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Our favorite dairy-free half and half substitutes


Plenty of people have turned to plant-based beverages as milk substitutes for everything from 2% milk to heavy cream to condensed milk. So it’s no wonder that people also seek substitutes for half and half for recipes or use in their morning coffee.

Ready-made, dairy-free options exist, but they’re not always available when you need them. Fortunately, it’s possible to make a dairy-free half and half substitute using plant-based beverages you already have on hand.

Substituting non-dairy alternatives for half and half

Half and half is simply half whole milk and half cream. Creamier than milk but not as heavy as cream, this product brings a balanced flavor profile and versatility that allows its use in many recipes.

Finding a fitting substitute may not seem easy, as all plant-based milks can vary significantly in texture and taste. Below, we’ll share ways to make excellent dairy-free half and half substitutes from almond, oat, soy and coconut milk products.

Almond milk-based substitutes

If a recipe calls for half and half, almond milk will be too thin to do the job. A few additions, however, can turn almond milk into an excellent substitute for many soup, sauce and baking recipes.

To make almond milk the consistency of half and half, you need to add some kind of fat. If you want to infuse even more almond flavor into your dish, simply blend in 1/4 cup of almond butter for every 3/4 cup of almond milk. If you’re okay with some dairy, you can thicken 1/2 cup of almond milk with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. 

For another dairy-free option, blend in corn starch. It has a neutral flavor and will thicken any liquid. One tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of almond milk will give you a consistency most similar to half and half. Be sure to add the cornstarch a little at a time to help prevent clumping. If you’re mixing with a whisk, it’ll blend better if it’s a little warm.

Oat milk-based substitutes

Oat milk is quickly gaining popularity, and for good reason. It’s the creamiest of plant-based milks and has a fairly neutral flavor. Plus, it works as well in coffee as it does in recipes that call for milk.

To thicken oat milk to the consistency of half and half, just add soaked oats. You’ll want to soak the oaks in water using a 2:1 ratio of water to oats. How long you soak the oats depends on the type you use. Quick oats need to soak for only one to two hours, whereas steel-cut oats should soak overnight.

When blended, soaked oats will thicken the mix without changing the flavor. Start with a ratio of 3 parts oat milk to 1 part soaked oats, then continue to add soaked oats until you reach the consistency you desire.

You can also add a drizzle of grape seed, canola or sunflower oil to improve the mixture’s consistency. Avoid olive oil if you’re making anything sweet, but it’s a fine choice if you’re making a savory soup or sauce.

Soy milk-based substitutes

Soy milk has the most neutral taste of all the plant-based milks, so it works in just about any recipe if you get the consistency right.

To thicken soy milk to the consistency of half and half, add a quarter cup of olive oil per cup of soy milk. As you might imagine, this isn’t going to be ideal in coffee or a sweet baking recipe. It is, however, delicious in just about any savory recipe that calls for half and half. 

To keep the whole mix on the sweeter side, coconut cream is a great thickener for soy milk. Just put a large can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. When you open it, the cream will have risen to the top; that’s the bit you want to add to your soy milk. A mixture that includes a ratio of two parts soy milk to one part cream should do the trick.

Finally, you may be surprised to learn that medium-firm silken tofu is an excellent thickener for soy milk and other plant-based milks. Mix equal parts soy milk and drained tofu in a blender until the mixture is extremely smooth.

Coconut milk-based substitutes

Coconut milk has the most distinct flavor of the plant-based milks. It’s the sweetest by far, but that doesn’t mean it’s only a fit for baked goods. Coconut curries are beloved the world over, and coconut can complement the flavors in soups and sauces as well.

The coconut milk on your shelf probably isn’t thick enough to sub in for half and half without a little help. 

The most obvious addition is coconut cream. Again, refrigerate a large can of full-fat coconut milk to get the cream to come to the top. Blend equal amounts of coconut milk and coconut cream to reach a consistency most similar to half and half. 

Though this mix sounds like it’d be great in coffee, it separates and leaves a speckled mess in your cup, so we don’t recommend it.

Guidelines for dairy-free half and half substitutions

Substituting dairy-free half-and-half in traditional recipes doesn’t have to be complicated. As far as flavor profiles go: 

  • Sweeter alternatives like almond are best used in baking.
  • Neutral or more savory alternatives such as almond milk are best for soups and sauces. 
  • Coconut half and half works in every recipe dairy half and half works in. 

It’s also important to remember that half and half has sugar in it. If you’re subbing a plant-based half and half for dairy half and half, you may need to increase the sugar in sweeter recipes. While there’s not a hard-and-fast rule as to how much sugar to add, a few teaspoons should do the trick.

Start substituting plant-based half and half in all your recipes.

It’s easy to indulge your cravings without a drop of dairy. Whether you’re looking for a little splash of sweetness in your coffee or a dairy-free half and half substitute in your favorite recipe, Pacific Foods has what you’re looking for.

Find Pacific Foods at a grocery store near you.