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The Best Dairy-free Heavy Cream Recipes for Your Desserts

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Updated on January 12, 2024

Reviewed by Marise

For those following a dairy-free lifestyle or simply looking for plant-based alternatives, searching for a creamy, versatile substitute for heavy cream can sometimes feel like searching for a unicorn. Fear not, fellow foodies! The world of dairy-free delights is brimming with incredible options, rivalling their traditional counterpart’s richness and texture.

Whether you’re lactose intolerant, following a vegan diet, or just not the biggest fan of dairy, you deserve a delicious dairy-free heavy cream to top your favourite desserts. In this blog, we aim to give you just that! So, get into the kitchen and let’s prepare the best dairy-free heavy cream you’ve ever tasted!

Ditch the Dairy, Not the Dream: Delicious Heavy Cream Substitutes

Vegan heavy cream substitute surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables.

Heavy cream’s rich, luxurious mouthfeel can elevate any dish, from silky soups to decadent desserts. But what if you’re dairy-free, lactose-intolerant, or simply looking for plant-based alternatives? Fear not, fellow foodies! A treasure trove of clever substitutes awaits, ready to bring creamy magic to your culinary creations.

Nutty Goodness: Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

Cashew cream reigns supreme for its richness, neutral flavour, and ability to whip up like a dream. Soak raw cashews in hot water for a couple of hours, then blend them with a touch of water until smooth and creamy. You can customise the thickness and flavour with spices, herbs, or a squeeze of lemon.

Preparation

  1. Soak 1 cup raw cashews in hot water for 2-3 hours, or boil for 15 minutes for a quicker method.
  2.  Drain and rinse the cashews.
  3.  Blend them with 1/4 cup water (or more for a thinner consistency) until smooth and creamy.

Add a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, garlic, herbs, or spices to enhance flavour. Cashew cream is ideal for creamy sauces, soups, desserts, and whipped cream.

Tropical Twist: Coconut Cream

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream brings a touch of the tropics to your kitchen. Choose full-fat canned coconut milk a thick layer on top. Scoop it out and blend it until smooth. Its subtle sweetness pairs beautifully with savoury and sweet dishes alike.

Preparation

  1. Refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight.
  2.  Scoop out the thick, solidified cream layer at the top.
  3.  Blend until smooth.

If sweetness is a concern, use unsweetened coconut cream or add a pinch of salt to balance the flavour. Coconut dairy-free heavy cream is perfect for curries, Asian-inspired dishes, smoothies, and desserts with tropical flavours.

Outstanding Performance: Oat Milk and Oil Blend

This dairy-free duo delivers richness and body without the nuts or coconut. Combine unsweetened oat milk with neutral oil like grapeseed or avocado, using a 2:1 ratio. Blend until emulsified, and voila! Instant creamy magic.

Preparation

  1. Combine 1 cup unsweetened oat milk with 1/2 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed or avocado oil).
  2.  Blend until emulsified and creamy.

Use a vanilla-flavoured oat milk or add a touch of vanilla extract for a sweeter profile. This dairy-free heavy cream is great for sauces, soups, and baked goods with a desired neutral flavour.

Silken Savior: Tofu Sour Cream

Blended with lemon juice and spices, silken tofu creates a tangy, creamy wonder perfect for dips, sauces, and even baking. Its neutral flavour canvas lets you get creative with herbs and spices.

Preparation

  1. Blend 1 block of silken tofu with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of garlic powder.
  2.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Add herbs, spices, or a touch of maple syrup for sweet applications. Tofu dairy-free heavy cream is ideal for dips, spreads, sauces, and toppings for tacos, chilli, or baked potatoes.

Greek Yogurt Meets Milk: The Dynamic Duo

Full-fat Greek yoghurt thinned with milk offers a lighter, protein-packed alternative. It works best in cooked dishes and savoury applications, adding a subtle tang and thickening power.

Preparation

  1. Whisk together 1 cup full-fat Greek yoghurt with 1/4 cup milk until smooth and pourable.

Use plain Greek yoghurt for savoury dishes and vanilla-flavoured for sweeter applications. Works well in cooked dishes like soups, sauces, casseroles, dips, and dressings.

Storage Tips for Your Dairy-Free Heavy Cream

No need to fret about your plant-based cream going bad before you can use it all! With these handy storage tips, your dairy-free heavy cream substitutes will stay fresh and ready to whip up culinary magic:

General Tips

  • Transfer to airtight containers: Ditch the original cartons or pouches and transfer your cream to clean containers like glass jars or BPA-free plastic bottles. This reduces exposure to air and light, which can shorten shelf life.
  •  Label and date: Always label your containers with the cream type and storage date. This helps you track which one to use first and prevents you from accidentally serving something past its prime.
  •  Chill it!: Like its dairy counterpart, store your dairy-free cream in the refrigerator. Aim for the back, away from the door, where temperature fluctuations are highest. Ideally, keep it between 35°F and 41°F.

