The Absolute Best Half And Half Substitutes

The not-so-secret weapon of anyone who appreciates a creamy cup of coffee or flavorful pasta dish, half and half is created by combining equal parts milk and cream. The result is a dairy addition that is heavier and richer than milk alone but lighter than heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream). 

Half and half pulls its weight in the kitchen as a base for many cream sauces, as well as a way to bring depth to pasta entrees, enrich baked goods, smooth out mashed potatoes, or dress up a coffee. It can stand in for milk to elevate a recipe or be used to thicken leftovers or sauces that have been left to stand on the stove for a while. Half and half can also be a life-saving fat when a cheese sauce, like the ever-intimidating Alfredo, curdles and clumps when you're making it at home. Its many uses make half and half a versatile necessity in many kitchens.

However, there are instances where you may not be able to use half and half in your cooking. You may have run out, want a sub that'll give your dish a little more oomph, or need to remove the dairy altogether due to an intolerance or allergy. For those cases, opt for these half and half substitutes. 

Whole milk and heavy cream

If you think you're out of half and half but have whole milk and heavy cream in the fridge, you're in for a pleasant surprise. These two ingredients are a great substitute when you're out of half and half, because these two ingredients are half and half. Since you are just making your own homemade version, this substitute will easily work as both a coffee cream and a cooking ingredient. To make things even easier, the instructions for making half and half with whole milk and heavy cream are right in its name.

Simply combine equal parts of the two ingredients in a pitcher, bottle, or jar. Stir well, and refrigerate until you're ready to use it. It is recommended that you store your homemade half and half in a tightly-sealed container to prolong its shelf life. Because you combined two separate ingredients with their own best-by dates, you will want to take those dates into consideration when storing your half and half, but a general rule of thumb is to try to use up your half and half within five to seven days (via StillTasty).

Whole milk and melted butter

If you are looking for a substitute that doesn't sacrifice that classic dairy richness of half and half, melted butter will be your new best friend. It'll work best in any dish where half and half is not the star of the recipe, and will do just fine in baking (via Baking Mischief). Start by melting 2 tablespoons of butter (use unsalted butter for baking and coffee purposes, while the salted variety is fine for savory sauces). Pour the melted butter into a 1-cup measuring cup and fill up the rest of the cup with whole milk.

While Baking Mischief notes that this method will get you to approximately 13% milk fat and a level of creaminess comparable to true half and half, the flavor won't quite be the same. Because of this and the greasy residue that melted butter can often leave behind, we don't recommend using this combo for coffee. 

Coconut cream

A coconut-based substitute to half and half will still provide you with a rich, fatty texture (coconut cream is 19 to 22% fat, according to The Coconut Mama) without the dairy component that gives many people's guts grief. Since coconut cream is heavier in fattiness and consistency, we suggest combining it with a non-dairy milk to achieve the texture of half and half and keep it lactose-free. Go Dairy Free suggests blending equal parts coconut cream with an unsweetened milk alternative, such as oat, soy, or rice.

There are a few important notes about coconut cream, one being that it will impart a discernable coconut flavor. While this substitute can be used both for food and beverages, make sure that those tropical notes will be compatible with your recipe.   

The second thing to keep in mind is that the clock on coconut cream's shelf life will speed up once it's opened. If your homemade coconut half and half substitute develops a brown or yellow color, appears to become grainy, or starts to emit a sour odor, toss it.

Cashew cream

If you need a half and half substitute that is not only dairy-free but also some diet-friendly boxes, look no further than cashew cream. It is paleo and Whole30 friendly, according to Tastes Lovely, which notes that when blended, the cream becomes a decadent imposter of heavier dairy products. Cashew cream is slightly nutty and sweet, but unlike other dairy-free alternatives, it is not known to alter a dish or coffee's taste as much, largely due to its mildness and silky texture that is similar to cow cream (via Jessica in the Kitchen). 

This half and half alternative is made by first soaking cashews in water overnight and then blending with more water until smooth. This is the same method for producing cashew milk, except more nuts are used in order to yield a creamier consistency. Store your cashew cream in a sealed container for up to one week in the fridge. 

Tastes Lovely recommends soaking one cup of raw cashews in 1 1⁄2 cups of water overnight. The following morning, drain and rinse the cashews, then blend on high with 1⁄2 cup of water for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Oat cream

Oat milk is, in our opinion, an outlier in the world of alternative milks. It doesn't have an overtly sweet flavor like coconut milk, nor is it nutty like almond milk or cashew milk. It's not as fatty as any of those alternatives, either, which affects its creaminess and milk-like consistency.

