Heavy cream is an essential ingredient in many recipes. It is the thick fat-rich part of the milk that rises to the top. Heavy cream is commonly used in desserts, pasta sauces, soups and sauces. It can make any recipe tastier. Do not get carried away since heavy cream is also very high in calories and fats. Luckily, there are many healthier low-fat and dairy-free heavy cream substitutes that you can prepare at your home with simple ingredients. Also, some of these alternatives are available at the nearest supermarkets. For example, milk and butter is an excellent heavy cream substitute. Other heavy cream substitutes are a combination of milk and cornstarch, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, etc.
Mere two tablespoons of heavy cream can add 50 calories to your dish. Since it consists of 36 to 40 percent fat, the heavy cream may not be the best choice if you are on a diet plan.
Let us learn some more about heavy cream and various types of cream available before we discuss the various alternatives of this delicious but calorie-rich ingredient for puddings.
What is heavy cream?
Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is the thick layer of fat that rises to the top of the milk before the homogenisation process. This layer of butterfat liquid that is skimmed off the top of the milk is heavy cream.
It contains 36 to 40 percent fat and is high in calories. One cup of heavy cream contains 821 calories, 88 grams of fat (54 grams of this is saturated fat) and just 5 grams of protein.
Because correct daily limits for an individual are 2,000 calories, 50 grams of proteins, 44 grams of fat and 16 grams of saturated fat, heavy cream is indeed not the best for our health.
If you are suffering from heart ailments, hypertension or diabetes, heavy cream is a no-no for you. Even though you may not suffer from any of these ailments, heavy cream is not a wise choice as it can lead to obesity and other related problems.
This is the reason is why we must read up on healthier alternatives to whipping cream.
Different types of creams
Apart from heavy cream, you will also find other creams like whipping cream, half-and-half cream and light cream at the supermarkets. These are not as calorie-dense as heavy cream, and we can also use them in various recipes.
- Half-and-half – It contains 12 percent fat
- Light cream – It contains 20 percent fat
- Whipping cream – It contains 35 percent fat
- Heavy cream contains – It contains 38 percent fat
The higher percentage of fat allows the cream to be whipped and help it to stay in shape. Also, the chance of curdling decrease when it goes through the heating process.
Whipping cream has a slightly lower fat, i.e. 35 percent, as compared to heavy cream. Unfortunately, it does not hold its shape for as long as heavy cream. The light cream contains 20 percent fat, and it is lighter than other two.
The half-and-half cream has the lowest fat content of 10 to 12 percent when compared to other creams, and this makes it healthier than the other three.
As the name suggests, the half-and-half cream has equal parts of whole milk and light cream. It contains the lowest fat, i.e. 12%, compared to other types of creams. Also, the fat content in half-and-half cream is more than whole milk, which has 3.5 percent fat.
Thus, making it the right contender for increasing the richness of a cup of coffee. However, you cannot whip this cream because of the lower fat content. So, next time if you go Starbucks, you know what secret lies behind the silkiness in the taste of hot coffee chocolate.
Light cream is just over half-and-half with 20% fat content. This cream goes well with fresh fruit, coffee, crumbles, etc. You cannot whip this cream even though it contains more fat than half-and-half cream.
Whipping cream is what it sounds like; you can whip this cream. It has whooping high fat content as 35% which is slightly less than heavy cream. This cream finds its use in a variety of dishes like cake, pie, soups, sauce, ice-cream, puddings, etc. Also, this cream won’t curdle if heated.
Heavy cream tops the list with 38% fat content. You can hardly differentiate between heavy and whipping cream. You can whip this cream and use it in your favourite ice-cream recipe or even puddings.
Low-calorie and low-fat heavy cream substitute
Try these heavy cream substitutes for a healthier low-calorie recipe.
1. Milk and butter
This alternative works for most recipes and can be made quickly from ingredients are readily available at home.
- Combine ¼ cup of melted butter to ¾ cup of low-fat milk and mix thoroughly. This will make one cup of heavy cream.
- Add one tablespoon of flour to thicken the low-fat milk.
This alternative will add flavour and creaminess to your cooking and baking recipes. Since it does not whip like heavy cream, it may not work well as a topping.
The fat percentage of this recipe is the same as that of heavy cream, so it may not be the best alternative if you’re trying to lose weight.
2. Milk and cornstarch
This recipe is an excellent low-fat, low-calorie alternative to heavy cream.
- Add two spoons (19 grams) of cornstarch to one cup of milk
- Allow the mixture to thicken.
You can opt for skimmed milk if you want to reduce the calorie content further. The cornstarch will thicken the milk and make the texture of the mixture similar to that of heavy cream.
This recipe works well while cooking, but you should avoid using this mixture in baked products. It can change the texture of whatever you are baking.
