Can I Substitute Heavy Cream for Milk?

The bulk of recipes call for typical ingredients such as sugar and flour. Another common ingredient used in baking? Milk. But if you open your fridge and can only find heavy cream, you might panic. Relax, home baker – you can use (slightly diluted) heavy cream instead of milk.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and heavy cream is one of those handy ingredients I like to keep on hand. It’s a must-have for fettuccine alfredo, a dish we regularly make in our household. Yet, I also use leftovers for baked treats, as it adds the creamy lusciousness milk simply can’t provide.

Are you wondering whether or not you can substitute heavy cream for milk? Then let me help you out! Below, you will discover precisely how to swap heavy cream for milk in your upcoming recipe. 

Keep reading to find out how to use this wonderful swap!

Can You Use Heavy Cream Instead of Milk?

Yes! You can definitely use heavy cream instead of milk in your baking (and cooking) recipes.

In fact, I highly recommend it.

That’s because heavy cream has a much higher fat content than milk. That said, it will provide your treat with added richness and lusciousness, creating a far more decadent dessert. And who doesn’t want that?

How to Substitute Cream for Milk

I’ll be honest with you – sometimes, I throw caution to the wind and use heavy cream instead of milk in a 1:1 ratio. This is especially true when making sauces and ganaches that can use a little extra thickness. 

But if you’re unsure about how your dessert will come out and want to play it on the safe side, then you’ll want to dilute your heavy cream with half water.

So, if your recipe calls for one cup of milk, you’ll use a blend of ½ cup water and ½ cup heavy cream. Mix the water and heavy cream and add them to your recipe. No other changes need to take place.

3 Other Milk Substitutes

If you stumbled upon this article, you likely have heavy cream in your arsenal and are wondering whether or not you can use it instead of milk. And I think I did a pretty good job of answering your question.

However, I wanted to let you know a few other top-notch substitutes – you know, just in case you don’t want to use up your heavy cream. 

Here are three other milk substitutes for baking recipes that work like a charm.

1. Half n Half

Lots of people have half n half sitting in their refrigerator. Are you one of them? Then don’t hesitate to use it in place of milk in your next recipe.

Because half n half has a slightly higher fat content than milk, consider diluting it before using. However, instead of doing half water, you’ll only need to use ¼ cup of water. 

That said, if your recipe requires one cup of milk, you can replace it with a blend of ¼ water and ¾ half n half.

2. Non-Dairy Milk

Some people prefer to stay away from cow milk altogether, for health purposes or otherwise. That doesn’t mean you have to seek out vegan-specific desserts. You can still use “regular” recipes (most of the time) – just use non-dairy milk instead of cow milk in a 1:1 ratio.

All types of non-dairy milk can be used as a substitute. 

  • Oat milk is an excellent choice because it has a neutral flavor that won’t alter the taste of your treat. 
  • Almond milk is a little thinner, so you may need to add more fat. 
  • Coconut milk has an apparent coconut flavor that may alter the taste of your dessert.
  • Finally, soy milk is another excellent option that won’t change the look or taste of your treat.

3. Plain Yogurt/Sour Cream

No liquids? No problem. As long as you have plain yogurt or sour cream in your kitchen, you can still make your recipe.

Of course, yogurt and sour cream are thick. So, if you’re using either item instead of milk, I suggest mixing it in a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up. This way, it can act more like “milk” in your dessert.

I know what you’re thinking – sour cream? Yuck. But I promise you, adding sour cream or yogurt to your dessert will be a big win. Both of these ingredients offer additional moisture that will be very advantageous for your treats; give it a try!


Heavy cream is an excellent substitute for milk in every recipe, whether making cake or macaroni and cheese. So go ahead and use it – but first, check out these frequently asked questions. 

What happens if you use heavy cream instead of milk in baking?

Using heavy cream instead of milk in baking will reap nothing but positive effects! Due to the high-fat content of heavy cream, desserts achieve a noticeably creamier and more luscious texture. The flavor is also more indulgent and delicious. It’s an all-around win-win.

What is the difference between heavy cream and whole milk?

The most significant difference between heavy cream and whole milk is the fat content, which is why heavy cream is noticeably thicker than whole milk. Heavy cream typically has around 36% fat, while whole milk has approximately 3%. That’s quite a difference!

How much heavy cream equals a cup of milk?

You can use one cup of heavy cream for one cup of whole milk in specific recipes, especially sauces, and ganaches. However, the recommended way to use heavy cream for milk is to combine ½ cup of water with ½ cup of heavy cream. This will dilute the heavy cream just enough to use in place of milk.

Go Ahead – Use Heavy Cream as a Substitute for Milk!

If you only have heavy cream, don’t worry – you can use it. In fact, using heavy cream instead of milk will render indulgent results. 

Have you ever used heavy cream as a sub for milk?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Cookie

    I usually have only fat free half and half, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I’m always at a loss of what to do when I’m baking. Cooking seems good with the FF half and half, I don’t usually worry about cutting it down in the dishes I use it for.
    Baking however, I sometimes will buy buttermilk, if I plan on doing a lot of baking. Or I use a powdered substitute for buttermilk which has worked out very well.
    It’s the full fat, or whole milk that will stump me. My dry milk is skim milk. We don’t drink dairy milk anymore. So how do I add fat to the FF half and half or milk powder for baking? It’s mostly bread, and sweet things. Bread will sometimes ask for it, or there’s no harm in adding it for a better texture. But other recipes that specifically call for whole milk, I’d have to go out for or use a different recipe. Any suggestions?
    Sorry for the length of the questions, your post is the best I’ve seen. I’ve been looking for a while.
    Thank you!

  • Al

    Thank you for your knowledgeable experience I making a keto cheesecake and wanted to know the difference of substituting milk with heavy cream.