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Heavy cream substitute for pasta sauce: 15 options to try!

Choose the perfect heavy cream substitute for pasta from our list of recommended substitutes so you do not miss out on making your favorite pasta dish. Pasta is an Italian dish enjoyed all over the world. It can be made with red or white sauces.

Heavy cream is a staple and an essential ingredient if you often make white sauce for your pasta. This tasty ingredient fills your pasta with flavor and thickens your sauce. What should you do if you run out of heavy cream or can’t find any available while making your favorite recipe?

skillet with spaghetti in white creamy sauce and measuring cup filled with heavy cream

What is heavy cream?

Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream is the thick part of milk or the high-fat part of milk. It contains 36%-40% fat and it gathers on the top because of its high-fat content when it is left to stand.

Heavy cream is one of the dairy products with the highest fat content. Whipping cream is second and contains 30% fat. While whipping cream is slightly lighter, it is the same as heavy cream.

Even if you do not have heavy cream, or have some dietary restrictions, making white sauce for your pasta without heavy cream is something you will never consider. But what if you can make white sauce for pasta just as tasty without heavy cream? Yes, there are some heavy cream substitutes that help you still enjoy a gratifying plate of pasta minus the heavy cream.

There is no exact alternative for heavy cream. These ingredients listed below come close to the consistency and flavor of heavy cream for your pasta sauce. These heavy cream substitutes can still help you create a mouth-watering and satisfying pasta.

Remember that fat content and flavor will determine the suitable heavy cream substitute for your pasta dish. Here are some swaps that will work for your pasta white sauce and make it taste just as delicious if you use heavy cream.

Best heavy cream substitutes for pasta

1. Whole Milk

Whole milk is the most straightforward heavy cream substitute for pasta because most likely you already have it in the fridge.

Alfredo sauce is a favorite for many pasta dishes. When making alfredo pasta, you typically use butter, eggs, parmesan cheese, and noodles. Today, the recipe includes heavy cream.

Milk is a good and favorite substitute when making your Alfredo sauce without heavy cream because it will not alter the texture and taste of your sauce.

This substitute will make your Alfredo sauce creamier, so you can enjoy a low-fat substitute for heavy cream without noticing that your pasta dish does not contain the exact ingredient. Whole milk contains 3.5% fat. It is the creamiest milk but is much thinner than heavy cream.

You can use one cup of milk for every pound of pasta to replace heavy cream. If you are making creamy pasta, you need to add butter and all-purpose flour.

2. Milk and Butter

Milk and butter are foolproof and easy heavy cream substitutes for your pasta dish. The 80% fat content of butter adds extra fat to the milk matching the fat content of heavy cream.

If you are using low-fat milk, reduce the amount of butter. A tablespoon of flour can also thicken your pasta sauce. This substitute is best for baking, and of course, making your pasta sauce.

You typically use heavy cream to add to the creaminess and flavor of your pasta sauce. Milk and butter can superbly substitute for heavy cream. It will, however, not whip the same way as heavy cream.

To make one cup of heavy cream, combine 3/4 cup of full-fat milk with 1/4 cup of melted butter to swap for one cup of heavy cream. You can also add one teaspoon of flour or an additional small amount of butter to achieve a thicker texture.

3. Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraiche is a kind of spread with high-fat content. While it is similar to sour cream, it is richer, thicker, and tastes less pungent than sour cream.

It is another good heavy cream substitute since it has the same consistency and creamy taste as heavy cream. It may have an added slight tang, but it is perfect for pasta.

You can use 1/2 to one cup of crème Fraiche for every pound of pasta.

4. Half-and-Half

Half-and-Half is a combination of 50% cream and 50% whole milk and contains about 10-12% fat. Combining half-and-half cream and whole milk with butter is a simple heavy cream substitute. It has about one-third of the fat content of heavy cream.

Adding butter increases the fat content of half-and-half making it an ideal replacement for heavy cream in many recipes, even recipes that need whipping.

You can use 1/8 cup of melted butter with 7/8 cup of half-and-half to substitute for one cup of heavy cream. You can use this for almost all recipes, including pasta with white sauce.

