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What's a good substitute for heavy cream?

I want to make the halibut w leeks from All About Braising. It calls for a quarter cup of cream...If I buy the cream, I'll never use the rest of it. Would Greek yogurt which I have on hand be an OK replacement? Thanks....

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  1. I'm going to go with "no" only because I think it will be too sour. In my experience, there is no substitute for heavy cream in most recipes. It doesn't separate so you can cook it at high temps. Couldn't guarantee what might happen to the yogurt-- generally yogurt is added at the end of recipes once the dish is away from the heat. If this is the case with your recipe, it might work. But the taste might suffer. Yogurt and fish doesn't sound appealing. Just get a 1/2 pt. of cream. It lasts a long time-- why won't you use it? You can use HC in almost anything that calls for milk-- baked goods, waffles, eggs (quiche, scrambled, etc.).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Procrastibaker

      Greek plain yogurt and fish go very well in the right contexts. Yogurt, mayo and lemon with some herbs is great with tilapia. I try to never say one ingredient shouldn't go with another. It seems like a defeat.

    2. In a pinch, I've used up to 1/2 C. of condensed milk to sub for heavy cream - but in a pseudo-curry, where the cooked flavor of the condensed milk is overshadowed by all the different flavors. I would NOT recommend using this substitution in your fish dish. I also wouldn't go with the yogurt - I agree with Proscrastibaker on that. I'm not sure how the cream is used in the recipe - if the fish is braised in the cream, I don't know that you'll be able to find a substitute. My inclination would be to use regular milk, but I'm afraid it would separate if it was being cooked at a high heat.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jeda

        I think you may have confused condensed with EVAPORATED? Condensed is way too sweet, and is reserved mostly for desserts.

        1. re: Veggietales

          Oops - yes, I meant evaporated. Funny, as I typed I was thinking "make sure you write the right kind down!" Thanks for catching this.

          1. re: Veggietales

            Oddly, depending on where you live, Condensed and Evaporated mean different things. Both mean water has been removed. But in some regions only those cans labeled "sweetened Condensed" will have sugar added. So for some people, the terms are interchangeable.

        2. For all of the resons mentioned above, I'd say just get the real thing. First off, cream is not that expensive - less than $2. Second, nothing else with a similar flavor profile will withstand higher heat or longer cooking without separating. Third, it is ok to use, health-wise - it is the processed foods that really are bad for you- and fourth, cream will last forever in the fridge so you won't have to use it up in a week or even two.

          Plus, Thanksgiving is coming up and there are plenty of ways to use whipped cream - pies, coffee topping, etc.

          I say throw caution to the wind, let loose, and get a 1/2 pint of good heavy whipping cream!

          11 Replies
          1. re: LizATL

            Cream does not last forever in the fridge. It sours about as quickly as milk.

            Don't buy the kind of whipping cream with stabilizers and gums added.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Sadly in some places that stuff is all you can get and I have had ultra-pasturized last over a month in the fridge.

              I had a grocer tell me that it in not legal to sell heavy cream that is not ultrapasturized in Indiana. I did buy some good stuff at Whole Foods in Chicago and have froen it with success for later use. It is Country Dairy brand and produced in Michigan.

              1. re: Candy

                Wow. All ultrapasteurization does is extend the shelf life of *unopened* containers of cream. Once it's opened, it tastes worse and sours just as quickly as regular pasteurized cream...

                1. re: Karl S

                  I am really certain that heavy cream lasts longer than milk. Only my own anecdotal evidence is at work here (will have to consult McGee when I get home). Seems to me that 1/2 and 1/2 is the most unstable milk product. I agree with LizATL-- I've definitely kept cream opened in my fridge and it's been fine for at least 2.5 weeks.

                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                    I agree. I go through a lot of dairy, and I'm picky about it - I chuck milk really fast. And I've had heavy cream last freaking forever, opened.

                  2. re: Karl S

                    when i said I have had the ultrapasturized stuff last a month, I meant opened. Really. I always have some on hand and use it frequently.

                    1. re: Candy

                      Yeah, it stays "good" for a loooong time. The ultrapasteurized milk that has been out on the market seems to last longer, too.

