How to Make a Half-and-Half Substitute, With 4 Easy Options

updated Sep 17, 2022
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

I always have milk in the refrigerator, and more often than not, I also have cream in the fridge or freezer. But half-and-half? Never. Since I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis, I grudgingly buy half-and-half when a recipe calls for it — usually quiche or ice cream, which I only make once or twice a year. There are other uses for half-and-half other than coffee. If you need it more often, you can actually make a half-and-half substitute out of dairy you probably have at home.

Here are four easy ways to make your own half-and-half substitute.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

What Is Half-and-Half?

Half-and-half is a blend of equal parts whole milk and light cream, and it has a 10 to 12% fat content. While it can’t be whipped, it adds richness without being as heavy as cream on its own.

4 Ways to Make Your Own Half-and-Half Substitute

There are four ways to achieve approximately the same fat content as half-and-half by blending milk, butter, light cream, or heavy cream together in various combinations. To achieve one cup of half-and-half substitute:

1. Mix 1/2 cup whole milk + 1/2 cup light cream.

  • Tasting notes: This is the actual formula for regular half-and-half, so I didn’t do a taste test here since I assume the result is identical. (I also had a hard time finding light cream.)
  • Good in coffee? Yes
  • Good for cooking? Yes

2. Mix 3/4 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream.

  • Tasting notes: I found this combination very creamy and heavier in flavor than half-in-half.
  • Good in coffee? Yes, but it would definitely add even more richness than half-and-half.
  • Good for cooking? Yes, and I’m guessing the finished product will be even richer tasting than if half-and-half is used.

3. Mix 2/3 cup skim or low-fat milk + 1/3 cup heavy cream.

  • Tasting notes: This one tasted the closest to regular half-and-half, which is great since I usually have skim or low-fat milk in the fridge! This was my favorite substitution.
  • Good in coffee? Yes
  • Good for cooking? Yes

4. Place 4 teaspoons melted unsalted butter in a measuring cup, then add enough whole milk to equal 1 cup.

This last combination was the oddest. When I added the milk to the butter, the cold temperature of the milk instantly hardened the butter into large chunks. I was able to whisk most of butter back into the milk, but it never really integrated in. I proceeded to microwave it just to get the butter melted again, and it floated on top.

  • Tasting notes: In terms of taste, this wasn’t my favorite since, not surprisingly, it had a distinct butter flavor that was layered over the milk.
  • Good in coffee? No, unless you already like butter in your coffee.
  • Good for cooking? I would definitely not use this in ice cream, but it might be fine for baking in a pinch. This would be my last choice out of all the substitutes.

Have you ever used any of these substitutions for half-and-half before?

(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

Recipes with Half-and-Half