The thicker oat cream is just recently emerging on the American dairy-free scene (via Occasionally Eggs). Like other vegan creams, you can use the oat version as a substitute for half and half in your coffee or cooking. 

To make oat cream, Occasionally Eggs recommends using oats (of course), plus water, salt, and a small amount of oil (grape seed, olive, sunflower, or canola oil are all suitable options, but avoid coconut oil, which gets too hard in the refrigerator). Begin by soaking 130 grams of rolled oats in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain and rinse the oats, then combine with 500 milliliters of water, 2 tablespoons of your oil of choice, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth, around 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the cream through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out large oat particles. Store your oat cream in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to one week.

Soy cream

Soy milk is an O.G. of the dairy alternative world, a drink of choice in Asia dating back to 25 A.D. (via Science Direct). It is a popular replacement for cow's milk in everyday uses, and is one of the best milk substitutes for cooking, as its high protein levels provide density and structure to baked goods. But when you are looking for a half and half substitute, consider soy cream.

Many soy-based half and half stand-ins will call for soy milk to be combined with some sort of oil, and potentially a few other ingredients. Vegan Baking advises you to add 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of a neutral oil like canola or light olive oil,1 1⁄2 teaspoons of agave syrup, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a blender or food processor. Combine on medium speed for 1 minute, then transfer to a sealed container. 

If you need a half and half substitute for coffee, skip the oil addition. Instead, combine soy milk, honey, and flavor extracts like vanilla (via The Gracious Pantry).

Heavy cream

You may be looking to replace half and half with something even richer. If maximum decadence in your cooking or a velvety-smooth creaminess in your coffee is the goal, consider replacing it with one of half and half's two elements: heavy cream. Also known as heavy whipping cream, it is the fattiest part of cow's milk that floats to the top during production. (Half and half is legally required to be between 10.5 and 18% while heavy cream must reach a minimum of 36%, per the FDA.) It is found in the dairy aisle next to other longtime staples like half and half and milk. 

Your favorite soups, mashed potatoes, and pasta dishes will be deliciously transformed with the substitution of half and half. In most cases, you should be able to swap these two creams one-to-one. But with the fat content doubling in this replacement, there might be instances when the use of heavy cream is just too rich; in this case, add the heavy cream in small amounts, taste-testing after each addition, to ensure you don't overwhelm your dish with creaminess. 

Evaporated milk

Since half and half is one of the best evaporated milk substitutes, it makes sense that you can do the swap in reverse. Evaporated milk is simply milk that has had approximately 60% of its water removed. The resulting product is thicker than milk, but with fewer calories and less fat than half and half because it doesn't contain cream. Evaporated milk can sub for half and half in a one-to-one ratio in any cooking, and pairs well with coffee thanks to its texture being similar to that of half and half (via Full Coffee Roast).

While shelf-stable evaporated milk is readily available in cans at just about any grocery store, home chefs that are DIY-determined can make their own with this advice from Real Simple: Heat 2 ¼ cups of milk and gently boil it until it reduces to 1 cup. Any fat level — whole, 2%, 1%, or skim — can be used. 

Pea protein half and half

Yellow peas may be small and unassuming, but they're the key ingredient to a beloved dairy alternative. Ripple milk, made from pea protein, is a high-protein cow milk alternative brand. Along with its standard offering, the emerging brand even makes its own half and half substitute that you can use just as you would the dairy version. Ripple advertises its half and half as dairy-free and made with no nuts, soy, or carrageenan. Its blend of pea protein and sunflower oil (along with a few other ingredients) are credited for creating the product's rich and creamy texture.

Go Dairy Free reviewed Ripple's half and half product both in coffee and in cooking, with positive results. It is as velvety and dense as its cow-based counterpart, making it an ideal substitution for rich desserts, soups, or baked goods. And while no creaminess is compromised in this half and half alternative , some of the less than ideal dairy nutritional facts are improved: It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. 

Silken tofu cream

Tofu? In your coffee? Yep, you heard that right. Silken tofu has the highest water content of any type of tofu since it's undrained and unpressed. For that reason, it can be blended into a smooth half and half imposter. Thanks to its creamy and rich texture, silken tofu cream will perform in desserts, soups, and cream sauces. This half and half alternative also brings higher protein content to your meal, with nearly 5 grams of protein per every 100-gram portion, according to Home Kitchen Talk. It can be easily added to coffee, as well; its mild flavor will be minimally obstructive to your morning java. 

To make silken tofu cream, blend equal parts tofu and soy, rice, or oat milk until smooth. The alternative milk choice is up to your personal preference, but soy milk may be a wise choice to keep the flavor profile consistent. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container.