                    2. re: Karl S

                      I've not had any experience with the cream not tasting good when it is ultrapasteurized. I use it in my low carb panna cotta all the time (where cream is the primary flavour), and I replace milk and butter with cream in most recipes simply because it has way lower carbs.

                      1. re: Morganna

                        I would love your low carb panna cotta recipe, if you'r willing to share. I'm always looking for low carb recipes (I'm type 1 diabetic). Also, have you baked at all with almond milk or Calorie Countdown low carb milk?

                      2. re: Karl S

                        compare the sell-by dates next time you're in the store -- milk is 2-3 weeks out, cream is 4-6.

                    3. re: Robert Lauriston

                      You can freeze the cream that you do not use for later use.

                  3. I was stuck in a similar situation once (needed a small amount of cream, it was a holiday and the grocery stores near me were closed). I went to the Dunkin' Donuts up the street from me (which was open), and asked them for a little bit of cream in a cup.

                    They didn't even charge me (though I threw a dollar in the tip cup)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Biggie

                      But if you ask a coffee place for "cream" is it really heavy cream? When I ask a resto for cream I get half-and-half. . ..*shrug*

                      1. re: Covert Ops

                        beggars can't be choosers - but it worked out for me

                      2. re: Biggie

                        A friend of mine worked at DD back in the 80's, and at least then, when you asked for your coffee "light" (In NJ, that means cream...) they put in something called "coffee lightener" which has never been even near a cow. Doubt that it was half & half.... Adam

                      3. I have, on occasion, used a thin bechamel sauce in place of cream. The trick is cooking the bechamel long enough to get rid of the floury taste. Heat 2c milk in a sauce pan. Make a roux with 1T butter and 1T flour--heat for about 1 minute. Whisk in the warm milk. Heat mixture on the lowest flame possible for a full 25 minutes. You can infuse the sauce with any number of herbs during the cooking time. Just make sure you strain before you use it in your recipe. It is just the thickness of cream. Good luck!

                        1. I think you can freeze heavy cream - I remember reading something in Cook's Illustrated about that, although they did say that it wasn't as good whipped after freezing, but that it was fine in sauces and things. I've never frozen it, but i have frozen coconut milk and it was fine. I'd go with the real heavy cream - I'm sure it will be worth it!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lauren in OH

                            Lauren, you CAN successfully freeze cream. I have frozen whole milk, buttermilk, 1/2 and 1/2 and cream in ice cube trays (about 2 T) and let them defrost on very low power in microwave.I pop cubes in marked plastic freezer bags, this way I always have buttermilk for mashed potatoes, heavy cream for custard, etc.

                          2. OK, the word on how long cream lasts from Harold McGee:
                            "Pasteurized milk stored below 40 degrees F/5 degrees C should remain drinkable for 10 to 18 days." Cream, on the other hand, "keeps for about 15 days..." So, it seems like cream may or may not last longer than milk-- no details on how to get the 18-day milk v. the 10-day. McGee warns against freezing milk and cream, but if it works for you why not? I usually make my own mock-buttermilk for baked goods by putting 1 t. white vinegar into a cup measure and filling it to the cup line with milk. For smaller amounts, I just add dash of vinegar to the milk.

                            1. Hi The funniest thing happened to me today. I was in the kitchen attempting to make English Scones. I discovered that the recipe called for heavy cream.,oooops didnt have that. so went straight to the computer and googled "a substitute for heavy cream"! This page came up . So I quickly read post #1. HA I said so I can use condensed milk as a sub... flew back to the kitchen and finished mixing up the scones.. I used 1 cup of regular milk and 1/2 cup of condensed milk. Thinking while I was mixing.. "I have never heard of this but it looks just right" So I popped the first pan into the oven and came back to the computer to reread this post.. AHA I read and dashed only to find out later that you folks had your conversation about the different types of milk to use..
                              ODDDLY enough I need to tell you that my scones have never never come out better than today. They are fluffier and lighter and much more tastier than a mix ever tasted! I am so glad that post number one made the mistake of typing the wrong milk.. but from now on I WILL be using the condensed version for my scones. and further than that I will go to the website of the company that made the condensed milk and see if there are any other wonderful ideas on there.. Thanks again.. Have a great day..

