Whether it’s for your morning coffee, your favorite ice cream, or a truly impressive cake topping, there is no doubt heavy cream is a super versatile ingredient in your kitchen. However, as a dairy product that is high in milk-fat and calories, it may not be a good choice for everyone.
Looking for a healthy, dairy-free, or keto heavy cream substitute? Or you simply need an alternative to save you from that extra visit to the grocery store? No matter the reason, there are many alternatives available. But keep in mind that substitutes with less than 36% fat won’t whip well enough to give you that perfect dessert topping.
On the other hand, if you only want to add creaminess and richness to your food or beverage, you don’t need to worry about the ‘whipping’ factor – it all depends on the recipe.
Apart from the fat content, the flavor is another factor that will determine whether you can safely make a replacement. Besides, higher fat alternatives are more likely to be heated to high temperatures without curdling.
What Is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream is a dairy product made from the high-fat layer that is removed from the top of the milk before homogenization. It is also known as heavy whipping cream and contains 36-40% milkfat.
The cream is used in many recipes including cream sauces, soups, Indian curries, puddings, stews, ice cream, and cakes. Its high-fat content and thick texture make everything from your morning coffee to your afternoon dessert super decadent.
Due to its low-carb content, heavy cream is also good in keto recipes such as soups, sauces, side dishes, baked goods, and desserts.
For creating whipped cream, heavy cream should be cold enough, otherwise, it won’t whip, it will churn. For best results, make sure that everything from the cream to the bowl and the beaters are well-chilled.
Heavy Cream Alternatives
Whipping cream is also known as light whipping cream. It contains 30-35% milk fat, so it’s lighter than heavy cream and can make a good substitution in many recipes without any ill effects. Nutritionwise, there isn’t an important difference between the two.
The 5% less fat doesn’t mean that whipping cream won’t whip, it means that it won’t hold its shape as successfully when whipped and you won’t get those perfect stiff peaks. Instead of a thick cream topping, the end result will be closer to the texture of Cool Whip.
Whipping cream can also be used in place of heavy cream in sauces, soups, and sweets, but with a difference in thickness and richness. Its light airy texture is a perfect match for apple pie, meringue-based desserts, and peach blueberry crumbles..yum!
Substitute heavy cream with whipping cream at a 1:1 ratio.
Milk And Butter
Milk cannot substitute heavy cream on its own but with a little help from butter, it can. The problem with milk is that it doesn´t contain enough fat. Mixing it with butter will give you a good alternative for baking and cooking recipes in which heavy cream is used to add creaminess and flavor such as soups, sauces, and casseroles.
Pour ⅓ cup of butter into a saucepan and keep stirring it over medium heat. Lower the heat and keep stirring until it has fully melted. Let it cool and then pour into ¾ cup of whole milk and stir. If you use reduced-fat milk or low-fat milk, mix it with 1 tablespoon of flour or cornstarch so it gets thicker.
This butter and milk substitution won’t work on recipes that call for whipping, but it can perfectly do the job of a cream thickener in sauces and other dishes.
Half-and-half is quite versatile but less rich than heavy cream due to the lower fat content (10.5-18% milkfat.) It can be used in a variety of recipes that call for heavy cream but with a little difference in texture.
It’s the ideal substitute in coffee and recipes that don’t require a higher amount of fat such as mashed potatoes, quiche, and sauces. Plus, it will reduce the calories in your recipe without a significant change in flavor.
Half-and-half is not the best choice for whipping because it doesn´t contain enough milk fat. However, if you whip it when it’s almost frozen, you can achieve some creaminess, but it won’t be stable enough. Adding a small amount of Lecithin can help stabilize the cream but create a foamy rather than creamy result.
Heavy cream doesn’t always need to be the star ingredient in your kitchen. If you want to give a healthy twist to your recipes, think of replacing heavy cream with Greek yogurt as it contains a lot less fat than heavy cream.
In baking, the result will have a tangier flavor and your baked goods will be denser and less tender - not a bad change-up after all. In doughs and batters, you will need to thin Greek yogurt with a little milk to get the same consistency with cream, otherwise, your result may be too stiff.
In desserts such as cheesecake, replace no more than half of the heavy cream with yogurt, and in hot soups temper the yogurt before adding it to the soup to avoid curdling. Using yogurt in pasta sauces such as Alfredo sauce is super easy, too.
Sour cream has a creamy texture similar to yogurt and a distinctly tangy taste to it. It can be tricky to replace heavy cream with sour cream in baking recipes because sour cream’s lactic acid will affect leavening so you may need to adjust the amount of baking powder or soda your recipe calls for.
Besides, the sour cream you buy in the store may include various additives which may also react with the other ingredients of your recipe unpredictably. Sour cream has about 18-20% milk fat so it will curdle if simmered or boiled. You can use it once your food is ready and off the heat.
Sour cream and heavy cream can be used interchangeably in salads or toppings with some adjustments in the taste such as reducing the lemon or vinegar in the recipe.
Evaporated milk is a lower fat and calorie substitution for heavy cream but it doesn’t have the same thickening properties and it won’t whip. In baking recipes that use heavy cream as a liquid ingredient, the chances of success are more.
You can replace 1 cup of evaporated milk with 1 cup of heavy cream, or mix ¾ evaporated milk with ⅓ cup of butter.
Cream cheese is a good alternative in frosting as well as sauces and soups that are cream-based to help thicken them, but it’s not a good option for heavy cream recipes that call for whipping. You can replace an equal amount.
Since cream cheese is a bit tangy, it may change the flavor of your dish, so use it in recipes that cream cheese will complement the flavor or slightly change it at best.
If you are looking for a keto substitute for heavy cream, coconut cream is a great choice. It is low in carbs and won’t take you out of ketosis. It is also dairy-free and suitable for vegans. Plus, it’s perfect for keto baking recipes since it’s high in fat.
Besides, it can be whipped so there can be tons of uses in your kitchen such as dessert toppings, pies, soups, curries, baked goods – you name it. However, the coconut flavor won’t work in all recipes, so make your choices accordingly.
Tofu is made from soy milk and is rich in protein, so it’s a good dairy-free and vegan replacement for heavy cream. It’s also suitable for lactose intolerant individuals.
You can easily give tofu a smooth creamy texture by pureeing it in a blender or blending it with equal parts of soy milk. Then, you can use it at a 1:1 ratio in place of heavy cream to thicken your soups and sauces.
Tofu has a mild taste that is not easily detected in some recipes. It can also be whipped.
- Cottage cheese and milk
- Buttermilk and oil
- Ricotta cheese and nonfat yogurt
- Cashew cream