Substitute for Heavy Cream for Ice Cream

Heavy cream often takes center stage in ice cream recipes, but it packs a one-two punch of being both pricy and high in fat. 

If you’re yearning for a workaround for heavy cream in your frosty desserts, there’s a smorgasbord of alternatives to explore.

This comprehensive guide showcases some of the top-tier substitutes for heavy cream in ice cream. 

We’re talking mascarpone, half-and-half, butter, and milk from our plant-based friends. 

We’ll also lift the veil on 4 mouthwatering ice cream recipes that are utterly devoid of heavy cream.

Is Heavy Cream Necessary In Ice Cream?

We often hear that heavy cream is essential for creating our favorite frozen delight – ice cream. 

But why does ice cream need heavy cream? 

There’s actually a pretty solid (or should we say, creamy) explanation for this.

Heavy cream brings about the much-desired creaminess and richness to the ice cream, courtesy of its high fat content. 

Besides its flavor-enhancing qualities, the fat also plays a crucial role in controlling the solidity of ice cream. 

Ever been frustrated with excessively frozen or icy ice cream that you can’t scoop out? 

Thanks to heavy cream’s fat content it helps to prevent this problem by keeping the ice cream just at the right level of hardness.

The remarkably light and fluffy texture of your favorite scoop isn’t achieved single-handedly. 

When you whip heavy cream, it incorporates air into the mix – another key element in achieving that perfect, airy consistency in your ice cream.

Lastly, can’t forget about flavor! 

The silky, buttery taste that we associate with delicious, high-quality ice creams? 

Yes, you guessed it right; it comes from none other than the fat present in heavy cream (well, along with the other dairy products too)

How To Make Heavy Cream For Ice Cream At Home

If you ever find yourself short on heavy cream for your next ice cream recipe, then rather than diving straight into alternatives that could potentially alter the flavor of your ice cream, you should consider making one at home as it’s very simple.

Before that however, what exactly is heavy cream and how can you make it at home? 

Heavy cream isn’t an aristocrat per se; it’s merely the rich player in full cream milk that floats to the top after a long, cold rest. 

This process is as much an art as it is science, and below is how you can achieve that at home.

To start your heavy cream adventure, take 2 liters of full cream milk and pour it into a favorite container. Seal your container and send it off to chill in your fridge for about 10-12 hours.

Once the waiting game is over, open your fridge to find something magical has happened overnight. 

The creamy top layer you’ll find peering back at you from atop your milk? 

That’s heavy cream in its purest form.

With tenderness, gently skim this creamy layer off the top and voila! 

You have around ⅔ cups (91g) of handcrafted heavy cream ready to transform your ice cream recipe from great to unforgettable.

What Are The Substitutes For Heavy Cream When Making Ice Cream?

When all games fail, then you can turn your face to the alternatives for heavy cream in ice cream, but bear in mind that these may alter the texture and richness slightly. 

Whipped Cream as an Alternative

While it’s not the exact equivalent in taste and texture, whipped cream can be used as a suitable replacement for heavy cream in ice-cream making. 

This airy substitute can be swapped in a 1:1 ratio, though it may lack some of that characteristic richness and creaminess. 

To boost flavors, consider adding additional sugar or a splash of vanilla extract.


Comprising equal parts whole milk and heavy cream, half-and-half offers a compromise with lesser fat content. 

While it may fall short in baking scenarios due to its lower fat content, half-and-half performs admirably when used as an alternative to heavy cream in ice-cream production. 

A 1:1 substitution ratio applies here too, or try bolstering the fat content by adding some butter; combine 1/4 cup (60 grams) of butter with 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) of half-and-half to replicate every cup (240 milliliters) of heavy cream.

The Combination of Butter and Milk

The blend of melted butter and whole milk is another perfect substitute for Heavy Cream in ice cream. 

This versatile concoction comes together using 1/4 cup (57 grams) of butter mixed with 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) of milk to replace every cup (240 milliliters) of needed heavy cream. 

Cream Cheese

This tangy and thick dairy product is fantastic at adding a rich and creamy touch to your ice cream. 

It can be used directly, or diluted with a bit of milk to mimic the consistency of heavy cream. 

When substituting, use a 1:1 ratio – if your recipe calls for one cup of heavy cream, simply use one cup of cream cheese instead.


Mascarpone is an Italian darling in the world of cheeses with its buttery texture and smooth flavor profile. 

Much like cream cheese, it can up the richness and creaminess quotient in your homemade ice cream, albeit offering a milder flavor. 

Use it as is or thin it down with milk to achieve the consistency you desire. Follow a 1:1 substitution rule here as well.

Condensed Milk

This sweetened thick milk is derived from regular milk which has been cooked down to give a thicker body and sweeter flavor. 

If you’re looking for an extra creamy and sweet edge to your ice cream, condensed milk might just be your answer! 

However, bear in mind that this will also alter the overall taste of the ice cream due to its inherent sweetness. 

Once again stick to the 1:1 substitution rule when replacing heavy cream with condensed milk.

