6 Best Cream Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people seek out cream substitutes for health reasons, or to give a new flavor profile to a favorite recipe. Rich and delicious cream pops up in sweet and savory recipes alike and is often considered a key ingredient. Luckily, if you run out of cream or are simply looking for a healthier alternative, there are plenty of substitutes available. [1]

Cream Substitutes

Knowing your way around proper cream substitutes can save you a lot of time and stress in the kitchen. The best cream substitutes include milk and butter, oat milk and oil, evaporated milk, coconut cream, Greek yogurt, and silken tofu among others.

Milk and Butter

Mix 1 part butter with 3 parts milk to make a fatty milk liquid that will substitute well in savory recipes or as a liquid ingredient in baking. If you want your mixture to be thicker, you can also add a little flour or cornstarch.

A wooden bowl filled with fresh heavy cream with spoons

Whipping and whipped cream is formed by combining cream and air in order to double a volume. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Oat Milk and Oil

This is a popular vegan and lactose-free alternative to the milk and butter combination above. Oat milk is one of the thickest of vegan milk and therefore closest in consistency to cream. For this recipe, you will want to use 1 part oil to 2 parts milk. Once mixed, this cream replacement can work well in savory recipes, but not in desserts, due to the flavor of the olive oil. [2]

Evaporated Milk

Thanks to its low-fat content, evaporated milk is a slightly healthier and low-calorie alternative to cream. It does not whip well and therefore works best as a liquid ingredient, such as in sauces, soups, and in baking. It is possible to add a little cinnamon, vanilla essence or sugar to taste when using evaporated milk in dessert recipes.

Coconut Cream

A great, healthy and vegan substitute for cow cream, coconut cream can be used at a 1:1 ratio. It’s naturally slightly sweet, so it will work well in dessert recipes. Bear in mind that it may add a slight coconut flavor to the final dish. [3]

Coconut cream in a jar next to a fresh coconut

Coconut cream is a traditional food ingredient used in many parts of the world, particularly Asia and Africa. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Greek Yogurt

A good substitute for soups and sauces, Greek yogurt might add a little sour tang to your dish, while also working as a thickener. Although thicker than cream, adding a little milk can help thin the yogurt down to the required consistency.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is easy to blend and make into a smooth and thick cream-like substance. If it is too thick by itself, you can add any type of milk until it reaches a consistency that works for you. It can be used for soup and sauce recipes to add thickness and creaminess, or it can be whipped for desserts. If using silken tofu as a substitute for cream in desserts, you might like to add some sugar, cinnamon or vanilla essence to improve the flavor. [4]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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