6 Heavy Cream Substitutes That Taste Like The Real Thing

While it's convenient to have store-bought heavy cream, making a homemade substitute is a quick way to avoid a grocery run, and will still yield the deliciously moist, yet tender, profile you're trying to achieve. The versatility of heavy cream's applications is apparent. From savory baked eggs to the sweetest ice creams to your morning cup of coffee, heavy cream is commonplace in a huge variety of recipes. 

Heavy cream is thicker than whipping cream and half-and-half, containing roughly 36% to 40% milk fat, 30% milk fat, and anywhere from around 10% to 20% milk fat, respectively (via Bob's Red Mill). A higher fat content leads to a thicker composition, meaning depending on what you're cooking, some heavy cream substitutes are better than others. Many of the substitutes we found are thick enough to be whipped as a frosting, while others are thinner, and more suited for mixing into soups to add texture. Regardless of what you're cooking, you'll likely have at least one of the necessary alternative ingredients at your home if you've run out of heavy cream.

Butter and milk

Butter is very high in fat, so pairing it (melted) with milk — preferably whole milk, which also possesses a high fat content — can create a worthy substitute for heavy cream. After mixing the two together, the fat percentage comes close to that of the real thing (via The Kitchn).

This substitute will work best for recipes in which the heavy cream would have been cooked, such as a quiche. Since blended butter and milk is not as thick as true heavy cream, avoid anything demanding a more solid or whipped composition, such as in our Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake, which calls for whipped cream to be used in a frosting-like application.

In less than 10 minutes, ¼ cup of melted butter and ¾ cup of whole milk will yield 1 cup of heavy cream substitute. Plopping a tablespoon of flour into the mix will thicken the liquid if needed, and is an especially good idea if low fat or skim milk is the only option you have at home. 

Half-and-half and butter

In the case you're out of milk in addition to heavy cream, half-and-half is a viable option. Typical ingredients in a standard bottle of half-and-half include cream and whole milk, according to Healthline, so you'll be coming closer to the fat percentage found in heavy cream by mixing it with butter. This heavy cream substitution will bring a thick composition that makes it an excellent choice for any recipe, even ones that call for whipped cream like this tiramisu cheesecake.

Healthline also states that you can forgo the butter entirely for soups, sauces, and similar recipes, but they will be considerably less rich and thick, as half-and-half has around ⅓ the amount of fat as heavy cream. 

Simply combine ⅞ cup half-and-half with ⅛ cup of melted butter, and you're well on your way.

Greek yogurt

Plain greek yogurt is one of the healthier alternatives to heavy cream out there that still lives up to the real thing. Since plain Greek yogurt is more dense than regular yogurt, it creates a consistency perfect for thickening soups and sauces. It's a lean source of protein with roughly half the fat content of traditional heavy cream, according to nutrition website Souper Sage, who compared the two ingredients using USDA and NIH data.

One cup of plain Greek yogurt equates to one cup of heavy cream for the recipe of your choice (via Undeniably Dairy). With a more sour profile than other heavy cream substitutes on our list, you may also want to keep plain Greek yogurt on hand to add to your tex-mex meals, where it does an excellent job of replacing sour cream. 

Cottage cheese and milk

Plain cottage cheese is another substitute for heavy cream low in fat, and high in protein. Milk proteins attract each other, forming clumps called curds to form in cottage cheese (via The Daring Kitchen). Stirring plain cottage cheese and milk together will help balance out the texture of this alternative. Depending on the recipe you are working with, adding the right amount of milk comes down to the consistency you are trying to achieve. Unless you prefer a more clumpy profile, perhaps to add texture to a dip, smoothing out cottage cheese's characteristic lumps is necessary to mimic heavy cream in your recipe.

Cottage cheese is usually higher in sodium than heavy cream, so be sure to use it for a recipe that won't be negatively impacted by the swap. Combine a cup of cottage cheese and add milk until you get a suitable consistency and texture.

Cream cheese with milk

As cream cheese is a much thicker alternative to heavy cream, try to avoid using this substitute in recipes that involve whipped heavy cream, as it is too dense to reach the same heights. Cream cheese is made from milk and cream, like some of the other heavy cream alternatives, but unlike the others, it is best used in baked goods like cakes and brownies. (If you are a fan of carrot cake or red velvet cake, there is a good chance you like cream cheese frosting.) It can also be used in soups, sauces, and chowders, so long as it's thinned by adding water or milk.

Combining cream cheese with milk will make it creamier and can loosen it up considerably, so keep this in mind when adding any liquid to your heavy cream substitution.

One cup of cream cheese can be substituted for one cup of heavy cream, reports Delishably, just choose how "loose" you want it and add your liquid sparingly.

Coconut cream

Coconuts are high in fat, and coconut cream is no different. If you're seeking a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream, coconut cream is a versatile ingredient to try for your next recipe experiment. This heavy cream substitute can be cooked into food or whipped, and it's smooth, thick consistency makes it a dependable replacement in soups, curries, sauces, ice cream, and cookies, to name a few (via Parade).

If interested in making your own homemade coconut cream, the process is fairly easy, provided you can find whole coconuts. Alpha Foodie shares a recipe for the ingredient that basically requires you to make fresh coconut milk and let it settle so the cream rises to the top.

Follow a one cup of coconut cream for every cup of heavy cream ratio for your recipe of choice.