Heavy cream is called for in a huge range of recipes. But in many cases, a heavy cream substitute can serve the same purpose, whether that’s adding a creamy texture, richer flavor, or both. Peruse these suggested swaps to find the right fit if you’re vegan, cutting down on dairy, or simply don’t have the real thing on hand. Quantities and applications vary by recipe, so prepare to experiment a bit for a truly seamless substitute.
Milk and Butter
Heavy cream is essentially milk with a much higher fat content—36% to 40% instead of about 3.5—so, naturally, incorporating extra fat into regular milk can make a great substitute for heavy cream. Simply melt unsalted butter, let it cool slightly, and then whisk it into milk, using a ratio of 1 part melted butter to 3 parts milk by volume. Whole milk is ideal since increasing fat content is the name of the game here, but this hack is even doable with nondairy milks like almond and oat. The mixture won’t take well to whipping, so don’t expect stiff peaks (or any peaks for that matter). Stick to this method for baking or cooking.
Nondairy Milk and Neutral Oil
Similarly, a nondairy milk (such as soy or almond) and a neutral oil (like vegetable or canola) can replicate heavy cream in certain recipes—namely, sauces and soups, but also some baked goods. Though it’s not whippable, the mixture provides the type of richness you’d get from dairy milk and butter, but in a totally vegan heavy cream substitute. Use a ratio of 2 parts nondairy milk to 1 part oil by volume. For a more richly flavored cream alternative, swap the neutral oil for olive oil and use in any recipe where that grassy, peppery taste would be welcome.
Silken Tofu and Soy Milk
Fat adds structure to heavy cream, creating its signature rich texture. But protein adds structure too. Enter: tofu. Blended with soy milk, which has a similar protein content to dairy milk, silken tofu can mimic the texture of the real thing in certain applications. Alter the amount of soy milk based on the desired consistency.
According to Lisa Dawn Angerame, author of Wait, That’s Vegan?! and The Vegan ABCs Cookbook, this technique is best for dishes with pudding textures like cheesecake or a French silk pie; but because of all that protein, it’s not the right choice for things like sauces and soups.
Full-Fat Greek Yogurt and Milk
“Full-fat” and “Greek” are absolutely key here. Avoid regular yogurt, which is often sweetened and much runnier. Plain Greek yogurt is more neutral and structured with higher protein, making it ideal for baked goods when blended in equal parts with milk to thin out the mixture. For a whipped topping that can stand in for whipped cream—but is arguably more complex from the tang of this cultured dairy product—pull back on the milk and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Or pop the mixture in the freezer for a twist on traditional ice cream.
This is Angerame’s go-to heavy cream alternative for most recipes. “It’s very neutral in terms of flavor, and it’s super easy to make,” she says. Blend 1 cup of cashews with ¾ cup of water in a high-speed blender until super smooth, and voilà: You’re left with a versatile heavy cream substitute that complements countless dishes. Plus, since it’s homemade, it’s guaranteed to be free of any unrecognizable ingredients or added flavors that sometimes come with the grocery store stuff. Thanks to the high fat content of cashews, Angerame says it’s fantastic for adding a creaminess to anything from Alfredo to hollandaise to Caesar dressing to a chipotle-spiked topping for tacos. “And it thickens a cream sauce instantly.”
There’s a trick to turning full-fat coconut milk into a comparably creamy, vegan, dairy-free substitute. Place a can of coconut milk in the fridge to chill for several hours—overnight is better and up to several days is better still. Open it up and scoop out the denser portion that rose to the top to use as your heavy cream substitute, saving the watery liquid left underneath to repurpose later. While the richness is spot-on, it will impart some coconut flavor, so just be mindful of the application. It can be great in soups, curries, and of course desserts (it can even be whipped).
However, “some cans work and some cans don’t,” Angerame says. There’s a chance of the liquid not separating correctly. This is typically the result of added emulsifiers in the coconut milk, which keep the fat and water particles from separating, so look for cans that contain only coconut and water. Or if you’re not already stocked with coconut milk, consider store-bought coconut cream (not to be confused with sweetened cream of coconut) instead.
Whole milk and light cream are the two components of half-and-half, so it’s not that far off from the real deal. It can work nearly as well for bringing creamy texture and flavor to sauces, soups and stews, mashed potatoes, and casseroles. In a pinch, it can even be used for whipping. While you won’t get stiff peaks, you can build volume if you work quickly. To maximize your chance of success, chill the half-and-half along with your hand mixer, bowl, and any bonus ingredients (like powdered sugar) in the fridge or freezer until they’re super cold. As soon as you take them out, start whipping. The effect will be more of a loose sauce that will deflate quickly, so serve right away. And never let on that this cream alternative was unintentional.
