How to Substitute Cream

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Click on the subtitles below for instant information on how to substitute cream with dairy-free options …

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 Cream

Firm 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 …

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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.

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

Substitute Cream - So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer

So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer – Photo by Hannah Kaminsky 

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.

13 Comments

  1. What if the recipe is asking for both half and half and heavy cream? What should I do? Double up on the coconut cream?

    • Hi Ellen, note how light coconut milk makes a good sub for half and half. You an either use a combo of light and original coconut milk, or use mostly original coconut milk with some water to thin – see the ratios in the post.

  2. I don’t like coconut ad my husband is terribly allergic to it. Are there any heavy creams out there that are either non-dairy or lactose-free?

  3. I’m wondering if almond milk and oil would work as well..? Just getting started on my dairy-free journey, so I have very little experience cooking with substitutes :)

    • Honestly, either would most likely work well Kelly – it just depends on your flavor preference (both do impart their own unique flavor, which is lighter with chocolate, but still there), if you want lighter or richer, and if you just generally prefer one to the other. I most often reach for coconut cream out of habit, but a firm silken tofu yields nice creamy results in recipes like this, too.

  4. I used this heavy cream substitute (the oil+soymilk one) in an ice cream recipe. Turned out great! Would definitely recommend the last one to anyone trying to make daily free ice cream.

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