Heavy cream lends richness, creaminess and flavor to sweet and savory dishes, but it has 44 grams of fat and 28 grams of saturated fat in a cup. With only 22 grams of fat and 28 grams of saturated fat per cup, a Greek yogurt substitution for cream cuts the fat in half. While the two are generally substituted at a 1-to-1 ratio, the thickness of Greek yogurt and the difference in fat content create subtle difference in the finished dishes.
Heavy cream makes baked goods especially rich, while the high fat content helps make everything from breads to brownies and cakes tender. Greek yogurt works well as a substitute in baked goods but results in a tangier flavor. The reduced fat content doesn’t make baked goods as tender as heavy cream and results in a denser product with more moisture. Substitute full-fat Greek yogurt instead of low-fat and fat-free Greek yogurt for best results.
Greek yogurt must be thinned with milk to the same consistency as heavy cream, or the resulting batter or dough will be too stiff. Mix Greek yogurt with whole milk to achieve a heavy cream consistency, which will also contribute some of the richness and fat of the milk to the recipe. When making desserts such as cheesecake that rely on creaminess from heavy cream, replace no more than half of the cream with Greek yogurt to avoid altering the finished product beyond recognition.
Greek yogurt cuts the fat without sacrificing creaminess or color in cream-based sauces. Butter and Parmesan cheese in Alfredo sauce pack on plentiful calories, but substituting Greek yogurt can save you the bonus calories from a creamy Alfredo sauce made with heavy cream. Deglaze a pan used for sauteing meats or vegetables with liquids such as wine and broth; then simmer to reduce the mixture by half. Stir in a dollop of Greek yogurt to make a creamy, rich pan sauce to drizzle over the main course. Greek yogurt functions in a similar manner to make creamy curry sauces.
Heat tends to cause the whey in Greek yogurt to separate irreversibly from the yogurt — particularly at high heat in soups and sauces. For best results, bring the yogurt up to room temperature. Stir it into the sauce after removing the pan from the heat.
Dressing and Marinades
Creamy dressings such as blue cheese dressing gets a healthy twist with Greek yogurt as a substitute for cream. Additionally, Greek yogurt can replace the mayonnaise and sour cream that are standard in any ranch dressing recipe. The tangy flavor in Greek yogurt has an effect similar to the buttermilk commonly used for dressing. Use a little milk — or buttermilk — to thin the Greek yogurt to make the dressing a pourable consistency.
Heavy cream and milk used as a marinade help tenderize meat while making it moist and flavorful. Greek yogurt offers the same benefits as other dairy-based marinade ingredients with the added bonus of thickness to better adhere to the meat. This is especially advantageous when adding a bread coating after marinating.
A dose of Greek yogurt turns broth-based soups — creamy tomato basil, butternut squash or broccoli-cheese — into rich, creamy soups without the calorie contribution of heavy cream. As in pan sauces, Greek yogurt substitutes in hot soups require care to prevent curdling. Temper the Greek yogurt, following the same technique for tempering eggs.
Stir the Greek yogurt and cornstarch in a bowl until smooth, mixing at a rate of 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every 1 cup of yogurt. Add 1 tablespoon of the hot liquid from the soup and stir until thoroughly combined. Continue mixing the hot soup liquid into the Greek yogurt mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until the yogurt reaches the same temperature as the soup pot. Pour the yogurt mixture gradually into the hot soup, while stirring constantly. This slow process fully incorporates the yogurt into the soup without clumps of separated yogurt rising to the surface.
References and ResourcesFood Republic: The Do's and Don'ts Of Cooking With Greek Yogurt
Crafty Baking: How Baking Works
Stonyfield Organic: Yogurt Substitution Guide
Colorado State University Extension: Ingredient Substitutions
Food Republic: Tandoori Lamb Chops Recipe
New Health Guide: Heavy Cream Substitute
Stonyfield Organic: Colombian Shrimp Soup
Stonyfield Organic: Yogurt Curry with Noodles
Cabot Cheese: Plain Greek-Style Yogurt
Self Nutrition Data: Nutrition Facts: Cream, Fluid, Heavy Whipping