9 Delicious Heavy Cream Substitutes

Heavy cream is a delicious, creamy dairy product, and we can use it in a wide variety of ways.

However, some people may wish to avoid dairy products, and others may not have heavy cream at home when they need it.

In such situations, what can you substitute for heavy cream?

Fortunately, there are several excellent options.

In this article, we will look at nine of the best heavy cream alternatives.

1) Coconut Cream

A Glass of Coconut Cream Next To Two Halves of Coconut.

Coconut cream is a great dairy-free replacement for heavy cream, and this makes it suitable for anyone with dairy sensitivities too.

For those unaware of coconut cream, it can be harder to find than coconut milk.

However, it has a much thicker consistency and a creamier texture.

While coconut milk and coconut cream are relatively similar, the former is made by combining one part of coconut meat with 1 part water (1:1 ratio).

In comparison, coconut cream uses four parts of coconut meat for 1 part water (4:1 ratio) (1).

Nutrition Profile

Here is the nutrient profile per 100 g of coconut cream (2).

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 330 kcal
Carbohydrate 6.6 g
 – Sugars 4.0 g
 – Fiber 2.2 g
Fat 34.7 g
 – Saturated Fat 30.8 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Protein 3.6 g


We can use coconut cream in many situations where we would use heavy cream.

For example, it can add a creamy flavor to Italian dishes and curries.

Coconut cream also works well with desserts, and you can even put it in coffee.

Key Point: Coconut cream is a versatile replacement for heavy cream, and it can be used in a like-for-like fashion.

2) Homemade Macadamia Cream

Nut milk has become popular over recent years, particularly the almond and hazelnut varieties.

However, a lesser known but possibly better option is macadamia milk.

It is also possible to make a thicker macadamia cream at home, and it does not require much time either.

Here are the ingredients you need;


To make macadamia cream, follow the steps below;

  • First, add the macadamia nuts to water and allow to soak for around 20 minutes to make them a bit softer.
  • Next, drain the nuts and add them to a blender alongside half a cup (120 ml) of water.
  • Add the vanilla essence, and then blend everything until it becomes a smooth consistency.
  • Serve (or refrigerate)

Nutrition Profile

Per 100 grams, macadamia cream offers the following nutrition profile (3);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 382 kcal
Carbohydrate 7.6 g
 – Sugars 2.4 g
 – Fiber 4.6 g
Fat 40.5 g
 – Saturated Fat 6.4 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 31.3 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Protein 4.2 g


Macadamia cream works best with desserts or as a cream replacement for tea and coffee.

Key Point: Macadamia cream is a thick and creamy non-dairy alternative to heavy cream.

3) Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese In a Pentagon-Shaped Bowl.

Cream cheese is a quick and easy replacement option for heavy cream in certain dishes.

The only real difference is that it has a cheesy taste, so it only works as an alternative to certain foods.

For instance, adding a bit of cream cheese to a coffee or an Italian dish won’t provide the expected result.

Nutrition Profile

Cream cheese has a similar nutrition profile to heavy cream, but it has slightly more protein and less fat (4);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 342 kcal
Carbohydrate 4.1 g
 – Sugars 3.2 g
 – Fiber 0 g
Fat 34.2 g
 – Saturated Fat 19.3 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 8.6 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Protein 5.9 g


It is possible to use cream cheese as a like-for-like replacement for heavy whipping cream in dessert dishes.

It can also make a tasty dip; just add some chopped onion, garlic, and chives to the cream cheese.

Key Point: Cream cheese is reasonably nutritious, tasty, and it can replace heavy cream in certain recipes.

4) Evaporated Milk

For a similar tasting option, heavy cream can be substituted for evaporated milk.

Firstly, evaporated milk is just regular milk with some of the water removed through an evaporation process.

As a result, it takes on a much thicker, creamier texture that bears a resemblance to heavy cream.

It is even possible to whip evaporated milk, which makes it a suitable replacement for heavy whipping cream too.

While the texture is similar to heavy cream, evaporated milk has a slightly sweeter taste due to the higher amount of lactose (milk sugar).

You can buy ready-made evaporated milk, or you can make it at home by simmering milk until it reduces.

If you’re buying a ready-made version, then watch out for unnecessary ingredients like added sugar.

Nutrition Profile

Evaporated milk has a similar macronutrient ratio to regular milk.

However, each nutrient is approximately twice as high since the water content is only around half that of whole milk (5);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 134 kcal
Carbohydrate 10 g
 – Sugars 10 g
 – Fiber 0 g
Fat 7.6 g
 – Saturated Fat 4.6 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 2.3 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Protein 6.8 g


It is possible to use cream cheese as a like-for-like replacement for heavy whipping cream in dessert dishes.

It can also make a tasty dip; just add some chopped onion, garlic, and chives to the cream cheese.

Key Point: Cream cheese is reasonably nutritious, tasty, and it can replace heavy cream in certain recipes.

5) Buttermilk

A Glass of Fresh Buttermilk.

First, buttermilk can refer to either an acidic cultured drink made from milk or traditionally, the milk that remains following the churning of butter.

Buttermilk is thicker than regular milk, but not quite as thick as heavy cream.

In other words; it won’t be suitable for all recipes.

However, buttermilk works well as a simple substitute for heavy cream in soup and sauces.

It is also much lower in fat (and overall calories) than heavy cream, which could be a benefit for individuals trying to lose weight.

Nutrition Profile

Buttermilk is slightly higher in protein and much lower in fat than heavy cream.

