Heavy cream is an ingredient you may need for anything from creamy pasta sauces and soups to homestyle casseroles and desserts. But what can you do if you’ve ran out of heavy cream? There’s no need to scrap your dinner plans. There are many suitable substitutes for this ingredient that’ll have your dishes tasting just as delicious.
Heavy cream is the layer of fat that rises to the top of fresh milk, giving rise to the phrase “cream of the crop”. This rich, thick cream must contain at least 36% fat to properly be called heavy cream.
Heavy cream adds a bit of decadence to any meal. For creamy Indian dishes like butter chicken or tikka masala, this cream creates a rich, silky sauce. If you’re making baked pasta dishes or casseroles, heavy cream adds an extra layer of comfort. Because heavy cream is perishable, it’s not something you can keep in the pantry for a future date. For the best-tasting dishes, you’ll want the freshest cream you can find.
What is Heavy Cream?
Cream is the name given to the dairy product made from the higher-fat layers that rise to the top of fresh, unhomogenized milk. When fresh milk is left to settle, the cream (which is less dense) ultimately rises to the top. In dairy factories, machines are used to speed up this process. Heavy cream is the very top layer, which contains the most fat. The USD regulates that cream must contain at least 36% fat to be deemed heavy.
Are Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream the Same?
Heavy cream and whipping cream are both cream products, but heavy cream contains more fat. Whipping cream contains 30-35% fat while heavy cream contains at least 36% fat. If you can’t find heavy cream, go ahead and pick up whipping cream if that’s available.
How Do You Make Heavy Cream if You Don’t Have Any?
This DIY heavy cream is great for soups, stews and casseroles. Simply combine butter with milk (or half and half) to increase the fat content. This cream will have a liquid consistency and isn’t able to be whipped like store-bought heavy cream.
Can I Substitute Half and Half for Heavy Cream?
Half and half is equal parts whole milk and a light cream. It contains about 12% fat, which is only one-third of the fat content of heavy cream. Half and half isn’t a great substitute for heavy cream, but you can combine it with butter for a DIY liquid cream.
Heavy Cream Substitutes (non-Whippable)
These substitutes are perfect for soups, sauces, casseroles and any other recipe where whipping isn’t required. You’ll get a liquid consistency with a heavy fat content, similar to that of heavy cream.
1. Milk and Butter
This simple method works in a pinch using ingredients you already have. Combine 1/4 cup melted butter with 3/4 cup milk and combine well to make 1 cup of heavy cream. Always remember the 1:4 ratio.
2. Half and Half and Butter
Half and half contains a light cream, giving it a higher fat content than milk. Because of this, you’ll need less butter to make your heavy cream. Combine 1 part butter with 7 parts half and half.
3. Milk and Cornstarch
While cornstarch won’t increase fat content, it’s an ingredient that will thicken liquids. Combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of milk and stir until you see it thickening.
4. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is thicker and creamier than regular milk and it also has a longer shelf life. Substitute heavy cream with an equal amount of evaporated milk for delicious baked goods.
5. Greek Yogurt and Milk
Protein-packed Greek yogurt can be combined with milk for a thicker, creamier consistency. Blend equal parts Greek yogurt and whole milk to prepare this healthier substitute for heavy cream.
6. Cottage Cheese and Milk
Cottage cheese is another healthy ingredient that can be combined with milk to make it thicker and richer. Blend equal parts cottage cheese and milk until the mixture is smooth.
7. Sour Cream
Sour cream is made by adding lactic acid to regular cream. It has a fat content of around 20%. Use an equal amount of sour cream to substitute for heavy cream, but be mindful of the effect of its sour taste.
Mascarpone cheese is a thick, creamy dairy product with a 44% fat content. Its slightly sweet taste makes it a delicious substitute for desserts or decadent sauces.
Heavy Whipping Cream Substitutes
Need to whip? These thicker substitutes are able to replicate the texture of whipped cream. Use these ingredients whenever you need that light, whipped texture.
1. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese may alter the taste of your final product, so be sure to use it with compatible ingredients. Substitute heavy cream with an equal amount of cream cheese.
2. Coconut Heavy Cream
This vegan, dairy-free alternative is a perfect substitute for classic heavy cream. Put a can of coconut milk or coconut cream in the fridge to harden. You can then use a hand mixer to whip the hardened coconut cream.
3. Cashew Whipped Cream
Here’s another delicious vegan alternative to heavy cream. Boil raw cashews for about five minutes or soak in water overnight. Rinse and drain the cashews and toss them into a blender. Add filtered water, maple syrup, vanilla extract, tapioca starch and a pinch of sea salt. Blend until creamy, then allow the mixture to cool and thicken in the fridge for at least three hours.
4. Vegan Soy Heavy Cream
Add 1 cup of a neutral oil (canola, corn and sunflower work well) with 1/2 cup soy milk. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a sweetener of your choice. To make it thick and creamy, add 2 teaspoons of modified starch or cornstarch.
5. Silken Tofu and Soy Milk
By combining 1 cup silken tofu with soy milk, you can create a thick, vegan-friendly substitute for heavy cream. Note that this mixture is only partially whippable.
Other Dairy Free and Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes
Your favorite non-dairy milk can be used to make a vegan heavy cream substitute for soups, sauces and baked goods. Combine almond, soy or oat milk with oil in a 2:1 ratio for a quick and easy thickener. Other vegan-friendly options include coconut cream, cashew cream and white bean cream.
1. Soy Milk and Olive Oil
Soy milk and olive oil makes a creamy, non-dairy addition to soups, stews and baked dishes. Add 2/3 cup soy milk to 1/3 cup olive oil and combine well.
2. Dairy-Free Milk and Cornstarch
Cornstarch is a great way to thicken non-dairy milk without the need for excess fat. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 cup of your favorite dairy-free milk.
3. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is the milky substance produced by mature coconuts. To make heavy cream from coconut milk, you can add oil or cornstarch. You can also refrigerate the milk overnight to allow it to harden. Use a hand mixer to whip the milk into a creamy texture.
What is a Healthy Substitute for Heavy Cream
Butter and oil are high in fat and you may be seeking a healthier substitute. In this case, try using cornstarch, Greek yogurt, tofu or cottage cheese. These healthy additions can be used to thicken milk without the extra calories or fat.
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Heavy Cream Substitute
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup whole milk
- Place a small saucepan over low heat. Add the butter and allow to melt completely.
- Add the milk and warm slightly, whisking several times to combine
- Use as a substitute for liquid heavy cream in recipes.
- This substitute cannot be whipped.