Are you on a vegan diet or have a lactose intolerance? Then you’ve probably looked for vegan heavy cream substitutes before.
And luckily, several plant-based alternatives create the same creamy texture.
Before picking one of these dairy-free alternatives, you should know they’re not all equal.
While you can happily use condensed oat milk in vegan baking, it won’t work for soups and sauces.
Similarly, cashew cream isn’t ideal for coffee.
So, let’s explore some of the best vegan heavy cream substitutes. And, more importantly, how and when to use them.
Uses for Heavy Cream
Cream comes in all different kinds. You’ve got light, heavy, whipping, coconut cream, and coffee creamer, to name a few.
And depending on what you’re making, certain swaps will work better than others.
Here are just a few uses for heavy cream:
- Whipped Cream: Heavy cream is most commonly whipped with sugar and used on top of desserts.
- Sauces and Soups: Add heavy cream to soup and sauces for a rich, smooth finish.
- Desserts: Heavy cream is a key ingredient in custards, ice creams, panna cotta, mousse, or creamy puddings.
- Coffee and Hot Chocolate: Cream makes coffee and hot chocolate more indulgent and slightly thicker.
- Baking: Heavy cream makes tender cakes, scones, biscuits, and pastries. Like sour cream, it adds moisture and richness to the dough or batter.
- Salad Dressings: Use it to make extra creamy dressings with smooth velvety finishes.
- Savory Dishes: Since it’s not sweet, it’s great in savory recipes like mashed potatoes or creamed spinach.
8 Vegan Substitutes for Heavy Cream
1. Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is an excellent vegan substitute for heavy cream in cooking.
You’ll love the taste and the texture – though it is noticeably nutty. But it’s also creamy and slightly sweet.
The key is to soak the nuts properly. If you don’t, the cream will be grainy.
That’s not such an issue in, say, pasta sauce. But you’ll notice it more in vegan cheesecakes and other smooth puddings.
And no, it won’t whip. So you can’t use it as a fluffy finish on your cakes.
How to substitute: soak 1 cup of raw cashews in 1/2 – 1 cup of water for 2-4 hours. Then blend until smooth and use on a 1-to-1 ratio.
Note: if you want the cream thick, add 1/2 cup of water. If you want it more liquid, add the full cup.
2. Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk
Coconut cream and coconut milk have become popular vegan substitutes for heavy cream.
This is mostly due to the impressive array of flavors and textures.
While heavy cream has a rich and creamy consistency, coconut-based alternatives boast a smooth and velvety texture.
And this texture complements a wide variety of dishes.
In terms of flavor, coconut cream and milk offer a subtly sweet and nutty taste. If used properly, it can add a unique depth to any recipe.
Additionally, coconut-based products are known for their flexibility in the kitchen.
This makes them an excellent substitute for everything from baking to savory cooking.
Better yet, you can whip cold coconut cream!
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio.
3. Dairy-Free Yogurt
Dairy-free yogurt is an excellent vegan substitute for heavy cream for several reasons:
Dairy-free yogurts, especially those made with coconut or cashew milk, are super creamy.
This makes them ideal in creamy sauces, vegan soups, or desserts.
They also have a comparable fat content to heavy cream. That means you can use it to tenderize your vegan bakes!
Moreover, the tangy flavor of dairy-free yogurts can add a unique element to recipes.
This stuff won’t whip to stiff peaks, but you can add a dollop on top of a cake for added moisture.
Lastly, dairy-free yogurt is readily available in most grocery stores. YOu can’t beat all that.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio.
4. Vegan Cream Cheese
This is one of my favorite vegan heavy cream substitutes. Here’s why:
- It’s creamy enough to lend richness and body to recipes without relying on animal-based products.
- It contains fewer calories than traditional heavy cream.
- It adds just enough fat to balance out the flavors in savory dishes, such as soups and sauces.
This makes it a great option to lighten up recipes while still achieving the desired taste and texture.
The combination of neutral flavor and creamy texture makes it an ideal choice for lighter desserts, too.
Though again, it won’t whip to stiff peaks. So it’s not great as a finishing touch on cakes.
How to substitute: Use ¾ cup of vegan cream cheese for 1 cup of heavy cream.
5. Sweetened Condensed Oat Milk
Sweetened condensed oat milk is a terrific vegan substitute for heavy cream!
It’s cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. Plus, it’s made from oats, which are high in fiber and can help promote digestive health.
But that’s not all! This stuff is naturally sweetened with agave nectar or coconut sugar, so you don’t have to worry about added sugars.
Use is in your coffee, bakes, or sweet sauces.
How to substitute: Use ¾ cup of condensed oat milk for 1 cup of heavy cream.
6. Plain Soy Milk
Plain soy milk is packed with protein, and its creamy texture makes it a fantastic substitute in many recipes.
Plus, it’s low in calories and easy to find – most grocery stores stock plain soy milk in a bunch of different brands.
I use it as a base for a ton of vegan desserts, including puddings and custards.
It works especially well in desserts like chocolate mousse or crème brûlée.
Substituting plain soy milk for heavy cream often results in lighter versions of these desserts that are just as tasty!
It’s even great as a coffee creamer. It adds a hint of creamy sweetness without overpowering the flavor of your drink.
How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio.
7. Dairy-Free Butter + Plant Milk
Melted butter and milk is a standard heavy cream alternative when you run out. So it makes sense to use dairy-free butter and plant milk.
Combine melted dairy-free butter and plant milk in a blender and blitz until smooth. How easy is that?
Then, use it in sauces, soups, desserts, or even coffee drinks.
The biggest advantage of using this combination is that it gives the same creamy texture. But, without any added fat or calories found in heavy cream.
Plus, you can use your favorite type of plant-based milk (such as almond, coconut, oat).
Pick and choose depending on the flavor profile you’re looking for in each dish!
You can also adjust the amount of plant milk used to achieve your desired consistency.
How to substitute: Add 1 tbsp of vegan butter for every ½ cup of plant milk
8. Silken Tofu + Plant Milk
Silken tofu and plant milk make a perfect vegan alternative for heavy cream. Here’s why:
- Silken tofu has a soft texture that makes it easy to blend into any recipe, creating an incredibly creamy consistency.
- Plant milk, such as almond or soy, adds sweetness and volume without the high-fat content of heavy cream.
This combination reduces the calories while still providing a rich flavor perfect for sauces, soups, desserts, and more!
I love that silken tofu and plant milk offer a lighter version of heavy cream without sacrificing flavor.
There are so many ways to use silken tofu and plant milk as a heavy cream substitute! From smoothies to cupcakes, you can make any recipe healthier.
How to substitute: Blend 8 oz of silken tofu with ¼ cup of plant milk
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