Heavy cream is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes, including sauces, dips, desserts, and savory dishes. It’s also a wonderful addition to baked goods and spreads as it adds a rich, creamy texture and delicious flavor. Heavy cream is also an excellent base for ice cream and can serve as a thickener for gravies and soups.
Made from 30-40% fat, heavy cream is high in calories and contains a large amount of saturated fat. Not to mention that it also has a very high cholesterol content, which can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. This means that it’s important to use heavy cream with caution and moderation to prevent these health risks. Heavy cream is also generally expensive, which makes it a less practical option for those on a budget.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to heavy cream that are healthier and less expensive. While no other ingredient can match the quality and flavor of heavy cream, there are tons of healthy alternatives that can be used as a suitable substitute. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best substitutes for heavy cream that you can use in your recipes. The list is not all-inclusive, but we’ve provided a wide range of options for you to choose from.
Whether you’re looking for a low-fat alternative, a dairy-free option, or a vegan alternative, we’ve got you covered. We have listed some of the best substitutes for heavy cream that you can use in your homemade recipes.
Table of Contents
- The Best Heavy Cream Alternatives
- Which Heavy Cream Substitute is Right For You?
The Best Heavy Cream Alternatives
Coconut milk is a popular choice for those who are looking for a healthier alternative to heavy cream. While coconut milk is not as thick as heavy cream, it has a rich, smooth texture that makes it a great addition to dishes. It’s also a popular choice for desserts because it has a delicate flavor and doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
Coconut milk is made from the meat of the coconut, which is high in protein and low in fat. It also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are more easily digested and metabolized than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). This makes coconut milk a great option for those who are looking to reduce their saturated fat intake.
Yogurt is another great option for those looking for a healthier alternative to heavy cream. It contains live beneficial bacteria that help to improve digestion and boost immunity. It’s also a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
Yogurt is a fermented food that is made from milk. It contains live bacteria that help to break down lactose and other nutrients into easily digestible forms. This is the same bacteria that is used to make cheese, but yogurt contains much less fat than cheese.
Butter and Milk
Mixing butter and milk together creates a creamy and delicious substitute for heavy cream. Simply combine 1/4 cup of melted butter and 3/4 cup of milk in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until well combined.
The mixture will thicken but don't expect it to be as thick as heavy cream. In most cases, this will be enough to replace heavy cream in recipes, but if you prefer a thicker cream, you can add more butter to get the desired thickness.
Whole milk is a delicious and nutritious alternative to heavy cream. It’s a rich and creamy base for soups, sauces, and baked goods. It also has a low fat content, making it a great choice for those who are trying to reduce their fat intake. Whole milk is also a great source of protein, vitamin D, and calcium.
Because of the thin consistency of whole milk, the number of recipes that call for it is quite limited. However, it’s a popular choice for soups, desserts, and beverages.
Sour cream is a thick and tangy dairy product that can be used in place of heavy cream in many recipes. Where sour cream differs from heavy cream is in its acidity. It’s also not as thick as heavy cream because it only has around 20% fat content.
The sour taste of sour cream comes from the lactic acid that is produced by the bacteria in the milk. If the tangy and sour flavor is not what you’re looking for, you can add some sugar to the sour cream to balance the flavor.
Cream cheese is a creamy, spreadable dairy product that is similar to sour cream. It has a mild tangy flavor and a higher fat content than sour cream. Cream cheese is often used as a spread on bread and crackers but it’s also a great addition to dips and desserts.
Cream cheese has 99% more saturated fat than sour cream, so bear that in mind if you’re trying to cut back on your fat intake. However, if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to heavy cream, cream cheese is still a great option.
A staple in many kitchens, evaporated milk is a creamy and slightly sweetened milk product that is used in many baked goods and beverages. For the same reason that heavy cream is used in many baked goods, evaporated milk is used to create a smooth and creamy texture.
Evaporated milk is made by heating the milk to reduce its water content to 40%. The mixture is then homogenized to break down the fat globules and make the milk smooth and creamy. Evaporated milk is a popular choice for making milkshakes, sauces, and smoothies.
Cashew cream is a creamy and delicious dairy-free alternative to heavy cream. It has a mild nutty flavor and is a great replacement for heavy cream in a lot of recipes, especially desserts.
It’s also a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or simply don’t like the taste of heavy cream. Cashew cream is made by blending raw cashews with water and a pinch of salt, although there are plenty of variations to the recipe. The mixture will thicken as it sits, so you can add more water to get the desired consistency.
