Is Heavy Cream The Same As Half and Half?

Question: Is heavy cream the same as half and half?

Answer: The dairy section of the grocery store can get confusing with the various products available today. When it comes to cream, some products you might see in the dairy section of your store are half & half, light cream, light whipping cream, and heavy cream. It is difficult to determine the differences between these products for many people. Let’s take a look at the difference between half & half  and heavy cream to get a better understand of their ingredients.

What is half & half?

Half & half is equal parts milk and cream. The FDA requires it to have between 10.5 to 18 percent milkfat. Half & half is allowed to have the following additional ingredients: emulsifiers, stabilizers, nutritive sweeteners, fruit & fruit juice, and natural or artificial food flavoring. The nutrition facts for half & half are as follows:

Half & Half Nutrition Facts

Half & Half TypeServing SizeCalories Total FatSaturated Fat CholesterolSodiumCarbohydratesDietary FiberSugars Protein
Half & Half - Regular2 tbsp37 g3.12 g2.11 g10 mg18 g1.42 g01.24 g.94 g
Half & Half - Fat Free2 tbsp17 g.41 g.24 g1 mg29 mg2.61 g01.45 g.75 g
Source: USDA Nutrient Database


What is heavy cream?

Heavy cream contains much more milkfat than half & half. Per the FDA, heavy cream cannot have less than 36 percent milkfat. Its main ingredient is just cream. The same allowable additional ingredients as half & half listed above apply to heavy cream. Let’s look at the nutrition facts of heavy cream:

Heavy Cream Nutrition Facts

ProductServing SizeCalories Total FatSaturated Fat CholesterolSodiumCarbohydratesDietary FiberSugars Protein
Heavy Cream2 tbsp10010 g7 g40 mg10 mg<2 g000


Half & half is a mixture of milk and cream whereas heavy cream is just cream. As expected, heavy cream contains many more calories and fat grams than half & half. In a comparison of two tablespoons of half & half vs. heavy cream, we find that the heavy cream contains well over double the calories and fat than half & half. Half & half is commonly used to flavor coffee while heavy cream is used to make whipped cream or to thicken sauces.

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