If you’re a fan of baking, you’ve probably come across heavy cream in various recipes. This versatile ingredient is a staple in many desserts, from cakes and pies to ice cream and frosting. But what exactly does heavy cream do in baking?
How does it affect the texture and flavor of your baked goods? In this article, we’ll explore the wonders of heavy cream in baking and how you can use it to take your desserts to the next level.
Before we dive into the role of heavy cream in baking, let’s first define what it is. Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is a dairy product that contains at least 36% fat. It is made by separating the milk fat from the liquid in whole milk. The result is a thick, creamy liquid that is perfect for making whipped cream, sauces, and of course, baked goods.
How Does Heavy Cream Affect Texture in Baking?
One of the main benefits of using heavy cream in baking is its ability to add richness and texture to your desserts. When heavy cream is added to a recipe, it helps create a dense and moist texture that is often associated with high-quality baked goods. Heavy cream can also make your desserts creamier and smoother, which is why it is commonly used in custards and puddings.
Heavy Cream in Cakes and Cupcakes
In cakes and cupcakes, heavy cream can be used to create a moist and tender crumb. Adding heavy cream to the batter can help prevent dryness and create a rich, luxurious texture. Heavy cream can also be used to make whipped cream frosting, which adds a creamy, fluffy topping to your baked goods.
Heavy Cream in Pies and Tarts
In pies and tarts, heavy cream can be used to create a silky smooth filling that is both rich and decadent. Heavy cream can be added to the filling mixture, which helps it set up properly and prevents it from curdling. Heavy cream can also be brushed on top of pie crusts before baking, which helps create a golden brown, flaky crust.
Heavy Cream in Cookies and Brownies
In cookies and brownies, heavy cream can be used to create a soft and chewy texture. Heavy cream can be added to the batter or dough, which helps create a rich, velvety texture. Heavy cream can also be used to make frosting or glaze, which adds a creamy, silky texture to your desserts.
How Does Heavy Cream Affect Flavor in Baking?
In addition to affecting texture, heavy cream can also add a rich, creamy flavor to your baked goods. Heavy cream has a subtle sweetness that can enhance the flavor of your desserts. When combined with other ingredients, heavy cream can create a complex and nuanced flavor profile that is sure to impress your taste buds.
Heavy Cream in Cheesecakes
In cheesecakes, heavy cream can be used to create a rich, creamy filling that is full of flavor. Heavy cream can be added to the cheesecake batter, which helps create a smooth and creamy texture. Heavy cream can also be used to make whipped cream topping, which adds a light and fluffy texture to your cheesecake.
Some ingredients just languish in the fridge or pantry unless you find a creative use for them: That last little bit of pumpkin puree after your holiday pie, a few wilting scallions, and that carton of heavy cream that never comes in a small enough size. We’ve got a solution to use up at least one of those in these sweet and savory recipes that all use heavy cream. Don’t substitute it for light cream, milk, or nondairy creamers unless the recipe specifically says you can. Otherwise, you can end up with an unusual texture at best, or a ruined dish. You’ll have both dinner and dessert taken care of in no time.
If you find yourself in the kitchen experimenting with recipes, you’ve most likely also found yourself at some point standing in the dairy section at the grocery store aimlessly staring into shelves of cream. There’s regular heavy cream, whipping cream, double cream, evaporated milk, and heavy whipping cream, but what’s the difference between them all? If you are wondering, “What is heavy cream?” you are not alone.
Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is the thick part of the milk that rises to the top due to its high fat content. With about 36-40% fat, it has one of the highest fat contents compared to other dairy products. Whipping cream comes in at a close but lighter second, with about 30% milk fat. In comparison, the half-and-half you might put in your morning coffee has about a 10.5 to 18% milk fat content.
From ice creams to chowders to pasta sauces, many recipes call for anywhere from a splash to a few cups of heavy cream. It whips better and holds its shape longer than its whipping cream counterpart, which is why it’s used for everything from pastry fillings to pipings.
It has a long shelf life in the fridge and can even be frozen and used in a heavy cream recipe later on. If you’re curious about common and creative uses of heavy cream and options for dairy free, lower fat or vegan heavy cream substitutions, read on. We’re about to dive deep into this well-loved and well-used kitchen essential.