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: genelady

                                Thanks for your post, genelady! I'm glad your scones turned out so well. Actually, scones with condensed milk sound pretty good: they wouldn't be wrecked by the sweetness the way the halibut in the original discussion would have been.

                                1. re: genelady

                                  Condensed or evaporated milk? The really sweet one (condensed) doesn't seem as if it would work in scones to me. Evaporated milk has been used as a substitute for cream since they first started selling it.

                                2. Buttermilk is what's leftover of the milk after making butter. It's very low in fat and has a sour/bitter taste.

                                  Buttermilk Substitute

                                  For each 1 cup buttermilk called for in a recipe, use 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream;
                                  1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup;
                                  1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tablespoons cream of tartar

                                  To substitute 36%-40% Fat Heavy Cream

                                  3/4 cup milk
                                  1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled

                                  Whipped cream is made by taking heavy cream or "whipping cream" and beating it until stiff peaks form. I wouldn't a substitute for that purpose though, only for cooking with.

                                  Frosting is mostly butter with powdered sugar and a tiny bit of milk to make it creamy. You can differ the flavor by adding cocoa, vanilla extract, lemon juice etc (not at the same time).

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: bng4e

                                    Have to agree butter + milk equals cream, but I would take it the other way. Buy the cream, use what you need and use the rest to make fresh butter. I've seen a few tutorials on this involving either a jar and some marbles and a lot of shaking or doing it the modern way by turning on you stand mixer and letting the cream whip until the little yellow flecks starting coming out. Haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like fun.

                                    1. re: Sally599

                                      I can tell you that I have ended up with lumps of butter in my heavy cream when the carton had a rather bumpy ride. It had a relatively long trip (kept properly cold), so it probably got in quite a bit of shaking. It was a bit of a surprise when I went to make my scones ... I had to replace much more of the cream with whole milk than I had intended, but the butter was really good on the scones when they were cooked, so I was still happy.

                                      What the marbles would do is give the cream to solidify around ... increasing the number of nucleation sites allows for more ease in getting it to turn into butter, as opposed to without, where it just has the edges of the container, which a jar would not be conducive towards (that is what happened with my carton of heavy cream, though).

                                    2. re: bng4e

                                      The buttermilk you buy in the stores today (or for the past few decades) is not what's leftover after making butter. It's cultured milk, similar to yogurt or sour cream (which is why those are good substitutes).

                                    3. Here is what I found works fro me. I use non dairy coffee creamer fat free(powder form), you can use it as you like turn it into a heavy paste and you can make a roux, thin it down as needed and I even mix it with lemon juice to make a buttermilk substitute. And if I need the creaminess of a thicker or richer flavor I turn to Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese -the fact that it melts down easily and adds the nuttiness of the cheese and its fat is the good kind. I don't go heavy with it because its a healthier version.
                                      1 tsp of fat free creamer is 10 cal 5 fat, , total fat .5g sat fat .5g
                                      2 oz of Parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp of creamer ( 104 cal 56 fat, total fat 5g sat fat 5g)
                                      2 oz of Mozzarella cheese (whole milk) and 2 tbsp of creamer ( 228 cal 140 fat, total fat 15g sat fat 7g)
                                      Note: even if you add a 1/4 cup of creamer it (the creamer alone) is still only 60 cal 30 fat, total fat 3g sat fat 3.
                                      1 cup of heavy cream (414 cal 390 fat, total fat 44g sat fat 28g )so your 1/4 cup is
                                      (103.5 cal 97.5 fat, total fat 11g sat fat 7g )

                                      Use cornstarch to thicken it. (go easy with it because it will thicken fast)
                                      Or use some white wine possibly like its used in fondue
                                      The best part is you can use different flavors of creamer to impart different flavors i.e. vanilla, french vanilla, or hazelnut or a drop of almond oil
                                      Oh and since it is in powder form the shelf life of non dairy Coffee Creamer is over a year.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: anttex

                                        Hello All,
                                        Thanks to all who have posted the very good ways to substitute cream. Now here is my question. I Love makingh New England Clam Chowder... and I have alwasy used 1/2 & 1/2 to make it with, OH My lots of Calories and fat. I have been told I have to take off a few pounds ... I don't want to give up great chowder. So whats the answer? Milk and Butter ?? I am hoping there may be someone who knows of a non-dairy creamer... Yes, wondering if maybe a non-dairy coffee creamer may do the trick along with maybe 2% milk.. Hope you have a great answer for me Thank ... JustBob

                                        1. re: JustBob

                                          Please don't use non-dairy creamer in your chowder. I'm sure it will work, but it's not really a food product, imo, just gum stabilizers, dairy by products, hydrogenated oils and additional fats and sugars, with natural and aritficial flavors. The outcome may not give you the chowder flavor you're used to. Plus I think the stuff is crap, but that's just my opinion.

