3 November 2022

The 13 best substitutes for light cream for your recipes

By Killian

The cream can be presented in different varieties intended for different purposes. You have lighter creams, like half and half, which is essentially thickened milk, all the way to whipping cream, which is the richest type, with the highest fat content, around 36%.

Light cream falls somewhere in the middle of the two, with a milk fat content of between 18 and 30%, making it suitable for things like adding to coffee, pouring over desserts, or even using for thicken pasta sauces.

Due to its fat content, it cannot be beaten and cannot be boiled either. which makes it a poor substitute for double/whipping cream.

Today we have prepared a list of the best substitutes for light creamso that if you find yourself without cream on hand, you have plenty of other options at your disposal.

The best substitute for light cream is heavy cream and milk. As an alternative, you can also replace the light cream with whole coconut cream, half cream or tofu puree. Finally, if you need something readily available, you can substitute coffee creamer, yogurt, and soy milk for the light cream.

The best substitutes for light cream

Due to the non-interchangeable nature of the different types of cream, whose fat content makes them not ideal substitutes for each other, if you find yourself lacking in that particular cream there isn’t much leeway to go get another.

But who is to say that you have to look for another cream? There are many other alternatives that share similar properties and are just as delicious as light cream.

Here are our top suggestions for ideal alternatives.

1. Whole coconut cream

What makes whole cream of coconut so great is that not only is it a very viable substitute in terms of fat content, but it’s also a vegan option, making it great regardless of dietary preference or intolerance. dairy.

Sure, it will add a slight coconut flavor to whatever you use, but it’s still high enough in fat to produce a similar result.

And not only that, it’s generally a healthier option! It has more saturated fat, but it’s the kind your body takes in quickly and uses for energy, and is less likely to be stored as fat.

Plus, it contains a whole host of other vitamin and mineral nutritional benefits similar to those of coconut milk.

It is very much a “superfood.”

2. 2 percent milk

Also known as “reduced fat” milk, so named because it simply only contains 2% fat.

But we already mentioned that light cream contains between 18 and 30% fat, surely 2% is not enough to be considered an acceptable substitute?

Well yes, in some circumstances. 2% milk often doesn’t have the thick, creamy quality needed to make things like really rich dessert toppings or pasta sauces.

But we don’t just use liquid cream for that, it is also used in drinks and soups to add that creamy quality to them. In those cases, you can absolutely use some 2% milk.

A good trick is to use a little cornstarch to help thicken the milk and give it a little more of that creamy texture. This can help make something like soup feel a bit richer.

3. Liquid cream

It’s arguably a better substitute for 2% milk, as it’s higher in fat and tastes a bit richer (though not as much as liquid cream).

While there’s no secret to making it taste like light cream, if you’re willing to compromise on the thickness and creaminess of whatever you’re making, it can be a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Try to avoid using it for things like sauces, as it will make them a bit thinner than desired, but it works exceptionally well for baking.

4. Coffee cream

Unexpectedly, one of the best substitutes for light cream is coffee cream.

Coffee creamer is a substitute for powdered milk (or can also be purchased in liquid form) that is often used to add creaminess and a bit of thickness to teas and coffees.

Keep in mind that depending on the brand of coffee creamer, the fat content can vary quite a bit, so try to get something that is more or less in the 18% fat content range of light creamer.

You can use it as a simple 1:1 substitute for liquid cream, but keep in mind that it’s not ideal for baking, so try to stick to making creams in drinks and desserts.

5. Tofu puree

Take some tofu, chop it up a bit, then use a kitchen towel to squeeze out as much water as you can (a little left over is fine), then mash it into a puree.

Although it doesn’t have that much fat content, it works as a fantastic substitute for light cream in a 1:1 ratio. It works especially well in dishes like lasagna where a bit of creamy cheese is called for, and it also works as a nice alternative to meat due to its thicker texture.

In addition, it is suitable for vegans and lactose intolerant. Which makes it one of the most versatile substitutes on the list!

6. Evaporated milk

Also known as “unsweetened condensed milk,” it’s especially good because it has a very long shelf life, so you can keep some in the kitchen if, for some reason, you can’t get your hands on light cream.

This is basically milk that has had the water content reduced and some sugar added to sweeten and caramelize/thicken it.

