How to Substitute Cream

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Most of the information below on how to substitute cream for dairy-free diets is excerpted from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. However, I’ve also added product reviews and a few fun recipes that are here on the website.

How to Substitute Cream - Dairy-Free options for Coffee Creamer, Sour Cream, Light & Heavy Cream, and Whipped Cream

Quick Tips to Substitute Cream

Half & Half

Coconut Creamer: Allow a can of full fat coconut milk to settle for about 1/2 hour. If your room temperature is warm, place it in the refrigerator. The coconut cream will rise to the top and can easily be skimmed off. Blend one part coconut cream with one part unsweetened or plain soy, rice, or oat milk to create the desired amount of half and half.

Instant Soy Creamer: Blend one part silken tofu with one part unsweetened or plain soy, rice, or oat milk to create desired amount of half and half.

Light Dairy Cream

Low Fat Soy Cream Alternative: Blend Silken Tofu until smooth. This works as an excellent substitute for milk and cream when a thickener is needed in sauces and soups. Choose soft varieties for a lighter “cream”. Pureed tofu can be substituted for light cream using a 1:1 ratio and is a much healthier, lower fat option.

Milk + Oil Light Cream Equivalent: Blend 3/4 cup of soy or rice milk with 1/4 cup of melted dairy-free margarine or oil (we like extra light olive oil for cooking). This will equal 1 cup of light cream for your recipes.

Heavy Dairy Cream

Coconut Cream: Such a versatile food! Allow a can of full fat coconut milk to settle (about 1/2 hour). The coconut cream will rise to the top and can easily be skimmed off. To substitute cream in recipes, use equal parts coconut cream for the dairy cream. This work particularly well in sauces for seafood and poultry.  Of course, already prepared Coconut Cream can be purchased in stores or online.

Low Fat Soy Cream Alternative: Blend Silken Tofu until smooth. This works as an excellent cream substitute when a thickener is needed in sauces and soups. Choose medium firm or firm varieties for a thicker “cream”. Pureed tofu can be substituted for heavy cream using a 1:1 ratio and is a much healthier, lower fat option.

Milk + Oil Heavy Cream Equivalent: Blend 2/3 cup of soy or rice milk with 1/3 cup melted dairy free margarine or oil (we like extra light olive oil for cooking). This will equal 1 cup of heavy cream for your recipes, but it will not whip.

Sour Cream

Soy Sour CreamFirm Silken Tofu has a wonderful sour cream consistency when blended, and can be used plain or jazzed up for a sour cream-like flavor. See the recipes below for several variations of tofu sour cream.

Nutty Sour Cream: For a delicious soy-free sour cream alternative, I like to make sour cream using cashews or sunflower seeds as the creamy base. See Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for my staple recipe.

Vegan Yogurt: Use a plain unflavored variety of dairy-free yogurt as a 1:1 sour cream substitute. Works best in dips and salad dressings.

Recipes: Homemade Cream Alternatives

Enjoy these dairy-free whipped cream, heavy cream, and sour cream alternative recipes from our expansive online recipe collection …

Products: Cream Alternatives at the Store

Below are the products we’ve had a chance to taste-test and review here on Go Dairy Free. For a more extensive list of dairy-free products to substitute cream, get one of our No Dairy Product Lists; they include thousands of dairy-free foods.

For more creamy recipes and tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

38 Comments

  1. This was such a helpful article! Where I live store bought dairy alternatives are few and far between plus I prefer made from scratch at home wherever possible. I used the light cream alternative recipe with olive oil in my potato bake and it was amazing. Thanks again for sharing. 😊

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