Discover 5 Simple Ways To Make A Half-and-Half Substitute

I  cannot tolerate coffee that lacks some sort of added flavor. My standard coffee addition is usually half-and-half. As a kid, I used to drink it straight from those tiny cups that you get in restaurants. But, enough said about that.

There have been many times where I have foolishly underestimated the amount of half-and-half left in the carton and ran out before next morning’s coffee. Fortunately, there is a half-and-half substitute or two that you can make at home if you have the appropriate ingredients on hand.

What Is Half-and-Half?

As you might suspect, half and half is equal parts (50/50) of two ingredients. Those two ingredients are milk and cream.  You may find minimal ingredients like sodium citrate and disodium phosphate in commercially available half-and-half. These are added to deter separation when exposed to heat.

Half-And-Half Substitutes

If you have cream and milk in your refrigerator, you can easily replicate the half-and-half found in grocery stores. However, how much cream or milk you will use will depend on the fat content of the two ingredients. Let’s look at the fat content percentages of the products that can be used for a half-and-half substitute:

Fat Content - Cream & Milk Products (U.S. Products)

Cream or MilkFat Content
Skim (Fat-Free) Milk0-0.5%
1% Milk1%
2% Milk2%
Whole Milk3.5%
Half & Half11-18%
Light Cream 18-30%
Medium Cream25%
Whipping Cream30%
Heavy Cream36%
Butter80%
The goal is to get the combination of milk and cream to somewhere near 12-18 percent fat content. This will mimic store-bought half-and-half within reason. The more fat content that your mixture  contains, the creamier  the half-and-half.  Below are some common half-and-half substitutes.
  • Skim Milk 1/2 Cup & Heavy Cream 1/2 –  This will put the fat content at 18 percent, which is the high-end for a half-and-half. If you like your coffee extra creamy, this one is for you.
  • Skim Milk 3/4 Cup & Heavy Cream 1/4 – The fat content will be at about 12 percent, which is the low-end of the fat scale for half-and-half. However, this mixture is likely closest to store-bought half-and-half.
  • Whole Milk 1/2 Cup & Light Cream 1/2 Cup – This is another solid mimic of  traditional half-and-half, however, the creaminess will all depend on the fat content of your light cream. Generally, light cream will have about 20 percent fat content so the mixture with milk will contain about 12 percent fat content. This mixture will be very similar to the one directly above.
  • 2% Milk 1/2 Cup & Medium Cream 1/2 Cup – This will give you fat content of about 14% so it will slightly creamier than the two mixtures directly above.
  • Skim Milk 1/2 Cup & Whipping Cream 1/3 Cup – The fat content is about 15% for this one, which will produce a medium creaminess to your half-and-half.

Although we gave some measurements above, creating a half-and-half substitute doesn’t have to be an exact science. You can simply mix a 1/2 cup of whatever milk you have in the refrigerator with a 1/2 cup of any cream you happen to have (light, heavy, whipping, etc.). This will be suitable for most uses, especially in your coffee.

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