Heavy cream in clear pitcher.
Helpful Tips,  Recipes

Whisk It Up: How to Make Heavy Cream

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A lot of recipes call for heavy cream, but it is not an ingredient that very many people have in their refrigerators. If you don’t want to make an extra trip to the store, you can learn how to make heavy cream with ingredients you might already have in your kitchen.

You might be allergic to dairy or eat a vegan diet. There are some options for you as well. Making heavy cream is quite simple. 

Heavy cream in clear glass next to fruit.
Heavy cream. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Why Heavy Cream is Necessary

Here are a few reasons you need heavy cream:

  • It helps thicken soups; because of its higher fat content, it won’t curdle.
  • It also helps thicken sauces.
  • Heavy cream can be used to make whipped cream. Because of its higher fat content, it will whip up with firm peaks.
  • Many ice cream recipes call for heavy cream. It makes ice cream creamier.
  • Frosting recipes often require heavy cream as well.

Ways to Make Your Own

It doesn’t matter if you are cooking, baking, or making ice cream, these heavy cream substitutes will do the trick. 

Milk and Butter

Milk and butter work well as a substitute in soups, baked goods, and casseroles. It’s not a great replacement when making whipped cream, though. Melt a quarter of a cup of butter and whisk in three-quarters of a cup of whole milk until smooth. This will replace one cup of heavy cream.


Half-and-half is half heavy cream and half whole milk so you won’t notice much of a difference in soups and sauces. It isn’t a good substitute in baked goods because the fat in heavy cream adds structure. Use the same amount of half-and-half as you would heavy cream.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is shelf stable and has twice the fat of whole milk. It is great to use in soups and casseroles. Use the same amount of evaporated milk as you would heavy cream.

Soy Milk and Olive Oil

This combination works best in casseroles, soups, and pasta sauces. Stir together two-thirds of a cup of soy milk and one-third of a cup of olive oil to replace one cup of heavy cream. 

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream splashing out of half of a coconut shell.
Coconut cream. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Coconut cream works with vegan, paleo, and keto diets. It works best in desserts. Let the can of coconut cream chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, drain the liquid and scoop out the cream that’s left. One cup of coconut cream replaces one cup of heavy cream. Be careful not to use cream of coconut, which is sweetened. 

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese works best in frostings, sauces, soups or dips. It does not work well in recipes that require whipping, but you can beat it with a little confectioner’s sugar to make a dessert topping. It just won’t be as light and airy as heavy cream. One cup of cream cheese replaces one cup of heavy cream. You can thin it out with a little bit of water or milk, but you don’t have to. 

Sour Cream

Sour cream works best in savory recipes like chilis, soups, dressings, dips, and sauces. It won’t work in recipes that require whipping. One cup of sour cream replaces one cup of heavy cream. 

“I favor a quick and easy method of skimming the cream off the top of fresh milk once it sits overnight in the fridge. All you need is a ladle or large spoon, depending on how much milk there is. Start by separating the cream into a clean glass container or bottle for storage if you don’t plan to use it right away. Keep scooping carefully until the milk peeks through. Watch out for the cream line, you’ll see the texture and color change when you reach the milk.”

— Jessica Haggard, Primal Edge Health

Whipped Dessert Topping

Whipped dessert topping can be used in icebox cakes, pies, and other no-bake treats. For every cup of heavy cream called for in your recipe, substitute two cups of whipped dessert topping, such as Cool Whip. 


Tofu works well for thickening soups and sauces. Puree firm or extra-firm silken tofu and use it as a one-for-one substitute for heavy cream. 

Greek Yogurt

Full-fat plain Greek yogurt can be used in mashed potatoes as well as creamy soups and sauces. Make sure to add it once off the heat to prevent curdling. It can be thinned with whole milk to more closely resemble the texture of heavy cream. One cup of Greek yogurt replaces one cup of heavy cream.

Heavy Cream Powder

Heavy cream powder is a shelf-stable option that can be stored in the pantry. Once reconstituted with water, it can be used in baked goods, soups, sauces, and smoothies. One cup of heavy cream powder replaces one cup of heavy cream. 


Marscarpone on wooden board.
Marscarpone. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Mascarpone cheese is thick and its texture closely resembles heavy cream. It can be used in sauces, soups, stews, and baked goods. To thin it out, add a little bit of whole milk. One cup of mascarpone replaces one cup of heavy cream. 

Light Cream

Light cream has a much lower fat content (about 20 percent compared to 36 to 40 percent in heavy cream), so it does not have enough fat to create a fluffy texture. It works well in coffee and creamy soups. One cup of light cream replaces one cup of heavy cream. 

Keep in Mind

The texture, thickness, and/or taste of the original recipe will most likely be different when using a heavy cream substitute. Play around with different substitutes and find one you like. Don’t be afraid to try something new. 

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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