These Are the Best Heavy Cream Substitutes, According to Our Food Editors
Heavy cream is one of the richest, most delicious ingredients around. Whether you're using it in baking or simply add a splash to your coffee, this essential dairy product contains a richness that might feel irreplaceable. That's not really the case, though. As it turns out, there are some alternatives should you be unable to enjoy heavy cream, either because you're out of it or because you can't consume it. If you're lactose intolerant, want to cut back on dairy, are vegan, or find yourself running low on this favorite ingredient, finding a heavy cream substitute is key. Here, get our test kitchen team's favorite replacement for heavy cream in recipes or your morning coffee.
If you're in a pinch and don't have heavy cream, but you are okay with consuming dairy, half-and-half is a good replacement. "I rarely keep cream in the house but always have half-and-half for my morning coffee," Gregory Lofts, our deputy food editor, explains. As its name suggests, half-and-half is a mixture of half heavy cream and half milk. However, since it has a thinner consistency than heavy cream, he recommends adding "a little yogurt to mimic the viscosity of cream," when swapping half-and-half for heavy cream in baked goods. "It's not as high in fat but works great," he says. Greg notes that if you plan to make filling for pastries, like ganache, you can skip the thickening process and use the half-and-half as is.
Another heavy cream substitute that many people likely already have in their refrigerator? Milk. "It will also work thickened with a little yogurt, but I feel like it really should be whole milk, particularly if using as a substitute for baking," Greg explains. "If the overall fat content is significantly lower, it may negatively impact the texture of the baked good." If you happen to only have low-fat milk, and your recipe of choice also needs butter, he recommends increasing the amount of butter to make up for the missing fat from the milk.
"Coconut cream is a great vegan alternative to heavy cream," Greg shares. "It will definitely impart a noticeable tropical, coconut flavor, but in most cases (particularly as a baking substitute) it's delicious!" He adds that you should always use unsweetened coconut cream as your substitute. A sweetened product, such as cream of coconut, is not a suitable substitute for heavy cream. It is used specifically in drinks like Piña Coladas. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, adds that you can also whip the coconut cream that solidifies on the top of the can of coconut milk for a non-dairy whipped topping.
Silken Tofu and Soy Milk
Consider silken tofu or soy milk as substitutes. Silken tofu is actually soy milk that is solidified by a formal process called coagulation and then not curdled. While Greg notes that it and soy milk are popular vegan options, he recommends using the other substitutes, if possible, for a smooth texture like one you would get using heavy cream.