Most Common Uses
From pastry chefs to pasta-making masters, the reasons for using regular heavy cream in your cooking regimen are vast and varied (and can turn an ordinary dish into an extraordinary one).
To make sour cream, all you need is buttermilk and heavy cream or half and half. Heavy cream yields a thicker sour cream, perfect for topping everything from soups to tacos.
One of the most common uses for heavy cream is, of course, whipped cream. Combine your cold heavy cream with a bit of sugar, honey, or maple syrup and a dash of vanilla, then beat on high until stiff peaks form. Use it to top fresh berries or your morning coffee.
Heavy cream is also used to create big bowls of beautiful ice cream. Once you’ve created your ice cream, try placing it on top of these Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies for a divine after-dinner treat.
All you need to create crème fraîche—one of France’s famous and decadent creams—is heavy cream and buttermilk. Put a dollop on top of smoked salmon, cobblers, or add it to your pasta sauce.
Biscuits and Scones
Use heavy cream in biscuits and scones for a creamy and fresh flavor with an incredible texture. Try this recipe for
Bob’s Old Fashioned Biscuits: simply substitute your milk for cream to let the baking magic unfold.
Chowder & Seafood Bisque
Heavy cream creates a rich and thick texture in chowder and seafood bisque. Top your bowl with fresh herbs for a delectable dinner.
Soup & Broth
If you’re looking for a tasty variation of mussels, try adding heavy cream to your broth. Also, use it for cream-based soups like broccoli, potato, and cream of mushroom.
A somewhat surprising addition, heavy cream is often used in caramel sauce as the secret ingredient. Try adding a dash to this recipe for Homemade Caramel Sauce before drizzling it over apples or ice cream.
Frosting & Cake
Jazz up your frosting and your cake by adding heavy cream. Give it a try with this simple Banana Layer Cake with Banana Buttercream Frosting to make it extra rich.
Use heavy cream or a vegan heavy cream substitute as an add-in to thicken your pasta sauces and fill them with flavor. Try your sauce on top of some Gluten Free Pasta for a simple yet satisfying weeknight dinner.
For a creamy salad that’s not too thick, try using heavy cream as your base. From there, whisk in some citrus juice, oil, seasonings, and fresh herbs.
From scalloped potatoes to mashed potatoes, to potato pancakes—adding heavy cream to your dish will guarantee a rich and delicious flavor. Try using Bob’s Red Mill potato flakes in this recipe for mashed potatoes in minutes.
Give your wholesome breakfast a decadent upgrade by adding a dash of heavy cream alongside fresh berries in your morning bowl of oats.
One of the easiest ways to enhance the flavor of a somewhat bland chicken dish is to create a sauce for it. If you’re looking for a rich sauce, making one with heavy cream is the way to go. Add some citrus to cut the fat and a refreshing side salad for a nutritional bonus, and dinner is served.
If you’re looking for perfectly soft, creamy and custard-like scrambled eggs, add some heavy cream to your scrambled alongside your salt and pepper. Cooking them “slow and low” will help to make them fluffy and creamy as well.
Panna cotta, the chilled dessert served throughout Italy, calls for heavy cream and tastes wonderful when mixed with vanilla and topped with fresh strawberries.
Pastry Fillings & Pipings
Pastry cream, also known as crème patissière, is used in cream puffs, éclairs, and fruit tarts and is made with heavy cream. Heavy cream can also be whipped and used as a piping for desserts like cookies and cakes.
Chocolate ganache can be spread on cupcakes, used in truffles or poured over this amazing marble Bundt cake, and all you need to create it is chocolate chips, heavy cream, and the right proportions and temperature.
Homemade Irish cream is fun, festive, and easy. Of the few ingredients it calls for, one of the essentials is heavy cream. Whether you’re drinking it warm on a cold evening or using it for French toast, it’s a celebratory way to feed your cream craving.
Making cheese at home is actually pretty simple and allows you to enjoy a preservative-free, fresh flavor with the help of heavy cream. Try ricotta, paneer, mascarpone, cottage cheese, and more, and spread your homemade creation on these quick and easy Everything Crackers.
Substitutions for Heavy Cream
If your recipe calls for heavy cream, but you’re looking for a heavy cream substitute, you’re in luck. Perhaps you’d rather have something dairy free, with less fat or a different flavor (or you’d just rather not venture to the grocery store). Here are some options.
