Looking for a vegan substitute for heavy cream? Find easy ideas, from dairy-free heavy cream to coconut cream and everything in between.
It’s the time of year when baking dominates most holiday menus, and you might be spending more time in the kitchen making sure your favorite recipes are a frequent addition to your table.
If you’re on the lookout for plant-based substitutes to add to recipes, you’ve come to the right place. Making the swap to plant-based alternatives in your favorite recipes is easier than you think.
One of the most popular ingredients used this time of year is heavy cream. It’s a staple in many baked goods, as well as creamy soups, curries, and warm beverages like coffee and tea.
There are multiple ways to make a vegan heavy cream substitute. I did the work of investigating the options for you. Here are eight of the best vegan substitutes for heavy cream.
8 vegan heavy cream substitutes
Many ways to make a vegan heavy cream substitute exist. Some recipes rely on the fat from coconut, while others are cashew based. You’ll even find store-bought alternatives that use a mix of alternative plant-based oils and protein sources.
Keep in mind that some of the vegan heavy cream substitutes will perform differently than others.
For example, an extra creamy oat milk is an excellent heavy cream substitute for a creamy soup but doesn’t whip into a light and fluffy cream for the top of your hot chocolate.
Be sure you know how a cream will be used in the recipe before deciding which version is best for your needs.
Canned coconut cream is an easy vegan substitute for heavy cream that doesn’t require a recipe. You can use canned coconut cream as-is in a 1:1 ratio in recipes like curries and baked goods.
If you can’t find coconut cream in your local grocery store, you can refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight and use the cream off the top.
Coconut cream may not form peaks like regular cream, but you can get a similar texture. Try this recipe from Eating by Elaine for a sweetened coconut whipped cream.
Best for: curries, creamy soups, baked goods
Note: This substitute will give the dish a coconut flavor.
Non-dairy milk + oil
A mixture of two parts non-dairy milk, plus one part oil can be used to make a vegan alternative to heavy cream.
Once mixed, this vegan heavy cream can be used as a 1:1 replacement for heavy cream in recipes. Be sure to use an oil that doesn’t impart a lot of flavor, such as avocado or grapeseed oil.
Best for: baked goods (sweet or savory), pasta dishes, creamy soups
Silk Heavy Whipping Cream
If you want to avoid making a vegan substitute for heavy cream at home, you can choose to buy an alternative if it’s available at your grocery store. One of my favorite vegan alternatives is from Silk, a plant-based food company.
This dairy-free heavy whipping cream alternative offers a 1:1 substitute for regular heavy cream in all your favorite recipes. Plus, it’s free of artificial flavors and colors and is sugar-free.
Best for: whipped topping on fruit or dessert
Many vegan dairy substitutes use cashews (e.g. cashew cheese), but did you know you can also use cashews in a recipe for a vegan replacement for heavy cream?
You’ll need a high-speed blender or food processor to make a cashew-based heavy cream, but the result is worth it for the extra creamy texture.
Check out this recipe from Liv Vegan Strong for a vegan heavy cream substitute, also known as cashew cream.
Best for: pasta dishes, casseroles, baked goods
Country Crock Plant Cream
If you’re looking for a coconut-free plant-based alternative that you can use as a vegan alternative to heavy cream, try Country Crock Plant Cream. It’s a gluten-free product that uses lentil protein.
You can use it in recipes just like you would heavy cream.
Best for: biscuits and other baked goods, pasta dishes, creamy soups
Non-dairy milk + vegan mayonnaise
This unexpected combo makes for a delicious and creamy vegan heavy cream substitute.
Vegan mayonnaise is oil based, so it’s not too far of a stretch from the non-dairy milk and oil combo that makes for an excellent vegan heavy cream substitute.
To make, blend two parts non-dairy milk with one part vegan mayonnaise.
Best for: pasta dishes, casseroles, curries, creamy drinks (e.g. eggnog)
Extra creamy oat milk
In a pinch, you can use an extra creamy oat milk as a vegan substitute for heavy cream. This is ideal for soups like creamy potato soup or vegan clam chowder. It also works as a deliciously creamy choice for a hot cup of coffee.
If you need to thicken it, consider blending in tofu or a vegan butter substitute for a little extra thickness. My favorite oat milk is Planet Oat Extra Creamy Oatmilk.
Best for: coffee or other hot beverage
Dairy-free creamers are a popular choice for a plant-based alternative to regular cream in coffee or another hot beverage. Importantly, dairy-free is different than non-dairy when it comes to ingredients.
While the FDA does not regulate the term “dairy-free,” it does require that it’s a truthful statement when present on the label. This means that a food carrying the “dairy-free” label must be free of dairy and any of its derivatives.
However, products that carry the term “non-dairy” may still contain derivatives of dairy, per the FDA. In this case, the product must also contain a statement that indicates the product has a milk derivative.
This is important for those with milk allergies and/or those following a vegan diet or diet that eliminates dairy products. Read the label carefully to ensure you’re choosing the right dairy-free creamer for your diet.
The bottom line
There’s no shortage of vegan and plant-based alternatives for heavy cream in your favorite recipes.
Whether you want to prepare a recipe or buy a pre-made vegan replacement for heavy cream, you can’t go wrong with the variety of choices and homemade vegan heavy cream recipes available.
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