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Substitute Sour Cream for Heavy Cream

Heavy cream can be considered a staple ingredient in many kitchens and a common constituent in various recipes. It has a higher fat content than many other types of cream since it is made from the high-fat portion of milk and is typically used to add richness and taste to pasta, soups, and desserts.

Sour cream

Heavy cream is an undeniably versatile food item that is great to have on hand. Still, there may be times when you reach for it only to discover that you do not have any. You may also need a healthier alternative or a vegan substitution due to the dairy content of heavy cream, which is undesirable for individuals who cannot take it.

As a result, there will be a need for a substitute that won’t drastically ruin your recipes or affect the flavor of your dish. Sour cream is one of such options, and it can be used in place of heavy cream in most recipes. However, there are other options, and all of them work well when used in the appropriate substitution methods, altogether producing a great taste in various recipes.

Sour Cream Vs. Heavy Cream

Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by fermenting ordinary cream with lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which is added either intentionally or accidentally, thickens and sours the cream. It gets its name from bacterial fermentation that produces lactic acid, which is known as souring.

When combined with other ingredients, sour cream is widely used as a condiment on dishes or in dipping sauces. It can thicken and cream soups and sauces and raise the moisture content in baked goods instead of milk.

On the other hand, heavy cream is the milk fat that forms on fresh milk when it has not been homogenized. Homogenizing milk is a procedure that transforms fat in milk into tiny droplets that stay floating in the liquid. According to FDA labeling guidelines, heavy cream is defined as a cream that contains at least 36 percent milk fat. It is also known as heavy whipping cream.

Many recipes call for heavy cream, ranging from a splash to a few cups. It works in pastry fillings, pasta sauces, ice cream, and many other recipes.

Sour Cream Nutrition Facts

Sour Cream

Substituting Sour Cream and other Options for Heavy Cream in Recipes

Heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) is used in some meals, ranging from savory sauces to sweet desserts like ice cream. However, whether due to being on a dairy-free diet or being in the middle of making a meal and realizing you’re out of heavy cream, you may one day need a substitute for heavy cream.

Thankfully, various food items can be used in place of heavy cream when a recipe calls for it. Sour cream is one of those options, and it competes with heavy cream in terms of versatility in use.  Consider how the following options can replace heavy cream in recipes:

Sour Cream Sour cream


Sour cream is gluten-free and keto-friendly, and it has a fat level of roughly 20%. As long as the sourness doesn’t overpower the dish’s flavors, it’s a good alternative for heavy cream in various recipes.

It can be substituted in equal amounts for the heavy cream called for in the recipe. It is especially good with sweet foods or topping for sweets and can also be spooned atop sweet dishes like crepes. Sour cream can also be sweetened with confectioners’ sugar and served instead of whipped cream.

If you plan to substitute sour cream in recipes such as white chili or sauces, add it in after it has finished cooking; otherwise, if the stew is still hot, the sour cream may curdle.

Half and Half

Half and Half


Half milk and half cream can be used to replace heavy cream in equal amounts. However, the combination of these ingredients has a lower fat level than heavy cream. As such, it makes an excellent alternative for people looking for a healthy alternative. This combination, like heavy cream, improves richness in recipes and can be used in desserts, sauces, and soups.

Butter can also be added to the half and half mixture to increase the fat content. The resulting product can then be used in a variety of recipes. Unlike many other alternatives for heavy cream, this option can be used for whipping as well.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk


It is possible to make a heavy cream substitute by using equal amounts of evaporated milk in its place. Evaporated milk resembles the features of heavy cream because it has a thicker and creamier texture than conventional milk. Still, it contains fewer calories, and so it can be used as a healthy alternative.

You may also want to add a little bit of vanilla extract if it is used in baked desserts. While this is an excellent substitute for heavy cream in meals and recipes that call for it, it may not work as well for whipping. As a result, the flavor of your dessert will be enhanced, and it will be slightly sweeter.

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream


Coconut milk is an excellent option for folks who are vegan or want a dairy-free diet. It is worth mentioning that while coconut milk has a sweet flavor, it also has the same richness and consistency as heavy cream. Although it does not rise and heavy cream, it can still be used as a cake topping or baked food.

Make a whipped topping with chilled coconut milk, and then pour the liquid contents into a separate container. Afterward, the thicker and firmer bits can be scooped out to use as a heavy cream substitute. Coconut cream and heavy cream can be substituted in equal amounts in recipes, including a 1:1 substitution ratio.




Yogurt, especially thicker versions like Greek yogurt, can be an excellent replacement for heavy cream in topping for sweet foods like pancakes. Yogurt is a fantastic healthy option because it is packed with protein. It can also be mixed with milk to produce a thinner mixture.

It is similar to cottage cheese in that it may be eaten on its own or blended with milk. Adding milk thins the mixture and gives it a mouthfeel comparable to heavy cream, and it can then be used in making sauces and soups.

It is, however, important to understand that this alternative option has a tangier flavor and, as a result, may not be ideal for all dishes that call for heavy cream. Also, while it can be used in baked foods as a substitute for heavy cream, it is not suggested for whipping.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs

Can I substitute sour cream for heavy cream in Quiche?

Making Quiche without heavy cream is possible. Just use sour cream, but keep in mind that sour cream is also high in calories.

What can you substitute for heavy cream in a frittata?

Whole milk, sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche can all be used as substitutes. Just keep in mind that anything less than a product with full-fat will result in a less-unctuous frittata.

Does sour cream taste like buttermilk?

Commercial buttermilk, like sour cream, is pasteurized, with bacteria introduced after the heating process, and it has a tart flavor comparable to sour cream.


There is no need to feel like all hope is lost when you reach for your can of heavy cream and find it empty. However, if you’re also seeking a healthier alternative to heavy cream in your recipes, then you’re in luck.

Sour cream, and our other suggested options, can work excellently in various recipes you would usually use heavy cream for. These options work well without compromising taste and flavors, as long as they are used in the right amounts and methods. Your best bet is to explore and find out which option works best for you.

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