Milk or Half-and-Half and Butter
Milk or half-and-half and butter are perhaps one of the most common and foolproof heavy cream substitute options used in baked goods. Butter adds fat to the milk or half-and-half, making it more similar to the consistency and taste of heavy cream.
Soy Milk, and Olive Oil
If you’re searching for a dairy free alternative to heavy cream, opt for mixing soy milk and olive oil to achieve a quick substitution. Olive oil will add fat to the soy milk and provide a good, moist texture in baked goods.
For a similar consistency with full and savory flavor, you can try using cream cheese as a substitute for heavy cream. Add it to your soups, your sauces, and more (and while you’re at it, give these Gluten Free Cream Cheese Brownies a try).
Greek Yogurt and Whole Milk
If you’re looking for a protein-packed healthy substitute for heavy cream, try experimenting with a mixture of Greek yogurt and milk. The yogurt is thick, and the substitution will work well with things like soup; try a scoop on top of this Indian-Spiced Cream of Tomato Soup with Whole Wheat Couscous.
Coconut cream is another fantastically creamy and healthy substitute for heavy cream. It’s versatile, vegan and works well in sweets and treats. Use it to make whipped coconut cream or coconut ice cream. You can also use this vegan cream substitute to make frosting with some tasty coconut flavor, like this recipe for Brownies with Whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting.
Whole Milk and Cornstarch
Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent — so once it’s mixed with dairy milk, the milk takes on a texture similar to that of thick heavy cream. Use Bob’s Red Mill Cornstarch mixed with milk to thicken your soups, sauces, and fillings.
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If you’re in need of a heavy cream substitute, we have plenty of alternatives that can help you out of a bind! Whether you need heavy cream for a rich sauce, a savory soup, or a decadent dessert, there is a substitute that can get the job done!
Thick and creamy potato soup, tasty cheese sauce, savory gravy, moist chocolate cake, fluffy whipped cream. When it comes to some of the best dishes around, heavy cream is at the center of each one!
What do you do if you run out of this golden ingredient? While nothing is the exact same as heavy cream, several alternatives will still give you the rich decadence you want!
The Best Dairy Substitutes
When it comes to finding a substitute for heavy cream, there are several other dairy substitutes. Many of these are the easiest to use because they call for ingredients you most likely already have in your fridge. Therefore, you can grab them in a pinch.
The one thing you will not be able to find a substitute for in this list is a replacement for making whipped cream. When it comes to making whipped cream, heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream) is really the only dairy option that will give you the fluffy and yummy, sweet topping.
However, if you jump down to the dairy-free substitutes, you will find a wonderful alternative with coconut cream!
If you need a heavy cream substitute for your favorite creamy soup or sauce though, any of these alternatives will do the trick.
Half & Half Plus Butter
The best substitute for heavy cream is half & half with butter. Half-and-half already has a high fat content. By adding a little bit of butter, you can mimic the fat content of heavy cream.
It only takes a little bit of butter to make 1 cup of heavy cream.
- ⅞ cup of half-half
- ⅛ cup of melted unsalted butter (let the butter cool slightly so it doesn’t curdle the half and half)
Mix the two together thoroughly! Keep stirring (or whisking) quickly until it thickens. Use the mixture in a 1:1 ratio for any recipe that calls for heavy cream.
Since half-n-half already has a high fat content, you can also use it on its own to thicken soups and sauces.
Whole Milk & Butter
Whole milk can also be mixed with butter as a substitute. However, milk has less fat than half-in-half so you will need more butter.
- ¾ milk
- ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
Use the mixture above to replace 1 cup of heavy cream in sauces and baked goods. You can also measure a 1:1 ratio from the mixture for smaller quantities.
Milk & Cornstarch
Cornstarch is a common thickening agent for soups, sauces, and gravies. While it is usually used with water to thicken foods, it can be added to milk to mimic heavy cream.
This is a good choice if you want to eliminate some of the fat of heavy cream. It also works well with lower fat milks. While it can be used in place of heavy cream for soups and sauces it is not a great choice for baking. The lack of fat will result in dry baked goods.
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (you can also use arrowroot powder)
If you don’t need a full cup of cream just measure a 1:1 ratio from the mixture to use in your recipe.
Evaporated is not as thick as heavy cream, but it is thicker than regular milk. Therefore, it can be used in pinch to quickly thicken soups and sauces. It is also a good choice for baking.
