heavy cream substitute

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If you’ve run out of heavy cream or you’re trying to cut it out of your cooking, chances are you’re trying to find the best heavy cream substitute options. Whether that be heavy cream alternatives for specific recipes like soups, chicken marsala, or mac & cheese, or just some dairy-free heavy cream substitutes, you will find something that works here! 

heavy cream substitute

Here, I’ve listed a comprehensive list of heavy cream alternatives for all occasions and needs so you never have to wonder what can be used to substitute for heavy cream ever again!

Best substitutes for heavy cream 

Whole milk and butter

milk and butter as a heavy cream substitute

The closest and most effective substitute for heavy cream is a combination of full fat milk and butter. Use this homemade heavy cream mixture in almost all recipes that call for heavy cream including soups, sauces, mashed potatoes, ice cream, baked goods, ganache, and more.

To make this milk and butter substitute for heavy cream, combine 1 part melted, unsalted butter with 3 parts full-fat milk and whisk well for a few minutes. Once done, use this slightly thickened mixture as a heavy cream alternative in almost all recipes that calls for heavy cream and add that desired richness. 

Substitution: 1 cup homemade heavy cream = 1 cup store-bought heavy cream

Half and half

half and half

If you happen to have half and half available, then you can use it to replace heavy cream, especially in soups and sauces like vodka sauce, Alfredo sauce, marsala sauce, and more on a 1:1 conversion ratio.

It should be noted that half and half is a mixture of half cream and half milk which means it automatically contains less fat and calories than cream. Therefore, if the recipe you’re making calls for more fat and a thicker consistency, you can also add melted butter to the half-and-half to both thicken it up and add that missing fat. To make it, melt 1 part of unsalted butter, and pour this into a bowl with 3 parts half and half. Mix well with a whisk until properly combined.

As an example, melt ¼ cup of butter and mix into ¾ cup half-and-half until combined for 1 cup of homemade heavy cream.

Use it just like you would use heavy cream on a 1:1 ratio.

Heavy cream powder

If you have no heavy cream, then you can use heavy cream powder as a replacement. Heavy cream powder, also called dried cream powder is made through a process whereby the water is removed from fresh cream leaving a powder behind. This powder can be used to make a host of recipes including soups, sauces, baked goods like muffins and cakes, smoothies, beverages, and every other recipe that calls for heavy cream.

It is quite versatile as it can be added to those recipes as a powder, and it can also be reconstituted with water so it forms a liquid. Either way, it adds the same richness and creaminess that typical heavy cream adds to any dish.

To reconstitute, simply add 1 part heavy cream powder and 1 part of water into a bowl or jar and mix well with a whisk or mixer until properly combined. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, then use it in place of heavy cream on a 1:1 conversion ratio.

You can get heavy cream powder here.

Substitution: 1 cup of heavy cream made with heavy cream powder = 1 cup of store-bought heavy cream

Whole milk and cornstarch

Another useful substitute for cream is a combination of whole milk and cornstarch. Using a thickening agent like cornstarch in milk helps the milk to achieve a texture similar to that of heavy cream with two simple ingredients. 

To make it, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 cup of milk and mix well until it has thickened enough to make 1 cup of DIY heavy cream. 

Substitution: 1 cup homemade cream made with cornstarch = 1 cup store-bought heavy cream

Greek yogurt +milk

If you happen to have these two ingredients, then you can also use them to make a good heavy cream substitute. This substitute contains less fat and calories and can even be considered a healthier version of heavy cream. It also has a little bit of a tangy flavor.

To make it, whisk together 1 part whole milk and 1 part greek yogurt until smooth. Use this combination to replace heavy cream in recipes like soups, sauces, dips, dressings, and more. You can learn more about how to make a milk and yogurt sub for heavy cream here. 

Substitution: 1 cup of greek yogurt and milk mixture = 1 cup of heavy cream

Sour cream + milk

A combination of sour cream and milk also makes a good alternative to heavy cream. For this substitute, you will need to use 1 part sour cream and 1 part milk to get the desired consistency.

