The top shelf of your refrigerator may contain several types of milks and coffee creamers to appeal to people with difference tastes for dairy fat. You might have skim milk, which contains less than half of 1 percent of fat, and 1 and 2 percent milk, which contain exactly those ratios of fat. Your half-and-half, which consists of a blend of heavy cream and whole milk, has a fat content of about 12 percent. Naturally, it’s when a recipe calls for whole milk that it’s the one variety you don’t have on hand. As long as you have a glass measuring cup, you can substitute rich and creamy half-and-half for whole milk.
Combine 5/8 cup of skim milk with 3/8 cup of half-and-half to make 1 cup of whole milk. Alternatively, blend 2/3 cup of 1 percent milk with 1/3 cup of half-and-half to make 1 cup of whole milk or stir together ¾ cup of 2 percent milk and ¼ cup half-and-half to make 1 cup of whole milk.
Pour the first – and larger – quantity first. Then top off the measuring cup until it reaches 1 cup. While no substitution is perfect, these will come very close to replicating the taste and flavor of whole milk.
Prepare for the day when your fortunes may be reversed: you may have no half-and-half in your refrigerator but may have other ingredients. In this case, for 1 cup of half-and-half, substitute 7/8 cup of whole milk with 2 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter, or mix 1/2 cup of a light cream that contains 5 percent fat with 1/2 cup of whole milk.
- Start Cooking: How Tos -- Milks and Creams
- Bites: What is Half and Half?
- My Recipes: Can You Use Whole Milk Instead of Half-and-Half in Recipes?
- Cook’s Illustrated: How to Substitute Dairy Products
- Gourmet Sleuth: Substitute for Milk, Whole
- Ochef: Fattening Up Skim Milk
- The Kitchn: What's the Difference? Half-and-Half, Light Cream, Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream
- Joy of Baking: Baking Ingredient Substitution Table
- Some cooks attempt to “convert” half-and-half into whole milk by diluting it with water. You may wish to taste this combination yourself to understand how it changes the properties of the creamy milk – and results in a peculiar taste.
Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. She launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues, and especially “all things marketing.”