Heavy cream is exactly what it says it is. It is rich in viscosity, ultra-creamy, and it is super heavy. Its specialist characteristics make it the ideal ingredient for so many recipes. However, while this is a great ingredient for so many recipes, it is not all that great for vegans.
Thankfully though, especially for vegan bakers, there are plenty of vegan ways to substitute heavy cream. Some of the ways you can substitute heavy cream as a vegan are easy, while others might need you to be a bit creative and add in a tad of elbow grease.
But, whichever substitute you need, I have found them all, today, I will talk you through all your options.
How Do You Substitute Heavy Cream In Your Recipes?
Before we get all into all the choices for vegan heavy cream alternatives, let’s think about what makes a heavy dairy cream as good as it is for what it is used for. We need to think about how it affects what we use it for.
Implementing a vegan cream option can be pretty awkward as heavy cream is hardly even a liquid. Per the FDA, it actually has at least a 36% milk fat content, and so this means that recipes that require it do not depend on it to only impart moisture, but to also add in a richness that we typically associate with products that are high in fat content.
Heavy cream also lends some emulsification-type properties, such as in soups or baked goods. This means that replacing this with plant-based milk or something else that is simply just a liquid won’t give you everything that heavy cream does.
Aside from this, non-dairy milks will play an important part in the supplementation of heavy cream substitutes. Many favorite options can be made up of a liquid ingredient as well as a thickening agent/ingredient so that you gain the right texture from your substitute.
Taste is just as important as texture, and vice versa.
What Are The Best Heavy Cream Substitutes For Vegans?
Here are some of the best substitutes for heavy cream for vegans.
Check out our list:
- Store-bought vegan heavy cream.
- Plant-based milk + oil/ (vegan butter)
- Plant-based milk + Cornstarch.
- Plant-based milk + silken tofu.
- Coconut cream.
- Homemade cashew cream.
- Creamed rice.
- Vegan cream cheese.
Keep reading to discover just how and when you should use each combination of these ingredients to be able to replace heavy cream in all of your favorite dishes, this will ensure that you will be able to make any recipe vegan-appropriate!
#1. Store-Bought Vegan Heavy Cream
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The absolute easiest replacement for normal heavy cream would be a store-bought vegan heavy cream, thanks to the rapid expansion of veganism, there are actually lots more options for readily-made vegan heavy cream than there were even just a few years ago.
A majority of these brands and varieties will contain a vegan milk type, or even a few, as well as the typical sweeteners, flavorings, and thickeners where it is necessary.
Products that are labeled as vegan heavy cream can be used as an easy substitute for normal heavy cream in any recipe, just like a lot of vegan coffee creamers.
However, always make sure you consider flavors, such as caramel or vanilla, as well as added sugars, and so on if you need it. Do note that few of these products will whip, so if you also need whipped cream for what you are making, you should try out a dairy-free whipped topping.
How To Use Store-Bought Vegan Heavy Cream
This is so simple and only requires a 1:1 ratio. Simply substitute it evenly using as much vegan heavy cream as you could with normal heavy cream.
#2. Plant-Based Milk & Oil/Vegan Butter
As I previously noted, typical dairy heavy cream actually has quite a high milk fat content, so, is it possible to use plant-based milks as part of a heavy cream substitute? Of course, you just need to fatten it up.
The difference with vegan substitutes is that you DO NOT add in milk fat, instead you can add in plant-based fats.
With this substitute, a mild-tasting oil should not come across very strongly, nor will it be bitter, and it won’t impact the taste of the dish either. Some of the oils that you may want to use include; olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
However, vegan butter can work in this case as well. This can be a great option if you prefer it.
This won’t whip up as a heavy cream will, but it still adds thickness and richness to recipes for baking or a creamy soup. (Yum!)
How To Use Plant-Based Milk + Oil
For this mix to work as a substitute, take a cup and fill 2/3rds with plant-based milk, and the other ⅓ with oil or fat of your choice. This gives it a similar percentage of fat as a regular heavy cream does.
You should try to make this as homogeneous as you can, so put it all in an immersion blender, or get your muscles out and whisk away to ensure it is smooth and cohesive.
#3. Plant Based Milk & Cornstarch
Cornstarch can be very handy, so if you are new to it, you are in for a treat. This starchy power can create a super thick but smooth consistency when it has been dissolved into a liquid. This means it is an awesome product to use when you want a good vegan heavy cream substitute.
As well as this, there is the additional benefit that it is low in fat or at least lower in fat than the above option. Instead of the thickness coming from fat, it comes from cornstarch!
It won’t be fluffy or light like a heavy whipping cream, however, it is great for some recipes where you might want some more viscosity such as a chowder, cream sauce, or even a casserole.
The best thing about cornstarch is that once you have activated it, it will keep its texture, so you can re-warm and cool it without any clumps, separations or such that you might expect with some other alternatives.
