Heavy cream is a thick cream consisting of a substantial amount of butterfat, more than is in any other dairy product you'll find at your local grocer or food cooperative. (Heavy cream is a whopping 35 to 40 percent butterfat, while whole milk is only four percent butterfat.) Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are comparable in butterfat content and may be used in place of one another in most recipes.
Due to the exceedingly high measure of fat in it, heavy cream can achieve an intense, luxurious texture in foods. It's also used to produce a smooth consistency, since liquids containing more fat are more resistant to curdling when heated. Foods that contain heavy cream, such as rich soups, will stay remarkably creamy.
Heavy cream is not an ingredient that is commonly found in most refrigerators, since most folks purchase a carton only when they know they will be using it for a specific recipe. You may find yourself in a pickle when a recipe calls for heavy cream, and you, unfortunately, don't have any.
Heavy cream also packs a punch in the fat and calorie department: it contains 50 calories and five grams of fat (3.5 grams from saturated fat) per tablespoon. Although indulging in richer foods is not always a bad thing, it's helpful to have healthier options as well.
Luckily, there are many substitutes for heavy cream.
Substitute a mixture of three-fourths of a cup of milk and one-fourth of a cup of melted butter for one cup of heavy cream.
Milk and butter are number one on our list because they're the most likely to be found in your fridge on any given day. They can be whipped up into your homemade substitute in no time without a fuss. Keep in mind that this method isn't suitable for whipping; if your recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, however, it will be an excellent substitute, since it will deliver that rich flavor.
Substitute a mixture of two tablespoons of cooled, melted butter and three-fourths of a cup and two tablespoons of half and half for one cup of heavy cream.
When you find yourself without heavy cream, half and half may be the best substitute. Half and half has a thick consistency and luscious flavor, but it doesn't come with the calories and fat of heavy cream (half and half is about 12 percent fat). The texture and flavor of this substitute will remain similar to the texture and flavor of heavy cream. Note that this substitute isn't suitable for whipping, however.
Substitute a mixture of two-thirds of a cup of soy or rice milk and one-third of a cup of vegetable oil or margarine for one cup of heavy cream.
This dairy-free substitute is mixed the same way as the milk-and-butter substitute on our list. Non-milk cannot stand alone as a substitute for heavy cream; it needs fat to be added to it.
Substitute a mixture of two tablespoons of cornstarch and one cup of milk for one cup of heavy cream.
A milk-and-cornstarch mix is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a healthier alternative to whipping cream. The cornstarch in this substitute acts as a thickener to reproduce the smooth texture of whipping cream. It won't provide the rich flavor of products that contain more fat, however.
Substitute a mixture of one-half of a cup of Greek yogurt and one-half of a cup of whole milk for one cup of heavy cream.
If you happen to have some Greek yogurt on hand, you can pair it with whole milk to make another substitute for heavy cream. Greek yogurt will add some thickness to your recipe; however, the same amount of whole milk will need to be added to get that rich taste and to thin the mixture out. Since Greek yogurt has a subtle sour flavor, you can sweeten it with a sugar of your choice if you wish.
Substitute a mixture of one cup of evaporated milk and one teaspoon of vanilla extract for one cup of heavy cream.
If you have a can of evaporated milk and some vanilla extract, you can use them in place of heavy cream. This substitution works best in soup recipes. Start by chilling the evaporated milk, and then add vanilla extract to achieve the desired flavor.
Substitute one-half of a cup of low-fat cream cheese for one cup of heavy cream.
Another exciting substitute for heavy cream is low-fat cream cheese. The cream cheese will provide the consistency of heavy cream without the calories and fat. Due to the sour taste of cream cheese, this substitution may alter the taste of your final product.
Substitute one cup of coconut cream for one cup of heavy cream.
While not everyone will have coconut cream sitting on their pantry shelf, if you do, you could easily substitute it for heavy cream. If you don't have a can of coconut cream, you can use coconut milk. Coconut milk cannot be used as a heavy-cream substitute in liquid form, however. Allowing coconut milk to sit out on the counter for half an hour will cause the cream to rise to the top, and then you'll have coconut cream. Simply remove the cream from the top and substitute it for heavy cream in a one-to-one ratio. Coconut cream is an excellent non-dairy alternative, but it will alter the taste of your dish slightly.
The next time you find yourself in the middle of preparing a dish and realize you don't have any heavy cream, don't panic -- just use one of the substitutes on this list. The best alternatives are most likely already in your refrigerator or pantry.