Single cream is a low-fat cream that’s quite nice for cooking, baking, adding to coffee, or pouring over desserts. It doesn’t have enough fat to whip and is generally used as a richer, creamier milk that isn’t as indulgent as heavy cream.
Single cream usually contains around 18-20% fat which makes it a touch heavier than half and half. Some single creams will go right up to 29.9% fat, sitting right below the fat content of whipping cream.
Many sweet and savory recipes call for single cream. It’s beautiful when used in sauces, poured on top of fruit, or even added to cereal.
However, not everyone keeps single cream on hand or consumes dairy. If that’s your case, here’s a list of eight of the best single cream substitutes available. To accommodate a range of dietary needs, this list will include plant-based, soy-free, nut-free, and dairy options to be used as single cream alternatives.
1. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is a great non-dairy single cream alternative. It can be used to replace single cream for almost any purpose.
It’s a perfect finishing cream, can be used when mashing starches, and enhances the comfort factor in a grain dish. A touch of coconut cream makes greens a little more interesting and is the classic way to compliment a spicy dish. There are also many die-hard lovers of coconut cream in coffee or cereal.
It’s hard to think of something that coconut cream doesn’t go with. As long as you enjoy the taste of coconut, this distinct but versatile single cream alternatives may be the one for you.
You can find coconut cream in a can, dense block, or powder. Tinned coconut cream is usually labeled as coconut milk. That’s totally fine, even if it says light.
These coconut creams are perfect for replacing single cream in any cooking dish and don’t separate when heated and are certainly a viable substitute.
Just be sure to avoid the large containers of coconut milk that are intended to be plant-based milk options. Those have a lower fat content and aren’t rich enough to replace single cream.
Yes, you can use tofu to replace cream. Simply puree it and you have a neutral-tasting substance on hand that’s quite versatile when used as an ingredient.
This single cream alternative is a classic secret ingredient for plant-based cooks or those needing dairy free. It can be hidden in sauces, soups, desserts, dressings, quiches, etc.
Want to add pureed tofu straight into coffee or cereal, or pour it over a bowl of fresh berries? Simply blend silken tofu then add vanilla extract, a touch of milk, then some honey, maple syrup, or your favorite sugar substitute to taste.
Silken or soft tofu varieties are usually regarded as the go-to single cream substitute. When blended smooth, these tofu options can replace single cream on a one-to-one ratio.
However, you can use firmer varieties if that’s what’s on hand. Use a little less and consider blending it with a dab of milk, coconut oil, or butter for a bit more creaminess.
Want to skip the soy and keep things truly au-naturel? You can use plain, soaked cashews as an alternative to single cream.
Use only raw or blanched cashews that are unroasted and unsalted. Soak around a cup of cashews overnight in cold water. You can refrigerate them or leave them out on the counter. Then drain and blend them in ½ cup of water or more.
Cashew cream can be used to cook with, pour over, top, and finish a dish. It will thicken when heated and often thickens up after sitting, so you may need to add more liquid to a dish or re-blend the cream.
A cashew-based single cream substitute is delightful when stirred into cereal, mixed into savory dishes, and poured over warm desserts.
If you intend on using it for a sweet dish, try blending it with a touch of vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, or honey. Or try mixing in some fresh chopped herbs, minced garlic, chives, or other spices when using it as a savory pouring sauce.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is another single cream substitute that’s incredibly good for you. It’s creamy, thick, and packed with protein.
Greek yogurt can be whisked one-to-one with milk to form a pourable single cream alternative. It’s a tangy low-fat cream substitute that’s delicious when paired with fruit or used as a healthy dressing.
Greek yogurt is perfect when used as a savory marinade thanks to its lactic acid and calcium content. A yogurt-based light cream will tenderize the meat, break down the marinade flavors, and bring everything together.
You can also spoon some right into a dish to thicken it up and add a wallop of richness without the fat of a heavier cream.
Greek yogurt does separate in heat. You can’t really cook with it like regular milk or cream, but it is fine to vigorously whisk some in at the end of the cooking process. Try this cream alternative in curries, chilies, and other spicy dishes. It makes dishes rich and creamy, while the tartness keeps things light and fresh.
5. Evaporated Milk
Have evaporated milk on hand? That can be mixed on a one-to-one ratio with whole milk to form a nice single cream substitute.
Evaporated milk is regular milk that’s concentrated down to have only 40% of the water. It’s nutritious and low in calories but still has enough fat to be a good alternative.
You can find skim, 1%, 2%, or whole evaporated milk varieties. However, a one-to-one reconstitution ratio should work for all of them if you want a cream alternative.
You can cook and bake with reconstituted evaporated milk just like you would with single cream. It goes well in sauces, fudge, brownies, and even ice cream. It’s a perfect long-term pantry staple with a great reputation for rescuing chefs from last-minute shopping trips.
