The cream of the crop isn’t dairy based anymore! Vegan heavy cream is the evolved staple of sophisticated cooks, chefs, and eaters everywhere. Smooth, velvety, and downright luscious, this cooking staple is essential for everything from lightening coffee to enriching custards, crafting decadent sauces to churning out brilliant frozen treats, and so much more.
Cream itself originated from the paleolithic era, since the earliest days of animal domestication. It’s about time we step out of the stone age and give cows a break; there are much better plant-based alternatives to heavy cream these days.
As defined by the Food and Drug Administration, heavy cream is a milk product that contains 36 – 40% fat. It can also be called “heavy whipping cream,” depending on the brand, but the contents are exactly the same.
The cartons available in American grocery stores tend to fall on the lower end of that scale, around 36% fat, but are still far richer than half-and-half, whole milk, or evaporated milk. Commercial heavy cream also often contains additives, stabilizers, and thickeners, such as carrageenan, polysorbate, and mono and diglycerides, extending shelf life and ensuring emulsification.
Vegan heavy cream doesn’t have as rigid a definition, as a relatively new concept to the culinary scene. There’s no legal standard for what does or doesn’t qualify. Plant cream can be made of nuts, seeds, grains, or beans, and has reasonably comparable fat and calorie content. Naturally, it has the upper hand with zero cholesterol and much less saturated fat.
The field of vegan substitutes for heavy cream is still emerging, with new contenders stepping up to the plate all the time. Mainstream brands have placed at least one or two options in most grocery stores, but don’t be discouraged if they’re still tough to find. Many can be ordered on demand or made at home in a pinch. The following brands are your best bets:
A titan of the dairy-free industry, Silk has been a pioneer in the plant-based milk revolution. That abundant line of alternatives has extended to include a Dairy-Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative, made primarily from coconut oil, sunflower oil, and faba bean protein. As such, it’s free of gluten, carrageenan, and added sugars.
Once known only as purveyors of dairy-based butter spreads, Country Crock jumped on the bandwagon with vegan-friendly options, including their new Plant Cream. Formulated to have identical properties to the conventional alternative, lentil protein is the key to making dairy free whipped cream, luscious soups, and creamy pan sauces alike.
Expanding their wildly successful line of plant milks and coffee creamers to include this Dairy Free Heavy Whip Substitute, it does indeed whip, cook, and bake exactly as promised. There’s no sugar so it’s equally at home in your favorite desserts as at the dinner table.
Intended for professional use and recommended by chefs, this Plant Multipurpose Cream won’t turn up on your next grocery run but could very well be the secret ingredient in some of your favorite fine dining and takeout dishes. In fact, it’s just another name for the consumer line better known as Violife…
Shreddable, meltable, and spreadable cheeses have put this Greek company on the map, but that’s just the start for their plans of dairy-free world domination. While Viocreme is currently only available overseas, hopefully it will make the jump for wider distribution so Americans can start to pour it on thick, too.
Designed with dessert in mind, this canned heavy cream alternative has coconut sugar built right in, so you can whip and top your favorite treats on the fly. You can find Coconut Whipping Cream in the baking aisle of many organic and natural grocery stores, as well as online.
When it comes to healthy indulgences, it’s hard to beat the single ingredient offering of Organic Heavy Coconut Cream. Made from pure blended coconut meat, there are no additives whatsoever, making it ideal for anyone with complicated dietary restrictions or allergies. Best of all, it’s canned and thus shelf stable, so you can stock up and always have some on hand.
If you need an option for replacing heavy cream on the fly, don’t panic. There are plenty of household pantry staples you can adapt to suit your needs!
Plant cream can be used as a 1:1 substitute for dairy heavy cream, particularly in any cooking application. Not all can whip, especially when it comes to homemade alternatives, but they’re all excellent for savory dishes where you might otherwise use coconut milk, non-dairy milk, creamer, or sometimes even sour cream. Get started by trying it in these delicious recipes:
This vegan heavy cream guide was written with support from Hannah Kaminsky and edited by Rachel Lessenden. Photos sourced from brand websites or Instagram channels.