How to Make Whipped Cream Without Heavy Cream (Step-by-Step)


How do you make whipping cream without heavy cream? It sounds like an impossibility, right? Well, I’m here to tell you it can be done. Whole milk, straight from the cow, contains heavy cream, which separates from the rest of the milk once it has left the cow and floats to the surface of the milk. This heavy cream is where butter comes from, but how do you make whipping cream without heavy cream?

To make whipping cream without heavy cream, you have to put the butterfat back into whole milk by adding butter back to it. This will not give you the exact product as the original, but it is one way of substituting for something you do not have when you are in a bind and can’t get to the store.

Pro Tip: Heavy cream powder, like this brand on the Amazon Market, can be kept in long-term storage and is excellent for a variety of recipes. And, of course, if you run out of whipping cream.

Let’s discuss in more detail how this can be done to create some semblance of or substitute for whipping cream.

The Process to Add Butter to Whole Milk

To add butter to whole milk as a substitute for heavy cream, use either of these methods:

Ingredients:

¾ cup Whole Milk

⅓ cup Salted Butter

Stovetop Method:

  1. Place ⅓ cup of butter into the top part of a double boiler, or set a pan or baking dish containing ⅓ cup of butter into a pan of boiling water over medium heat until the butter melts completely.
  2. When the butter is completely melted, start whisking into the butter 3/4 cup of whole milk until it is completely incorporated. 
  3. If the butter begins to separate from the milk, place the pan or dish back over the boiling water until the butter is melted and whisk until it is incorporated.

Microwave Method:

  1. Place ⅓ cup of butter into a microwave-proof bowl and heat in 15-second intervals until completely melted.
  2. When the butter is completely melted, whisk 3/4 cup of whole milk into the butter until completely incorporated.
  3. If the butter begins to separate, microwave for 5 to 10 seconds until the butter melts and whisk until incorporated.

This will resemble heavy cream but must be used right away before the butter starts to separate from the milk.

How to Make Whipping Cream With the Heavy Cream Substitute

Ingredients:

¾ cup Whole Milk

⅓ cup Salted Butter

¼ cup Powdered or Confectioners Sugar

Directions:

To make whipping cream from the substitute heavy cream:

Mixer Method

  • Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and beat with a hand or stand mixer while gradually pouring the milk into the butter.
  • Continue beating for at least 5 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat for at least 5 more minutes.
  • If the mixture hasn’t thickened, refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
  • Beat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • If the mixture still hasn’t thickened, add more powdered sugar while beating, 1 T at the time, until it has the desired consistency.

Whisk Method

  • Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and whisk while gradually pouring the milk into the butter.
  • Continue whisking for at least 5 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar and whisk for at least 5 more minutes.
  • If the mixture hasn’t thickened, refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk for an additional 5 minutes.
  • If the mixture still hasn’t thickened, add more powdered sugar while whisking, 1 T at the time, until it has the desired consistency.

Other Substitutes for Heavy Cream You May Already Have On Hand:

Rather than attempting to recreate heavy cream, you may already have another product on hand that could be used in place of heavy cream. Some of those products are:

  • Whipping Cream, which is very close to heavy cream with only 5% less butterfat and will produce a product almost identical to heavy cream.
  • Evaporated Milk can be substituted in most recipes as is, but to produce a whipped topping, it must be chilled almost to the freezing point before whipping and must be used right away as it will not hold its texture for very long.
  • Coconut Milk has the same consistency as heavy cream but is a non-dairy option that will work in any recipe that calls for heavy cream and is an excellent Vegan option.
  • Greek Yogurt, which is quite thick, could be diluted to use as a cream substitute by adding 2 tablespoons of milk to one cup of the yogurt.
  • Half and Half, which is already half milk and half cream, could be used as-is as a lower-fat option in some dishes, or add a ratio of 4 tablespoons of butter to 1 cup of half and half for a richer substitute. The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) requires that half and half contain between 10.5 and 18 percent milkfat, so you could make your own at home by combining equal parts heavy cream and whole milk to use in any recipe that calls for half and half.
  • Soy Milk can be substituted for heavy cream in most dishes but cannot be whipped.
  • Mascarpone is similar to cream cheese and can be substituted for heavy cream and used in the same ways that cream cheese can be used.
  • Sour Cream can be used as a substitute for heavy cream but will add a tart flavor. A dessert topping can be made with sour cream by adding confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Cream Cheese can be thinned and added to most dishes as a substitute for heavy cream and can even be made into a dessert topping by adding a little confectioner’s sugar.
  • Creme Fraiche can be used as a substitute for heavy cream in savory dishes such as quiches and casseroles.