Evaporated Milk

Another substitute that walks the line of substitution brilliantly is evaporated milk. 

This isn’t any regular milk; it is milk that has had 60% of its water content whisked away, resulting in a rich and concentrated liquid marvel. 

While the fat content remains on the lower side as compared to heavy cream, it compensates by infusing your ice cream with depth and opulence. 

The guide to usage is pretty straightforward too; you can simply replace heavy cream with an equal quantity of evaporated milk.

Coconut Milk

The world of non-dairy options also presents us with a worthy substitute – coconut milk. 

A stellar choice for those leaning towards vegan tendencies or dealing with lactose intolerance, this alternative won’t disappoint in terms of texture or flavor. 

Coconut milk gives your ice cream a distinct creamy texture coupled with a subtle yet tantalizing hint of coconut. 

For using full-fat coconut milk as a stand-in for heavy cream, follow the same one-to-one ratio rule or opt for refrigeration followed by skimming the cream from the top.

4 No-Fail Ice Cream Recipes Without Heavy Cream

No Heavy Cream Ice Cream Recipe

The main ingredients you will need are 3 tbsp cornstarch, 2 cups of milk, 3 tbsp powdered milk and ½ tsp flavor essence of your choice. 

If you’re feeling creative, throw in a drop of coloring.

Begin by heating your mixture over a medium pan until the milk starts to thicken. 

The secret here? 

Steer persistently so that no lumps form until the milk fully thickens. 

Once your base is thickened, it’s time to cool it completely before moving on to the next step. 

Patience is key here – let everything chill.

Once cooled, transfer the concoction into a small container and add in the powdered milk. 

The real trick at this stage is to churn it well for a smooth and creamy texture that will have you going back for seconds (or thirds).

From here – get creative! 

Add flavor essence and coloring if you desire and mix well. 

To freeze, transfer your chilled mixture into a freezer-safe container. 

Here’s an insider secret: cover with plastic wrap and press over the layer to make sure it contacts the creamy mixture underneath. This helps avoid any unwanted crystals from forming during freezing.

Last step? 

The waiting game! 

Cover your container with its lid and then freeze for nearly 8 hours – just enough time to plan out all the tasty toppings you’ll be adding on top!

After patiently waiting those seemingly endless hours, remove from the freezer and serve right away.

Gelatin Based Ice Cream Recipe 

Just like heavy cream, gelatin improves the texture of ice cream by adding a slightly chewy sensation or “mouthfeel”, and prevents the formation of large, flavorless ice crystals. 

It works wonders in binding those slippery fat and water molecules together, averting separation which otherwise results in icy ice cream. 

Thanks to gelatin, your scoops remain stabilized and do not melt in seconds.

How much gelatin should you add? 

Well, that depends on how you fancy your ice cream. 

If silky smooth is your go-to texture, just a small touch of gelatin (around 1 teaspoon per quart of ice cream) is all you need. 

Craving a chewier treat? 

Feel free to add more – about 1 tablespoon per quart should do the trick.

Gelatins off the cards for gluten-free folks though; in such cases, emulsifiers like guar gum or xanthan gum make excellent alternatives.

Now that we’ve whetted your appetite, it’s time for some action! 

Here’s our simple yet delicious gelatin-based ice cream recipe:


  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 medium eggs
  • -2 cups milk
  • 2 cups condensed milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp flavor extract


Start by adding water to the gelatin and gently heating it until fully melted (either via double boiler or microwave).

Next, let it cool while you whisk three medium eggs into an even blend.

Simultaneously, heat both types of milk on medium heat in a saucepan. As you stir occasionally add sugar until dissolved. At this point let the mixture simmer gently. 

Gradually incorporate egg into this mixture, stirring constantly for about five minutes. Add cooled gelatin mixture and persist with stirring as you continue heating until thickened consistency is achieved. Finish off by adding your preferred flavor extract.

Pour this luscious blend into a freezer-friendly mould and patiently freeze for around eight hours.

Whipping Cream Ice Cream


  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • ⅓ cup condensed milk
  • Coloring


1. Grab your handheld electric mixer and whip the cream for one minute.

2. Add condensed milk to the mix and beat it again for another minute.

3. To add some color, drop a few coloring shades of your choice and mix well.

4. Now transfer this to a mould and press a plastic wrap over it until it contacts the ice cream directly.

5. Freeze it! Wait patiently for 8 hours until the magic happens.

Butter Based Ice Cream


  • 4 ⅕ cups of milk
  • 150 grams of quality butter
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 300 grams of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of genuine, top-quality cocoa powder (or 1 ½ tsp of your preferred flavor)


1. Combine the milk, sugar, cocoa (or your chosen flavor), and egg yolks; simmer them over medium heat until they reach a smooth coating consistency – not too thick nor too runny.

2. Remove this delicious blend from the heat and let it warm while you whisk it gently.

3. Chop your butter into small pieces. Gradually add these pieces to the mixture and keep whisking until they completely melt and the base cools down further.

4. Churn this beautiful mix in an ice cream maker or simply freeze overnight for a homemade delight!