Specific Tips for Each Dairy-Free Heavy Cream Substitute

  • Cashew Cream: This creamy wonder lasts up to 5 days in the fridge. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the mix to extend its shelf life by a couple more days.
  •  Coconut Cream: Store unopened cans in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, transfer the remaining cream to a container and keep it in the fridge for up to 7 days.
  •  Oat Milk and Oil Blend: This is best used fresh, as the oil and milk can separate over time. However, if you have leftovers, store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Give it a good shake before using it to re-emulsify the mixture.
  •  Tofu Sour Cream: Similar to cashew cream, tofu sour cream lasts up to 5 days in the fridge. Keep an eye out for any off smells or discolouring, as those are signs that it’s gone bad.
  •  Greek Yogurt and Milk Blend: Like oat milk and oil blend, this one is best used fresh due to potential separation. However, sealed leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and shaken before use.

Bonus Tip: Freeze it! Most dairy-free creams can be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw them gradually in the fridge overnight before using them.

By following these simple storage tips, you can ensure your delicious dairy-free heavy cream substitutes stay fresh and ready to take your culinary creations to the next level!

Different Ways to Use Dairy-Free Heavy Cream

Gone are the days of sacrificing creamy indulgence when your dietary choices call for ditching the dairy. A vibrant palette of plant-based substitutes awaits, ready to transform your cooking and unleash culinary alchemy in your kitchen. Whether craving savoury stews or decadent desserts, these ingenious alternatives offer a treasure trove of possibilities.

Soups and Stews

Imagine a velvety tomato bisque enriched with the subtle sweetness of coconut cream, a butternut squash soup warmed by the nutty caress of cashews, or a lentil stew given a light embrace by the oat milk and oil duo. Each substitute infuses these comforting classics with unique layers of flavour and texture, painting a symphony on your palate.

Sauces and Gravies

Picture a creamy pasta sauce singing with the tangy charm of tofu sour cream, a mushroom gravy whispering earthy secrets with cashew cream’s richness, or a cheese sauce whispering “vegan mac and cheese heaven” with the magic of soaked cashews and nutritional yeast. Every dish becomes a blank canvas for dairy-free artistry, inviting you to unleash your inner culinary maestro.

Risotto and Creamy Pastas

Imagine a perfectly al dente risotto dancing with the subtle whisper of oat milk and oil blend, a carbonara bathed in the luxurious embrace of cashew cream, or a fettuccine Alfredo serenaded by the delicate grace of silken tofu. These iconic dishes find their dairy-free soul mates, reimagined and reborn with plant-based elegance.

Desserts and Baked Goods

Picture fluffy vegan pancakes embracing the gentle moisture of cashew cream or oat milk, a decadent cashew cream mousse whispering sweet nothings of chocolate and vanilla, or a creamy cheesecake filling whispering “light indulgence” with silken tofu’s magic. Dairy-free delights become a reality, offering guilt-free pleasure that tickles your taste buds and warms your heart.

Coffee and Cocktails

Imagine a barista-worthy latte crowned with the tropical charm of coconut cream, a creamy smoothie bursting with the vibrant symphony of your favourite fruits and any dairy-free cream, or a Baileys-inspired cocktail whispering secrets of almond liqueur and vanilla nestled within a cashew cream embrace. Coffee and cocktails find their dairy-free muse, inviting you to sip and savour their plant-based charm.

Breakfast and Snacks

Imagine oatmeal or overnight oats basking in the warm embrace of coconut cream or cashew cream, a fruit salad with a drizzle of tofu sour cream’s tangy kiss. Even morning routines and afternoon indulgences find their dairy-free heroes, adding a touch of creamy magic to every bite.

Beyond the Expected

Mashed potatoes? Swirl in cashew cream for decadence, or embrace coconut cream’s tropical flair. Whipped cream? Unleash the alchemist within and whip cashew cream or tofu sour cream with a whisper of vanilla, berries, or even matcha. Pizza sauce? Roast cauliflower blends it with oat milk, oil, and your favourite herbs – a healthy and creamy base awaits.

This is just the beginning. Dairy-free heavy cream substitutes are your paintbrush, instruments, and culinary compass. Explore, experiment, and create. Every dish becomes a blank canvas, every bite a masterpiece waiting to be born. So, embrace the dairy-free magic, and let your culinary symphony begin!

FAQs

Do dairy-free heavy cream whip like real heavy cream?

Some do! Cashew cream whips beautifully into a light and fluffy topping, perfect for desserts and whipped cream delights. Experiment with different substitutes and thicknesses to find your perfect dairy-free whip.

Are dairy-free heavy cream as thick as heavy cream?

The thickness varies depending on the substitute. Cashew and coconut cream offer the closest consistency to heavy cream, while oat milk, oil blend, and tofu sour cream are thinner. Adjust thicknesses for different recipes by adding water or thickening agents like cornstarch or arrowroot powder.

Will dairy-free heavy cream affect the taste of my dishes?

While some are neutral (like cashew cream), others add their own unique flavour notes. Coconut cream brings a tropical touch, tofu sour cream offers tanginess, and oat milk and oil blend can be slightly sweet. Consider the overall flavour profile of your dish when choosing a substitute.

Are dairy-free heavy cream expensive?

Prices can vary depending on the brand and type of store-bought substitute. Typically, they are slightly more expensive than regular heavy cream, but their versatility and convenience can be worth it.

Can I use soy milk as a substitute for dairy in a heavy cream recipe?

Yes, soy milk can be used as a substitute for dairy in a heavy cream recipe. However, remember that it may have a slightly different flavour and texture.

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