HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Heavy cream substitutes

OK, I know the next question: for what application?

How about the following:

1) Gratins (I'm thinking thickened yogurt maybe)
2) Custards (probably no substitute unless you bring in some gelatin)
3) Ice cream (actually Mark Bittman had a recipe for cornstarch ice cream; just haven't had a chance to try it)
4) Terrines (absolutely no idea!)

Yes, I'm willing to substitute texture and flavor for reasons of health; I just can't bring myself to dump a cup to a cup-and-a-half into anything I'm making for myself. For guests I'll use cream (is there something unethical about that?>!!)

Any advice would be appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I use raw jersey milk daily, and while it's certainly not low fat, it's also not cream. And I use it for richness all the time. Whole milk is a lot more lush than what people usually drink.

    I really enjoy using greek yogurt and sourcream in dishes where the tanginess is appropriate. Lowfat greek yogurt in particular might be a good way to go in a lot of dishes. Just be sure to watch the heat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Vetter


      Your statement about regular milk tasting lush rings true. I've been drinking 1% for so long now that 2% tastes like half and half to me.

      I use yogurt most of the time or a combo of milk and 1/2 and 1/2.

      I've discovered that a mix of low fat cream cheese and non-fat yogurt whipped up and sugar and vanilla bean added, makes a very good sub for whipped cream when served with berries.

      Last weekend, I made Medrich's almond cake from Pure Dessert and served it with the above fake whipped cream and fresh strawbs. A great success.

    2. I've started using whole milk and half-and-half for most cooking uses and don't miss the cream. Still use cream for whipping cream but not much else.
      I adapted a recipe I found on a British blog for a potato-leek gratin to use one third chicken stock and two thirds half-and-half (because that's what was in the fridge) and it turned out so well I've started using that for gratins. I like the slightly lighter texture and lower calorie/fat count sure doesn't hurt.
      Custards are a little thinner unless you add an extra egg. No problem there.
      I've been doing more gelato and sorbet than ice cream so cream hasn't been an issue for awhile.
      Maybe since we're used to lighter textures today, you won't miss the heavy cream so much once you start experimenting.
      This will certainly help your budget too.

      1. Add two tablespoons of nonfat dry milk powder to a cup of low- or nonfat cottage cheese and whirr in a blender for four or five minutes. This heavy cream substitute works in a surprising number of recipes. And you can even whip it. It doesn't form stiff peaks, but it does form soft ones. I made a rhubarb fool with this substitute recently (using nonfat cottage cheese) and I'm not sure I would have known the difference if I hadn't made it myself.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          Joan, I've done that with the cottage cheese but haven't tried it with the NFDM. It came pretty close without the dry milk. I'll have to give that a try. Thanks.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            Funny, in the back of "Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts", Alice Medrich talks about Maida's (Heatter's) cream, which is low fat cottage cheese blended in a blender. For use in desserts, she suggests adding sugar and vanilla extract. But, Medrich says she also uses it, unsweetened, of course, in place of sour cream in Mexican food, to garnish soups, and on toast instead of cream cheese.

            No mention of the non-fat dry milk, though.

            If you google on Maida Heatter's cream cottage cheese you get a ton of hits out there about various things you can do with the blended cottage cheese mixture...


          2. re: JoanN

            I've used JoanN's tip in rhubarb fool http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50510..., strawberry pots de creme http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50510..., petits pots au chocolat http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50510..., and a low-fat cheesecake (the first 3 of which I posted about in the Hopkinson COTM thread this month--with photos in some cases) and it worked quite nicely.

            I've tried the cornstarch ice cream with skim milk and thought it worked out okay, too. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47339...

            There are a lot of great suggestions that people gave me in this "help me lighten my oyster stew" post, too http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46886...


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Non-fat and low-fat yogurt mixed with fresh or frozen berries and then frozen in a Donvier or, if you are lucky enough to have a REAL ice cream maker, in that, makes a really satisfying dessert. Especially if you have good fruit...which is just around the bend.

              We actually had some really good strawberries last weekend! Huzzah!

              1. re: oakjoan

                Sounds delicious. But, I don't know what a Donvier is! Is that a brand of ice cream maker?

                I have been making frozen yogurt in my ice cream maker--most recently rhubarb (as, yes, I'm trying to get rid of my rhubarb...). Works very nicely. I don't if it's a "real ice cream" maker though. It's the kind with the frozen canister, rather than the hand-crank kind where you put ice & salt around the outside of the canister...

                P.S. I'm very jealous of your strawberries.


          3. I know that you didn't ask about this specifically, but for chowders, I make a puree of corn and/or potatoes and/or white beans. Obviously, this works great if you're making corn chowder, but it will also give body to a vegetable soup or minestrone.

            1. I use condensed milk, and even skim condensed milk, in quiches. I wonder if it would work for you in your savory gratins and terrines.

              3 Replies
              1. re: nemo

                Sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk?

                1. re: paulj

                  Ya got me. Evaporated milk, of course. Thanks for clarifying.

                2. re: nemo

                  I think you mean evaporated milk.

                  It actually works great in recipes that have assertive tastes so that you can't taste the can.

                3. Just made a large pan of potato/cheese gratin last night as a side dish using low fat 1/2 & 1/2 , whole milk and low fat Jarlsberg swiss cheese. Tried a different method - sliced up 3 lbs. potatoes, 1/2 cup chopped onions, s&p, nutmeg, garlic, 2 cups low fat 1/2 & 1/2, 1 cup whole milk, 4 T low fat butter, dumped the whole thing in large sauce pan and simmered for 5 min. Place in well greased 9X13 baking pan, topped with 1 cupe shredded low fat Jarlsberg and 1/2 cup grated Romano. Served 8 people and there wasn't one piece left! No one could tell it was low fat.

                  1. 2% milk works fine in place of cream in gratins, quiches, etc because the eggs (quiche) and potato starch (gratin) act as the thickening agent. Add a bit more seasoning to replace the flavor of the milk fat with something else, otherwise your food might be a bit bland.

                    1. I've had really good luck with condensed milk. I've used both the 2% and skim versions and found little difference in the end result. I've done this with quiches and many indian dishes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Rick

                        Rick, dont you mean evaporated milk? Condensed milk is usually laden with lots of sugar.

                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                          Woops, yes, I always get the two mixed up! Definitely evaporated milk and NOT condensed milk.

                        2. re: Rick

                          By definition, condensed milk has sugar in it. About 65%.

                          Evaporated milk does not.

                        3. I've used fat-free evaporated milk in many recipes calling for cream and it's worked just fine. I also used fat-free 1/2 & 1/2 in a crab bisque and it turned out perfect.

                          1. FYI,
                            I have made ice cream with cornstarch before.
                            the texture is kind of icky before you freeze it, but frozen it is delicious. it feels like gelato to me, light, clean tasting. i don't know the mark bittman recipe but IMHO the concept has worked for me. it is a bit more of a hassle than making other ice cream.

                            1. So I went ahead and made ice cream using a combination of fat-free evaporated milk, 1% milk, vanilla bean, cornstarch, sugar and splenda. I don't think the finished product would win any prizes. Actually the texture was not too bad - sort of whipped like a soft serv or Dairy Queen. The flavors and sweetness were quite muted. I think this might be a decent vessel in which to add chocolate chips or dried fruit. Definitely low-calorie for ice cream!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jono37

                                Try it with roasted banana as I did in the cornstarch ice cream link I mentioned above! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/51340... The texture of the banana bolsters the consistency of the ice cream, I think.

                                I can't wait to try this recipe I saw using Maida's cream. http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2007...