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Can I Substitute Heavy Cream For Milk? + 8 Other Substitutes 

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The other day I was about to make delicious coconut pancakes which are my favorite comfort food. And do you know what happened? I realized that I was out of milk. Yup!

Given that I really hate going to the store when in PMS (I’m sure many of you ladies feel the same), I started looking for the best substitute for milk.

I opened the fridge and the first thing that captured my attention was heavy cream. Then I asked myself: Wait, can I substitute heavy cream for milk? Will I achieve the same consistency by doing so? 

I spent a great deal of time contemplating and googling. Finally, I decided to use heavy cream instead of milk. The result? My coconut pancakes were equally delicious as before! 

If you’re going through the same dilemma, read on to find out how to properly substitute heavy cream for milk. In case you change your mind, you’ll also find more milk substitutes to choose from. So, let’s see!

Yes, You Can Substitute Heavy Cream For Milk! 

heavy milk

As the name implies, heavy cream is “heavier” than milk meaning it has a higher fat content and a thicker consistency than milk. 

Milk is typically 3% to 4% fat, while heavy cream contains between 36% to 40% of milk fat. Lighter creams are usually 18% or less.

Now, what can you do to make heavy cream look and taste more like milk? 

You can dilute it by adding some water. I did the same thing for my pancake recipe and it worked perfectly. For every cup of milk, you should use half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of water.

BEST FOR: cream soups, scones

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup water = 1 cup whole milk

Heavy Cream Vs. Milk: 5 Main Differences

If you’re interested in tapping into the main differences between heavy cream and milk, here you go:

1.  Made by: Milk is delivered to the processing facility where the fat is separated from it and it goes through the pasteurizing process. Heavy cream is a dairy product that is made by skimming (separating the fattest layer of whole milk). Basically, heavy cream is skimmed off the top of the milk.

2. Fat content: Heavy cream is made from the higher concentration of fat found in whole milk, which is about 36% to 40%. In comparison, most milk contains just 3% to 4% fat. 

3. Calories:  Heavy cream has a higher calorie count than milk. 100 ml of heavy cream has 348 calories, while milk (2% fat) has 52 calories per 100 ml. 

4. Consistency: Milk and heavy cream are both dairy products, but heavy cream has a thicker consistency. 

5. Use: You can use milk to make smoothies, soups, solids, baking recipes (like this gluten-free banana pancake recipe), mashed potatoes, and many more. Heavy cream is mostly used for baked goods, sauces, curds, greek yogurt, homemade butter, and stiff peaks.

8 Other Substitutes For Milk 

bottle and a glass of milk

From half and half to soy milk, all of these alternatives are healthy choices for those who want to replace dairy milk with milk containing plant-based protein or something else. 

These alternatives are also perfect for those who don’t have milk at hand but are too lazy to go to the store (like me). 

1. Half and half

Half and half is my second best alternative for milk because it is a mix of heavy cream and whole milk. I regularly use it for sauces and soups, and I also regularly freeze half and half because I use it a lot. 

Note that half and half is less heavy than heavy cream, but it will give you the same results when mixed with water.

BEST FOR: sauces, gravy, soups

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: ¾ cup half and half + ¼ cup water = 1 cup whole milk

2. Powdered milk

I can’t remember the last time I had powdered milk in my house, so I rarely use it as a substitute for milk even though it’s better than any other substitute out there. Why? Because it’s milk in a powder form, right?

The best thing about powdered milk is that it has a “forever” shelf life and it’s easy to use. If you want to add some creaminess to your dishes, then use milk in a powder form. 

BEST FOR: savory soups, milkshakes, sauces, smoothies, baked goods

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk by following the instructions on the package.

3. Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk has a deeper color and more rich flavor than regular whole milk. It’s because it goes through a process of removing some of its water. Hence the name ‘evaporated’. 

If you want to use this type of milk as a substitute for milk, you’ll need to mix it with water.

BEST FOR: baked goods, sauces, soups

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: ½ cup evaporated milk + ½ cup water = 1 cup whole milk

4. Coconut milk

coconut milk

Coconut milk is a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or for those who simply enjoy the taste of coconut milk. It has the same consistency as regular milk but it doesn’t have any lactose in it. 

BEST FOR: chocolate cakes, cookies, muffins

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk.

5. Almond milk

Almond milk has a lot of nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. The taste of almond milk is extraordinary, which is why my friend Jane drinks almond milk instead of regular cow or soy milk.

BEST FOR: baked goods, cookies, cakes

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk.

6 Rice milk

Rice milk has a similar flavor to dairy milk but it contains less amounts of protein and calcium. If you’re looking only for a similar flavor to milk and a less creamy texture, then rice milk is the way to go.

BEST FOR: baked goods, smoothies, cereal

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk.

7. Oat milk

Oat milk is rich in fiber content and plant-based protein which makes it one of the best alternatives for dairy milk. However, oat milk contains more starch than regular whole milk which may change the texture of your dishes.

BEST FOR: cakes, cupcakes, muffins, oatmeal

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk or add some water to it (optional). 

See Also: Does Oat Milk Go Bad? If Yes, How Long Does It Last?

8. Soy milk

soy milk

Soy milk is low in calories, and rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. There are many health benefits linked with this type of milk which is why is one of the healthiest alternatives for regular milk.

BEST FOR: pancakes, cereal, smoothies

SUBSTITUTE RATIO: Use it in equal amounts as you would use whole milk.


• Can I substitute heavy cream for milk?

Yes, you can use heavy cream instead of milk but you need to mix it with some water. The recommended substitute ratio is ½ cup of heavy cream + ½ cup of water for 1 cup of whole milk.

• What is the main difference between heavy cream and milk?

Heavy cream contains more fat content (36% to 40%), while whole milk contains 3% to 4% fat. Also, heavy cream has a thicker texture than whole milk.

• What are some other substitutes for milk?

Apart from heavy cream, you can use powdered milk, half and half, evaporated milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, and soy milk as a substitute for whole milk.

• Any questions? 

Feel free to ask.