Heavy cream, which is essentially the same as whipping cream, is a fridge staple for many home cooks. It lends its creamy goodness to tons of different recipes, both of the sweet and savory kind. Dishes you can make with it include everything from pasta sauce and baked goods to a homemade whipped cream that will give your arm a serious workout.

Still, sometimes, a recipe calls for heavy cream, and you realize too late that you’re all out. Before you make a trip to the grocery store, why not save yourself the time and hassle by using half and half and butter as a substitute for heavy cream. This works even for recipes that call for whipping cream. Unsure how to make this magic happen? Follow these tips.

Heavy Cream vs. Half-and-Half

Both heavy cream and half-and-half are heavy-hitters in the dairy world. Translation: Both are used by millions of people on a daily basis (half-and-half is a great addition to your morning coffee). And, of course, some of the most delicious recipes call for heavy cream.

The main difference between the two lies in the fat content. Heavy cream is made from the high-fat part of fresh milk. It contains about 30 to 36 percent fat; whereas, half-and-half is made up of whole milk and cream. It’s only 10 to 18 percent fat. Despite their different fat content, the two are quite similar and thus, quite interchangeable in recipes.

The only exception would be for recipes that require whipping cream. For that, make sure that you are following only the directions that take this into account. Whipping cream can make or break certain recipes, so make sure you follow the right steps to pull it off.

How to Substitute Half-and-Half and Butter for Heavy Cream

To substitute heavy cream in recipes ‒ even in the ones that require whipping cream ‒ start by melting 1/8 cup of butter in a saucepan. Once it's melted, add the butter to a bowl and set aside for a minute to cool. Be sure it doesn't solidify again, though.

Next, pour 7/8 cup of half-and-half into the bowl. Using a whisk or fork, mix the two ingredients together. That's it; use this substitute in recipes that require heavy cream or in your morning coffee.

How to Substitute Half-and-Half

It’s time to find a replacement for heavy cream. Luckily, this venture isn’t all that difficult since the name “half-and-half” suggests that it contains two ingredients that are, hopefully, sitting in your fridge: milk and cream.

A good substitution recipe comes from TheKitchn. It’s the actual formula for making the sort of half and half that you find in the dairy aisle of the store: Just combine 1/2 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup light cream.

Never be without your precious heavy cream again with this smart substitution.

About the Author

Sarah Kester

Sarah is a writer, editor and cat mom. Lover of wine, rom-coms, and all things self-care, she’s inspired by mindfulness and helping others feel balanced in their lives through meditation, self-love and self-care. After all, what's balance without Saturday morning yoga and green juice and a glass of rosé later that evening? She has written for The Greatest, Elite Daily, YourTango, Vital Proteins, among others. To learn more, you can find her at her website sarahkester.com.