8 Vegan Heavy Cream Substitutes (+ Our Best Recipe)

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Cream is more difficult to replace than plain milk in vegan recipes, but with these healthy cream alternatives, you're sure to find the perfect substitute for any recipe.

Following a vegan diet often means getting creative in your cooking. You have to find fitting replacements for cheese, crafty substitutions for butter, and learn a lot about the different products available to take the place of meat.

But one of the more difficult things to reproduce in a traditional-turned-vegan dish is heavy cream.

Luckily, the vegan community is nothing if not resourceful. Below are eight of the best vegan heavy cream substitutes we’ve found that can transform your typical meal into a comforting vegan delight, along with a step-by-step recipe to detail the process.

At a Glance (Table of Substitutes)

MethodIngredients (makes about 1 cup)Best suited for…
Non-Dairy Milk and Oil⅔ c milk, ⅓ c oilSoups, baked good, sauces
Non-Dairy Milk and Cornstarch1 c milk, 2 tbs cornstarchSoups
Coconut Cream1 c full-fat coconut milkWhipped cream topping, flavor-strong soups, baked goods
Tofu and Soy Milk1 c silken tofu, milk to thinSoups, baked goods
Cashew Cream¾ c cashews, ¼ c waterSoups, baked goods, sauces
White Bean Cream1 c cooked beans, water to thinSoups
Onion Cream1 onion, oil, lemon juice, saltSoups, sauces
Brown Rice and Non-Dairy Milk1 cup cooked rice, milk to thinSoups

Non-Dairy Milk -Based Heavy Cream Substitutes

One good place to turn when substituting any kind of liquid dairy product is to non-dairy milks.

Cashew, almond, and even rice milk can be a great one-to-one replacement for cow’s milk. But replacing cream is a bit more tricky.

Heavy cream is about 2 parts liquid to 1 part fat. While nuts are fairly fatty, nut milks are far too thin to replace creamer on their own. That’s why each of these recipes utilizes an additional fat source to thicken up the final product.

Non-Dairy Milk and Oil

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • ⅔ cup non-dairy milk
  • ⅓ cup oil or melted vegan butter

One of the easiest ways to fatten up your non-dairy milk to make it more creamy is to add oil.

For this method, you can use any thick, mild-tasting oil you have on hand. You can even use melted vegan butter if you prefer.

Add the ingredients to a bowl and mix well using a whisk or immersion blender.

This substitute will not whip up but does make a simple and tasty alternative for soups and sauces.

Non-Dairy Milk and Cornstarch

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbs cornstarch

If you are looking for a lower-fat heavy cream substitute, then this option is your best bet.

Adding cornstarch to your dairy-free milk thickens it without adding extra fat. The starchy powder forms a gel-like matrix that will hold its form even when cooled.

To make it, simply heat the milk and whisk in the cornstarch until the desired consistency is reached.

This method is perfect for soups and desserts that don’t require whipped cream.

Coconut Cream

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk

If you do need your vegan cream to whip up like a traditional heavy creamer, then this is the best method for you. It is also the most simple substitute!

All you will need for this option is a can of coconut milk. Substitute at a one-to-one ratio for what is listed in the recipe.

Unlike other dairy-free milk options, this one is perfect for baked goods that require whipping as well as for any soup or savory recipe that has enough flavor to overpower the coconut taste.

Tofu and Soy Milk

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • About 1 cup silken tofu
  • Dairy-free milk to thin

The high protein content of tofu makes for a great, lower-fat heavy cream substitute.

Like cornstarch, tofu thickens dairy-free milk so it better resembles the texture of cream. Just make sure you are using silken tofu or else you might end up with chunks that won’t blend smooth.

Add the tofu and a dash of milk and begin blending. Add more milk as needed until the mixture is slightly thinned and smooth.

This cream will not whip but makes the perfect addition to Asian dishes and many sauces.

Nut and Bean-Based Heavy Cream Substitutes

Using nuts as the base of your vegan cream provides all the fat you need to replicate that comforting texture.

If you want a similar taste and consistency but with less fat, you can also use beans. The protein and starch in beans help create a smooth liquid that is thick enough to replicate heavy cream.

Cashew Cream

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • ¾ cup soaked cashews
  • About a ¼ cup water
  • Salt

Cashew cream is our go-to as a base for our vegan cheese sauces, so it should come as no surprise that cashew cream without added spices and nutritional yeast would make the perfect heavy cream substitute.

Start by soaking your cashews for at least two hours. (If you have a powerful blender, you can skip this step.) 

Drain and rinse the cashews and then add them to the blender with about ¼ cup water. You may have to add a little more water to get to your desired consistency. Adding a pinch of salt will help better replicate the taste of dairy cream.

Check out the fantastic vegan heavy cream recipe below (by our own Kirsten Nunez) to learn how to make dairy-free heavy cream substitute with cashews, step-by-step.

White Bean Cream

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • Water to thin

White beans have the perfect mild taste and smooth texture for use in a vegan cream.

