Single Cream Substitutes: From Worst to Best

Single Cream Substitutes

Single cream is best described as a richer version of milk, with a fat milk percentage of 18%. Single cream is considerably more than a coffee flavourer. Most famous and popular as coffee creamer. Since single cream is generally utilized in cooking and baking, you will undoubtedly run out of it eventually or not have it in your fridge when you need it. Therefore, knowing how to substitute single cream for circumstances like these is extremely helpful. So what are the substitutes for single cream? 

Milk and cornstarch, mascarpone, heavy cream, sour cream, cottage and milk, milk and butter, Greek yogurt and milk, non-dairy milk, dense milk, non-dairy heavy cream, and buttermilk are the best substitutes for single cream. 

Knowing how to substitute single cream is very important, but knowing when to use which substitute is even more vital, as using the wrong one can ruin your dish or coffee. Therefore, in this article, I will order the substitutes for single cream from worst to best and explain how to use each of them in which situations. 


Mascarpone is well-known for its capacity to add richness and texture to the dish. It is way fattier and denser than single cream, with around 44% of milk fat, making it the ideal single cream substitute in sauces or dips. 

We place it in the first position on this list as the worst single cream substitute. Although it sometimes works well, mascarpone is dense and slightly tangy, making it impossible to use in coffee, which is the primary use of the single cream. 

Still, you can’t use mascarpone as a single cream substitute in coffee or other beverages where you would use single cream. Since it won’t soften and homogenize with the beverage leaving a gooey and very unappealing texture in the drink. Using mascarpone in creamy drinks instead of single cream will be a disastrous decision as it will impact the flavor too, giving it a distasteful tang that is not what you want in a coffee.

To bring the consistency and texture of the mascarpone as close to single cream as possible, you need to whip it as much as possible to make it thinner. However, don’t expect miracles to happen, as the mascarpone will always be much denser than single cream. 

Heavy Cream

In the event that the recipe doesn’t require a lot of single cream, you can substitute heavy cream for single cream without making any changes in the amount. Therefore, you can use heavy cream instead of single cream for coffee or another creamy drink, where you would use no more than a teaspoon. You will need to mix a bit more, though, so as to homogenize the heavy cream with the coffee. 

However, if what you are making requires a more significant amount of single cream, you will need to adjust the quantity of the heavy cream for things like sauces or custard. In no case should you use the same quantity of heavy cream as the quantity of single cream because you will end up with way too much heavy cream. 

RELATED: Heavy Cream vs. Condensed Milk: Differences & Uses

Heavy cream is much fattier than single cream and may destroy your dish if you overdo it with it. Heavy cream is second on this list because it substitutes for single cream to some extent, but you cannot lean on it for all uses. Though it doubles for single cream in some cases, you won’t like it if you are not a fan of fattier food.

Cottage Cheese and Milk

The thickness and richness of the cottage cheese blended in with the mellowness and delicacy of the milk produce a really delicious single cream substitute. You can use this substitute for treats, such as fresh vegetable salad garnishes and tasty and rich sauces.

However, the cottage cheese and milk mixture isn’t fit to use as a coffee creamer or a thickener for another similar beverage. The cottage cheese, even the mildest and the most neutral-tasting one, has a certain tang to it you will not be able to avoid or mask. Another thing that makes this single cream substitute highly inadequate for use in coffees is the grainy consistency, which will remain to some extent no matter how creamy it can get.

Sour Cream 

Sour cream is an incredible single cream substitute for exquisite dishes and salad dressings. It doesn’t work that well as a sauce base, at least not alone, as you should combine it with heavy cream or similar.

Sour cream doesn’t work for sweets, as crème Fraiche and mascarpone do, as it has an expressive tang and saltiness. However, if you still manage to find select the right sour cream and mix it with the right fixings, you can get an effective treat.

Although seemingly dense, sour cream is much thinner than you would think, so whipping it can bring it pretty close density-wise to single cream, making it an excellent single cream substitute.

Try not to substitute single cream for sour cream in coffees or similar drinks. The unmistakable harshness and tang won’t compliment your beverage, regardless of whether the sour cream, in some way or another, incorporates the consistency of the drink.