                                          You can always use a bit of beurre manie (I can't believe I just wrote that, having been raised in New England where it's a sin against nature to thicken chowder) to tighten your chowder slightly if you use milk, to mimic the density and mouthfeel of half & half. I can't honestly say how 2% would work, although I have made bechamel (white sauce) with 2% and it is stable enough. Using the beurre manie will give you your butter and a little flour, and probably less fat calories than using non-dairy creamer, although I don't have it's calorie content stats in front of me. If you decide not to thicken the chowder, add the milk when the chowder is finished and turn off the heat, so the milk doesn't break.

                                          I use heavy cream in my chowder, added at the end of cooking, btw, but I'm a glutton for punishment.

                                          Have you tried Rhode Island style broth only chowder? Seems like it might be a better option for you than using non-dairy creamer. However, if you want to stick with a milk based broth, I'd go with 2% milk as a substitute for the half & half in your normal recipe and make a little beurre manie, flour and whole butter, in equal proportions, kneaded together and added in small increments to your chowder; let simmer with the potatoes, before you add the clams and milk, until you get your desired degree of thickness. Or you can add flour to the fat (salt pork, fatback, bacon, whatever) you use to saute the onions, to make a roux, before you add the broth, milk and potatoes. Sweating the onions in a little broth to start with will cut back on the fat calories as well.

                                          Ingredients list for non-dairy liquid creamer, International Delights brand, and the role they play:

                                          Partially Hydrogenated Soybean/Cottonseed Oil; Palm Oil: Heldman says that these oils are used in place of milk fat. They deliver the creamy texture and some of the rich, fatty flavor of cream.

                                          Sugar; Corn Syrup; Sodium Stearyl Lactylate∗: “Any sweetness that you pick up in dairy products is from the lactose,” explains Heldman; these ingredients are used to mimic this naturally occurring flavor.

                                          Sodium Caseinate: This is a milk protein, to give “flavor and texture,” says Heldman.

                                          Mono- and Diglycerides: Additional fats to help give the product texture.

                                          Dipotassium Phosphate: “I’m making an assumption that this is an ingredient used in lieu of a natural salt that would be in cream,” says Heldman. “I don’t believe there is any preservative aspect.”

                                          Carrageenan∗: Often referred to on ingredients lists as a “stabilizer,” Heldman explains that this is an emulsifier that prevents the creamer from separating.

                                          Natural and Artificial Flavors: Heldman says these final ingredients “fine-tune the flavor profile to make it palatable.”

                                          Hope this helps. I'd hate to give up chowder just because I need to lose a few pounds, but there are ways around using half & half, and moderation is the key. Good luck.

                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                            Well, I just used some whipped cream as a substitute for heavy cream to make a lemon tart. Whipped cream's fat content is close to that of heavy cream. There are some unnatural items they put in the whipped cream but beggars can't be choosers.

                                            1. re: xebob

                                              Whipped cream or whipping cream? Whipping and heavy cream are pretty close, butterfat content wise, depending on the dairy. I prefer heavy. I'm sure your sub was just fine for a lemon tart. I don't see a price difference between whipping and heavy cream, so I'm not getting your comment about beggars. Are you talking about pre-whipped cream, perhaps?

                                              What unnatural items?

                                              The only issue I have with cream these days is that it's become increasingly difficult to find non ultra-pasteurized whipping or heavy cream. Makes me sad.

                                      2. Creme fraiche works as a sub in dishes like the braised leek one. It lasts a long time too. When I have leftover cream around I will turn a cup or two into creme fraiche, just to lengthen it's life.