Heavy cream powder really comes in handy as a replacement in a variety of recipes.

Other Uses for Heavy Cream Substitutes:

This method of producing a substitute for heavy cream can also be used for other purposes than making whipping cream. This “heavy cream” can be used whenever you have a recipe that calls for heavy cream. Some examples are:

  • Chicken and Wild Rice Casseroles
  • Alfredo recipes
  • Creamy soups
  • Ganaches
  • Cheesecakes
  • Mousses

Dishes for Which Substitutes for Heavy Cream Would Not Be Suitable:

Substitutes for heavy cream would be wonderful for use in many different recipes; however, a few dishes would not turn out the same if a heavy cream substitute were used. A few of those that come to mind are:

  • Cake frosting (However, Mascarpone and cream cheese could be used in cake frosting.)
  • Meringue
  • Ice Cream

How Does Heavy Cream Differ From Whole Milk?

When raw or whole milk comes straight from the cow before it is shipped to the milk factory for processing, it begins to separate into two distinct layers, 

  1. The top layer is the cream that rises to the top, which, when over-processed or churned, will separate into butter and buttermilk, and 
  2. The bottom layer beneath the cream consists of whole milk. 

The top or cream layer contains 35% butterfat, and the whole milk in the bottom layer contains 3.5% butterfat. The high fat content in the cream is what allows it to be beaten into a beautiful mound of whipped cream!

How Does Heavy Cream Differ From Heavy Whipping Cream and Whipping Cream?

Because both heavy cream and heavy whipping cream contain 36% milkfat and have 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, there is no difference between the two products. Only the packaging and labeling are different.

On the other hand, Whipping cream has 45 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. So whipping cream is a lighter cream with less butterfat.

Can Butterfat Be Added Back or Reintroduced Into Whole Milk?

Bowl of Milk or Cream With a Whisk in It

When the cream layer is overprocessed, the butter contains 80% of the butterfat, and the remaining buttermilk contains 20% of the butterfat. So, by adding butter with 80% butterfat back to the whole milk, you are recreating just about the closest thing to the original condition of the raw milk that can be produced in your kitchen. Of course, nothing is going to recreate the exact product that comes directly from the cow. But, this process is just about the closest thing we can hope to achieve.

Can You Freeze Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream, like milk, can be frozen. However, if freezing an entire container of heavy cream, divide the contents into two containers to allow room in the container for expansion as it freezes. This is true with freezing any dairy product.

Final Thoughts

While these substitutions may be necessary in certain situations, we should all keep in mind that no substitutes are going to whip up into the fluffy and light topping like heavy cream does. But for those times when we need a replacement and in case you do not have a whisk and are wondering whether there is something you can use instead in preparing this substitute for heavy cream, the answer is yes. There are several different ways to prepare this recipe.

  • Table Fork: My mother used a common table fork as a whisk for many years. I saw her whip up egg whites to form a high and fluffy meringue for pies many times with just the use of a fork.
  • Hand Mixer: A hand mixer like this one found on Amazon, would work beautifully.
  • Stand Mixer: The best and fastest piece of equipment for this job would certainly be a stand mixer. Stand mixers come in a variety of makes and models, and prices range from this one similar to the one I’ve been using for many years to the best of the best in my opinion.

Whether you use one of the options mentioned above or whether you invest in a good whisk, these are just tremendously useful utensils that save us a lot of time and help us in preparing healthy and delicious meals for our family and friends, which includes having to make essential substitutions along the way like this one for heavy cream.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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