You can use canned low-sodium beans or cook your own.

Add the cooked, drained beans to your blender with just enough water to get the blending process started. Continue adding water to create a thick but smooth consistency.

This protein-powered cream is perfect for savory dishes and soups.

Vegetable and Grain-Based Heavy Cream Substitutes

Sometimes substituting vegan cream in your recipe actually has the power to elevate the final dish.

Using vegetables as a base for your cream brings an extra splash of flavor to savory dishes. Likewise, grains can provide their own subtle additions to the flavor profile of many recipes.

Onion Cream

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • 1 onion
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

This ultra-creative vegan cream substitute comes to us from food52.

It requires a few more ingredients and more prep than other options on this list, but it is absolutely the most flavorful method by far.

This isn’t the kind of cream substitute you would want to use in every dish, to be sure. But it is an amazing choice for savory soups and sauces to accompany onion-friendly dishes.

To make onion cream, coat the onion in oil and bake it at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. The skin should be very dark and the inside soft.

After the onion has cooled, peel it and blend until smooth. Add salt, more oil, and lemon juice to taste.

You can freeze this recipe for future use if you would prefer to bake more than one onion at a time.

Brown Rice and Non-Dairy Milk

What you’ll need to make 1 cup of vegan heavy cream:

  • 1 cup brown rice cooked in veggie broth
  • Dairy-free milk to thin

Another creative solution to create vegan creamer uses cooked brown rice and non-dairy milk.

To help add to the flavor of this alternative, we recommend cooking the rice in vegetable broth to add a little tang.

Once the rice is finished, take 1 cup and add it to your blender. Add a dash of vegan milk to get the blending process started. Continue adding milk as needed to achieve a smooth consistency.

Rice cream makes another great option for savory dishes. Unlike some fat-based creamers, this one will not clump and curdle once cooled, making it a more appealing option if you expect leftovers.

How to Use Heavy Cream Substitutes

We’ve created each recipe on this list to be used at a one-to-one ratio according to the original recipe. This makes substituting these vegan creams super easy.

Just keep in mind that some creams have more of a savory taste and, while the texture might work for baked goods, they are unlikely to taste great in desserts. On the other hand, some of these alternatives have a mild flavor that more readily replicates traditional cream and can be used in a wider variety of circumstances.

Full-fat coconut cream is the best vegan alternative for heavy whipping cream. Its slightly sweet flavor blends perfectly into many desserts but can also be used in some savory dishes without altering the overall flavor profile.

In the end, there isn’t one perfect vegan heavy cream substitute that will work for every occasion. But with the eight options listed above, you are certain to find at least one that will work perfectly for each dish you create.

Best Vegan Heavy Cream Recipe

Here’s a step-by-step process (courtesy of our own Kirsten Nunez) for what we think is the best and most versatile heavy cream substitute.

Vegan Heavy Cream
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

To make it, you’ll need cashews and unsweetened plain non-dairy milk. That’s it!

For this recipe, we used oat milk. But you can also use soy milk, flax milk, hemp milk, etc.

cashews and non-dairy milk
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Place the cashews in a heat-safe bowl. Add boiling water, making sure to completely cover the cashews. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

soaking cashews in water
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Drain the cashews.

soaked and drained cashews in a colander
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

In a high-powered blender, combine the soaked cashews and non-dairy milk.

mixing cashews and non-dairy milk in a blender
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Blend on high until smooth and creamy. You may have to occasionally pause the blender to scrape down the sides. If you prefer a thinner consistency, slowly add more milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

mixing cashews and non-dairy milk in a blender
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Pour the heavy cream into a container with an air-tight lid, like a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Vegan Heavy Cream
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

To sweeten your vegan cashew heavy cream, add a few drops of vanilla extract or a spoonful of maple syrup.

Vegan Heavy Cream

Vegan Heavy Cream Substitute

We think this is the best vegan heavy cream substitute recipe to use in soups, sauces, and other savory dishes, or desserts like custards, icing, and ice cream, and more. Now you can enjoy the indulgence of heavy cream with this healthier dairy-free alternative.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
4.81 from 71 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Course: Condiments & Sauces
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free heavy cream, healthy substitute for heavy cream, vegan cream, vegan heavy cream, vegan heavy cream substitute
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 106kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews chopped or whole, unsalted
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened plain non-dairy milk or water
  • Boiling water

Instructions

  • Place the cashews in a heat-safe bowl. Add boiling water, making sure to completely cover the cashews. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then drain the cashews.
  • In a high-powered blender, combine the soaked cashews and non-dairy milk. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. You may have to occasionally pause the blender to scrape down the sides. If you prefer a thinner consistency, slowly add more milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Pour the heavy cream into a container with an air-tight lid, like a glass jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Notes

To sweeten your vegan cashew heavy cream, add a few drops of vanilla extract or a spoonful of maple syrup.

Recommended Tools & Products

Heat-Safe Bowl
Collapsible Colander
Best Blenders for Vegans
High-Powered Blender

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg
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