The Best Half and Half Substitutes

coffee creamer


A staple of kitchens, diners, and every office break room, packets of half and half get ripped opened and the contents poured into millions of coffee cups each day. This popular sweetener counteracts coffee's bitterness and lightens up its dark color, making the caffeinated beverage tolerable to those who don’t prefer the potent flavor of pure, black coffee.

Half and half is used for more than brightening up coffee. You'll find the creamer in recipes for baked goods, soups, and teas, as half and half creates a creamy texture and sweet flavor.

For individuals who need to substitute half and half with an alternative, due to dairy allergies,
dietary restrictions, or a plain dislike of the taste, you can use ingredients in your refrigerator, such as non-fat milk, soy milk, and coconut milk, for an alternative.

Half and Half Nutrition Facts

Half and half is a basic mixture of equal parts whole milk and cream. The milk fat content is approximately 10.5 to 18%, depending on the brand.

This nutrition information, for 30 milliliters of half and half, is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture FoodData Central.

  • Calories: 39.9
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Sodium: 24.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.999g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0.999g
  • Protein: 0.999g

Vitamins and Minerals

Half and half is made with a mixture of milk, cream, and sodium citrate.

Vitamins and minerals found in half and half vary by brand, but typically include the following:

  • Calcium: You'll receive about 35.1 milligrams per serving, which helps to build and maintain muscles and strong bones.
  • Cholesterol: Half and half has about 15 milligrams per serving, which is five percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Food Allergies

Food sensitivities could prevent individuals from drinking half and half. Anyone with the following sensitivities should speak with a medical professional about using half and half or switch to a more viable alternative.

Lactose Intolerance

A lactose intolerance occurs when your body cannot break down or digest lactose because your small intestine doesn’t make enough of the digestive enzyme lactase. Because of this malfunction, you might experience painful symptoms after drinking or eating any milk product. Symptoms include nausea, gas, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Milk Allergy

A cow’s milk allergy (sometimes referred to as a casein allergy) is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. The same is true for adults. Symptoms of a milk allergy range from hives to cramps to serious, life-threatening effects, such as anaphylaxis.

Benefits of Half and Half

If you don’t have a dairy sensitivity, you might want to stick with half and half—not an alternative. Why? For recipes in which you want the exact taste of half and half, most substitutions will not work. Using other ingredients can make the recipe taste more watery, buttery, or creamy.

Dairy-Free Half and Half Substitutes

If you do experience a dairy intolerance, the following substitutions would be worth a try in your next recipe:

Equal Parts Coconut Cream and Soy Milk

This will make for a creamy, thick texture in your baking dish, and you will notice a slight coconut flavor. If you use it in coffee, a layer of cream might float to the top. You can skim that off if you don’t like the texture.  

Milk Alternative and Canola Oil

Use 3/4 cup of a plain milk alternative (like almond or oat) and 1/4 cup of canola oil. This can make the dish less sweet with the high amount of milk substitute used.

Daily-Free Half and Half

Switch to dairy-free and lactose-free half and half. Although you won’t get the same creamy, milky texture, your stomach will appreciate the swap.

Additional Half and Half Substitutes

If you don’t have any milk allergies or sensitivities to dairy, and you simply don’t have access to half and half, these substitutions provide options:

Whole Milk and Heavy Cream

For an almost perfect match to half and half, use 3/4 cup whole milk with a 1/4 cup heavy
cream. This creates a mixture with 10% fat content, close to the 10.5 to 18% fat content you get in half and half. 

Non-Fat Milk and Heavy Cream

For a lower-fat option, use 2/3 cup non-fat milk with 1/3 cup heavy cream. This offers almost the same taste fat content with less actual fat percentage.

Milk and Butter

To avoid cream, use one cup milk and half a tablespoon of butter. This will create a buttery flavor in a dish. This mixture can significantly change the flavor of your dish, and it is not recommended for coffee or savory cooking.

Whole Milk and Greek Yogurt

For individuals following a keto diet, use 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. This will create a creamy consistency in your dish, and also elevate your protein and fat percentage.

Whole Milk and Heavy Cream

If you’re not worried about low-fat content, use 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream. This mixture has a 36% milk fat, much higher than your standard half and half. This is useful for baked goods and in soups for extra richness.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States FoodData Central. Half and Half. Updated March 19, 2021.

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Lactose intolerance.

  3. Food Allergy Research & Education. Milk Allergy.

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, CPT
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."