25 Best Ways To Substitute For Heavy Cream In Pasta

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Last Updated on June 2, 2023 by Toya

Check out the best substitute for heavy cream in pasta plus 24 other easy heavy cream substitutes for pasta you might have in your kitchen!  This list will save you from having to run to the store.

substitute for heavy cream in pasta

Heavy cream is a staple in most creamy pasta recipes. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and adds richness and creaminess to pasta. However, if you’re making a pasta dish that calls for heavy cream and you have none, you have tons of other handy options worth looking into.

Every ingredient mentioned adds its own spin to a pasta dish, but each works well and will add some creaminess and richness to your pasta recipe. 

What are the best heavy cream substitutes for pasta?

The best substitutes for heavy cream in pasta are:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Heavy cream powder
  • Double cream
  • Milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Half-and-half
  • Bechamel sauce
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Boursin cheese
  • Neufchatel cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Panna da Cucina
  • Nondairy milk + cornstarch
  • DIY vegan heavy cream
  • Cashew cream
  • White bean cream
  • Silken tofu + Nutritional yeast
  • Onion cream
  • Pureed cauliflower
  • Diy heavy cream

Common ways to substitute for heavy cream in pasta

Heavy whipping cream

Heavy whipping cream is the best substitute for heavy cream in pasta. It works because they’re very similar in both taste and texture and will have the same effect in a creamy pasta recipe. 

The main difference between heavy cream and heavy whipping cream is that one has more milk fat than the other. This makes a difference in whipped cream and some baked goods, but it has almost no effect on pasta.

Substitute heavy whipping cream for heavy cream cup-for-cup. 

Heavy cream powder

heavy cream powder

You can also replace fresh heavy cream with heavy cream powder. It has a taste and consistency that is close enough to heavy cream which makes it an excellent choice to use in the absence of fresh heavy cream. I get my heavy cream powder from Amazon at a great price and make sure to always keep it in stock. 

To use heavy cream powder, simply mix 3/8 cup of heavy cream powder and ½ cup of water together until properly combined. Let this mixture sit for an hour so the consistency matches or is as close to heavy cream as possible. Use this heavy cream powder mixture in any pasta recipe at a 1:1 substitution ratio. 

Heavy Cream Powder by Hoosier Hill Farm - 2lbs
$28.99 ($0.91 / Ounce)

This heavy cream powder is shelf stable and allows you to always have a cream handy for emergencies.

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08/23/2023 11:18 pm GMT

Double cream

 double cream

If you can get your hands on double cream, it can act as an excellent heavy cream substitute for pasta. Double cream is richer than heavy cream since it has 48% milk fat and it will produce richer creamy pasta recipes.

If you’re trying to cut down on dairy and or fat, I’d skip double cream. Otherwise, double cream is perfect for creamy pasta. 


Can you use milk instead of heavy cream in pasta?

Most people don’t think you can, but milk is a great heavy cream alternative for pasta recipes.

Most people have milk in their refrigerator and this makes it one of the most convenient substitutes for cream in pasta. Milk on its own won’t make a great cream substitute for pasta. You’ll also need additional ingredients like butter, some all-purpose flour, salt, and ground black pepper to make a great cream pasta or pasta sauce with milk. 

Evaporated milk

evaporated milk

Have evaporated milk on hand? If so, you can use this ingredient as a handy cream alternative for pasta. Evaporated milk is not as rich and creamy as heavy cream and so it makes lighter pasta dishes. Therefore, if you’re looking to cut down on the richness of a pasta recipe that originally called for heavy cream, evaporated milk is the perfect substitute. 

Substitute 1 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of evaporated milk. 

If you want the same or a very similar richness, substitute 1 cup of heavy cream for ¾ of a cup of evaporated milk and ¼ cup of melted butter. 

Carnation Evaporated Milk (Pack of 2)
$8.64 ($8.64 / Count)

Carnation milk is an amazing substitute for milk. It literally makes the BEST pancakes. But, it's also great for making creamy sauces for pasta too!

Carnation milk in the can is shelf stable, so I usually grab multiple cans and keep them in my pantry so I never run out.

