If you ran out of heavy cream or are looking for a healthier or dairy-free alternative, this guide suggests the best substitutes for heavy cream that can be used in various recipes.
Heavy Cream is an important ingredient in several baking and cooking recipes. It does entice the taste of any dish, but that comes with high-calorie in each bite. If you are looking for a low calorie or a vegan substitute for the heavy cream or there is none left in the middle of making a recipe, this exhaustive list of best substitutes would work perfectly well for all types of recipes.
- What Is Heavy Cream?
- Best Substitutes For Heavy Cream
- 1. Make Heavy Cream at Home Using Milk and Butter
- 2. Half-and-half
- 3. Whole milk
- 4. Evaporated milk
- 5. Greek Yogurt
- 6. Sour Cream
- 7. Coconut Milk/ Cream
- 8. Almond Milk
- 9. Cashew Cream
- 10. Cottage cheese (blended)
- 11. Buttermilk
- 12. Cream Cheese (diluted)
- Recipes that Use Substitutes of Heavy Cream
What Is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream, also known as whipping cream or double cream, is a rich and high-fat dairy product derived from cow's milk. It contains a butterfat content of about 36-40%, making it thicker and creamier compared to lighter dairy products like milk or light cream. It is commonly used in cooking, baking, and as a topping due to its luxurious texture and ability to add richness to dishes.
When full fat milk is boiled, cooled off and refrigerated, you would notice a thick layer of fat over it. Scoop it gently and you have the decadent and extra creamy 'heavy cream'. If you wish to make Ghee(Clarified butter) from it, you can add it to a heavy bottomed pan/wok and heat till it reduces to a transparent yellowish liquid, which is called Ghee. It takes a long time depending upon the quantity of cream. Ghee is a humble substitute for many Indian savory recipes and I extensively use Ghee in most of my recipes.
If you use low fat milk, you would get light whipping cream with low calorie.
Best Substitutes For Heavy Cream
1. Make Heavy Cream at Home Using Milk and Butter
If you ran out of Heavy cream at the last minute and have time and energy to make it, try making it at home.
You can make a homemade version using two ingredients: whole milk and unsalted butter. Here's how:
- Heat 1 cup of whole milk in a saucepan over low heat until it reaches a gentle simmer.
- Gradually add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, stirring continuously until the butter melts and incorporates into the milk.
- Continue simmering the mixture for a few minutes until it thickens slightly.
- Remove from heat and let it cool. The mixture will further thicken as it cools, resembling heavy cream.
Remember that the homemade version may not have the exact same consistency and flavor as commercially produced heavy cream, but it can still serve as a suitable substitute in many recipes.
You may also add milk and butter in the ratio 3:1 to make a quick subs for heavy cream without going through the above long process. It would work well for baking and cooking but may not be suitable for whipping.
Half-and-half is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream. It has a lower fat content than heavy cream. It can be used as a substitute in equal amounts for heavy cream in both baking and cooking recipes.
3. Whole milk
Whole milk is lower in fat compared to heavy cream. It can be used as a substitute in a one-to-one ratio in recipes that require heavy cream. However, keep in mind that the texture and richness may be slightly compromised. Use whole milk as a cream substitute for both baking and making gravy. I have used it in a few baking and cooking recipes and they turned out well.
You may add butter and milk to have a more creamy subs for heavy cream.
4. Evaporated milk
Evaporated milk is a canned milk product with about 60% of the water content removed. It has a thicker consistency and a slightly caramelized flavor. In baking, you can substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream in a one-to-one ratio. For gravy, dilute evaporated milk with water in a one-to-one ratio and use as a substitute.
If you are looking for a substitute in a baking recipe, you may use condensed milk as well.
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a creamy and tangy option that can replace heavy cream in certain recipes. It works well in savory dishes and sauces. Use an equal amount of Greek yogurt as a substitute, but be aware that it may add a tangy flavor to the final dish.
Rich in protein, low in cholesterol and calories, Greek Yogurt is definitely a healthy substitute of heavy cream.
6. Sour Cream
Sour cream has a tangy taste and a thicker consistency compared to heavy cream. It is suitable for savory dishes, soups, and sauces. Replace heavy cream with an equal amount of sour cream, but note that it may alter the flavor profile.
7. Coconut Milk/ Cream
Coconut milk is a dairy-free alternative that works well in both sweet and savory dishes. It has a rich and creamy texture. When using coconut milk as a substitute for heavy cream, use a one-to-one ratio. Shake the can well before measuring. If you wish to use coconut cream, scoop it from the top of the can of milk.
8. Almond Milk
Almond milk is a non-dairy milk substitute that has a mild flavor. It is lower in fat and creaminess compared to heavy cream. To substitute, use an equal amount of almond milk, but be aware that the texture and richness may be affected.
9. Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is made by blending soaked cashews with water until smooth and creamy. It has a neutral flavor and a creamy consistency. Use cashew cream as a one-to-one substitute for heavy cream in both cooking and baking.
Silken tofu can be blended into a smooth and creamy consistency, making it a suitable substitute for heavy cream in certain recipes. Use an equal amount of pureed silken tofu as a replacement.
10. Cottage cheese (blended)
Blended cottage cheese can be used as a substitute for heavy cream in certain recipes. Blend cottage cheese until smooth and creamy, and use it as a one-to-one replacement. It works well in savory dishes and dips.
Buttermilk is a tangy and acidic dairy product. It is best used as a substitute in recipes that require heavy cream for its acidic properties, such as in marinades or baked goods that require a tender crumb. Use an equal amount of buttermilk.
12. Cream Cheese (diluted)
Cream cheese can be diluted with milk or water to create a substitute for heavy cream. It work well for soups, gravy dishes, and frostings. Use equal parts cream cheese and liquid to achieve the desired consistency. This substitute is suitable for certain baking recipes.
Yes, you may subs milk with heavy cream in 1:2 ratio. But it won't be healthy then as cream has more fat content than milk, even if you use full fat milk.
In terms of density, heavy cream is indeed heavier than milk. The higher fat content in heavy cream contributes to its denser and thicker consistency compared to milk. While milk typically has a fat content of around 3-4%, heavy cream contains approximately 36-40% fat, making it much denser and richer. This higher fat content gives heavy cream its characteristic creamy texture and allows it to whip into stiff peaks when beaten.