5. Milk and Cornstarch

A combination of milk and cornstarch is a low-calorie, low-fat heavy cream substitute. Cornstarch thickens milk to mimic the texture of heavy cream.

You can opt to use skim milk or whole milk. Skim milk and whole milk can reduce your recipe’s fat and calorie content.

Stir two tablespoons of cornstarch into one cup of milk and allow the mixture to thicken. This milk and cornstarch mixture can substitute for heavy cream. The sub is ideal for cooking, including your pasta dishes. It will, however, not whip as well as heavy cream.

6. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is canned milk with a longer shelf life. It is creamier, thicker, and contains 60% less water than milk.

This milk is best for recipes that is asking for heavy cream, such as pasta and other baked goods. It does not have the same thickness as heavy cream, so it will not whip well.

Evaporated milk is lighter than heavy cream so that you can enjoy the white sauce of your pasta without the richness of creamy pasta made with heavy cream.

You can also sub evaporated milk for heavy cream when making Alfredo Sauce. Traditional versions of Alfredo sauce do not typically have heavy cream. Heavy cream is, however, included in many contemporary Alfredo sauce recipes. Warm, creamy, and cheesy Alfredo sauce is best used for such pasta dishes as Fettuccini. It is a thick combination of heavy cream and butter mixed with herbs, spices, salt, and pepper.

You can use the same amount of evaporated to substitute heavy cream or about one cup of evaporated milk for one pound of pasta.

7. Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is something you probably will not consider as a heavy cream substitute. However, if you want to make creamy sauces, a bowl of Greek yogurt is a suitable replacement. It is packed with proteins, too.

Plain Greek yogurt is a good substitute for heavy cream in pasta. You can prepare creamy and rich pasta with Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream and reduce the fat and calories of your dish. Yogurt has a tangy flavor and can help neutralize the other flavors in your pasta white sauce.

For one pound of pasta, you can use 3/4 cup to about 1 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt to replace heavy cream.

8. Greek Yogurt and Milk

Adding yogurt to your dish can increase its protein content. Yogurt is thicker than heavy cream. Adding some milk will thin out the Greek yogurt and give it a creamier, thicker consistency, similar to heavy cream.

You can use equal parts of Greek yogurt and whole milk to replace the same amount of heavy cream to thicken the sauce of your pasta. One-half cup of Greek yogurt and one-half cup of milk combined can substitute for one cup of heavy cream.

9. Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is a non-dairy substitute for heavy cream in pasta. You can buy pre-made coconut cream, but you can also make a homemade version with coconut milk. You will need to chill a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight. Pour full-fat coconut milk into another container.

You can use the hardened, thick coconut cream that remains in the can as a substitute for heavy cream.

Use an equal amount of coconut cream to replace coconut cream for your pasta recipe.

10. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese comes from milk curds. It comes with a lumpy and thick texture. Blend the cottage cheese well to get rid of the lumps.

Cottage cheese can add a lot of cheesiness and creaminess to your pasta dish.

You can use about 2 cups of cottage cheese for one pound of pasta as a substitute for heavy cream.

11. Milk and Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a healthy heavy cream substitute because it contains many micronutrients. It also has a high protein content.
Mixing milk and cottage cheese help duplicate the creamy, smooth texture of heavy cream.

Cottage cheese is often high in sodium, so you choose the lower-sodium variety or reduce the amount of salt in your recipe.

Milk and cottage cheese will give your pasta a cheesy flavor.

You can use the milk and cottage cheese mixture to replicate the same amount of heavy cream. Blend equal parts of milk and cottage cheese to free the mixture of lumps.

12. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is made from milk and cream. While cream cheese is widely used as a spread and in cheesecakes, you can also use it in place of heavy cream in your pasta recipe.

Cream cheese will give your white pasta sauce a cheesy flavor.

Cream cheese is an ideal heavy cream substitute in a one-to-one ratio because it is as thick as heavy cream.

