The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream For Sweet or Savory Recipes (2024)

  • How to Cook
  • Substitutions

Whether your recipe calls for heavy cream, whipping cream, or half-and-half, our Test Kitchen has an easy substitute that won't change the flavor.


Karla Walsh

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream For Sweet or Savory Recipes (1)

Karla Walsh

Karla Walsh began her career at FITNESS magazine in 2010. Since, she's worked at a wide variety of publications full-time, including, and as a cross-brand social media specialist. From search engine optimization to features for print to video strategy, she has a diverse background in all things magazines. At the start of 2019, Karla chose to pursue full-time freelance writing and has contributed to more than 3 dozen brands.

Learn about BHG's Editorial Process

Updated on August 30, 2023

Fact checked by

Marcus Reeves

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream For Sweet or Savory Recipes (2)

Fact checked byMarcus Reeves

Marcus Reeves is an experienced writer, publisher, and fact-checker. He began his writing career reporting for The Source magazine. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, The Washington Post, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. His book Somebody Scream: Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power was nominated for a Zora Neale Hurston Award. He is an adjunct instructor at New York University, where he teaches writing and communications. Marcus received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Learn about BHG's Fact Checking Process

No cream? Don't worry; you can continue with that recipe you've been looking forward to—just use these substitutes for heavy cream. They perform nearly identically to classic cream. We're sharing subs that work in both sweet and savory applications. We have some additional ideas and healthy substitutes for heavy cream if you—or anyone you'll be serving—have dietary restrictions.

What Is Heavy Cream, Exactly?

Heavy cream is the high-fat portion of cow's milk that rises to the top, which is a result of its fat content. From there, the cream is skimmed off to create low-fat and fat-free milk. For whole milk, the cream is mixed right in. Once skimmed and separated from the lower-fat milk, the decadent heavy cream has about 36% to 40% milk fat. If you're wondering what to substitute for heavy cream to fit a lactose-free or vegan lifestyle, or you simply realize you've run out halfway through a recipe, here are some substitutions.

12 Popular Dairy-Free and Plant-Based Milk Alternatives, Explained

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream for Savory Recipes

Consider the options below as one-for-one substitues for heavy cream in savory options like creamy soups, sauces, or fluffy mashed potatoes.

  • Evaporated milk works well as a substitute for heavy cream in sauces or soups calling for whole milk. In the making of evaporated milk, regular cow's milk is pressure-cooked until it sheds about half of its water content, making it thicker in consistency. For a healthy substitute, try evaporated skim milk. This will slash calories and eliminate nearly all of the saturated fat you'd find in heavy cream.
  • Light cream has a fat content of around 20% (compared to heavy cream's 36% to 40%). There's not quite enough fat to create a foamy, fluffy texture, so using light cream as a substitute for heavy cream doesn't work well in recipes that require whipping.
  • Half-and-half. Can you substitute half-and-half for heavy cream? Absolutely. The name does a great job of explaining what this is: half cream and half milk, with about 10% to 12% fat.
  • Whole milk is the creamiest cow's milk, but with between 3% to 4% fat, it's much lighter than heavy cream and all the other swaps mentioned so far.
  • Heavy cream powder is a lifesaver if you can't visit the supermarket often or need a shelf-stable pantry staple. Heavy cream powder ($18, Amazon) is made with sweet cream solids, and once you reconstitute it, this works A-OK in savory soups and sauces.

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream for Sweet Recipes

Besides the whipped dessert topping (with a two-for-one trade mentioned below), these substitutes for heavy cream can be used one-for-one in sweet recipes.

  • Whipped dessert topping is the best semi-homemade substitute for whipping cream. It's perfect for icebox cakes and pies and other no-bake treats or (not surprisingly) as a dessert topping. For 1 cup whipping cream called for in your dessert recipe, substitute 2 cups whipped dessert topping, such as Cool Whip.
  • Milk and butter. For 1 cup of a heavy cream substitute, melt ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, then allow it to cool to room temperature. Whisk with ¾ cup whole milk and use in any sweet application that doesn't require whipping.
  • Mascarpone Cheese is about 44% fat and is like a sweeter cousin to sour cream and crème fraîche. Try it as a dessert topping, or mix it with whipping cream and sugar in a whipped mascarpone recipe.
  • Crème Fraîche is a slightly tangy cultured cream with around 30% fat. Try it in pudding and other non-whipped heavy cream recipes.

21 Baking Tools Every Home Cook Needs (Plus 16 Handy Extras)

The Best Non-Dairy Substitutes for Heavy Cream

Consider these ingredients a one-for-one alternative if you need a dairy-free substitute for heavy cream.

  • Plant-based milk and oil. Stir together ⅔ cup soy or rice milk and ⅓ cup oil for a non-dairy substitute for casseroles or soups. This is a lighter calorie and fat substitute in pasta sauces, like white or tomato cream.
  • Tofu. Puree firm or extra-firm silken tofu to make a substitute for thickening sauces and soups.
  • Coconut cream or coconut milk. Coconut cream (not cream of coconut, which is sweetened) is a perfect heavy whipping cream substitute, while coconut milk is fantastic in more savory applications.

Now that you're well-versed in all of the best substitutes for heavy cream, you can adjust accordingly based on your dietary needs, pantry storage, and recipe flavor.

Was this page helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tell us why!

The Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream For Sweet or Savory Recipes (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nicola Considine CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 6428

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nicola Considine CPA

Birthday: 1993-02-26

Address: 3809 Clinton Inlet, East Aleisha, UT 46318-2392

Phone: +2681424145499

Job: Government Technician

Hobby: Calligraphy, Lego building, Worldbuilding, Shooting, Bird watching, Shopping, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Nicola Considine CPA, I am a determined, witty, powerful, brainy, open, smiling, proud person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.