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Substitute heavy cream

By on March 21, 2010

chicken masala
photo by jerine

DEAR SARA: I’m looking for the best heavy-cream substitute for a tomato cream sauce. (It is for Chicken Tikka Masala.) I am really just not a fan of the price and fat content of heavy cream. Plus, I don’t think I would ever end up using a whole pint before it would go bad. I’ve thought about just using plain milk, sour cream, plain yogurt or cream cheese. These are things I have on hand regularly and would use on other items. The recipe says to simmer a mixture of tomato sauce and heavy cream (along with some other things that are less important to my question) until the mixture thickens. Since the chicken that is used in this recipe is marinated in a yogurt sauce, I would love to be able to use yogurt. I’ve just never used yogurt this way and I’m not sure how it would turn out. Any advice is appreciated. — Dani, Florida

DEAR DANI: I wouldn’t use the sour cream. I think it might taste too sour, and the texture would be off. But many Chicken Tikka Masala recipes call for yogurt, so maybe look into trying a new recipe that uses it. You can make your own heavy cream (can’t be whipped) by combining 2/3-cup whole milk with 1/3-cup melted butter. But that doesn’t solve your fat-content problem. Since your recipe is for a cream sauce, you can use whole milk, half-and-half or evaporated milk with acceptable results. Also, if you buy heavy cream and don’t use it all, it can be frozen. It can’t be whipped, but it would work fine for other uses. You can make butter from the heavy cream, too. Place heavy cream in a jar, tighten the lid and shake it. Once the butter has formed, drain off the liquid.

DEAR SARA: I’m looking for a low-light houseplant that’s safe for my cats. Any ideas? Thanks. — Polly, Pennsylvania

DEAR POLLY: You can have plants such as Chinese Evergreen, Bamboo Palm, Lucky Bamboo, Spider plant and Peperomia. You can try hanging plants or a terrarium, too.

DEAR SARA: Do you remember the gallon shampoos that they used to have at the grocery store, like egg shampoo and so forth? I have been looking high and low for those and can’t seem to find them anywhere. Were they just a product of the ’70s? I remember them being very inexpensive, and I especially loved the egg shampoo. — Melanie, California

DEAR MELANIE: You can still find gallon bottles of shampoo at salon supply stores, or As far as egg shampoo, it was a product launched in the late 1940s by Helene Curtis. I haven’t seen it, so I assume it’s discontinued. There is an egg shampoo by Mario Badescu (, but it’s not cheap. There’s Vanart classic shampoo, which has egg and honey in it, too. It’s available at Walgreens online. You can check if they carry it in your local store. According to their Web site, it’s $2.99 for a 32-ounce bottle.


  1. Saule

    3/22/2010 at 10:36 pm

    I use evaporated milk in many recipes that call for cream, especially in recipes such as this one where there are strong flavors, spices, etc. I find it works very well, with a significant calorie saving. I always have a few cans available for this purpose. It works much better than regular milk. If you prefer a non-canned product, I find half and half works as well as cream in similar recipes. I use half and half in my coffee, so I always have it available. However, evaporated milk is my first choice.

  2. Budget Gal Angie

    3/25/2010 at 12:24 pm

    It’s funny that I stumbled onto this post today. Celebrity Chef Rocco DiSpirito was just on the TV show The Doctors this morning and he said he substitutes Greek yogurt in recipes that call for cream and butter. You’re definitely onto something with thinking of this substitution. 🙂
    .-= Budget Gal Angie´s last blog ..Living On A Student Budget =-.

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