Evaporated milk is pasteurized and shelf-stable. But it doesn’t last that long once reconstituted. You can expect this cream alternative to be good in the fridge for around 5 to 7 days. It also can’t be frozen, so only mix up what you need. Because of it’s viscosity, it can be used, in some cases, as an alternative for double cream also.
6. Half and Half
Half and half is a blend of whole milk and cream that’s usually around 10 to 12% fat. This places it at right around half the typical single cream fat content of 20%.
It’s much thinner but can be used as a single cream alternative. You can replace single cream with half and half in just about any recipe.
You can usually taste the difference between richer single cream versus a lower-fat half and half. However, that shouldn’t be a problem once taste buds adjust.
You can bring its fat content up by adding in some heavy cream, whipping cream, or crème fraîche. If you’re cooking with it, a bit of butter or coconut oil can be used to replace the fat content. For baking, try using half and half with a touch of cream cheese.
To boost a dish’s richness without the fat content, you can use half and half along with some Greek yogurt, pureed tofu, or steamed pureed potato.
7. Heavy or Whipping Cream
Whipping cream is around 35% milk fat and heavy cream is around 38% milk fat. Both can be used as a single cream alternative.
If you’re cooking with it, just use these creams straight but in lower quantities than called for. A higher fat percentage makes these creams more heat-stable, so there’s no real point in watering theme down for cooking.
If you want to use this as a pouring cream, try adding some regular milk, evaporated milk, or half and half.
You can convert either whipping or heavy cream into single cream, by mixing one part milk with two parts cream. Then use it in the same quantities called for. This substitute is super easy to whip up.
8. Milk and Oil/Butter
This is kind of a desperate move. But if you find yourself in a real bind, you can make something like a single cream replacement by mixing milk with a bit of oil or butter.
For dairy or soy milk, blend around three-quarters of a cup of milk with one-quarter of a cup of oil or melted butter.
For lower-fat almond or rice milk, blend around two-thirds of a cup of milk with one-third of a cup of oil or melted margarine.
This recipe is best left for baking and cooking when all you need is milk with a little more fat in it. You probably shouldn’t use this recipe to finish a dish, in cereal, or poured on top of a dessert.
What Single Cream Substitute is Best?
One single cream alternative isn’t right for every dish or dietary preference. Vegetarians, vegans and dairy free consumers can use tofu, coconut cream, and cashews, along with plant-based milk and oil. Dairy consumers can use all of the above along with milk, half and half, cream, and Greek yogurt.
Find yourself making last-minute shopping trips for single cream and other rarely used ingredients? Try keeping your pantry stocked with some of these adaptable substitutes.
Are Single Cream substitutes nutritionally equivalent to the original food item?
No, single cream substitutes are not nutritionally equivalent to the original food item. The nutritional composition of the substitute product will be different from that of the original product and may contain fewer calories or less fat than single cream. Depending on the ingredients used to make a particular substitute, it may also contain more sodium or sugar than single cream.
Will using this substitute affect texture, taste and appearance of my dish/meal?
Yes, using a substitute may affect the texture, taste and appearance of your dish or meal. The texture and flavor of any recipe that uses single cream as an ingredient will be different when made with a substitute. In addition, the appearance of many dishes can also be altered when using a substitute for single cream. To ensure that your dish tastes and looks as intended, consider testing different single cream substitutes in advance.
Can I find comparable substitutes that offer more nutritional value than what is currently being used?
Yes, there are a variety of substitutes that offer more nutritional value than what is currently being used. For dairy consumers, Greek yogurt and low-fat milk can be used as replacements for single cream to boost the nutritional value of your dish or meal. Alternately, plant-based options such as tofu, cashews or heavy coconut cream.
Can you replace single cream with milk?
Yes, it is possible to replace single cream with milk. To do so, mix one part milk with two parts cream and use the mixture in the same quantities called for in the recipe. This substitute is best used for cooking purposes as using it as a pouring cream may require adding additional dairy, such as evaporated milk or half and half. It is best to experiment with different proportions of milk and cream depending on the desired outcome.
Can substitutes for single cream be used for baking?
Yes, many single cream substitutes can be used for baking purposes. Dairy-based options such as half and half or evaporated milk can be used in baking recipes that call for single cream. Plant-based milk can also be used in combination with oil or butter for a vegan-friendly substitute. Experimenting with different proportions of milk and fat may result in different results, so test!
Will single cream substitutes affect cooking time?
Yes, using a single cream substitute can affect the cooking time of a dish. Dairy-based substitutes such as half and half or evaporated milk may require a slightly longer cooking time due to their higher fat content, while plant-based milks may result in shorter cooking times. Experimenting with different proportions of milk and fat may also result in different outcomes
Can I use creme fraiche instead of single cream?
Yes, creme fraiche can be used as a substitute for single cream. Creme fraiche is a very rich, cultured dairy product and is similar in texture to sour cream. It has a slightly tangy flavor and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. However, it does contain more fat than single cream so use carefully.