How To Use Plant-Based Milk & Cornstarch
To make a single cup of vegan cream you will need to fill a cup with non-dairy milk, and then add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. You should heat up the milk on a stove and then sprinkle in the cornstarch before you whisk it together.
Cooking the mixture on medium heat will slowly thicken after some minutes. However, if you see no change to the texture then you may want to increase the heat a bit.
Cornstarch does need to be raised to a temperature just beneath boiling temperature for it to activate. Once it has been thickened, you should be able to substitute in an equal amount of your mix for what the recipe requires.
#4. Plant Based Milk & Plant Based Yogurt Mixed
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No one ever said that plant-based yogurt would not be any good for replacing heavy cream, it has the thickness that works for this. With so many options for its flavor, from almond milk, coconut milk, soy, cashew, and more, you can work to the flavor you want.
However, yogurt will always have a thicker texture than heavy cream will, so it will need to be thinned out by combining it with plant-based milk too.
Using these substitutions will be healthier in regard to the fat content in comparison to oil/butter options, and of course, real heavy cream.
A majority of plant-based milk products, even yogurt, are low in saturated fats, but still manage to contain healthy monounsaturated fats, and, of course, healthy probiotic boosts for your gut!
How To Use Plant-Based Milk + Plant-Based Yogurt
To make a single cup of this heavy cream alternative, make 2/3rds of a cup of dairy-free yogurt and then add ⅓ of plant-based milk to fill it.
Stir the mixture together until it is cohesive, and double-check that the consistency is enough like heavy cream for it to work for your recipe.
After this, the mixture will work for a 1:1 replacement.
#5. Silken Tofu & Plant Based Milk
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I see you, you’re frowning right now. You think I am insane, don’t you? Tofu, as a substitute for heavy cream? Really? Yes! It makes plenty of sense, it is smooth but thick in texture, which is not all that different to dairy cream when you think about it.
The main thing here is that you should use silken tofu instead of firmer tofu, silken tofu is more likely to produce a creamy and smooth texture, whereas firm tofu will probably end up being a bit lumpy.
Tofu and soy milk work well together here, however, you could use any non-dairy milk. This won’t whip like a heavy cream through, but it is very healthy.
How To Use Silken Tofu & Plant-Based Milk
Use 1 cup of vegan heavy cream, fill ¾ of a cup with silken tofu and the other ¼ with non-dairy milk. You could use an immersion blender for this until you can produce a mixture that is uniform in thickness. Then replace it as a 1:1 ratio.
#6. Coconut Cream
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Coconut cream is one of the best options there is, it is also a 1:1 ratio substitute, but you also do not need to mix too many ingredients. Its makeup is surprisingly similar to heavy cream, but it has slightly less fat.
However, even though it still contains 25% to 35% fat, the most important factor is that these fats are saturated fats, so they are solid even at room temperature. Always ensure that you get coconut cream and not coconut cream of coconut.
If you cannot get coconut cream try to get coconut milk x2 and as there is plenty of cream hidden away inside of it.
The downside is that this will obviously taste very ‘coconutty’, which is not exactly a great flavor to have in everything. This is a great replacement but won’t work for everyone.
#7. Homemade Cashew Cream
Cashew cream can be a great substitute as it has some great texture and richness thanks to the natural oils that are in cashew nuts. You can even make your own if you want to.
Simply soak raw cashews in boiling water then blend with flavorings and liquid. Depending on the recipe, you can leave out some sweetener, or flavorings to make this super sweet. Cashew cream won’t taste like whipped cream does, but it does add thickness.
How To Use Cashew Cream
This works as a 1:1 substitute for heavy cream for vegans!
#8. Creamed Rice
Creamed rice also works really well, adding thickness to your recipe and being ideal in a dish where you want somebody without having to use too many fats, while still having a creamy texture. It also makes use of cooked rice leftovers.
You can use any type of rice for this, and you can add any plant-based milk with it. Even coconut milk with white rice or for a savory soup you could use brown rice and vegetable stock.
How To Use Creamed Rice
The rice-to-liquid ratio depends on the way the rice is cooked and the starch content of the rice and its texture. However, ideally, you should start with ¾ cup of rice and blend it, then add in ¼ cup of your liquid, and keep going until you have the consistency you want.
#9. Vegan Cream Cheese
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Swap out the heavy cream for plain vegan cream cheese. While dairy-free cream cheese is often very high in fats, vegan cream cheeses do not suffer from this.
It can work well as it is thick, high in fat, and has a milk-like flavor that is not that tangy. If you want to make it a bit smoother, you can always blend it together with some plant-based milk!
This uses a 1:1 ratio.
What Is The Best Substitute For Heavy Cream For Vegans?
Which of these substitutes is best depends entirely on what you are making, what plant-based milk you are using, and how. However, sometimes just going out and buying vegan heavy cream is best, but some of these substitutes will use up items in your fridge that are taking up space.
I will leave it up to you to decide.