No Heavy Cream? No Problem: These 10 Substitutes Will Work in Any Recipe (2024)

Save yourself a trip to the store with one of these handy ingredients.

By Kara Zauberman
No Heavy Cream? No Problem: These 10 Substitutes Will Work in Any Recipe (1)

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Ah, heavy cream. 🤤 There's nothing quite like it. The rich, decadent ingredient is a welcome addition to a morning cup of coffee and it's what makes ice cream so dang delicious (just look at Ree Drummond's vanilla ice cream). Not to mention, heavy cream is also a key ingredient in hearty dishes like fettuccine alfredo and creamy soups, like chicken chowder. So what happens when you reach into the fridge to find that your heavy cream is down to the last drop? Don't worry! There are actually plenty of heavy cream substitutes that can work for any recipe.

But first, what exactly is heavy cream, anyway? Heavy cream is the thick, fatty part of milk that rises to the top during production. It has over 36% milk fat (that's ten times the fat of whole milk!) making it decadent, rich, and ultra creamy. When deciding between heavy cream vs heavy whipping cream, the answer is simple: the two are essentially the same thing. Just note that if the carton says "light whipping cream" it will have less milk fat. Either way, try it along with our other heavy cream substitutes below!

Whether you're baking, cooking, or making whipped cream, these heavy cream substitutes will work in a pinch! There are even alternatives for heavy cream that are shelf stable. Once you pick the swap that's right for you, put it to good use in like cowboy quiche, rigatoni with pesto cream sauce, or strawberries and cream scones.

1

Light Cream

No Heavy Cream? No Problem: These 10 Substitutes Will Work in Any Recipe (2)

Light cream contains less than 30% milk fat so it won't be as heavy as heavy cream. It still works as a great substitute in coffee and creamy soups, but just note that you'll get a lighter result.

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2

Mascarpone

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Similar to cream cheese, this thick dairy product is a great choice for both sweet and savory dishes. If it's too thick for your purposes, thin it out with a bit of regular milk to get the consistency you like.

3

Heavy Cream Powder

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This shelf-stable option is perfect for anyone who wants to ensure they have heavy cream available at all times! It adds a rich, creaminess to baked goods, soups, sauces, or even smoothies.

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4

Milk + Butter

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This sub isn't ideal if you're making whipped cream, but it'll do the trick if you're using heavy cream in baked goods, soups and casseroles. Butter is a whopping 80% fat, so combined with whole milk, it works as a heavy cream substitute. Just melt 1/4 cup butter, then whisk in 3/4 cup whole milk until smooth. You can use it in place of 1 cup heavy cream.

5

Coconut Milk

This vegan substitute can even be whipped! The one thing to note is that this swap will add coconut flavor to a dish—this can work in some recipes, but not all. (Ree's butternut squash soup with bacon sounds great with coconut milk, but you may not want coconut flavor in potatoes au gratin with chives and gruyere.) For the best results, start with full-fat coconut milk (not the light stuff) and use the thick coconut cream that's at the top of the can. Also be careful not to use cream of coconut, which is sweetened.

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6

Soy Milk

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If you ever needed a reason to keep a carton of shelf-stable soy milk on hand, this might be it: When you combine two parts soy milk with one part olive oil, you end up with a vegan heavy cream substitute that can add a rich texture to both cooking and baking recipes (keep in mind that the olive oil will add some flavor). You can't whip straight soy milk, but you can try whipping silken tofu pureed with soy milk.

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7

Half-and-Half

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It's literally half heavy cream and half whole milk, so this sub is ideal for cooking—you won't even notice the difference in soups, sauces and other recipes where cream is used to add a bit of silkiness. It's not a great swap when it comes to baking recipes, however, where the higher fat content of heavy cream aids with structure.

8

Evaporated Milk

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Another shelf-stable winner, this canned good has about twice the fat of whole milk, making it great for soups and casseroles. It will add creaminess along with a slightly caramelized flavor.

9

Greek Yogurt

No Heavy Cream? No Problem: These 10 Substitutes Will Work in Any Recipe (10)

Use full-fat plain Greek yogurt to add body to recipes like mashed potatoes and creamy soups and sauces—just add it off the heat to prevent curdling. Thin it with whole milk to more closely resemble the texture of heavy cream. Don't use Greek yogurt in dessert recipes that require whipping—but if you need a quick sweet topping, you can just sweeten Greek yogurt with a bit of confectioners' sugar.

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10

Cream Cheese

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Tangy cream cheese and mascarpone can both serve as heavy cream substitute in a pinch. If stirring them into a hot recipe, they can be used as is, as they will melt into a creamy pool; for a consistency more closely resembling that of heavy cream, thin them with milk beforehand. You can beat cream cheese with a little confectioners' sugar to make a dessert topping (like cream cheese frosting), but it won't be nearly as light and airy as whipped cream.

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No Heavy Cream? No Problem: These 10 Substitutes Will Work in Any Recipe (2024)
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