Picture this: you’re in the middle of a recipe and suddenly realize you’re an ingredient short. Disaster, right?
But don’t worry; there are many half and half substitutes you can use instead.
In fact, there are several simple swaps you can make for half and half. And most will give you the same great taste and texture.
There’s even a couple of terrific lactose-free and vegan options!
So check out the half and half substitutes below and bookmark the page for later. You never know when you’ll need it!
What Is Half and Half?
For most of us, half and half is just “that stuff I add to my coffee.” And, okay, that’s fair.
That is what half and half is, but that doesn’t tell us much about it.
Half and half is a blend of half milk (usually whole) and half cream. It’s thicker than milk but not as thick as cream. So it will add body and richness to drinks and recipes, but not as much as straight cream would. It’s used in many soups, sauces, and stews for its velvety finish and creamy taste.
It’s a “best of both worlds” situation. And it’s so often used in coffee because you get that same silky, luxurious texture without it being too heavy.
6 Best Substitutes for Half and Half
Regarding substitutes for half and half, your best bet is to make your own.
Other than evaporated milk, no single ingredient can replace half and half. Not well, anyway.
Fortunately, you can combine several different things to make a decent alternative.
1. Milk and Heavy Cream
So we’ve already established that half and half is a mix of equal parts milk and cream.
So if you run out and have those on hand, you’ve got half and half already!
Just mix the same amount of each, and you’re good to go.
Though I should mention: half and half is usually made with light cream. Not double or whipping cream.
But you have options no matter what cream or milk you have.
- Swap 1 cup of half and half for 1/2 a cup each of whole milk and light cream.
- Swap 1 cup of half and half with 3/4 cups of whole milk and 1/4 cup of double/heavy cream.
- Swap 1 cup of half and half with 2/3 cups of skim milk and 1/3 cup of heavy cream.
Then, use any of these at a 1:1 ratio for half and half in your recipe or coffee.
2. Butter and Milk
Butter and milk is another great combination for making DIY half and half. Here are the steps for making this replacement:
- Measure 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and place it in a 1-cup measuring cup.
- Microwave the butter until it’s fully liquified.
- Do not remove the butter from the measuring cup.
- Pour whole milk into the measuring cup with the butter, filling it to the top.
You can use this substitute at a 1:1 ratio for any recipe.
It doesn’t make a good half and half replacement for coffee, though.
3. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is the easiest replacement for half and half because you don’t have to mix it with anything.
Because of the way it’s processed, evaporated milk is creamier than regular milk. But it’s not as creamy as cream – just like half and half.
Plus, if it’s too thick, you can thin it out with a splash of water.
Use it in a 1:1 swap for half and half in any recipe or cup of Joe.
Remember, though, evaporated milk has a slightly toasted flavor. So it may slightly change the taste of your final product.
4. Heavy Cream and Water
Most of the flavor of half and half comes from the cream. The milk simply helps thin it out.
So, in a pinch, you could use heavy cream diluted with water.
The taste may be slightly different. After all, you’re literally watering down the cream.
But if your recipe doesn’t call for an insane amount of half and half, it shouldn’t be too noticeable.
This substitute works best in cooking and baking, where the mild taste won’t be as noticeable.
Here’s how to make this replacement:
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to a 1-cup measuring cup.
- Pour heavy cream into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1-cup mark.
Then, substitute the mixture at a 1:1 ratio for half and half in recipes.
5. Milk and Cornstarch
Instead of thinning heavy cream, you could also thicken milk!
Do this by adding a tablespoon of cornstarch to a cup of whole milk. Whisk it well and use as you would half and half.
Use the substitute 1:1 for half and half in cooking. Again, this one may not be ideal for coffee as the taste may be more noticeable.
6. Vegan Half and Half
If you’re looking for a vegan, lactose-free option, try vegan half and half instead. Believe it or not, there are several options you can buy.
Ripple, Califia Farms, and Nut Pods all offer vegan half and half. They typically use ingredients like coconut milk, almond milk, etc.
You can also make your own vegan half and half. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (or coconut cream)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cashews
Start by soaking the cashews for about 30 minutes. Then, add them, the water, and the coconut milk to a blender.
Blend them on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Then, refrigerate it, and enjoy it for up to 5 days.
Can You Freeze Half and Half?
I don’t usually recommend freezing dairy products because they tend to split after thawing.
The butter clumps, and it’ll be watering and look curdled. So, though it’s still safe to consume, it’s not great in your morning coffee.
That said, you can freeze half and half for up to three months. Do so in the original container, unopened. Or transfer it to an airtight container.
When ready to use it, let it thaw out in the fridge overnight. Then, briskly whisk it to reincorporate any separated ingredients.
Because of the potential for separation, thawed half and half works best in recipes.
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