the Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream?
There are many ingredients that can be used as substitutes, however, keep in mind that these may change the flavor and texture of your dish, so adjust your measurements according to your taste, and choose the substitute for heavy cream as appropriate to the recipe you are creating.
Here's a list of my favorite heavy cream substitutes for your everyday cooking, microwave, stove-top, or baking recipes!
This includes a few vegan options, which I find extremely helpful during heatwaves when dairy may be a bit too heavy, and tend to reach for dairy-free alternatives from milk to yogurt, and everything in between!
1. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is one of the best substitutes for heavy cream, as it has a similar texture and is made by removing about 60% of its water through evaporation.
It has about 8% fat content, which is 78% less in proportion to heavy cream, so when using it you will see it is noticeably thinner and sweeter, however, it has a slightly caramelized taste.
This substitute works best in soups, pies, and desserts.
- When replacing heavy cream with evaporated milk, use the same amount of evaporated milk as your recipe calls for heavy cream.
2. Greek Yogurt and Milk
Mixing Greek yogurt with milk is another excellent replacement for heavy cream. This substitute has a lower fat content, about 5-7% of total fat - making it a healthier option.
This type of yogurt gives a creamy and tangy texture and combined with milk, it has a thickness and creaminess comparable to heavy cream.
This substitute works best in dips, dressings, smoothies, and chocolate mousse, and they are in fact, often found in lighter-option versions of these.
- When replacing heavy cream with Greek yogurt and milk, mix half a cup of the yogurt with a quarter-cup of milk.
3. Whole Milk and Butter
This substitute has a 7.5% fat content, which is significantly lower than heavy cream, and may not give you the same richness and texture.
Whole milk and butter are best for making mashed potatoes, creamy soups and stews, and pancake batter. Adding butter to the whole milk results in the creaminess and richness that heavy cream brings to your dish.
- When replacing heavy cream with whole milk and butter, melt one tablespoon of butter and then add three-quarters of a cup of whole milk.
4. Skim Milk and Cornstarch
Skim milk with cornstarch is an excellent substitute for heavy cream. It is virtually fat-free (0.1% and 0.3% usually), but when mixed with cornstarch, it thickens, creating a similar texture to heavy cream, although the flavor is not matched.
This substitute is good for use in cream of mushroom soup, macaroni and cheese, and Alfredo sauce, where other ingredients - like cheese - offer powerful flavors and richness. As cornstarch is a raw material, this alternative is best used in recipes that need further cooking.
- When replacing heavy cream with skim milk and cornstarch, dissolve two tablespoons of cornstarch in one cup of the milk, and use it in place of one cup of heavy cream.
5. Half & Half and Butter
One of the most common substitutes for heavy cream is a combination of half & half and butter.
- To replace 1 cup of heavy cream, just combine ¾ cup of half and half with ¼ cup of melted butter.
Half & Half contains about 10% to 12% butterfat, which is less than half of heavy cream's 36-40% butterfat content, however, adding butter to the mix compensates for that lower amount of fat, resulting in a rich texture.
This substitute works well in sauces such as Alfredo sauce and baked goods like light strawberry cake that require a slightly lower fat content than heavy cream.
6. Heavy Whipping Cream Powder
This is a dehydrated form of heavy cream that is convenient as it has a longer shelf life and is easily stored in the pantry. Also, it's simple to use!
- Simply combine ½ cup of the powder with 1 cup of water, stirring until the powder is completely dissolved, remembering to add the water gradually.
You can use this substitute in recipes that call for heavy cream with a 1:1 ratio.
7. Sour Cream
If you're looking for a heavy cream substitute with a tangy flavor, then sour cream is the way to go!
It has a similar thickness to heavy cream as it is quite fatty, but it adds a zesty flavor that can be quite appealing in some dishes.
As sour cream won't whip like heavy cream, it is perfect for use in savory dishes, such as baked potato soup, beef stroganoff, and even chocolate cake that call for a tangy taste.
- In recipes, you can use it in equal parts as you would heavy cream.
8. Cream Cheese and Milk
No doubt, this is my favorite substitute when cooking creamy pasta dishes, as it less fatty, and it can be made a bit more liquid in case the dish needs to be reheated later.
To create this alternative, simply mix lukewarm milk (whole, semi, or skim) with cream cheese, and add it to your dish; there may be knots of cheese left, however, they will dissolve while cooking.
