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What is a good substitute for heavy cream in chowder?

I am making a chowder that calls for two cups (!) of heavy cream, along with water and white wine, resulting in four servings. Since I don't want to induce heart attacks - and personally would find the broth too fatty and rich - could some kind person please offer an alternative? THXS!

asked by Maryann over 1 year ago
10 answers 2549 views
added over 1 year ago

Simmer a couple potatoes in milk (preferably whole milk) and puree them to serve as the base. I would use maybe 1 or 2 peeled yukons (depending on size); too many and it will make a starchy and gummy soup.
OR, cook up a small batch of rice (like a 1/2 cup COOKED) and puree that in.

I'd still add a good splash of cream at the end with either of these suggestions for the richness and textural, fatty mouthfeel.

added over 1 year ago

Evaporated milk can be a stand-in for heavy cream. For a creamy mouth feel, you could put one pat of butter in each bowl before you serve the chowder.


Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

You can use half-and-half or whole milk. If it feels to thin to you, make a little roux of flour and butter and add that to thicken things up.

added over 1 year ago

Old-timers often used evaporated milk, as it was shelf-stable and it doesn't curdle. I find it very satisfactory myself. I'd add it after simmering the potatoes (if that's what's in the recipe) in broth or water. Heavy cream seems awfully, well, heavy for a chowder.


amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

I agree - the classic chowders I've had in New England typically use milk and broth. The starch from the potato gives it a little body. Heavy cream seems like it might mask the briny intensity of the (hopefully large) pieces of clam in the chowder. I think of it more for, e.g., a bisque, where you want that thick, rich texture. (No health related qualms, it's just not the classic chowder texture/taste for me.)

added over 1 year ago

Thanks, Amysarah, and to all the other answerers - gave me a lot of solutions to work with!


trampledbygeese is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

How about pressed plain yoghurt, or plain greek yoghurt?

I've used sour cream in a pinch, but the fat content may be similar. There's always low fat sour cream but I have my doubts about the actual health benefits of that, and besides, it may not work in this soup.

Or mix heavy cream, half cream half water/lowfat milk/milk substitute.

Personally I would go with the yoghurt. The process of culturing yoghurt changes the protein and fat molecules slightly, in a way that makes it easier to digest and get the nutrients out of - unlike cream on it's own which can be more difficult to digest.

Let us know how it turns out.

added over 1 year ago

Because the recipe also uses water and white wine along with the cream, I wouldn't automatically assume that the broth would be "too fatty and rich." I suggest making the recipe as directed and see how you like it. You could add a bit more water at the end if you felt the need to.