The Best Half and Half Substitutions

If you don’t normally keep half and half on hand but need it for a recipe, here are 5 great substitutes that'll work just as well.

Variety of cartons showing half and half substitutes.
Alison Bickel

Half and half is a luxurious, rich addition to coffee, but it can also work its way into recipes. (Think creamy pasta sauces and scalloped potatoes!)

If you don’t regularly splash half and half into your morning cup of coffee yet find a recipe calling for it, try one of these solid alternatives!

What Is Half and Half?

Half and half is made by combining equal parts whole milk with light cream. Depending on the brand, its fat content lies somewhere between 10% and 12%, which means it’s heavier in flavor and texture than regular milk but not as rich as straight cream.

It’s often used as a slightly lighter, though still plenty rich, alternative to cream in baking and cooking. However, it cannot be whipped like cream.

Variety of cartons showing half and half substitutes.
Alison Bickel

5 Half and Half Substitutes

Since half and half is really just a combination of two dairy products, it’s fairly simple to substitute.

1. Whole Milk + Light Cream 

This is exactly what’s in a carton of half and half.

How to sub: Mix equal parts whole milk and light cream for a perfect half and half dupe in cooking, baking, and even in your coffee.

2. Whole Milk + Heavy Cream

Heavy cream is richer than the light cream usually used to make half and half, so you don’t need as much when mixing it with whole milk.

How to sub: Combine 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup heavy cream to use as a 1 cup substitute for half and half in any application.

3. Low-Fat Milk + Heavy Cream

If you don’t have whole milk in the fridge, you can also use low-fat or skim milk.

How to sub: Combine 2/3 cup low-fat or skim milk with 1/3 cup heavy cream to make an equal substitute for half and half in cooking, baking, and for your morning coffee.

4. Whole Milk + Melted Butter

This 1-to-1 substitute works well as a half and half substitute for cooking and baking, but it’s not a good alternative for your coffee. It’s best if the milk is room temperature or slightly warm when you combine it with the melted butter; otherwise, the butter will immediately harden.

How to sub: Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in the microwave in a liquid measuring cup, then pour in enough whole milk to measure 1 cup.

5. The Best Non-Dairy Half and Half Substitute: Vegan Half and Half

There are a handful of non-dairy half and half options at the grocery store made with plant-based ingredients like almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, and even pea protein.

I recommend Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half. It's made with coconut cream and almond milk, and the thick, creamy consistency most closely resembles dairy half and half.

Can You Freeze Half and Half? Yes!

Half and half freezes very well due to its fat content, as do the substitutes made when you combine whole or low-fat milk with light or heavy cream.

To freeze, pour half and half or its substitute into an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using. It might separate a bit, so it’s not ideal in your coffee, but totally fine to use in cooking and baking.