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12 BEST Light Cream Substitutes [Tried And Tested]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different light cream substitutes to find the best one, whatever your reason for avoiding light cream is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitute for light cream is half-and-half. You can also go with a whole milk and butter combo, evaporated milk, or yogurt. If you’re looking for a dairy free or vegan substitute, blended silken tofu is the best. You can also consider coconut cream or a combo of non-dairy milk and olive oil.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I whipped up a quick alfredo sauce and put eight light cream substitutes to the test. 

Light cream adds creaminess to beverages, desserts, soups, and sauces. And according to Delighted Cooks, it’s also popular for creamy cocktails because it doesn’t make the drink too dense. 

But if you’ve found yourself in a bind without any light cream to hand, fear not – there are plenty of other options you can use to give your dishes a similar rich consistency. 

Here’s what I tested and the verdicts: 

SubstituteSub 1 tsp for?Verdict
Half-and-half1 cup half-and-half or ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup whole milk 10/10
Blended silken tofu1 cup 10/10
Whole milk + melted unsalted butter1 cup whole milk + 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter9/10
Non-dairy milk + vegan margarine⅔ cup non-dairy milk + ⅓ cup vegan margarine/ extra light olive oil. 9/10
Evaporated milk1 cup evaporated milk 8/10
Greek yogurt½ cup8/10
Coconut cream½  cup 7/10
Coffee creamer1 cup 6/10

I also explore some more adventurous substitution options at the end.

Common dishes that use light cream

The best substitute for light cream in:

  • Pasta sauces and soups is half-and-half,  whole milk and melted butter, or silken tofu
  • Curry is half-and-half,  whole milk and melted butter, or silken tofu
  • Coffee is half-and-half or coffee creamer
  • Cocktails or mocktails is half and half
  • Desserts is half-and-half, silken tofu, yogurt, or coconut cream 
  • Quiche is half-and-half, whole milk and melted butter, or non-dairy milk and olive oil


Half and half is the best light cream substitute in terms of convenience and effectiveness. 

It’ll give your dishes or drink a creamy upgrade without making them too rich, just like light cream. 

You can easily pick up a carton at your local shop, or you can use heavy cream and milk to make your own.

Follow Bon Appetit’s lead and mix equal parts of heavy cream and milk, and voila – you’ll have some cheap half-and-half!

This is also my favorite substitute for its versatility. It’s great in soups and sauces, and you can even combine it with fresh fruit for a quick dessert. 

Taste and texture
Half and half made my alfredo sauce silky smooth and it was a touch more indulgent than the one made with light cream, but I could have thinned it more out with extra milk.
1 cup light cream = 1 cup half-and-half or ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup whole milk

Blended silken tofu

If you’re lactose-intolerant or on a vegan diet, blended silken tofu is the perfect substitute for light cream.

I know it sounds weird, but the tofu will thicken your dish and give it a creamy twist without adding any noticeable flavor. 

And the best part? Silken tofu is low in fat, making your indulgent dish less sinful but still delicious and nourishing. Win-win! 

Psst… make sure you’re using silken tofu. I tried using normal tofu once, and it didn’t have the same creamy texture.

Taste and texture
The alfredo sauce tasted just like the one made with light cream – you definitely wouldn’t guess there was tofu in it!
1 cup light cream = 1 cup blended silken tofu

Whole milk and melted butter

According to Food 52, whole milk only has 4% fat compared to light cream’s 20%. 

Adding melted butter will fix that and give the milk a richer, creamier texture – similar to light cream!

Pro tip: use unsalted butter if you have it. If you need to use salted butter, reduce the amount of added salt in your recipe.

This substitute works well in pasta, soups, and sauces, but I don’t like it for drinks or for drizzling over fruit because who wants butter in their coffee?!

Taste and texture
The alfredo sauce was creamy, but had a runnier consistency. You can fix the runny consistency by thickening the sauce with cornstarch.
1 cup light cream = 1 cup whole milk + 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

Non-dairy milk + extra light olive oil

This is another excellent plant-based and dairy-free substitute for light cream. 

The olive oil adds fat to the non-dairy milk, which enhances its creaminess and makes your dish nice and rich. 

I like using soy milk because I like the flavor, but any plant-based milk variety will work. For example, almond milk, rice milk, or oat milk are all great options.

Oat milk is particularly good because it’s already naturally creamy.

Psst… if you’re using this combo for drinks or baking, Go Dairy-Free recommends using vegan margarine instead of olive oil for the fatty element. 

