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Heavy Cream Alternative

al b. darned Jan 13, 2011 03:41 PM

I was just perusing "16 Casseroles for Cold-Weather Dining" on Chow and, while many sound really great, many call for heavy cream. This is not something I normally have on hand and is something I would like to avoid for everyday meals.

Can I substitute half and half (which i normally have on hand) for heavy cream one-for-one? What about using evaporated milk? Anything else that you can offer?

  1. JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jan 14, 2011 11:44 PM

    Half-and-half will work fine. The finished dish just won't be as rich as with heavy cream.

    1. l
      L987 Jan 14, 2011 10:57 PM

      I use a lot of cream in my cooking, its very normal where I live and here we have cream with everything from 5 % fat to 40 % fat. The one with 5 % fat has some kind of thickener in it so it wont separate while cooking.

      I think half and half is a good alternative if u dont want to buy heavy cream. If the recipe calls for some other liquid like water or chicken stock i would reduce that amount since half and half is much more watery then cream. And u might have to thicken ur sauce too.

      1. k
        karykat Jan 14, 2011 03:53 PM

        Here's a tuna noodle casserole recipe from epicurious that looks lighter. The sauce has chicken broth and milk, as well as well as some sherry and a small amount of soy sauce.


        And here's another recipe I've used: a bechemel made with olive oil and 1% milk:


        I've made this last one and frozen extra amounts to have on hand for stretching rice or noodles with leftover vegies.

        1. m
          magiesmom Jan 14, 2011 06:52 AM

          I sometimes use coconut milk depending on the flavors. I personally don't like evaporated milk, though it does work

          1. monavano Jan 14, 2011 05:49 AM

            You can finish with low-fat substitues, but nb. anything less than heavy cream will separate if you boil it, so just be careful with your heat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: monavano
              soupkitten Jan 14, 2011 08:47 PM

              creme fraiche doesn't separate, and lots of older french casserole recipes calling for heavy cream are substituting for the original creme fraiche in the french recipe.

              often you can use a smaller amt of heavy cream and broth to make up the same amt of liquid. even just 1 or 2 tbsp of the heavy cream can create the rich flavor and mouthfeel you're going for.

            2. c
              CocoTO Jan 14, 2011 03:41 AM

              again, depends what you are making, but in soups, low fat buttermilk is a nice sub

              1. greygarious Jan 13, 2011 04:32 PM

                Evaporated milk straight from the can is an acceptable substitute, though the flavor is different. Heavy cream freezes well so you can always split a container into smaller measurements, freezing them in baggies, smaller containers, or use an ice cube tray, then freeze the cubes.

                1. goodhealthgourmet Jan 13, 2011 04:00 PM


                  depends on the recipe, but i often use evaporated milk, and many Hounds have said in other threads that they use half & half. things like sour cream and Greek-style yogurt can work too, but once again it depends on the application. you can also "make" your own substitute by combining 2/3 cup milk with 1/3 cup melted butter.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    al b. darned Jan 14, 2011 09:17 AM

                    you can also "make" your own substitute by combining 2/3 cup milk with 1/3 cup melted butter.

                    I've never heard of this and will have to give it a try. Wow! I learned something today. Made it worth getting up.

                    1. re: al b. darned
                      goodhealthgourmet Jan 14, 2011 02:05 PM

                      LOL! i don't know whether to be honored or concerned that my little tidbit of info made facing the day worthwhile ;)

                  2. rcallner Jan 13, 2011 03:44 PM

                    I'd try nonfat sour cream, or pureed silken tofu.

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