                                        1. Come on, cream can be purchased in half pint containers in some places. With something as expensive as Halibut, why would you risk messing up the preparation and ruining the dish?

                                          Here's an option for you: Dilute the remaining cream with skim milk, and make your own "half and half" for coffee. Live a little. And I agree with the posters who say that cream lasts as long as milk does -- once the containers are opened. Unopened cream may be dated out for weeks, but once opened, I notice a change in taste at about the fifth day.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: RGC1982

                                            Agree, a half pint of heavy cream runs about $1.29 here. Plus straight heavy cream in coffee is the best. I'm sure the OP can find a use for the remaining 3/4 cup. Use it in or on a dessert to go with the fabulous halibut.

                                          2. What's a good substitute for heavy cream? Heavy cream. Try whipping the leftover cream with a little sugar and a touch of vanilla extract and adding apricot jam, or blueberries and serve with a few sugar wafers. You can't find a more elegant dessert. Cream is not an evil substance. Some cultures use it a lot with no health consequences. It has had bad press in recent years. Don't believe it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: arvid

                                              Not that it's evil, it's just expensive and a special purchase. I myself always have plain Greek yogurt on hand, it's a great sub for most milk products.

                                            2. Try this link, it's got several different options including silken tofu mixed with plain soy milk for a low fat version!


                                              1. Maybe I was just lucky, but I had no problem substituting plain yogurt for cream in the quiche I made. Not wanting to pay $2.66 for the small container of cream at the store, I bought a 39 cent cup of unflavored yogurt, and added a little milk to bring it to the correct amount and consistency. I made sure to incorporate it well with the eggs, and added just a little salt and about 30% more swiss cheese than called for in the recipe (I have a heavy hand when it comes to cheese, anyway!) and my quiche lovers never noticed the difference in texture or taste. There was no separation due to the yogurt.

                                                1. I've been subbing Greek yogurt for heavy cream, sour cream, creme fraiche and buttermilk in all kinds of applications. Just add towards the end, so it doesn't get weird. I like the suggestion of adding a little milk to avoid problems though, will have to try.

                                                  1. This substitution did not work well for ganache in a 1 tablespoon cream (using the milk/butter substitution) per 1 oz chocolate ratio. As the emulsion cooled the mixture broke and the butter fat separated from the emulsion. It was usable for piping cake decoration, it was just not optimal as the ganache was not smooth and satiny.

                                                    1. I'd get the cream and some strawberries and make dessert with the rest. Been doing it all strawberry season.

                                                      Anyone who says there's something half as good as real cream is lying or can't taste. Just IMNSVHO. :-)

                                                      1. Total Fat in Grams Per Cup in Dairy Products

                                                        184.12g - Butter, stick
                                                        88.06g - Heavy Cream (Whipping Cream before whipping)
                                                        72g - Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese
                                                        49g - Whipped Butter
                                                        48.21g - Sour Cream
                                                        46.34g - Light Cream
                                                        31.93g - Ricotta Cheese (Whole Milk)
                                                        27.84g - Half & Half Cream
                                                        26.62g - Sweetened Condensed Milk
                                                        22g - Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt
                                                        19.05g - Evaporated Milk, undiluted
                                                        19g - Regular Eggnog
                                                        14.26g - Ice Cream
                                                        7.93g - Whole Milk
                                                        5g - 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
                                                        4.9g - Buttermilk (2% - Reduced Fat, Cultured)
                                                        4.81g - 2% Milk
                                                        3.8g - Plain Yogurt
                                                        2.37g - 1% Milk
                                                        2.16g - Buttermilk (1% - Lowfat, Cultured)
                                                        1.4g - Dry Buttermilk (Reconstituted)
                                                        0.44g - Nonfat Milk
                                                        0.44g - Nonfat Plain Yogurt

                                                        1. What can I use as a substitute for heavy cream in ice cream making?

                                                          1. Heavy cream adds a unique taste, texture, and appearance to many recipes/dishes; trying to find suitable subs may ruin the resulting dish.
                                                            My only comment on subs for Heavy Cream is "Fresh Organic Extra Heavy Cream". Somewhat tongue in cheek......................

                                                            Did I just reply to a post started, November 2006????

                                                            1 Reply