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What Is a Substitute for Heavy Cream?

Are you short on heavy cream? I use it frequently to add flavor and enhance the taste of my desserts, soups, and sauces. However, due to my heavy dependence, I often run out of heavy cream.

As a result, I had to rely on a few alternatives, some of which have entirely replaced heavy cream in a number of my recipes.

What is heavy cream?

Heavy cream is a dairy product which is also known as heavy whipping cream. [i] It is used to add a velvety flavor to recipes. The increased fat in it—it contains almost 40% fat—makes it unique when it comes to other types of milk and cream stacked on the shelves of grocery stores. It is also why it is an ideal choice for whipping.

Which are the best heavy cream substitutes?

Here are six easy-to-find and mouth-watering substitutes for heavy cream.

1. Cottage Cheese and Milk

Cottage cheese is derived from milk production. It is a popular heavy cream substitute due to the higher number of micronutrients. You can use it to make your sauces thicker.

With milk, it can serve as an adequate replacement to replicate the creamy and smooth texture of heavy cream.

However, it is important to pick the right recipes where the cheesy and unique flavor of cottage cheese can complement the dishes, such as in sauces and soups.

Also, keep in mind that cottage cheese carries a lot of sodium, so you will have to adjust the salt in your recipes.

2. Coconut Cream

Vegans have adopted coconut cream as a heavy cream substitute. You can make coconut whipped cream by following these steps.

  1. Refrigerate the can overnight so the cream separates from any liquid.
  2. Open the can. Remove the liquid contents, so only the solid coconut cream remains in the can.
  3. Take out the cream and add it to a bowl.
  4. Whip the cream with a hand mixer.

Coconut cream can complement desserts. It has a unique coconut flavor—means you just cannot add it in any dish. It works better in savory and sweet dishes.

Pro Tip: Coconut cream is NOT the same as cream of coconut. Weird, huh? Cream of coconut is a sweetened ingredient in cocktails such as piña coladas and does not contain the same amount of fat required to make this whip up. It’s delicious, just not the same. It’s also called creme de coco.

3. Milk and Butter

The combination of milk and butter is a convenient method to replace heavy cream in a wide array of recipes. The addition of butter increases fat in the milk and it gains a similar fat percentage to that of heavy cream. Combine ¾ cup of milk with ¼ cup of melted butter and mix it vigorously to create a single cup of heavy cream.

If you want more thickness, then you can add a tablespoon of flour. Milk and butter work the best in baking and cooking recipes that require the use of heavy cream for increased creaminess.

However, this is not the best heavy cream substitute when it comes to whipping.

4. Greek Yogurt and Milk or Sour Cream and Milk

Combining whole milk and Greek yogurt is a worthy alternative to heavy cream, especially if you are looking for more protein. Since it is thicker than heavy cream, you can thin it by adding more milk to replicate the texture of heavy cream.

However, Greek yogurt and sour cream are tangy, so keep that flavor in mind for desserts and baked goods.

5. White beans

Soup lovers can use pureed beans as a substitute for heavy cream. It does not only increase thickness, but it also adds fiber, protein, and nutrients to the dish.

As for the amount, 1 cup of pureed pulses can replace 1 cup of heavy cream. It’s not quite as smooth as dairy, but it adds richness without affecting the flavor too much.

6. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk contains less amount of water—around 60%—than normal milk. It is creamier and thicker. It is low in calories, so it can work well if you are sticking to a certain diet. Mostly, it is used in recipes where heavy cream is used as a liquid.

Substitute it in equal amounts in place of heavy cream. Dessert makers can use vanilla extract for enhanced flavor as evap milk is notorious for being rather bland.

7. Buttermilk

If you have a bottle of buttermilk in the fridge, you can take advantage of its richness when baking or cooking something silky and luxurious.

Buttermilk makes a slightly sour substitute for heavy cream. Want to learn how to make your own buttermilk? Check out our how-to here.

Is heavy cream and whipping cream the same?

Whipping and heavy cream are two different names for the same product. [ii] According to the FDA, they are made of 36% or more fat. For cream that you want to WHIP and not just cook with, you may want to avoid the ultra-pasteurized cream (UHT), as it may take longer or not whip up at all.

Pro Tip: The colder the cream, the faster it will whip up into whipped cream. Once it starts to thicken, don’t get distracted: whipping cream can quickly turn to butter and there’s no reversing that! (But, yum–butter!)

Final Thoughts

The next time you are busy making a dessert or sauce and come to find that you don’t have enough heavy cream, don’t be disappointed. Instead, experiment with any of the substitutes mentioned above.

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