Use evaporated milk in a simple 1:1 exchange. The results won’t be quite as creamy or moist as if made with heavy cream, but it will have a nice light creaminess.
Other Creamy Dairy Alternatives
In addition to the milk combinations above, many other dairy products can mimic the effects of heavy cream. However, most of these have a flavor that may impact the overall dish. In a pinch though, grab one of these options from your fridge and try it out.
This is an extremely easy alternative if you keep yogurt on hand! Use in a 1:1 ratio for baking or savory sauces.
Greek Yogurt + Milk
Mix equal parts to get the consistency of cream. Use in a 1:1 ratio for dishes that will benefit from a little extra tanginess.
Use in place of heavy cream for a little tangy taste in any dish. Can be used in a 1:1 ratio in any recipes.
Mix with a bit of sugar to create a sweet base to use in desserts. Use in a 1:1 ratio for heavy cream.
Thin out with milk of choice until it has a consistency like cream. Works best for adding creaminess to soups and sauces.
Use the thinned-out mixture in a 1:1 ratio.
The Best Vegan Substitutes
With so many dairy-free alternatives, you can enjoy all the yummy creaminess that heavy whipping cream adds to dishes, without the dairy.
Canned Coconut Cream
Canned coconut cream is the most important vegan substitute to know about because it is the only one that will replace whipped cream.
While all the other substitutes can work for sauces and soups, they won’t whip. Therefore, coconut cream is the one to keep in mind when you want that creamy topping.
When using coconut cream make sure that you have indeed purchased coconut cream. You want full-fat canned coconut cream (not coconut milk). Place the can in the refrigerator overnight to chill.
In addition to being the best non-dairy choice for whipped cream, coconut cream can also be used in any other recipe. When using it in a recipe, whether baking or cooking, you will prepare it a bit differently.
Rather than chilling the coconut cream, leave it at room temperature. Pour the liquid and the cream into one bowl and thoroughly mix. This will give you a thick and creamy base.
Use this in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for any recipe that calls for heavy cream. As with any coconut substitute, be mindful that it will impart a slight coconut flavor to your dish.
Whipped Coconut Cream
To make whipped coconut cream, remove the chilled coconut cream from the fridge. When you open the can, pour out the liquid that has separated.
Place the hardened cream in a separate bowl and whip using your hand mixer (or another mixer). You can also add sugar and vanilla just like you would with heavy whipping cream.
Measure whipped coconut cream in a 1:1 ratio for any dessert you would use whipped cream for.
Canned Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is slightly thinner than coconut cream. However, if you get the full-fat version it is still thick enough to add a wonderful creaminess to soups and sauces. You can also use it when making dense cakes and other baked goods.
Prepare to use canned coconut milk the same way as described above: pour into a bowl and whisk together the milk and any separated liquid.
Use in 1:1 exchange for heavy cream in soups and sauces. Canned coconut milk will NOT work for whipped cream.
Plant-Based Milk & Oil
Grab your favorite plant-based milk and oil to make a dairy-free substitute like the milk and butter option above. A popular blend is soy milk and olive oil. You can use any combination of your choice though.
The only thing to consider when choosing which plant-based milk and oil to use is the possible change in flavor. Almond milk and soy milk have a milder flavor than coconut milk. Also, make sure you choose an unsweetened version.
- ⅔ cup milk
- ⅓ cup oil
Mix the milk and oil until it starts to thicken. Then use the mixture in a 1:1 ratio for soups, sauces, or baked goods that call for heavy cream.
Plant-Based Milk + Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder)
If you want a heavy cream substitute that is lower in fat, just whip up your favorite plant-based milk with a thickening agent. Cornstarch is a standard. If you prefer non-corn products though, arrowroot powder is a great alternative.
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch (arrowroot powder)
If you don’t need a full cup, just cut this in half (½ cup of milk + 1 tablespoon of cornstarch). Moreover, you can mix the measurements above and then measure what you need in a 1:1 ratio for the heavy cream.
This substitute is best used to thicken soups or sauces. It can also be used in baking, but it will likely produce a drier cake, cookie, etc. since there is no fat.
Tofu + Plant-based Milk
While it cannot be used straight out of the package, with a little bit of milk tofu becomes a great substitute. Place your tofu in a food processor and add a splash of milk (to begin).
Blend. Add more milk slowly if needed, until it begins to resemble the consistency of heavy cream.