- You can use this in a 1:1 ratio.
If you're looking for the best candidate to test this substitute, then this ham and mushroom pasta dish is the one to go for.
Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes
9. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is a popular and easy-to-find vegan substitute for heavy cream, as it's made from simmering coconut milk until it thickens and separates into a cream layer.
It has a high-fat content, around 22-24% in most brands, which makes it a good replacement for heavy cream in recipes that require a lot of richness and creaminess.
It has a slightly sweet coconut flavor that works well in coconut panna cotta, Thai curry, and chicken ramen soup.
- To replace one cup of heavy cream, use one cup of coconut cream.
10. Silken Tofu and Soya Milk
Silken tofu and soy milk can be combined to create a creamy and low-fat alternative to heavy cream. This type of tofu has a delicate texture that blends easily with other ingredients, while soy milk provides the liquid base. As the fat content of this substitute is around 4-5%, it is a healthier option.
You'll need a blender or food processor to achieve a smooth and silky consistency, eliminating the knots completely. Its neutral taste won't overpower other flavors, making it suitable for savory and sweet dishes alike.
- Use half cup of silken tofu and half a cup of soya milk to replace one cup of heavy cream.
11. Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is a rich and luxurious vegan substitute for heavy cream. To make it, you'll need to soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water overnight or for a few hours, then blend them with water until smooth.
This blending trick can be used with different kinds of nuts, and I often use it in Indian curries, such as this South Indian potato curry, where I made an almond cream.
The result is a thick and creamy mixture loaded with protein, several vitamins and minerals, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Cashew cream has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with desserts, pasta dishes, and dips, however, it can be a bit grainy if not blended thoroughly.
- Use one cup of this substitute to replace one cup of heavy cream.
12. Soymilk and Olive Oil
Soy milk and olive oil can be combined to create a vegan heavy cream substitute that's smooth and rich; you'll need to heat up the soymilk and whisk in a bit of olive oil until creamy.
The fat content of this substitute is around 14-16%, which is still less than heavy cream but more than other vegan alternatives, while still having a mild flavor that won't alter the taste of your recipes too much.
- Use one cup of soymilk and one tablespoon of olive oil to replace one cup of heavy cream.
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Yes, they are the same, as they both must contain at least 36 percent milk fat according to US Food and Drug Administration's labeling standards.
No, half and half is not the same as heavy cream. Half and half has a lower fat content than heavy cream since it is made up of a combination of heavy whipping cream and milk. Its texture is lighter and smoother than that of heavy cream.
Yes, heavy cream can be frozen for 1 to 2 months as it has a higher fat content which makes it less prone to separating once thawed.
Wrap Up: Heavy Cream Substitute
- There are many different options available when it comes to finding a substitute for heavy cream, however, you must keep in mind that each alternative will have its own unique flavor profile, so be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly.
- If following a vegan diet, some delicious alternatives may help turn a vegetarian dish into a vegan one!
The Perfect Heavy Cream Substitute
Greek Yogurt and Milk for 1 cup of Heavy Cream
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup milk
Half & Half and Butter
- ¾ cup half and half
- ¼ cup melted butter
Vegan Options for 1 cup of Heavy Cream
- 1 cup coconut cream
Silken Tofu and Soy Milk
- ½ cup silken tofu
- ½ cup soy milk
Greek Yogurt and Milk
- For one cup of heavy cream, mix half a cup of Greek yogurt with a quarter-cup of milk. Whisk the mixture thoroughly until it becomes smooth and creates a thick consistency.
Half & Half and Butter
- Combine ¾ cup of half and half with ¼ cup of melted butter. Mix well until the concoction becomes thick and creamy.
Coconut Cream - Vegan
- To replace one cup of heavy cream, use one cup of coconut cream. Coconut cream is perfect for recipes that need a touch of tropical flavor.
Silken Tofu and Soy Milk - Vegan
- Use half cup of silken tofu and half a cup of soy milk. Blend the two ingredients until you get a smooth and creamy texture. This vegan substitute is perfect for making vegan ice creams, puddings, and sauces.
- For an even richer flavor, add a tablespoon of melted butter or coconut oil to any of these substitutes. This will give your recipes the richness you are looking for without using heavy cream.
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