It should be noted that the fat content in sour cream is significantly lower than that of heavy cream. Nonetheless, this substitute works well in soups, pasta dishes, sauces, chili recipes, and more.

Cream cheese 

cream cheese

Cream cheese can also be used as heavy cream in certain dishes. Note that cream cheese has a completely different texture so it may alter the consistency of your dish.

Also, it is better used for cheesy soups and sauces. But, with a little extra help from some butter, cream cheese can also work as a replacement for heavy cream in recipes like mashed potatoes as can be seen in this creamy mashed potato recipe with cream cheese and butter.

Substitution: 1 part cream cheese = 1 part heavy cream

Creme fraiche

Besides the ingredient combinations above, there are other ways to replace heavy cream including creme fraiche. Use it if you do not mind a slight tang and to help thicken up your soups and sauces. It also works great in salad dressings, scrambled eggs, and even baked goods. 

Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk can also be used as an alternative to heavy cream. To use it, you will need to reduce the evaporated milk over heat, then use the thickened, reduced evaporated milk as heavy cream.

To make it, pour 2 cups of evaporated milk into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir this constantly until the milk is reduced by half. Use this to help thicken up soups, sauces, and all other recipes that call for heavy cream. Read more about evaporated milk subs here.

Coconut cream

If you have coconut cream available, then you can also use this item as a vegan substitute for heavy cream. Coconut cream is a thick cream made from coconut, water, and guar gum.

Use coconut cream as a handy dairy-free substitute for cream to make vegan dishes like creamy soups, stews, and pasta, and even for beverages and baked goods. You can get some coconut cream here.

Substitution: 1 cup coconut cream = 1 cup heavy cream

Soy milk and oil

A mixture of soy milk and oil makes another great dairy-free replacement for heavy cream. Any light oil will do including olive oil, grape-seed oil, or sunflower oil.

To make it, simply pour 2/3 cup of soy milk and ⅓ cup of your oil of choice into a bowl and whisk until the oil is properly mixed with the soy milk. Use this to replace heavy cream in dairy-free or vegan dishes.

Common heavy cream substitution questions

What can I substitute for heavy cream?

There are quite a few heavy cream alternatives that you can use. These include,  whole milk and butter, half and half, heavy cream powder, whole milk and cornstarch, Greek yogurt and milk, sour cream and milk, cream cheese, creme fraiche, evaporated milk, coconut cream, and soy milk and oil.

What is a light substitute for heavy cream?

A light alternative for heavy cream is light cream. Light cream contains  about 12 grams of  fat compared to the 46 grams of fat in heavy cream, but it can easily be swapped out for heavy cream at a 1:1 ratio.

What is a keto substitute for heavy cream?

Heavy cream is keto friendly. However, if you want to replace it there are many other options including, full fat coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk and cream cheese.

What is a vegan substitute for heavy cream?

Full fat coconut milk is a great vegan replacement for heavy cream. This is so because full fat coconut milk has a similar thickness to heavy cream and it is made from coconut meat and water.

Can buttermilk substitute for heavy cream?

Yes and no. While buttermilk and heavy cream are both derived from milk, buttermilk is a fermented diary product which makes it very different than heavy cream in terms of flavor and usage. It should be noted that buttermilk can easily replace heavy cream in baked goods like biscuits and scones and even in macaroni and cheese. However, it will not do a good job at replacing heavy cream in dishes like soups, pastas, ice cream recipes, or even in drinks like coffee. Therefore, buttermilk can be used as an alternative for heavy cream, but only in a select number of dishes. 

Heavy cream substitutes for specific dishes

Final thoughts

As you can see above, heavy cream is an easy ingredient to replace in a dish. With these amazing fresh cream replacement options, there is guaranteed to be an alternative for heavy cream that works for everyone here! Also, check out this list of 10 common ingredient substitutions if you’re looking for more ideas.

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