Per 100 grams, it offers the following nutrients (6);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 56 kcal
Carbohydrate 5.3 g
 – Sugars 5.3 g
 – Fiber 0 g
Fat 2.0 g
 – Saturated Fat 1.2 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 0.6 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Protein 4.1 g


Generally speaking, buttermilk works best in liquid recipes.

For some examples, buttermilk can replace heavy cream in things such as;

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Sauces
  • Curries
  • Smoothies
  • Quiche
Key Point: If a cooked recipe calls for heavy cream, buttermilk should be an adequate replacement. However, it doesn’t work well with desserts or hot drinks.

6) Sour Cream

Sour cream is similar to buttermilk in many ways, and both of these options have a slightly sour, acidic taste.

That said, sour cream has a nutrient profile more similar to heavy cream, and it is very high in fat.

However, this shouldn’t be surprising since sour cream is just the result of fermenting regular cream with a bacterial starter.

Sour cream plays a widespread role in cuisines around the world, and it is especially prevalent in Mexican cuisine.

Nutrition Profile

Per 100 grams, sour cream provides (7);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 193 kcal
Carbohydrate 3.5 g
 – Sugars 3.5 g
 – Fiber 0 g
Fat 19.7 g
 – Saturated Fat 11.5 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 5.1 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Protein 2.1 g


We can use sour cream in hot savory dishes, and it is also thick enough to work well with baked goods.

Some other ways to use sour cream include;

  • In soups and stews
  • Salad dressings
  • Dip
  • Serve alongside berries/fruit
  • For making homemade sauces

The only recipes it won’t work for is those which require whipped cream.

Key Point: Sour cream can be used instead of heavy cream for most things. However, it will not whip like regular cream.

7) Milk and Butter

Knife Slicing Butter On a Wooden Chopping Board.

If you really need heavy cream and don’t have any, it is possible to make an adequate replacement.

The only two ingredients you need for this are milk and butter.

While this recipe will not whip as normal cream can, it will have a similar taste and consistency.

To make this heavy cream replacement using milk and butter, use the following amounts of each ingredient;

  • ¾ cup (170 g) milk
  • ¼ cup butter (57.5 g)

Note: these quantities are easy to change as long as you keep a 3:1 ratio of milk to butter


Simply add the milk and butter into a pan, gently heat, and keep stirring until the butter melts.

After the butter melts and the liquid develops the right consistency, take it off the heat, cool it, and then refrigerate.

The end result is a dairy product that works as a heavy cream replacement in any recipe.

Nutrition Profile

Per 100 grams, this homemade heavy cream provides (8);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 216 kcal
Carbohydrate 3.5 g
 – Sugars 3.5 g
 – Fiber 0 g
Fat 21.7 g
 – Saturated Fat 13.6 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 5.6 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Protein 2.7 g


This homemade cream can work as a replacement for any recipe using liquid heavy cream.

However, it will not whip.

Key Point: A 3:1 ratio of milk and butter makes a quick and convenient substitute for heavy cream.

8) Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is thinner than heavy cream (and coconut cream).

For this reason, it is more similar to regular dairy milk in consistency.

However, it is easy to thicken coconut milk by reducing it to the desired texture.

To do so, simmer the coconut milk on low heat to reduce it until it reaches a thicker consistency.

Nutrition Profile

100 grams of coconut milk supplies (9);

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 230 kcal
Carbohydrate 5.5 g
 – Sugars 3.3 g
 – Fiber 2.2 g
Fat 23.8 g
 – Saturated Fat 21.1 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Protein 2.3 g


In its thickened state, coconut milk works well as a heavy cream replacement in a wide variety of recipes.

From savory recipes to desserts and drinks, this option offers a creamy texture similar to the real thing.

Coconut milk is also a great way to make dairy-free recipes for anyone with sensitivities to regular cream.

Key Point: It is easy to thicken coconut milk and it can replace heavy cream in a range of dishes.

9) Homemade Almond Cream

Thick Glass of Almond Cream Next To a Glass of Almonds.

Almond cream is incredibly easy to make at home.

Even better, this recipe only requires two ingredients; almonds and water.

In short; it requires the same process that people use to make almond milk, but needs a lower amount of water than typical almond milk recipes.

A small addition of vanilla works well for taste purposes, but it isn’t necessary.


  • 1 cup (143 g) almonds
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste


  • Add the almonds, water and vanilla bean paste to a blender
  • Blend until the mixture becomes a white liquid with a smooth consistency

Nutrition Profile

Homemade almond cream provides the following nutrition profile per 100 grams (10).

Calories/Nutrient Amount (Grams)
Calories 135 kcal
Carbohydrate 4.6 g
 – Sugars 1.2 g
 – Fiber 2.4 g
Fat 11.7 g
 – Saturated Fat 0.9 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat 7.5 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat 2.8 g
Protein 5.1 g


Almond cream combines well with dessert recipes and for use in hot drinks such as coffee.

It can also work in hot savory recipes, providing the nutty flavor it provides is suitable for the dish.

Key Point: Homemade almond cream is easy to make, dairy-free, and it is an excellent heavy cream substitute.

Final Thoughts

Heavy cream is a great-tasting dairy food that adds a lot of flavor to various recipes.

However, it isn’t always possible for people to use it.

Luckily, there are many suitable replacement options for those who either have problems with dairy or don’t have heavy cream at hand.

All of the options in this guide can replace heavy cream while preserving the taste of the food.

If you need a heavy cream substitute, take a look at the ‘uses’ section to decide which one is the right fit for your recipe.

For another similar dairy option, take a look at clotted cream; a thick and delicious cream with a 55% butterfat content.

Photo of author

Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.

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