Taste and texture
My alfredo sauce wasn’t as luscious and creamy as the one made with light cream, but it still tasted delicious. You might need to thicken it up with cornstarch.
1 cup light cream = ⅔ cup non-dairy milk + ⅓ cup vegan margarine/ extra light olive oil.

Greek yogurt or sour cream

If you’re all about healthy alternatives, Greek yogurt is the perfect option for you. 

It’s thicker than light cream, so will give your dish that coveted creamy consistency with fewer calories. 

Plus, it’s chock-full of probiotics which WebMD explains are friendly bacteria that’ll keep your digestive system healthy.

Sour cream is very similar, so also a great option. And so is creme fraiche.

Just a heads up, though – all of these substitutes will add a slight sour tang to your dish. 

This can be wonderful with certain dishes, and I liked it in my alfredo! But it’s not for everyone.

Taste and texture
The sauce came out a bit thicker than the light cream version, and it was just as creamy. The yogurt’s sour notes were slightly masked by the parmesan cheese. 
1 cup light cream = ½ cup yogurt (+ water for thinning if needed)

Evaporated milk 

Evaporated milk works well as an emergency substitute for light cream. 

Evaporated milk has half the water content of normal milk, meaning it has a creamier and thicker texture.

Taste of Home describes its flavor as “concentrated and nutty,” making it suitable for both savory and sweet dishes.

The only con for this substitute is that its fat content is relatively low at 6.5%, so it won’t thicken your dish that much. But you can make up for it by mixing in a thickener like cornstarch. 

Taste and texture
This gave the alfredo sauce a creamy taste but had a looser consistency than the light cream version.
1 cup light cream = 1 cup evaporated milk + ¼ tablespoon flour

Coconut cream

Coconut cream is another popular dairy-free and vegan substitute for light cream. 

It’s rich in fat, so it can easily take your dish from meh to decadent. And you can use it in savory dishes and desserts.

The reason it has a lowish rating is because of the prominent coconut flavor that won’t be suitable for all dishes. 

Coconut-flavored alfredo wasn’t a hit in my household! But it works great in desserts or drinks.

Psst… you can also use coconut milk but you’ll need to thicken it with cornstarch or flour.

Read next: the best replacements for coconut cream

Taste and texture 
The alfredo sauce had a similar mouthfeel to the light cream version, but the coconut flavor was definitely present. 
1 cup light cream = ½  cup coconut cream

Coffee creamer

If a bottle of creamer is all you have, you can use it in place of light cream. 

It’s normally used to mellow the bitterness of coffee and make it lighter, but you can use it for other dishes too.

Era of We uses coffee creamer to make mashed potatoes, soups, icings, and even fruit salads. 

The only downside for this substitute is it’s not the healthiest because it has trans fats, so I’d consider this only as a last resort!

Taste and texture
The alfredo sauce tasted creamy but had a slightly artificial taste. 
1 cup light cream = 1 cup coffee creamer

Can you substitute heavy cream for light cream?

Yes, you can use heavy cream instead of light cream but you might want to thin it out with water.

The differences between the two types of cream lie in their milkfat percentages. Heavy cream has the highest fat percentage – somewhere between 35-38%, which makes it thicker and creamier. 

Light cream only has around 20%, so using heavy cream in its place will make your dish extra rich.

Some unique light cream substitutes 

If none of the previously mentioned substitutes worked for you or you’re just in an experimental mood, here are other fun options to consider:

  1. Cashew cream – this dairy-free light cream alternative will thicken and enrich your dish. To make it, you need to soak cashews in hot water before blitzing them in a high-power blender until smooth. This is a 1:1 sub for light cream and you can use it in any savory dish, drink, and dessert. Check out the recipe here.
  2. Roasted onion cream – this substitute is inspired by trained chef Grant Lee Crilly and is made by roasting and pureeing onions. It won’t work for desserts and drinks but it’s superb for adding an extra layer of flavor with soups, sauces, and side dishes. 
  3. Cauliflower cream – I first encountered this “substitute” in my favorite parsnip puree recipe, and it worked like a charm. It thickens sauces and soups nicely, and it’s low-carb and vegan too. Here’s a recipe.

BEST Light Cream Substitutes

I tested out eight different light cream substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: All
Keyword: light cream substitutes, substitutes for light cream
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Calories: 195kcal


  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup silken tofu blended
  • 1 cup whole milk + melted butter
  • 2/3 cup non-dairy milk + oil
  • 1 cup evaporated milk + thickener
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup coffee creamer


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen light cream substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 195kcal

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