Use in a 1:1 ratio for heavy cream in baked goods, soups, and sauces.
- Cover ¾ cup of cashews in water & soak for at least two hours.
- Drain the water.
- Add cashews to a food processor or blender.
- Add a ¼ cup of water.
- Blend until smooth.
I know I said earlier that coconut cream was the only choice for whipped cream; however, cashew cream can also work in a pinch. Chill the blended cashew cream and then whip it with sweetener.
More great substitute pages to help you out with all of your cooking and baking!
With so many options, you are sure to find the right substitute for your recipe. Let us know if you found a heavy cream substitute that worked for you!
The Best & Easiest Alternatives For Any Recipe!
- half & half (use ¾ cup for whole milk)
- (use ¼ cup for combining with whole milk)
Milk + Cornstarch (or a Thickening Agent)
*Nutritional information is calculated for the half & half + butter only.
Heavy Cream Substitute, substitutions
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma’s kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!
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Heavy cream is a crucial ingredient in many recipes, but you may find yourself in need of a heavy cream substitute for a number of reasons. Maybe you forgot to buy some, or you don’t eat dairy, or you’re having a dessert emergency (hey, we’ve all been there). The good news is that there are various alternatives to heavy cream that will provide a similar texture and flavor, including both vegan and dairy-free options, so you don’t need to head out to the grocery store just yet.
Heavy cream is the fat that collects on top of fresh milk if it hasn’t been homogenized or blended. According to FDA standards, heavy cream must contain between 36% and 40% fat—one of the highest percentages of any dairy product. While it’s sometimes called whipping cream or heavy whipping cream, these commercial products are distinct: Products labeled “whipping cream” may have a fat content as low as 30% and often contain stabilizers that help the liquid remain aerated when beaten. For most cooking purposes, however, the three items are interchangeable. Similarly, light cream, which has a fat content of around 20%, can be used in place of heavy cream for most cooking and baking projects, though you may find the results lacking somewhat in texture and moisture.
One of the most popular uses for heavy cream is making homemade whipped cream, as the fat content allows the cream to whip up into a light, fluffy topping that holds its shape extremely well. Light cream and whipping cream (the latter, perhaps, surprisingly) don’t whip up as quickly or as voluminously. Beyond dessert toppings, heavy cream may be used to add moisture and tenderness to baked goods, lend a velvety consistency to mashed potatoes, bring richness to soups and sauces, and imbue ice cream with its signature creamy texture.
Half-and-half + butter
Because heavy cream is so high in fat, you can often create a substitute with other high-fat ingredients. In terms of taste and consistency, a combination of half-and-half and butter is one of the best substitutes for heavy whipping cream—it tastes just like the real thing. As its name suggests, half-and-half is made up of half whole milk and half cream, and its fat content is typically between 10.5% and 18%. By adding melted butter, which is around 80% fat, to the liquid, you can increase that fat content.
For this substitution, you’ll want to combine ¾ cup of half-and-half with ¼ cup melted unsalted butter—this will replace 1 cup of heavy cream. The substitute will work well in both cooking and baking, but it’s not the best option for whipping. If you’re willing to forgo a little richness, you could use all half-and-half as a 1-to-1 substitution and skip the butter entirely.
Milk + butter
No half-and-half? You can make a similar heavy cream alternative using regular milk and butter. Whole milk has a fat percentage of around 3.5% and is preferable to lower-fat varieties, but you’ll still want to use more melted butter than you would with half-and-half. For best results, try mixing ⅔ cup of whole milk with ⅓ cup butter. Whisk well to combine before adding to any baking or cooking projects. Again, you won’t be able to whip this mixture into a topping.
For a vegan heavy cream substitute, consider using coconut cream. You can often spot coconut cream, which is thicker and higher in fat than coconut milk, on store shelves right alongside its kin. You can also steal it from a can of full-fat coconut milk: Chill the coconut milk overnight, then scoop the solidified coconut cream off the top, leaving the watery coconut liquid behind. Use this ingredient as a 1-to-1 substitute for heavy cream in baking or cooking, but note that it will impart a coconut flavor to your dish.
Coconut cream also works well for creating a vegan, dairy-free whipped topping. To make coconut milk whipped cream, use an electric mixer to whip chilled cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. If desired, you can add vanilla extract and a sweetener to help accentuate the topping’s coconut flavor.
If you’re looking for a substitute to add body to a stew or sauce, a combination of milk and cornstarch may do the trick. Cornstarch is low-calorie and low fat, and it will help to thicken your dish without imparting any flavor to it.
