Heavy cream is a wonderful addition to pasta dishes, as it can give your entire meal a rich, hearty texture.
However, there are many reasons why you may want to substitute heavy cream in your pasta dish.
Whether you want to make your meal a bit lighter, need a non-dairy alternative, or simply ran out of cream at home, there are several heavy cream substitutes you can use at home.
We’ve listed six of the best heavy cream substitutes to use in pasta dishes below. These all work very well, giving your pasta a similar flavor and thick, creamy consistency.
Keep reading to discover some amazing heavy cream alternatives!
Heavy Cream: The Basics
Heavy cream, otherwise known as heavy whipping cream, is the high-fat, thicker portion of milk. Its fat content ranges between 36% and 40%.
As it is so high in fat, it collects on top of milk when it is left at rest.
Out of all dairy products, heavy cream is an example that contains the most fat. Whipping cream ranks below, with 30% fat.
Even though whipping cream is a little lighter, it’s very similar to heavy cream.
If you don’t have heavy cream in the refrigerator, or follow a dairy-free lifestyle, you may not have thought that you could make white sauce for pasta dishes.
Fortunately, there are ways of making creamy pasta dishes without using heavy cream.
The heavy cream alternatives below can work well, but keep in mind that there is no precise substitute for the ingredient.
The ingredients listed here have a similar flavor and texture to heavy cream, but they won’t be exact.
Still, if you’re in a pinch, these alternatives will help you make a relatively hearty and comforting pasta dish.
The best heavy cream alternative for your pasta dish will depend on its flavor and fat content.
Here are some substitutes that will help make your pasta dishes taste amazing, all without using heavy cream.
The 6 Best Substitutes For Heavy Cream In Pasta
Here are 6 of the best heavy cream alternatives you can use in your pasta dishes.
1. Whole Milk
Whole milk is one of the simplest heavy cream alternatives, as you probably already have a carton in your refrigerator.
Milk is a great substitute to use in pasta dishes and sauces, like Alfredo sauce. This is typically made with eggs, parmesan cheese, butter, and heavy cream.
Heavy cream and milk have a similar flavor, though whole milk is lighter in consistency.
If you swap heavy cream for whole milk, the milk won’t affect the taste of your sauce, though you may notice that the sauce isn’t as rich compared to when using heavy cream.
Whole milk will still give your Alfredo sauce a silkier feel, so you won’t be sacrificing too much when using it as a heavy cream alternative.
In most cases, you won’t notice that the pasta was made without heavy cream, which is perfect for anyone looking to lighten up their meals.
When substituting whole milk for heavy cream, cook your dish for longer, at a lower temperature. This will help your dish obtain a creamier texture.
If you are using whole milk as a heavy cream substitute, you will need a cup of milk for each pound of pasta that you use.
2. Butter And Milk
Butter and milk are straightforward heavy cream alternatives that you most likely have in your kitchen already.
This is a step up from solely using milk, as butter’s 80% fat adds more fat to the milk, making it resemble heavy cream’s high-fat content.
If you want to make your sauce particularly creamy, you can add some flour to the mix. A single tablespoon of flour is usually enough to give your pasta dish a heartier texture.
Butter and milk can work very well as a heavy cream alternative, but keep in mind that these ingredients won’t whip as well as heavy cream does.
To use butter and milk as a heavy cream substitute, mix a ¼ cup of melted butter with ¾ cup of whole milk.
If you want to make the sauce particularly thick, add between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of flour to your recipe.
3. Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is a high-fat spread that resembles sour cream. The difference here is that the spread is thicker, creamier, and has a lighter flavor.
Crème fraîche is a great heavy cream alternative, as it has the same texture and similar flavor as heavy cream.
The spread does have a light tang, but this often goes unnoticed in pasta dishes, particularly ones with a lot of flavorful ingredients.
You’ll need between half a cup to one cup of crème fraîche for each pound of pasta, depending on how thick you want the dish to be.
4. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk comes in a can and has a long shelf life. It has 60% less water than milk, which gives it a rich, creamy texture.
It has a similar consistency to heavy cream, but is a lot lower in fat.
Evaporated milk is an ideal substitute for recipes needing heavy cream, like pasta, or even baked treats.
However, keep in mind that as it isn’t as thick as heavy cream, it won’t whip as well.
As evaporated milk is lighter, the substitute lets you enjoy white pasta dishes without the fat content associated with heavy cream.
Another advantage is that evaporated milk won’t curdle over heat. This is ideal for use in quick recipes that are treated with higher temperatures.
Just make sure that you don’t confuse evaporated milk with condensed milk. Both of these come in a can, but condensed milk is a lot sweeter.
If you’re using evaporated milk as a heavy cream substitute, use the product in a 1:1 ratio. For instance, if your pasta dish needs a cup of heavy cream, swap it for a cup of evaporated milk.
5. Cornstarch And Milk
If you only have low-fat milk in the fridge, you may struggle to make pasta sauces with a thick texture, like ones made with heavy cream.
If this is the case, you can mix cornstarch with low-fat milk to make a thicker sauce. This allows you to enjoy a lighter, low-fat meal that still has a hearty texture.
Make sure that you mix these two ingredients in a different bowl before you make your pasta dish.
To use this heavy cream substitute, use a whisk to mix a cup of milk with two tablespoons of cornstarch.
Once combined, add the blend to your hot pan and bring it to a boil. The heat will make the mixture thicker, so you can add it to your pasta sauce recipes.
6. Greek Yogurt
You may not have thought about using yogurt as a heavy cream alternative, but Greek yogurt’s thick texture works very well as a replacement.
Greek yogurt is packed with protein and has a light tang that works well in white pasta sauces.
It’s ideal for reducing the calories and fat content within your meal, without taking away its creamy consistency.
As Greek yogurt is so thick, you won’t need a lot of it to substitute in heavy cream pasta dishes.
Use ¾ cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt in place of one and a half cups of heavy cream. If the sauce becomes too heavy or thick, use a small amount of water to thin it out.
7. Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes
If you are vegan, there are a few non-dairy substitutes that work well in creamy pasta dishes. These include:
- Plant-based milk: Coconut, almond, and soy milk can be used in a 1:1 ratio to substitute for heavy cream. Remember to use unsweetened cartons!
- Pureed Silken tofu: Blend the tofu till it turns creamy and smooth, then add to your dish as needed.
- Vegan cream cheese: Plant-based brands make dairy-free cream cheese that can thicken up pasta sauces.
- Aquafaba: Aquafaba is the liquid inside chickpea cans. You can whip this until the liquid turns fluffy, then add it to recipes in place of heavy cream.
- Cashew butter: Cashew butter can be added to substitute heavy cream, but remember to use a natural brand with no added sugars.
- Vegan mayonnaise: Vegan mayonnaise products have a thick consistency that works well as a heavy cream alternative, but you may notice the sauce’s tangy flavor in your pasta dish.
- Coconut cream: Coconut cream is different from coconut milk, as it contains more fat. This has a thicker consistency that adds a silky touch to pasta dishes. Coconut cream usually comes in cans, so don’t confuse this with coconut milk contained in cartons.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re making Alfredo sauce or a velvety salmon bake, heavy cream is needed for many pasta dishes. If you don’t have heavy cream on hand, or cannot ingest it for dietary reasons, you can use ingredients to substitute.
Some of these ingredients are common household ones, like whole milk and butter, but others, like crème fraîche, are easily found at the store.
If you’re vegan, there are non-dairy alternatives you can use in place of heavy cream, though you may need to find some of these at specialty stores, like vegan cream cheese.
We hope you enjoyed learning about heavy cream substitutes and using them in your pasta recipes!
The 6 Best Substitutes For Heavy Cream In PastaCourse: Substitutes
Butter And Milk
Cornstarch And Milk
Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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