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Can I Use Heavy Cream Instead of Milk?

Running out of milk seems to always happen at the most inconvenient time. Many times I have started putting together a recipe and then realized, too late, that I am out of milk. So, would it be okay just to substitute some heavy cream in place of the milk, or is this a bad idea?

You can use heavy cream instead of milk in most recipes. Just add equal parts heavy cream and water and mix to create a milk substitute. However, this method will not work if you want milk for drinking, as it will not have the same taste or texture.

Now, let’s take a look at why heavy cream can be substituted, how exactly to do it, and other things that can be used in place of milk.

Why Heavy Cream Works Just Fine


Heavy cream is the part of milk that is high in fat. It is used in a variety of recipes, including pastries, soups, cakes, and sauces. Due to its high-fat content, it won’t curdle when heated and is often used to whip into stiff peaks for various baking recipes. Heavy cream is sometimes called heavy whipping cream. However, heavy whipping cream is not the same as regular whipping cream.

If you need milk for a recipe, but only have heavy cream, you can use a combination of water and heavy cream to create a milk substitute. This substitute will often be sweeter than milk, and can still be heavier than regular milk. It is recommended that you “play it by ear” and add more water if you haven’t acquired the desired result.

You can also use milk instead of heavy cream, but your recipe will lack the decadence that heavy cream provides. If you truly desire a decadent dish, you can add butter to whole milk.

Melt 1/4 of the desired amount of heavy cream and wait for it to cool. Then combine it with 3/4 whole milk and whisk. This will provide you with a near-perfect heavy cream substitute.

The only thing you will not be able to make with this mix is whipped cream. If you need to make whipped cream, you will have to pick up some heavy cream or whipping cream at the store, as this mixture will not create the desired effect. Coconut cream, however, will whip like heavy cream.

What Else Can Be Substituted for Milk in a Recipe?

Milk Carton with Missing on the Label

There are also many other milk substitutes broken into two categories: Dairy or non-dairy.

Dairy options include:

  • Butter- If only a small amount of milk is needed, a tablespoon of butter in a cup of water will work fine as a substitute.
  • Sour Cream- Add sour cream and vanilla to a recipe instead of milk for similar results.
  • Yogurt- You can add yogurt to a recipe, but you might want to “thin it out” with water before adding it.
  • Other Cream Types- Mix the cream with water for a milk substitute, or add the same amount of half-and-half as the recipe calls for, to get similar results. However, many creams and half-and-half brands contain additives that can drastically change your food texture, so use with caution.
  • Evaporated Milk- While evaporated milk can caramelize and hijack your recipe, powdered milk will be a suitable alternative.

Non-dairy options include:

  • Unsweetened Soy Milk- Results in almost identical results to dairy milk usage.
  • Unsweetened Rice Milk- Will also result in a similar flavor and texture to dairy milk.
  • Other Non-Dairy Alternatives- Using small amounts (less than 1/2 a cup) of oat milk can be fine as a milk alternative. This can also extend to and include almond milk, coconut milk, and many others.

Just ensure that the milk doesn’t contain sweeteners, as this can result in a too-sweet end product. Oh, and you can use milk instead of heavy cream if you only have milk, by the way.

Can I Mix Heavy Cream and Water to Make Milk?

Mixing cream with water is not recommended if you want the milk to drink. But if you need milk for a recipe, this trick should work just fine! Mix half a cup of water with half a cup of heavy cream for a cup of milk substitute. It should be noted that this substitute can be up to ten times higher in fat content than regular milk, so regular consumption is not recommended.

Using this substitution will result in similar results to milk. Still, the recipe may taste sweeter, as many different types of heavy creams contain sweeteners, so it is wise to reduce the amount of sugar or other sweeteners that the recipe calls for.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped save you a trip to the store. This is especially true if you have to annoyingly set aside a half-done recipe while you do a supply run. Good luck with making something yummy!

Thanks for stoppin’ by for a few minutes.

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss The 32 Best Milk Substitutes for Recipes (Dairy & Non-Dairy).