Little Help: Whipped Cream Substitute

Reader Elizabeth has an interesting challenge. Her husband has a severe milk protein allergy, yet he loves baked goods. She’s in search of a non-dairy substitute for whipped cream, but here’s the kicker: it can’t have coconut milk in it either. Anyone out there have any ideas?

35 thoughts on “Little Help: Whipped Cream Substitute”

  1. Cool Whip is dairy free, and I don’t *think* it has coconut in it… is the coconut issue a taste preference or an allergy?

    And of course, it’s not exactly a substitute, but it’s a similar emulsion of fat, water, and air.

      1. Unfortunately, that’s not true anymore. Cool-Whip has always had sodium caseinate, which is a form of the casein that causes most dairy allergies. Casein in some form ends up in a lot of milk products substitutes, particularly fake whipped cream and fake cheeses. It seems to be integral to the formation of bubbles and the stringiness of cheese.

        Cool Whip used to be lactose free, but they reformulated it in the past couple years. It now contains cream, and thus contains lactose. As someone very sensitive to lactose, this was a bummer.

  2. I’ve made Alton Brown’s avocado “butter”cream frosting, which tastes great, though it’s not thick enough to pipe with, and the color is a bit off-putting at first glance. For a pipe-able non-dairy option, there is always shortening, though I’m not a huge fan of that as I think the resulting frosting is a bit greasy. Neither of those is exactly a sub for whipped cream, though… Will keep thinking…

  3. Cashew cream is one that gets a lot of hype from vegan/raw food enthusiasts. It’s made from raw cashews (roasted gives too distinct a flavor) that are either soaked in water and sweetened, or soaked in fruit juice, and then blended until completely smooth. Depending on the amount of liquid used and whether the resulting paste is allowed to chill and thicken before use, it can be thin as heavy cream or thick like pudding. My preferred ratio is 2 cups raw cashews, 1 scant cup water + 1 T maple syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt. You really have to let it go in a blender, but it will get completely smooth if you blend it long enough.

    I’m neither dairy-free nor vegan, but I think cashew cream is pretty tasty. I think it makes a better substitute for pastry cream than whipped cream, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for someone with dietary restrictions. It’s pretty pricy though, what with the raw cashews. And like I said, raw is necessary if you don’t want a distinct cashew flavor, which is what roasted cashews will give you. Still tasty, but less versatile.

      1. Hmm. A peek around the internet yielded “whipped cream” recipes using tofu or raw cashews, but one thing they all have in common is the disappointing conclusion that you won’t be fooling anyone into thinking you’re giving them the real thing.

        Do you think adding a stabilizer of some kind would afford these substitutes the whippiness they lack? Something that could strengthen the mixture enough that it would hold air bubbles when whipped?

        1. Very interesting, Elizabeth! I wonder if a little gelatin might help reinforce those bubbles and give the foam more holding power. It would be worth a shot! Many thanks for the research!

          – Joe

          1. Would inviting soy or sunflower lecithin to the party be worth trying? If so, would that be to the exclusion of gelatin, or would they work in concert?

  4. I think nut milks are emulsions. You might be able to start with that, add some fat, and make a thicker emulsions. Sort of like a vegan mayo – if such things exist.

  5. Depending on what the whipped “cream” is for (topping or filling) I’d probably use something completely different, like a scoop of rice milk ice cream as a topping, a thick soy milk pudding for a filling, or even a fruit preserve or sweetened nut butter sauce. I love whipped cashew cream, and it tastes better than whipped cream to me, but there’s no denying that a substitute will always taste like a substitute. Even if it tastes better than the real thing there will be a slight disappointment factor. At least that’s true for me.

  6. Mimicreme is available in health stores. In larger grocery stores, you can often find Mocha mix (west coast) or Coffee Rich’s (east coast). Mimicreme is the tastiest and probably the leas unhealthy but the other two work well too. All of these are usually frozen in small containers that look like they are heavy cream near frozen pie crusts and the like.

  7. Although it’s not really household equipment, an ISI whipper could help to create the same texture with something non-dairy, making a very light gel and gassing the mixture with nitrous oxide.

    I often make vegan substitute ‘panna cotta’ with either soy or nut milk that has artificially added calcium (Alpro is a big brand here in the UK), using iota carrageenan (needs calcium to set) to set the base instead of gelatin. You could take that idea, drop the amount of gelling agent a bit, put it into the whipper whilst still hot and charge it with nitrous oxide. Let it cool to set in the fridge and squirt out to create a non-dairy foam.

    This would also allow you to flavour the base as you wish quite easily – sugar, honey, vanilla, brandy etc. in the way you might add to whipped cream.

  8. My googling found similar results, but also led me to think that doing experiments for Elizabeth and her husband might be an interesting set of posts to go along with your thickener series, Joe. There are recipes that use xanthan gum and guar gum. There’s a recipe to reproduce the “creme filling” of twinkies using marshmallow creme, shortening, water, and sugar. I believe that as with reader Susan’s suggestion of meringue, thickening for that is based on egg proteins.

  9. Here in Finland we have at least soy-based and oat-based vegan whipping “creams” sold in every grocery store (Alpro for instance). I haven’t tested those so I don’t know about the flavor.

  10. You can buy kosher non-dairy (look for the word PAREVE –means no meat, no dairy) whipped topping in many major etropolitan areas. Hadar, Leibers, Gefen, Mishpacha are just a few of the available brands. They come frozen in 16 (or 8) oz containers (look like heavy cream) and you defrost and then whip up in the mixer. we use 8 0z to 1/2 a packet kosher instant vanilla pudding mix for a really good cake icing or napoleon filling. My mother fills puff pastry “horns” with it and dusts them with confectioners sugar!!

    1. Nice, Rachel!

      I wonder what’s in that, actually. I’ll be curious to go to the grocery store and check…maybe it’s something that can be made at home as well!

      Cheers!

      – Joe

  11. Oooh. Super late to this party, but I nobody here mentions cooked flour frosting. I make it gluten-free, so with cornstarch, and with greatly reduced sugar for a more whipped-cream like texture. You could theoretically use whatever milk-substitute you like best. I have found it essential to use my favorite dairy-free margarine for the fat (as opposed to palm oil or coconut oil), or it gets a greasy mouth-feel–I suspect the lecithin in the margarine emulsifies the mix. It tends to get pretty firm in the fridge, but when it warms up a tiny bit and is whisked smooth, it has a very fluffy texture.

    One could experiment with using less margarine to see if it made for a fluffier texture. Also, when I whip coconut cream, a bit of gelatin added as a stabilizer gives the end result a lovely, silky texturel that very much resembles the texture of real dairy, though my memory of real dairy cream is admittedly somewhat vague. 🙂 Maybe a bit of gelatin would give it a bit more loft?

    1. No problem Kelly!

      Actually that’s a good thought. Cooked flour frosting is actually the most popular recipe on the blog…but I never though about it as a whipped cream substitute. Like the coconut cream tips as well! Thanks Kelly!

      – Joe

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