13. Soy Milk and Silken Tofu

Silken tofu, like regular tofu, is made from condensed soy milk. Silken tofu is just like regular tofu that comes in solid white blocks. It has a softer consistency compared to regular tofu making it a non-dairy substitute for heavy cream. It also has a high protein content.

When you blend in soy milk, silken tofu will have a smooth texture free of lumps.

Combine soy milk and silken tofu in identical amounts and blend well in a food processor until the mixture has a thick and smooth consistency. You can then use this mixture as a heavy cream substitute for your pasta dishes.

14. Soy Milk and Olive Oil

If you are looking for a dairy-free vegan option for heavy cream for your pasta dishes, mixing soy milk and olive oil is ideal. A milk and olive oil mixture is similar to mixing milk with butter.

The olive oil adds fat to the soy milk in the same manner that butter adds fat to milk. Soy milk and olive oil will have the same function and flavor as heavy cream.

Mixing 2/3 cup of soy milk with 1/3 cup of olive oil is a good can duplicate the thickness and flavor of 1 cup of heavy cream.

15. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a dairy product with 44% fat content. It is similar to crème fraîche and sour cream but sweeter and is heavy enough to pass as heavy cream.

Mascarpone comes with a sweet, nutty flavor. It comes in handy when you want your pasta to be more creamy but less cheesy and sour.

The thickness, creaminess, and a bit of sweetness of mascarpone make it a superb heavy cream substitute for your pasta white sauce.

Choosing a Vegan substitute for heavy cream

There are a few vegan heavy cream substitutes that can be used in pasta dishes. These substitutes include:

  • Dairy-free milk: Soy, almond, or coconut milk can be used as a 1:1 replacement for heavy cream. Just be sure to use an unsweetened variety.
  • Plant-based cream cheese: Tofutti and Daiya make great dairy-free cream cheese options that can be used in place of heavy cream.
  • Silken tofu: Pureed silken tofu makes a great vegan substitute for heavy cream. Simply blend the tofu until it is smooth and creamy, then use it in your recipe as desired.
  • Cashew butter can be used in place of heavy cream. Just be sure to use an all-natural variety with no added sugar.
  • Vegan sour cream: Many store-bought vegan sour creams can be used in place of heavy cream. Just check the ingredient label to make sure it is dairy-free.
  • Avocado: Pureed avocado makes a great vegan substitute for heavy cream. Simply combine avocado with some water or non-dairy milk and blend until smooth. Use this mixture in your recipe as desired.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk can be used as a 1:1 replacement for heavy cream. Just be sure to use an unsweetened variety.
  • Vegan mayonnaise: Many store-bought vegan mayonnaise can be used in place of heavy cream. Just check the ingredient label to make sure it is dairy-free.
  • Aquafaba: The liquid from a can of chickpeas can be used to replace heavy cream in many recipes. Whip the aquafaba until it is light and fluffy, then use it in your recipe as desired.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I substitute for heavy cream in Pasta?

There are many ingredients you can use as heavy cream substitutes for your pasta dish. Some of these ingredients are whole milk, evaporated milk, Greek, yogurt, cottage cheese, half and half, and many more. You can swap these ingredients for heavy cream mostly in a one-to-one ratio.

Can you use milk instead of heavy cream in pasta?

You can use milk as a heavy cream substitute for your pasta dish. You can use whole milk, evaporated milk, and full-fat milk. These milk products have more fat than regular milk, so each can add to the creaminess of the pasta dis.

Final Thoughts

Pasta is a mouth-watering dish especially when you use white sauce. White sauce is never complete without heavy cream. If you cannot use heavy cream for such reasons as unavailability or dietary restrictions, you can use a heavy cream substitute.

There are many ways to add fat to your pasta sauce and choosing from any of the heavy cream substitute options listed above makes easy and quick alternatives. The best part is most of these ingredients are in your pantry or fridge!

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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1 Comment to Heavy cream substitute for pasta sauce: 15 options to try!

Hi. Good ideas. The only 2 I feel funky about are Coconut milk and Greek yoghurt because of the flavours.

07/19/22 @ 3:35 AMReply

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