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08/24/2023 01:27 am GMT

Full cream coconut milk

coconut milk

If you can’t find heavy cream but have access to full-fat coconut milk it can work well too. Use full-fat coconut milk instead of coconut milk. Full-fat coconut milk is the thicker and richer option of the two. Full-fat coconut milk will add that extra coconut flavor to the pasta and this is something to consider if you don’t like that taste or aroma. 

This substitute also doesn’t;t have the body that heavy cream has and you will perceive the difference in your recipe. 

Otherwise, full-fat coconut milk is great for all sorts of pasta dishes, including vegan and dairy-free pasta recipes.

Substitute 1 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk.


Cream Cheese

cream cheese

Cream cheese is often used in pasta recipes and thus makes a great replacement for heavy cream in pasta.

Cream cheese is denser than heavy cream and it will require a bit more stirring to get it to melt and make a homogenous pasta sauce. Also, cream cheese has the added bonus of adding a cheesy flavor to the sauce without any cheese. See how I use cream cheese to make my creamy pasta sauce in this simple cream cheese pasta sauce recipe

Replace 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup of cream cheese in a pasta recipe. (Also, read more about substitutes for cream cheese in pasta here!)

Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche is similar to cream cheese, although it is less dense. Therefore if you happen to have some Crème Fraîche on hand, it can make a good sub for heavy cream in pasta. Crème Fraîche has a slightly tangy flavor that you will not find in heavy cream, but this slight tang simply adds an interesting touch to the creamy pasta. 

Substitute 1 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of creme fraiche. 

Greek Yogurt

If you want a heavy cream alternative for pasta without all the calories and fat, you should use plain greek yogurt. 

Greek yogurt is best used in combination with milk for the best results. 

Substitute 1 cup of heavy cream with ½ cup of greek yogurt and ½ cup of milk.


Half-and-half which is a dairy product made with half cream and half milk can also work as a great heavy cream substitute for pasta.

It’s also a great choice if you’re looking for an ingredient with less fat at half-and-half has less fat than heavy cream. On its own, half-and-half makes a perfect lighter creamy pasta recipe.

However, as shown in this simple recipe for pasta sauce with half-and-half and as recommended by Healthline, you can get an excellent heavy cream sub for pasta by adding melted butter to the half-and-half. Healthline recommends adding ⅛ cup of melted butter to 7/8 cups of half-and-half to replace 1 cup of heavy cream.

Bechamel sauce

Out of heavy cream? Béchamel sauce is an excellent heavy cream substitute for pasta. Béchamel sauce is a simple white sauce made with all-purpose flour, milk, and butter, but it is so creamy and will make a decadent pasta recipe that everyone will enjoy. 

Mascarpone  cheese 

Mascarpone cheese is another great way to replace heavy cream in pasta. Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that is soft, mildly sweet, and reminds you of butter. 

Mix the mascarpone with some white wine, and Parmesan cheese for an amazingly creamy pasta sauce.

Also, vegetable stock mixed with mascarpone cheese makes an incredibly smooth creamy sauce for pasta too.

Boursin cheese 

Boursin cheese is a soft, cream french cheese flavored with herbs and spices. It’s super easy to melt into a creamy sauce.

So if you’re looking for a heavy cream substitute for pasta a pasta sauce made with Boursin, white wine, and stock is worth a try.

Neufchatel cheese 

If you’re feeling for light pasta, use Neufchâtel in place of heavy cream. It’s a reduced-fat cream cheese that makes delicious low-fat cream sauces. 

Sour cream 

Sour cream, milk, some flour, and butter can make a smooth and creamy pasta sauce if you’re out of heavy cream. 

Whole milk ricotta cheese 

Another simple replacement for heavy cream in pasta is whole milk ricotta cheese. A simple sauce made with ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock makes a delicious pasta sauce if you’ve run out of heavy cream.

Cottage cheese 

Blended cottage cheese can also be used as a cream substitute in pasta. It’s rich, flavorful, and low in calories so it’s a win-win all around. 

Panna da Cucina

Panna da Cucina, is an Italian cooking cream made with Italian milk. It’s great for recipes like pasta such as tortellini alla panna. You can also use it to make other delicious pasta sauces in the absence of heavy cream. 

Sterilgarda - Panna Da Cucina (Cooking Cream) - 4 Pack
$17.99 ($0.66 / Ounce)

Wanna make authentic Italian pasta? Try out Panna da Cucina for your pasta sauce.