To replace one cup of heavy cream, mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1 cup milk, whisking well to break up any clumps. Cornstarch requires heat to thicken, so add the slurry to soups and sauces and simmer for at least 1 minute to activate the cornstarch. For recipes in which the cornstarch mixture won’t be heated, you’ll need to cook the mixture before using: Heat in a small saucepan until it reaches a simmer (about 203 degrees Fahrenheit), whisking frequently, and cook until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, then chill before using. This substitution will work well when cooking, but it’s not ideal for baking or whipping.
You can add extra protein to a recipe by using Greek yogurt as a stand-in for heavy cream. It’s often a bit too thick on its own, so for best results, try mixing equal parts whole milk and plain Greek yogurt to add to sauces and soups. While this combination works well to add creaminess to soups and sauces, it’s not a great substitute for baking or whipping. That said, you could whisk a little sugar and a few splashes of milk into Greek yogurt to make a sweet and tangy dessert topping to pair with fruit or dollop over cake.
Alt milk + oil
A combination of alt milk and cooking oil is another vegan and dairy-free substitute for heavy cream. Olive oil is great if you want that flavor, but vegetable, safflower, or another neutral oil is probably the way to go for most recipes. Similar to the combination of butter and whole milk, oil adds fat to dairy-free milk, giving it a similar texture to cream. In general you’ll want to use ⅔ cup of milk and ⅓ cup of oil for each cup of heavy cream, and you can use this substitute in both cooking and baking recipes. We think the best dairy-free milk for baking is oat milk, but this method will also work with cashew milk, soy milk, almond milk, or whatever you keep on hand.
Heavy cream powder
If you cook with heavy cream a lot but don’t want to keep the ingredient stocked in your fridge, heavy cream powder is a shelf-stable alternative. Also called dehydrated sweet cream powder, this white powder is made solely from sweet cream solids—that doesn’t mean that it’s been sweetened. The “sweet” in the name only indicates that the product isn’t made from cultured or sour cream. It can be added directly into baking recipes or reconstituted by mixing it with water. Keep this heavy cream substitute right next to the milk powder and buttermilk powder in your pantry and you’ll never have to worry about running out of dairy ever again.
Anthony’s Heavy Cream Powder (1 lb)
An open container of heavy cream lasts up to 1 month, according to the USDA. So once you crack open that carton, turn to these dinner and dessert recipes that use heavy whipping cream. Including low-carb keto recipes that use heavy whipping cream and decadent sweets, these ideas will help you make the most of every last drop.
Marbled Pumpkin-Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars
Heavy cream used: ⅓ cup
Canned pumpkin, bittersweet chocolate, cream cheese, and warm baking spices—plus a splash of cream—ensure that this is a supremely cozy and craveable fall treat. “I have made it several times, exactly as written and everyone loves it. It doesn’t hurt that it’s absolutely beautiful—and with just a few swirls of a knife. Bring it to your next gathering and bring copies of the recipe with you,” confirms BHG home cook Dee. “You’ll be handing them out to everyone,” once they taste this dessert recipe that uses heavy whipping cream.
Creamy Sausage Rigatoni with Peas
Heavy cream used: ¾ cup
If savory is more your style, this recipe that uses heavy whipping cream is our top recommendation for your next family dinner. It’s totally restaurant-quality, and most of the ingredients come from your freezer or pantry staple stock! (Just add that cream—if you don’t have it already—fresh basil and a package of chicken or pork sausage to your express lane shopping list.) In tandem with the starchy cooking water, chicken broth, and a bit of Parmesan cheese, a generous pour of heavy cream creates a lusciously silky sauce for this sausage and pea pasta recipe.
Strawberry-Cardamom and Cream Cake
Heavy cream used: 2 cups
Created by Top Chef and Taste the Nation host Padma Lakshmi in honor of BHG’s 100th anniversary, this lovely layer cake is like the grown-up, global cousin of strawberry shortcake. The cardamom-scented buttermilk cake is wrapped in a thick layer of remarkably fluffy homemade frosting. That frosting, by the way, is the part of this dessert recipe that uses heavy whipping cream. Two cups of the dreamy dairy product lend loftiness to the cream cheese-based coating.
