When A Recipe Calls For Cream: What to Use?

Have you ever come across a mouthwatering recipe that calls for cream, only to find yourself stumped as to which type of cream you should use?

Fret not! We’re here to help demystify the world of creams and guide you through your culinary journey.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the various types of cream commonly used in recipes, explore some handy substitutes when these elusive ingredients aren’t readily available, and share tips on choosing the right substitute for your dish.

Types Of Cream Used In Recipes

There are several types of cream used in recipes, including heavy cream, whipping cream, and light cream.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream is a popular ingredient in many recipes, particularly those that call for a rich and creamy texture.

As beginners in cooking, it’s essential to understand the role of heavy cream in your dishes and what sets it apart from other types of creams.

For example, when you are making an Alfredo sauce from scratch for your fettuccine dish or perhaps creating homemade ice cream for dessert night with friends – heavy cream will be your best friend!

The high milkfat percentage not only provides richness but also helps thicken mixtures when heated or whipped into soft peaks.

Another great use of heavy cream is in making ganache – simply heat equal parts chocolate and heavy cream together until smooth to give life to delicious truffles or cake frostings.

Whipping Cream

Whipping cream is another type of dairy cream commonly used in desserts or as a topping for fruits and pies.

It has a fat content that ranges from 30% to 36%. When whipped, it doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks.

This makes it an ideal ingredient for creating light and fluffy cakes, mousses, and other sweet recipes.

Light Cream

When it comes to cream used in recipes, light cream is a great substitute for those who want to reduce their fat intake.

With only 20-30% milkfat content, this type of cream has less fat compared to heavy cream and half-and-half.

One important thing to note is that when using light cream in place of heavy cream, the texture may be slightly different due to its lower fat content.

However, it still adds a creamy richness without being too heavy on the palate.

Light cream can also be mixed with other ingredients such as Greek yogurt or coconut milk to create a deliciously balanced flavor in your recipe.

Cream Substitutes To Use In Recipes

There are several cream substitutes that can be used in a recipe, such as milk and butter, Greek yogurt, and coconut milk.

Milk And Butter

Another great substitute for cream is a mixture of milk and butter. To make this, melt unsalted butter in a pan and then add an equal amount of milk.

For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, you can use ½ cup melted butter mixed with ½ cup of milk instead.

This option may not work as well in recipes that require whipped cream as it will not hold its shape like heavy whipping cream would.

However, using milk and butter still provides the richness that the recipe needs without being too heavy like some creams can be.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a versatile cream substitute that can be used in various recipes such as baking and cooking.

It is a healthy option as it has lower fat content compared to heavy cream or other dairy products.

One example of using Greek yogurt in place of cream is making a creamy pasta sauce.

Instead of using heavy cream, mix some Greek yogurt with grated Parmesan cheese and lemon zest to create a tangy, flavorful sauce for your favorite pasta dish.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a great alternative to cream in recipes, especially for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

It has a rich and creamy texture that can add depth of flavor to dishes like curries or soups.

For desserts, coconut milk can be used to make dairy-free whipped cream by refrigerating the can overnight and scooping out the thick layer at the top.

It’s important to note that coconut milk does have a distinct tropical taste, so it may not work well in all recipes where cream is called for.

Additionally, it contains less fat than heavy cream, so adjustments may need to be made when using it as a substitute.

Tips For Choosing The Right Cream Substitute In Recipes

Choosing the right cream substitute for a recipe can be challenging, especially if you don’t have the exact type of cream on hand.

To help you make the best choice, consider the intended use of your dish and what kind of flavor and texture you want to achieve.

For example, if you’re making a savory soup or sauce that requires heavy cream but don’t have any on hand, try using half-and-half instead.

Another great substitute for cream is Greek yogurt, which works well in sweet recipes like smoothies or baked goods.

Remember that when substituting creams in recipes, it may affect overall taste and consistency. So experiment with different substitutes and find what works best for your cooking preferences.


In conclusion, understanding the types of cream to use in recipes can take your cooking skills to the next level.

Whether it’s heavy cream for a rich and creamy pasta sauce, light cream for a tangy soup, or whipping cream for a decadent dessert topping, each has its own unique purpose.

Don’t fret if you don’t have cream on-hand though – there are plenty of substitutes such as milk and butter or even Greek yogurt that will do the trick.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of cream is typically used in recipes?

When a recipe calls for cream, it generally refers to heavy whipping cream or heavy cream. This type of cream has a high fat content and thick consistency that makes it ideal for many cooking applications.

2. Can I substitute other types of milk for cream in a recipe?

Although possible, substituting other types of milk for cream may result in changes to the texture and flavor of the final product. For example, using skim milk instead of heavy whipping cream could result in a lighter and less creamy sauce or soup.

3. How do I know if I need to use whipped or unwhipped cream?

When a recipe calls for whipped cream, it will usually specify this specifically in the instructions – indicating when you should add sugar or vanilla extract into your whipped mixture so that you can create sweetened Whipped Cream topping vs plain Heavy Whipping Cream used as an ingredient elsewhere in some recipes.

4. Are there any substitutes I can use instead of ‘cream’ entirely?

For those who prefer not to consume dairy products or are looking for lower-fat/calorie alternatives – some viable substitutes include coconut milk (light canned variant works well) while other options like almond milk have been known work as well though with slight modifications necessary depending on specific recipe requirements.

It’s important however note these vegan/plant-based alternatives may yield slightly different textures/flavors than traditional creams but still good options nonetheless!