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08/24/2023 01:23 am GMT

Best non dairy substitutes for heavy cream in pasta

Nondairy milk and cornstarch

If you’re looking for a dairy-free sub for heavy cream for a creamy pasta recipe, then nondairy milk options like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, cashew milk, or rice milk plus some cornstarch are your best bet. 

The milk will add creaminess, while the cornstarch will help thicken that pasta sauce. For every cup of nondairy milk used, one tablespoon of cornstarch is required. 

Note: Do not add the cornstarch to the pasta sauce in its dry form. Instead, make a cornstarch slurry with equal parts water. That is, if you’re using 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mix it with 1 tablespoon of water before pouring it into the pasta sauce to help thicken it up and make a great non dairy substitute for heavy cream in pasta.

DIY non-dairy heavy cream

Another great dairy-free heavy cream substitute for pasta is a simple DIY non-dairy heavy cream made with non-dairy milk and melted vegan butter.

To make it, you’ll need 2 part milk and 1 part vegan butter. If a pasta recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, you’ll need ⅔ cup of nondairy milk combined with ⅓ cup of melted vegan butter for a good substitute. 

White bean cream

If you have access to white beans, you can use them to make a simple healthy substitute for heavy cream in pasta. To make white bean cream for pasta, you will need ingredients like cooked white beans, vegetable broth, chicken broth or a chicken broth alternative, nutritional yeast, and a few seasonings of your choice including some salt.

Blend all of these together until a creamy sauce is made, and use it to make a light pasta recipe.

Cashew cream

If you have cashews, you can make a cashew cream to use as a vegan substitute for heavy cream in pasta. Cashew cream is very easy to make and you’ll only need to blend 3 parts of soaked cashews and 1 part of water to make it.

Silken tofu + Nutritional yeast

If you’re looking for more ideas that can fit into a plant-based or dairy-free eating regime, the silken tofu pasta is a great alternative. It’s quite an easy sauce to make. 

Drain the excess liquid from the tofu. Then add the tofu to a blender or food processor, together with some nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor, also add some lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to the blender and whip until smooth. 

Onion cream

Onion cream was referenced as a great heavy cream replacement for soup and I’ll mention it here as well. Onion cream is a simple creamy sauce that is quite versatile. It is made by cooking chopped onions seasoned with salt and pepper in some water for 30 minutes. It is then blended until you get a creamy onion sauce. 

Pureed cauliflower

As weird as this one sounds puréed cauliflower can be used to make the creamiest pasta if you need a heavy cream alternative. You can see how it’s done with this simple cauliflower Alfredo recipe. 

These are all the ways to replace heavy cream in pasta with ingredients you have in your kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a dairy or non dairy option, there is something for you on this list!

Lastly, creamy pasta recipes like authentic alfredo pasta don’t include any cream or milk. They’re simply made with pasta, pasta water, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Therefore, if you have no heavy cream or any of the items on this list, you still have a brilliant option.

How to make heavy cream for pasta

Now, here’s a quick trick to make heavy cream for pasta in a pinch with kitchen staples!

To make 1 cup of  heavy cream for pasta, you need:

¾ of a cup of milk – Typical whole milk or 2% milk is all you will need. 
¼ of a cup of butter – Unsalted butter is the best choice here.

To make this DIY heavy cream substitute, melt the unsalted butter in a bowl, then whisk in ¾ of a cup of milk until properly combined. You can use this homemade heavy cream for any creamy pasta recipe!  

Creamy pasta recipes without cream

Half-and-half pasta sauce recipe

pasta sauce with half and half recipe


Pasta sauce with milk recipe

pasta sauce with milk recipe


Pasta sauce with cream cheese recipe 

pasta sauce with cream cheese

pasta recipe with heavy cream substitute

25 Best Ways To Substitute For Heavy Cream In Pasta

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Enjoy delicious creamy pasta with no heavy cream if you're looking for a simple heavy cream substitute for your pasta! Also, check out 13 more great ways to substitute for heavy cream in pasta!



  1. Mix 3/8 cup of heavy cream powder into ½ cup of water until properly combined.
  2. Let this mixture sit for about 1 hour to rehydrate properly then use it to make your pasta dish.

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