Single Cream Substitutes

Milk and Butter

The milk and butter combination works well as a single cream substitute as it thickens the milk making it fattier and creamier. Warm up the milk and add the butter to the pot. Mix until the butter dissolves, and the milk thickens. The best thing about this substitute is that you can make it home quickly and let the mixture thicken to the extent you need.

This substitute works as well as the cornstarch and milk mixture does. The only difference is that this substitute is fattier and milkier than cornstarch and milk. You can use this substitute the same way you would use single cream. 

Greek Yogurt and Milk

The Greek yogurt and milk mix do better than single cream when used in sauces or garnishes. In any case, this combination is essentially denser than single cream, so expect that it makes a considerably stronger consistency of the dish than single cream. So, if you are not a fan of thick sauces or salad dressings, you should reconsider using this substitute.

Flavor-wise, the Greek yogurt and milk mix is tang, sour, and salty, so it will not do well in treats; however, it works in cheesecakes. Don’t substitute Greek yogurt and milk for single cream in coffees or similar beverages.

The Greek yogurt and milk mix are third on this list because it lacks the neutrality of the single cream as it is tangy and mildly salty. It does have the milkiness of single cream, but the milk in this mixture is more receptive to the other flavors, so the features of the Greek yogurt dominate the flavor. This mixture is not suitable for coffee or similar creamy drinks. 

Non-dairy Heavy Cream

There are a few sorts of non-dairy heavy cream, for example, heavy coconut cream, luxurious tofu, soy milk, and so on. The one that I suggest as a single cream substitute is heavy coconut cream. Leave it in the fridge for some time before using it, as this will thicken it, making your dish creamier.

Blending the heavy coconut cream with coconut milk is also intelligent, as it will smoothen it and make it even richer, but be warned that the coconut flavor and aroma will dominate the dish or beverage. Consequently, this single cream substitute works out best for beverages and pastries rather than savories.

Non-dairy Milk

If you are on a non-dairy or a vegetarian diet but you still want to enjoy smooth espresso, select non-dairy milk as a single cream substitute for your beverage. The ideal choice here would be coconut milk; however, real coconut milk, not coconut water.

You can warm the milk to thicken it, and you could add some cornstarch. Nonetheless, this single cream substitute does well only and exclusively as a creamer. It won’t give you the same results, as the milk fat in dairy milk plays a significant role in the creaminess of the single cream. 


Buttermilk is less greasy than single cream; however, it does an excellent job as its substitute. Still, before using buttermilk as a single cream substitute, you need to consider that it contains lacto bacteria, as it is cultured and is, therefore, a little zesty; thus, it is more restrictive in terms of its use. 

You can use buttermilk instead of single cream in savories such as sauces and salad dressings rather than in sweets. However, it does work in some cases, such as pancakes, cheesecakes, crepes, or frosting. Still, you need to adjust the flavors using vanilla flavoring or powdered sugar to milden the tanginess. 

Buttermilk works partially well in coffees and similar creamy beverages. The tanginess of the buttermilk is not as expressive, as that of the Greek yogurt and milk mixture, for example, so if you don’t mind a little kick in your coffee, this is a good substitute for that purpose. 

Single Cream Substitutes

Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is milk where 60% of the water has evaporated, making it thick and fatty. Condensed milk is intense in taste, as there’s not enough liquid to milden the taste.

Substituting single cream for condensed milk is a smart decision. Condensed or evaporated milk is thick and creamy; you can use it where you generally utilize single cream. This incorporates treats and savories, as well as in coffee or other similar drinks.

Milk and Cornstarch

Milk and cornstarch is the most obvious substitute for single cream. You can use it for sweet and savory dishes and add it to coffee or other creamy beverages. Since single cream is thickened milk, the cornstarch and milk blend is exactly that-thickened milk.

You should simply blend warm milk and cornstarch and let the fixings homogenize by constantly stirring them in the pot at medium temperature until you get the right thickness. Leave it in the refrigerator until the mixture cools, and mix it in a blender or a food processor.

This is an excellent single cream substitute as the density is very similar, and the best thing is you can adapt the density to the level you need for the intended use. 

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!