3. Greek yoghurt and milk
Greek yoghurt is low in fat and high in protein and makes the perfect healthy alternative to heavy cream. It is thicker than heavy cream, but you can add milk to it make the texture similar to heavy cream.
- Mix equal part of Greek yoghurt and milk to make a suitable alternative to heavy cream. This mixture can be used to add thickness to dishes like soups and sauces.
This alternative should not be used for baking or recipes that require whipping. Greek yoghurt may not provide the same softness or flavour to desserts or baked goods.
4. Cottage cheese and milk
Cottage cheese is a healthier high-protein alternative to heavy cream. This cheese is made from the curds of cow’s milk, and it can be used to add thickness to soups and sauces.
- Blend equal parts of cottage cheese and milk in a food processor. Adding milk makes it smoother and creamier.
Cottage cheese has a distinctive flavour, so use this alternative in recipes that go with the cheesy taste. Cottage cheese also contains salt, so make sure that you reduce salt in your recipe when you use this option.
5. Half-and-half and butter
The half-and-half cream is made from whole milk and cream but has one third the calories of heavy cream. Adding butter to this cream increases the fat content, and it can be used in any recipe that requires heavy cream. In some dishes, you can even use half and half cream without adding butter.
- Mix 232 grams of half-and-half cream with 29 grams of melted butter to make an equivalent of one cup of heavy cream.
6. Evaporated milk
Evaporated milk is canned milk that has 60 percent less water than regular milk. Readily available at the supermarkets, this creamy milk is a low-calorie alternative to heavy cream.
Cool this milk in the refrigerator and add a few drops of vanilla to it. Whisk it till you have reached the correct texture.
- You can also make evaporated milk a home by heating whole milk and stir it continuously till it becomes thick and creamy.
- Once you take it off the gas stove, it will become even thicker as it cools.
- Add a few drops of vanilla and use it in your recipe.
It is an ideal alternative for desserts.
7. Cream cheese
Cream cheese is a fresh cheese which is made from milk and cream. It is an excellent low-calorie, low-fat alternative to heavy cream. This alternative works well in creamy soups and cheesy sauces.
It is used in bagels and cheesecakes. It is also suitable for frostings but cannot be used in recipes that require whipping. You can substitute the same amount of heavy cream with cream cheese in your recipe. Use low-calorie cream cheese to make this alternative even healthier.
You can also use just milk as a substitute for heavy cream in some recipes.
- Boil some milk on your stove top and whisk it till it gets frothy.
- If you don’t get the frothiness that you need, repeat the process.
- Add some stevia for sweetness if you want to use it for desserts.
Low-fat cream cheese is an excellent heavy cream substitute for pasta sauce and soups. When you substitute low-fat cream cheese for heavy cream in your recipe, make sure add only half the amount of milk that the recipe requires.
Dairy-free and vegan heavy cream substitute
If you are allergic to dairy products, these alternatives will work well for you.
1. Soy milk and olive oil
- Mix soy milk with olive oil for a perfect vegan, dairy-free alternative to heavy cream.
- Mix two-thirds cup of soy milk to one-third cup of olive oil to make a one cup alternative to heavy cream.
This heavy cream substitute can be used for cooking and baking but not in recipes that require whipping.
2. Soy milk and silken tofu
Silken tofu is made from condensed soy milk which is formed into blocks. Silken tofu is soft and is a healthy high-protein heavy cream substitute.
- Blend soy milk with silken tofu in a blender to create a smooth texture.
- Make sure to remove lumps from the mixture.
You can use the same amount of this mixture to replace heavy cream in your recipe. It can be added to soups and sauces and also you can use it for desserts. Add vanilla essence and some sugar and whip it to make vegan toppings for deserts.
3. Coconut cream
Coconut cream is an excellent vegan heavy cream substitute. It can be purchased from the supermarket, or you can readily prepare it at your home.
- Chill a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight and pour it out. The thick cream left behind in the can is coconut cream.
- Scrape this cream out and use it in your recipes.
You can use an equal amount of this cream in place of heavy cream. Coconut cream has a distinctive flavour, so make sure that you use it in recipes that go with its taste.
Blended cashew nuts are the perfect vegan heavy cream substitute.
- Take a cup of cashews and blend them in a food processor with some water till you get a smooth mixture.
You can substitute this mixture in soups and sauces.
5. Oat supreme
Oat supreme is a popular vegan heavy cream substitute. Readily available at the supermarkets, this product is ideal for recipes that need extra thickness. It is a perfect substitute for soups and sauces.
Final words on heavy cream substitute
Heavy cream is used in many recipes to add a creamy texture to the dishes. It is, however, quite a calorie-dense ingredient, which can lead to weight gain. There are many healthier low-fat and dairy-free heavy cream substitutes.
Some of these like tofu and Greek yoghurt can also add protein content to your recipes. Some of these substitutes can alter the taste and the texture of your recipes, to make sure you use the appropriate alternative for your dish.