Soy milk is a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream that is used in many Asian dishes. It’s a popular choice for making sauces, gravies, and soups. Soy milk comes from soybeans, which are a type of legume. It’s a great alternative to dairy-based milk because it has a mild flavor and is also a great source of protein.
If you are a vegan and looking for a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream, soy milk is a great choice. It’s also a good option for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.
Another dairy-free substitute for heavy cream, pureed tofu is a popular choice for many recipes. It has a similar consistency to heavy cream, but it’s made from soybeans instead of cow’s milk. Silken tofu, in particular, is a great option because of its texture.
Silken tofu can be mixed with soy milk to create a creamy and even consistency. Due to its neutral flavor, pureed silken tofu blends well with other foods, making it a very versatile ingredient.
Mascarpone cheese is a very popular Italian cheese that is used on a lot of desserts such as tiramisu, cheesecakes, and tarts. It has a very similar consistency to heavy cream, making it one of the closest substitutes for heavy cream.
Unfortunately, it also has a very high fat content, which can be a problem for those who are trying to lessen their fat consumption. In fact, mascarpone cheese contains 44% fat, 30% of which is saturated fat.
Half and Half
Half and half is a mixture of milk and cream that is used to make many different beverages and desserts. It’s a popular choice for making milkshakes and smoothies, as well as a great replacement for heavy cream in many baked goods.
From the name alone, it's easy to see that half and half is a mixture of 50% milk and 50% cream. However, the ratio of milk to cream can be adjusted depending on the flavor and texture you want.
Milk and Cornstarch
One of the easiest ways to create a heavy cream substitute is by combining regular milk and cornstarch. The cornstarch acts as a coagulant, helping the milk proteins to bind together and create a thick and creamy consistency.
The mixture will thicken as it sits and you can add more cornstarch if you are looking for a thicker cream. It’s a great choice for making sauces, gravies, and soups.
Milk and Olive Oil
Combining milk and olive oil is also a great way to make a heavy cream substitute. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats that help lower cholesterol. It also provides many antioxidants, which can help to prevent certain types of cancers and heart disease.
The combination of milk and olive oil creates a thick, creamy consistency, making it a perfect substitute for heavy cream. If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, this combination will definitely appeal to your taste buds.
Cottage cheese can be used in place of heavy cream in many recipes, such as sauces, gravies, and soups. It’s also a great option for making dips and spreads.
Cottage cheese is characterized by its lumpy texture, which is caused by the fat globules that are suspended in the milk. Simply use a food processor or an immersion blender to blend the cottage cheese to a smooth consistency.
Which Heavy Cream Substitute is Right For You?
As you can see, there are many different alternatives to heavy cream. Which one will work best for you depends on your preferences and dietary needs.
However, it's important to note that when it comes to baking, some of these heavy cream substitutes can have a negative impact on the texture and taste of baked goods. For example, using too much milk or cheese in your recipe can result in a heavy, wet batter that will affect the overall texture of the finished product. Baking requires a delicate balance between the ingredients used to create the batter, so make sure to do a lot of research before you start experimenting with different heavy cream substitutes.
Dairy-Free Alternatives to Heavy Cream
The most common dairy-free heavy cream alternatives are coconut milk and soy milk. Both of these products are high in protein and are perfect for those who are looking for a dairy-free heavy cream substitute. Cashew cream and pureed tofu are also great options.
Reduced-Fat Alternatives to Heavy Cream
If you are on a diet or simply want to cut back on the fat content in your food, you can use reduced-fat heavy cream alternatives. Yogurt, whole milk, and sour cream are all great alternatives for making a low-fat heavy cream substitute.
Vegan Alternatives to Heavy Cream
If you are a vegan or simply don’t want to use animal products in your food, you can use vegan heavy cream alternatives. Coconut milk, soy milk, pureed tofu, and cashew cream are all useful vegan heavy cream substitutes.
Combining Heavy Cream Alternatives
If you need to combine two different products to create a heavy cream substitute, use a small part of the heavier ingredient first. For example, if you are using butter and milk, use a smaller amount of butter, then gradually increase its volume until you reach the desired consistency. It's easier to add a coagulant than to dilute the mixture.
While some heavy cream substitutes are a little bit more labor-intensive, they are definitely worth the effort. By using a combination of ingredients, you can create a creamy, thick, and delicious mixture that will satisfy your cravings for heavy cream.