Of course, this is perfect for desserts or anything sweet, but regular evaporated milk is a bit too sweet for things like meat and pasta sauces.

In that case, we recommend getting the “unsweetened evaporated milk” variety.

Fortunately, to get the same type of finish as Light Cream, you don’t need to use a straight 1:1 ratio. Although it varies from recipe to recipe, you should never need a ton of sweetened condensed milk.

7. Whole milk

While it certainly has a higher fat percentage than 2% milk (it typically sits around the 3.5% mark), it needs a little help to match the richness of light cream.

In some applications, it’s not a big deal, but especially for sauces and soups, where butterfat content is so vital to the thickness, viscosity, and creaminess of the end result, you definitely need a little help.

Fortunately, this is super easy to do. Just get regular butter and melt it over low heat (very slow, we don’t want the milk to curdle). Beat in the melted butter and gradually add the milk, pausing briefly to let it cool and keep it as low as possible.

This is critical for the butter and milk to combine or separate.

8. Cream + milk (manipulation of butterfat)

One of the main factors in deciding how thick and creamy a type of milk is is the percentage of butterfat it contains.

As we’ve already said, light cream contains 18-30% butterfat (depending on where you get it), while whipping cream can contain up to 35%, while half and half only have 10- 12%

What we can do here is use the high butterfat content of heavy cream and dilute it with lower butterfat milk, like half and half.

The general rule of thumb in this case is to add 50% heavy cream and 50% milk and a half to create a light cream substitute.

9. Rice milk

Rice milk can work as a great non-dairy substitute for light cream. It has a very similar taste and texture. But the downside is that it’s not whipped, so it doesn’t work as well for things like desserts.

But it can also be bought in a range of flavors, like chocolate and vanilla, making it a really nice and adaptable option.

10. Almond milk

Although it is not the thickest or creamiest option in the world, it is a very healthy option and low in calories and fat content.

This can make it less ideal for cooking/baking, especially cakes, as it lacks that all-important richness. But it can work well for things like creaming your tea and coffee.

11. Soy milk

Another option that is not particularly creamy, but can be found pre-made, so in culinary applications, that hint of vanilla can add a wonderful and unique flavor to the dish.

Not only that, but it’s often fortified with additional protein and vitamins, so for the health conscious, it’s definitely worth considering!

12. Plain yogurt

Regular yogurt can be a good substitute in any situation where you don’t need to bake, so for things like fresh desserts, adding to drinks, cold potato or pasta salads, etc. it is ideal because it has a nice creamy quality.

13. Butter and Milk Combination

Similar to combining butterfat with milk, we can also use 3 tablespoons of melted (unsalted) butter with a splash of milk to emulate the qualities of light cream.

Be sure to stir them well, especially when cooking, as they can have a tendency to separate. But overall, it works well for cooking!

How to choose the light cream substitute

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the best substitute for light cream.

There are many substitutes available that have varying degrees of similarity in terms of the various qualities we look for in light cream. This can be anything from the taste and texture, to how well it cooks.

We’ve made a quick rundown of the best substitutes so you can be sure you’re choosing the most appropriate one for your culinary needs.


The most ideal substitute if you really want that light cream flavor is going to be the combination of cream and milk.

This is because it contains the closest percentage of butterfat to real light cream, giving it an almost indistinguishable similarity in taste.


Here we are mainly talking about thickness or creaminess, which is why we recommend pureed tofu.

When prepared correctly it is wonderfully smooth and a joy to eat, it really is a tremendously versatile food.

It’s also great for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.


Some tasty substitutes don’t cook very well. That’s why, for baking, we recommend coconut butter.

It contains a very similar fat content and is substituted in a 1:1 ratio, making baked goods respond remarkably well to it.

The only drawback is that the dish must be adapted to the taste of the coconut.


It’s pretty obvious, but 2% milk will be the cheapest. Even after adding a bit of cornstarch, it will still be the cheapest of all.


One of the easiest substitutes to find is creamer for coffee, as stores are always out of milk: one day they’ll have full and the next only 2%, which makes most milks/creams are not reliable as to their availability.

But if there’s one thing we always drink, it’s coffee, which means there’s always going to be coffee cream, too.

Our best choice

Our best choice is the combination of cream and milk. Since we can manipulate the butterfat levels to our liking, we can control the balance until it’s as close to light cream as possible.

Give it a try and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.