Half and half meet you right in the middle of cream’s richness and milk’s lower fat and calorie content. As its name suggests, it is comprised of equal parts milk and heavy cream. It is used in baking, soups, and as creamer in coffee or hot cocoa to bring extra richness.
Since it has a higher fat content than milk, it also doesn’t curdle quite as easily when heated in soups. If you’re out of stock on a low-calorie or vegan diet, you may need a half and half substitute. This guide offers plenty of easy options for baking and creaming up your warm drinks.
What to Look for When Choosing A Substitute for Half and Half?
Not all substitutes are equally suitable for all purposes. If you’re looking specifically for something to use as a coffee creamer or in a smoothie, an option that requires an extra teaspoon of butter, for example, won’t be the best fit. We’ll guide you through the best applications for each replacement. Here are a few more points you should consider when choosing the right substitute for half and half.
When choosing a replacement, check the label since some sweetened dairy products or sweetened vegan alternatives may pack some extra calories due to the sugar added.
If the nutritional content is of concern to you, avoid products with preservatives and artificial ingredients. There are also some good high protein options, especially for a baking recipe.
In general, lower-calorie and low-fat products will not be quite as rich and creamy. Some non-dairy alternatives, such as rice milk, have a thinner consistency than whole milk. The varying fat content will affect emulsifying and thickening abilities.
Consider how much your half and half alternative is going to influence the taste of your drink or dish. If you are using a vegan substitute as creamer for your morning cup of coffee, you might notice a slight difference in the taste.
Best Half and Half Replacement
If you have heavy cream and whole milk, you can make your own half and half. After all, that is exactly what the store version is made of. The only difference with the store-bought version is that it is homogenized (machines blend the liquids together), preventing it from separating.
If you store your homemade version in the refrigerator, it may separate, but you can just stir it to blend it again. To make your replacement for half and half, mix equal parts whole milk and cream. Stir, shake, or blend to an even consistency.
Alternatively, you can use half and half substitute for milk by adding more water.
Substitute quantity: Replace your half milk and half cream versions in equal quantities.
Suitable for: Any application, including baking, drinks, pasta, and soups.
Top Tip: When adding cold dairy to a hot liquid, it may curdle. To prevent the dairy from curdling when adding it to sauces and soups, temper it first.
This requires you to add a small amount of the hot liquid (for example, the soup you are cooking) to the half and half. Stir to blend and then add it to the soup. This gradually increases the temperature of the dairy before adding it to the hot dish.
Related: Heavy cream substitute
#2. Whole Milk and Butter
This is another easy substitute, and you can use whole or skim milk, butter, or margarine, depending on what you have available. Mix one liquid measuring cup of whole milk with 2 tablespoons of melted butter (or margarine) and blend well.
If you are using skim or low-fat milk, you may need to add an extra teaspoon or two of butter. Keep in mind that this is not suitable to use for creaming drinks.
Substitute quantity: Replace your blend in equal measures.
Best for: Baking
See more: What can I substitute for milk?
#3. Evaporated Milk
Canned evaporated milk has approximately 60% less water than whole milk and features a delicious, caramelized flavor but is not sweet. This makes it suitable for sweet and savory applications.
Since it is shelf-stable, you can keep it in the pantry for months without worrying that it is going to go off. When choosing this as a replacement, the whole-milk variety will be a closer match.
Substitute quantity: Replace evaporated milk in equal quantities.
Suitable for: Any application, including baking, drinks, and cooking.
Related: Evaporated milk alternative
#4. Powdered Heavy Cream
Another shelf-stable product that you can keep in the pantry for a long time without risking it going off is powdered cream. With its neutral taste, it won’t influence the flavor of your dish, which makes it a great choice. Reconstitute half a cup of cream powder with a cup of water and blend well.
Substitute quantity: Once reconstituted, replace in equal measures.
Best for Any application, including baking, drinks, and cooking.
#5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt can be used as a replacement with great nutritional value since it is high in protein. Since it is a bit thicker, you will need to dilute it with regular milk. You can use water as well. However, the consistency will not be as creamy.
This won’t be suitable for creaming coffee but can be added to smoothies. Using flavored yogurt will change the taste of your dish, so it is best avoided. If you are baking something sweet, you could get away with vanilla yogurt if that’s all you have.
Substitute quantity: Mix equal parts of Greek yogurt and liquid to a smooth consistency and use this as a replacement in equal quantities.
Best for: Cakes, cupcakes, muffins, smoothies, soups, and curry.
Top Tip: When adding yogurt to hot dishes such as soup, add it at the end of cooking to avoid curdling.
#6. Sour Cream
Sour cream is not suitable for creaming drinks but can be used as a substitute in many other applications. Dilute it with a little water or milk to get the desired consistency before adding it to your dish.
Substitute quantity: Thin it out with a little liquid and replace it in equal amounts.
Suitable for: Baking and thickening soups, stews, chili, and sauce.
#7. Crème Fraiche
Creme fraiche is another cultured dairy product very similar to our option above and can be used in the same way.
Substitute quantity: Dilute with a little liquid to achieve the desired consistency and replace in equal amounts.
Best for: Baking and thickening soups, stews, chili, and sauce.
See more: Crème fraiche substitute
Dairy-free and Vegan Half and Half Alternatives
Canned coconut cream is a great vegan substitute. However, it does have a pronounced coconut taste that will alter the flavor of your dish. Consider whether it matches the flavor profile of your overall dish when choosing this as a replacement.
Although it is vegan, it does have a high-fat content, so it won’t be beneficial if you’re trying to reduce calories.
Substitute quantity: Replace coconut cream in equal quantities.
Suitable for: Baking, sauces, curry, soups, and smoothies.
Related: Coconut cream alternative
Soy Milk and Olive Oil
Soy milk is available in sweetened, unsweetened, and flavored varieties. Opting for a natural unsweetened brand is the best choice to prevent changes to the dish’s flavor profile. Certain brands have a distinct flavor while others offer a more subtle soy taste.
Use approximately ¾ cup soy milk blended with ¼ cup olive oil to get a similar consistency. This alternative is a vegan alternative to blending dairy milk and butter.
Substitute quantity: Use the olive oil and soy milk blend in equal quantities
Suitable for: Baking
Milk Alternative and Margarine
As with the above option, this is a vegan version of the dairy and butter blend. You can use any vegan milk alternative, including almond, soy, oat, or rice. Blend just under one cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of melted margarine. Opt for unflavored, unsweetened milk.
Since rice milk has a very watery consistency, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of margarine.
Suitable for: Baking only
There are plenty of pantry staples you can use when you need a half and half substitute. The most important thing to remember when choosing the best option is what you are using it for.
Some replacements are not suitable as a coffee creamer, while evaporated milk, powdered heavy cream, and a DIY blend of cream and milk are your best go-to’s for your morning coffee. Most alternatives are suitable for baking with something to cater to every diet preference.
See more: Can you freeze half and half?
*image by bhofack2/depositphotos