Thick, rich, and creamy, it's pretty obvious why heavy cream is a kitchen staple. With its high-fat content, heavy cream adds thickness and smoothness to a soup or sauce, making for a deliciously creamy texture. It's also one of the main ingredients in many ice cream bases and can whip up into fresh butter or whipped cream in a matter of minutes. However, sometimes you don't want a high-fat ingredient in your soup, and those with dietary restrictions might need a dairy-free option. Fortunately, there are plenty of heavy cream substitutes that are just as creamy and delectable.
These substitutes range from other dairy products to creams made from nuts or coconuts. Although none are the exact same as heavy cream, they come pretty close to the real deal. If you're looking for a healthier option, avoiding dairy, or simply ran out of your trusty heavy cream, these substitutes will do the trick.
8 Heavy Cream Substitutes
1. Milk and Butter
This simple DIY heavy cream substitute is easy to make with just two ingredients; whole milk and melted butter. Whole milk doesn't quite cut it when it comes to fat content, so the butter helps make this heavy whipping cream stand-in work. To make one cup of heavy cream, mix 1/4 cup of melted butter with 3/4 cup of whole milk.
This is great to use in baking and cooking recipes, like in mashed potatoes and sauces, but keep in mind that it won't whip up like heavy cream would for whipped cream.
2. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is a dairy-free substitute for heavy cream and commonly used in vegan baking and cooking. It's extremely rich and has only a subtle coconut flavor. Substitute equal amounts of heavy cream with coconut cream in recipes. Another interesting quality of coconut cream is that its hardened fat can be whipped into a dairy-free whipped cream.
To do this, chill a can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight. Open the can and pour out the liquid, saving the fat from the top. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the coconut cream fat until thick with a bit of powdered sugar. Use as a dairy-free filling for cakes or cupcakes and make sure it's full-fat coconut cream.
3. Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is a popular vegan, dairy-free substitute in many recipes. It's creamy and doesn't have much flavor. You can easily make your own by soaking raw cashews in just enough water for at least an hour or overnight. Drain and blend the cashews with a bit of freshwater until smooth.
Use cashew cream in place of heavy cream for any creamy recipe like alfredo or vegetable dip. Cashew cream can also be whipped, making it a great option for dairy-free whipped cream.
4. Half-and-Half and Butter
Similar to milk and butter, the combination of half-and-half and melted butter make a great heavy cream substitute. To make one cup of heavy cream, melt 1/8 cup unsalted butter (about two tablespoons) and mix with 7/8 cup of half-and-half (about 14 tablespoons).
Use this heavy cream substitute in soup, sauces, ice cream and frosting. This is a great option if you've run out of heavy cream and don't have time for a trip to the store, but it's not the best replacement if you're watching your fat intake or avoiding dairy.
5. Greek Yogurt and Milk
The combination of Greek yogurt and milk can make a nice heavy cream substitute. Another plus, Greek yogurt is high in protein, meaning that you'll get extra health benefits from this substitute that heavy cream doesn't offer. Just mix together equal parts of Greek yogurt and milk.
Since Greek yogurt can have a tangy flavor, this option is best for sauces and savory recipes that will have lots of other components. If the recipe only has a few ingredients, you might want to use a substitute with a more neutral flavor, like cashew cream. Greek yogurt and milk is best used as a replacement in savory cooking recipes rather than baking.
6. Evaporated Milk
You can easily find cans of evaporated milk at the grocery store. It's creamier than regular milk and you can substitute heavy cream for equal parts of evaporated milk. However, it won't whip up like heavy cream.
Evaporated milk is a great replacement for heavy cream in cooking recipes where the heavy cream is being used as a liquid ingredient. Plus, it has a much longer shelf-life and can stay in your pantry without going bad far longer than heavy cream will keep. Evaporated milk has a slightly sweet, caramel flavor, so it's a tasty substitute in sweet recipes like creme brûlée.
7. Soy Milk and Olive Oil
For a vegan heavy cream replacement, try out soy milk and olive oil. The soy milk is creamy while olive oil adds fat. To make one cup of this substitute, combine 2/3 cup of soy milk with 1/3 cup of olive oil. This option is healthier than heavy cream and is ideal for a dairy-free substitute, but it's best used in savory recipes rather than baking, and it's not a good choice for recipes that involve whipping the cream.
8. Cream Cheese
Although cream cheese is much thicker than heavy cream, it can be a good substitute when used correctly. It's too heavy to whip, so it won't be a good option for a whipped topping, but cream cheese works well as a thickener for soups, sauces and frostings. Use it in a 1:1 ratio; so use the same amount of cream cheese as the amount of heavy milk that it's replacing.
This post was originally published on July 12, 2020.
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