Pick-a-Flavor No-Churn Ice Cream
No guide to recipes that use heavy whipping cream would be complete without a homemade ice cream or two. This no-special-equipment-required earns rave reviews from readers, one of which declares it, “SO good. It tasted like an expensive and very creamy ice cream or frozen custard.” Our Test Kitchen adores it so much as well that they couldn’t stop at one way to make this easy no-churn ice cream. Start with the 3-ingredient vanilla variety, then we’ll coach you through how to transform that same base into 14 other flavors, including chocolate, cherry, coffee, honey, birthday cake, and lavender ice creams.
Zesty Peaches and Cream Tart
Heavy cream used: ½ cup
Each summer, we have this dessert recipe that uses heavy whipping cream on repeat. Thanks to a store-bought shortcut, frozen puff pastry, all you need to do is slice and macerate the peaches (aka toss them with sugar and citrus juice, then refrigerate for a couple hours). Then roll out and bake the pastry and whip up the triple-cream topping with cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream. Layer that up like a fruit pizza; this is truly a no-sweat summer dessert.
Your search stops here, according to one BHG fan. They say this is “hands down, the very best Alfredo recipe I have tried. So easy and delicious. I serve it with pan-seared chicken breast and either broccoli or asparagus.” True, you could buy jarred Alfredo sauce, but our DIY version of this recipe that uses heavy whipping cream shows how simple it is to make from scratch. Besides the cream, you just need butter, garlic, Parm, salt, pepper, and your pasta of choice.
Apple Cake with Buttery Caramel Sauce
Some cooks add vanilla, salt, water, and other ingredients, but butter, cream, and some source of sugar are the key components required for classic caramels and caramel sauce. For this dessert recipe that uses heavy whipping cream, we use equal parts butter, cream, brown sugar, and white sugar—plus a splash of vanilla extract—to create the rich and nutty-flavored drizzle. It’s the proverbial cherry on top of the tender apple-walnut cake.
Creamy Keto Roasted Salmon Soup
Heavy cream used: 1 cup
Due to the popularity of the keto diet, in the last decade, many more refrigerators are stocked with multiple cartons of cream. As you can tell by now, it’s a quick and easy way to boost the fat and creaminess factor in savory and sweet recipes. For this keto recipe that uses heavy whipping cream, it joins forces with chicken broth to act as the sippably-tasty base for this unique seafood soup. Instead of serving it with bread or croutons, we suggest baking up quick cheese crisps to keep the entire dish keto (if you need to, otherwise get your bread on!).
Caramel-Banana-Pecan Bread Casserole
Heavy cream used: 2 ½ cups
If you happen to have a majority of a quart carton to use up, this recipe that uses heavy whipping cream will help you make a great dent in the remaining dairy. And you’ll be treated to one of the best brunch recipes for a crowd if you give it a go. Use 2 cups of cream in the slow cooker bread casserole, then polish off another ½ cup in the caramel-banana sauce to spoon on top of the finished set-and-forget product.
Test Kitchen Tip: Feel free to make the caramel-banana sauce on its own to use as a topping for sundaes, French toast, waffles, pancakes, or to stir into oatmeal.
Parmesan Potato Gratin
Prepare to take grandma’s scalloped potatoes to the next level. Crispy bacon, a bounty of fresh herbs, a full pound of Parmesan cheese, and a pile of finely-sliced potatoes star in this recipe that uses heavy whipping cream. Everyone will be coming back for scoop after scoop of this up-scale potato recipe. Luckily, since it yields 24 servings, you shouldn’t have to worry about running short before dinner is done.
Mushroom Fricassee with Fresh Herbs
Spoon these ‘shrooms atop chicken, pork, or steak. Use them to top toast. Feature the fungi in omelets or scrambles. Fold them into mashed potatoes or cauliflower. Whatever you do, just make this keto recipe that uses heavy whipping cream. With a slight nutty quality from walnut oil, bright flavor from fresh herbs, complexity from garlic, and featuring a savory backbone of a mix of mushrooms, this mushroom cream sauce is showy enough for holiday meals but easy enough for any Sunday dinner.
Gianduja Cream Puffs
Heavy cream used: 1 ½ cups
It makes total sense that this dessert recipe uses heavy whipping cream. It is in the name, after all, and we showcase 1 ½ cups in the batter for the buttery cream puffs. As far as the filling goes, think of gianduja like a denser form of Nutella, made with hazelnuts, cocoa, and sugar. We call for ¼ cup of milk in that chocolate mixture, but if you have an extra splash of cream, we give you full permission to swap that in!