can i use Evaporated Milk Instead of Heavy Cream

Can I Use Evaporated Milk Instead of Heavy Cream?

If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of a culinary masterpiece, only to realize you’re out of heavy cream, you might have wondered if you could substitute it with evaporated milk. While both ingredients share similarities, they also have distinct differences that can affect the outcome of your dishes. In this guide, we’ll explore whether you can use evaporated milk as a suitable replacement for heavy cream in various recipes.

Understanding Heavy Cream and Evaporated Milk

Before delving into substitutions, it’s essential to understand what heavy cream and evaporated milk actually are.

Heavy Cream:

  • Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is a high-fat dairy product.
  • It contains at least 36% milkfat, making it rich and creamy.
  • It’s a common ingredient in sauces, soups, desserts, and coffee.

Evaporated Milk:

  • Evaporated milk is made by heating regular milk to remove about 60% of its water content.
  • It has a thick consistency and is less creamy compared to heavy cream.
  • It typically contains 7.5% milkfat, significantly lower than heavy cream.

When Can You Substitute Evaporated Milk for Heavy Cream?

Substituting evaporated milk for heavy cream can work well in certain recipes, but it depends on the dish’s nature and your dietary preferences. Here are some situations where you can make the switch:

Sauces and Soups:

  • In savory dishes like soups and sauces, you can often use evaporated milk as a lighter alternative to heavy cream.
  • Keep in mind that evaporated milk’s lower fat content might result in a slightly less creamy texture.

Coffees and Beverages:

  • If you’re looking to add creaminess to your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, you can use evaporated milk.
  • It will provide a similar richness without the extra calories and fat found in heavy cream.


  • In baking recipes, you can substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream in some cases.
  • However, the difference in fat content may affect the texture and flavor of the final product.

Creamy Desserts:

  • For desserts like custards or puddings, evaporated milk can work as a substitute for heavy cream.
  • Just be aware that the final result may be slightly less indulgent.

Recipes That Benefit from Evaporated Milk Substitution

  • Creamy soups (e.g., clam chowder)
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Coffee or tea with creamer
  • Some baked goods (e.g., scones, biscuits)
  • Rice pudding
  • Custards
  • Panna cotta

When Should You Avoid Substituting Evaporated Milk for Heavy Cream?

While evaporated milk can be a suitable substitute in many instances, there are situations where you should avoid making the swap:

Whipping Cream:

  • If you need heavy cream for whipping purposes, such as making whipped cream or frosting, evaporated milk won’t yield the desired results.
  • Heavy cream’s higher fat content is crucial for achieving a stable whipped texture.

Rich Desserts:

  • In desserts like ice cream or cheesecake, where the cream’s richness is essential, it’s best to stick with heavy cream.
  • Evaporated milk may result in a less indulgent treat.

Cream-Based Soups and Sauces:

  • For cream-based dishes like fettuccine Alfredo or cream of mushroom soup, substituting evaporated milk may result in a thinner and less creamy consistency.

Recipes Requiring Fat Content:

  • Some recipes rely on heavy cream’s fat content to bind ingredients or create a specific texture.
  • In these cases, altering the fat content with evaporated milk can lead to disappointing results.

Tips for Using Evaporated Milk as a Substitute

If you decide to use evaporated milk as a substitute for heavy cream, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Dilution: Evaporated milk is thicker than regular milk but not as thick as heavy cream. You may need to dilute it slightly with water to match heavy cream’s consistency in recipes.
  2. Flavor Adjustments: Heavy cream contributes to the richness and flavor of a dish. When using evaporated milk, you might need to compensate for the flavor loss by adding extra seasoning or flavorings.
  3. Thickening Agents: In recipes that require heavy cream for thickening, such as Alfredo sauce, consider using a thickening agent like cornstarch or flour when using evaporated milk.
  4. Texture Variation: Be prepared for a slight difference in texture. Evaporated milk can result in a thinner or less creamy texture compared to heavy cream.
  5. Whipping Limitations: Remember that you cannot whip evaporated milk to create whipped cream. It lacks the fat content necessary for achieving a stable whipped consistency.

In Conclusion

While you can often use evaporated milk as a substitute for heavy cream in various recipes, it’s important to acknowledge the differences between these two ingredients. Consider your dish’s requirements and your dietary preferences before making the switch. While evaporated milk can offer a lighter alternative, it may not replicate the full richness and creaminess that heavy cream provides in certain culinary creations.

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