Can You Substitute Milk For Heavy Cream?


There are certain staple ingredients in your kitchen. One of these is probably heavy cream. Heavy cream is used in many recipes like soups, sauces, homemade butter, ice cream, sour cream, and deserts. 

It has a high level of fat and contains dairy so a substitute may be wanted in place of the heavy cream. Milk has a similar consistency to heavy cream though not as thick. 

So can you substitute milk for heavy cream?

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You can substitute milk for heavy cream in recipes. If you want a creamy texture without using heavy cream, use milk along with some other ingredients instead.

Heavy cream thickens the consistency of whatever you are baking or cooking so substituting milk will need to thicken the recipe as well. 

Substituting milk for heavy cream in recipes can work well. The only downside to using a milk mixture is that it won’t whip up the same way heavy cream does. 

But if you want an ingredient that is lower in fat than heavy cream, milk works great. 

Cornstarch or butter should be added to the milk to thicken it up and it will still taste good. For the milk substitute whole, low-fat, or nonfat milk can be used but more butter is needed for low- or nonfat milk when substituting for heavy cream. 

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Is Milk An Okay Substitute For Heavy Cream?

You are already making a recipe and combining ingredients when you realize you don’t have any heavy cream. Your recipe needs the thickening ability of heavy cream. 

Remembering that you can use milk as a substitute you wonder if the milk is actually a good ingredient to use in place of the heavy cream. You may ask, is milk an okay substitute for heavy cream and will it thicken up the recipe like heavy cream does?

Milk works well as a substitute for heavy cream but it needs a little extra added in. Cornstarch or butter should be mixed with the milk to create a substance similar to heavy cream. You can sub milk in baking or cooking recipes using this method.

“If you have butter and milk (whole milk and half-and-half work best), you can make your own heavy cream substitute. To make 1 cup of heavy cream, melt 1/4 cup of butter and slowly whisk in 3/4 cup milk. This works for most baking or cooking recipes that require heavy cream, but it will not whisk into stiff peaks. You’ll need the real thing for that.”, says the article, 9 Heavy Cream Substitutes for Practically Any Recipe.

Milk is great to use if you do not have any heavy cream or you don’t want to use heavy cream in your recipes. Because heavy cream is so thick, you have to add some extra ingredients to help thicken up the milk so it will have the same consistency as the heavy cream. 

Cornstarch or butter work wonderfully. So, if you find that you are out of heavy cream or simply don’t want to add it in, use a milk mixture instead!

How Much Milk Do You Substitute For Heavy Cream?

When you are out of heavy cream, milk can be used in your baking or cooking. As I have already mentioned, milk can be used in place of heavy cream in recipes. 

It won’t whip up as well as heavy cream does but it will get the job done and your recipe will still taste good. You have to add in some other ingredients to bring the liquid to the same consistency as heavy cream. 

This can cause you to wonder, how much milk do you substitute for heavy cream?

You will need to use 1 cup of milk mixture for every 1 cup of heavy cream. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in with almost 1 cup of milk (so the mixture equals one cup) or ¼ cup of butter to ¾ cup of milk and stir together. Once thickened, use this in the recipe instead.

There is a certain amount of milk to sub in for heavy cream. Too much and it will be watery and too little and it will be clumpy. Just remember that you want the same amount of liquid for the heavy cream you are replacing. 

That means that if the recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream you need ¾ cup of milk and ¼ cup of butter to equal the 1 cup. If you are adding cornstarch to the milk you only need 2 tablespoons added to 1 cup of milk since it is a powdery substance.

According to Don’t Have Heavy Cream? Here’s a Smart Substitute That Actually Works, “If you don’t have heavy cream…Regular whole milk can work…The solution is to up the fat content of whole milk by adding butter…Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter…and let it cool to room temperature. Then, whisk it together with 3/4 cup whole milk. This mixture is equivalent to 1 cup of heavy cream and can be used in almost any recipe that calls for heavy cream.”

Can You Use 2 Percent Milk Instead Of Heavy Cream?

If you don’t have heavy cream for a recipe, don’t worry. You most likely have milk and butter on hand which can be subbed for the heavy cream. But what if you don’t like whole milk? 

A low-fat or nonfat milk isn’t as thick as whole milk and you need the heavy cream to thicken up the recipe. So, when you go to add the milk and butter instead you might wonder, can you use 2 percent milk instead of the heavy cream?

You can use a low-fat milk like 2% in the place of heavy cream in recipes but you will need to add more butter. Higher fat milk needs less butter. Add in the desired amount until it reaches the right consistency.

The article, Healthy Substitutes for Heavy Whipping Cream, states that, “Since heavy cream is scooped off the top of fresh milk, you won’t have any trouble replacing it in recipes with real milk. Look for a low-fat or nonfat milk when dieting. For soups that need a thicker consistency, you can add a little butter and flour to the pot. Cornstarch will also work to firm up the soup.” 

So, it is possible to have a thicker consistency in your recipe without the fat from the heavy cream or butter. 

Heavy cream or milk can be fattening and for those who are on a strict diet, they may want to sub in some healthier ingredients. Besides milk, there are other substitutes you can use in place of heavy cream. Some healthy options are low- or nonfat milk, greek yogurt, cashews or almond, low-fat cream cheese, and coconut milk. 

Any of these are great to us as substitutes for heavy cream or milk in baking/cooking recipes.

Final Thoughts

Milk can be substituted for heavy cream if you add some cornstarch or butter to thicken it up  in baking or cooking recipes. You will want to add the correct amount of milk into the recipe so make sure you follow the tips mentioned earlier in the article on how to correctly sub milk for heavy cream. 

Whole, low- or nonfat milk can be used as well, you will just need to add in more butter. MIlk is a great substitute for heavy cream and your recipe will still taste good.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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