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Substitute for Heavy Cream in Ice Cream

Everyone living under a rock has probably heard or tasted ice cream; it is a delicious and flavorful frozen treat that owes its creamy and thick consistency to the heavy cream used as a base ingredient, especially in vanilla ice creams.

Heavy cream is a staple when making a classic ice cream recipe, even at home; it has a buttery texture that makes the ice cream smooth on the tongue, so it is the preferred ingredient. However, most people may think their ice cream recipe would be incomplete without it; this is not entirely true. There are different alternatives out there or in your kitchen that would fill the gap of heavy cream and give you a good result.

What is Heavy Cream?

When fresh milk is not homogenized, the thick part, the cream, would rise to the top and be carefully collected. The cream is the fat part of milk, and it is mixed thoroughly with milk to make heavy cream and whipped cream. These creams add structure to food and give a fluffy and creamy texture.

The heavy and whipped cream are almost similar, except the heavy cream has more fat content than the whipped cream. Heavy cream has about 36-40% milk fat, and whipped cream has about 30-36% milk fat. The fat content in heavy cream allows it to retain its structure when whipped in hot chocolates, banana splits, or pumpkin pie.

Heavy cream uses in recipes.

For taste and texture, heavy cream is the most preferred diary option. Apart from its role in ice cream, it combines well with recipes and gives a buttery and smooth texture. Its ability to withstand heat and retain its texture makes it an excellent thickening ingredient in soups and sauces. Heavy cream is a regular constituent in recipes like;

Heavy cream substitutes

Heavy cream is a base ingredient in ice creams responsible for the smooth texture and thick consistency. Heavy cream is not an ingredient most people would have in hand, which can cause a pause or the total termination of a recipe. However, this shouldn’t be the case as many alternatives could work for heavy cream.

When looking out for a substitute for heavy cream, the substitute should imitate the creamy and thick texture of the heavy cream. But note that they may differ in taste, and you should be cautious of the alternative to use based on your recipe.

Coconut Cream

Coconut Cream


coconut milk is a non-dairy substitute good for lactose-intolerant persons and would make an excellent vegetarian alternative. It has the same creamy texture as heavy cream and can be substituted. Full fat coconut milk could be refrigerated, and the cream skimmed from the top and added to meals. However, the coconut milk has a coconut flavor, but this wouldn’t be a problem if you don’t mind the extra taste. Heavy coconut cream can also be whipped; Coconut milk could be used in ice creams, soups, and sauces. The same amount of coconut milk could be substituted for heavy cream in any recipe.

Butter and Milk



Heavy cream is known for its buttery texture, and substituting butter and milk is a good way to achieve it. To make 1 cup of heavy cream, melt 1/4 cup of butter and slowly whisk in 3/4 cup milk. Since this would provide a cup of heavy cream, you can collect the required amount from the cup. This can be used in most baking and cooking recipes but will not work in stiff peaks.


Cream Cheese



Tangy and Italian cream cheese (mascarpone) can make heavy cream, and it would melt into the creamy texture in a hot recipe like how heavy cream does. It is important to thin it first with milk before use. Cream cheese can be used to make dessert toppings.




Half and half contains half whole milk and half heavy cream, and it is the ideal substitute for heavy cream, especially in soups and sauces. The fat content in the half-heavy cream contains fat that adds structure to half and half. It is not a great baking alternative, but it would work in ice creams. The same amount of half and half can be substituted for heavy cream in a recipe.

Greek Yogurt



Like cream cheese, Greek yogurt can be thinned with milk before use to imitate the texture of heavy cream. Full fat plain Greek yogurt can be used in mashed potatoes, soups, sauces, and homemade ice cream recipes. The Greek yogurt has a sour taste but could be sweetened.

When using this alternative, is it best to add it off the heat and in deserts that don’t require whipping. For example, the same amount of Greek yogurt could be used for the same heavy cream in any recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is heavy cream keto-friendly?

Yes, is it. Keto-friendly foods are typically high in fat with minimal carbs, and heavy cream has these properties.

Can heavy cream be used alongside whipped cream?

It depends solely on your recipe, creating different consistency. However, they create good flavors when used together.

How does heavy cream affect ice cream?

The high-fat content in heavy cream and whipping cream coats ice crystals, preventing them from enlarging. It also thickens the body of ice cream by trapping and holding air when the mixture is stirred and frozen.


Heavy cream is a key ingredient in ice creams and other recipes because of its creamy and thick texture; however, there are other options around your kitchen that you can substitute for when it is not available.