How to Get Half-and-Half to Thicken

Thicken half-and-half, which is ½ milk and ½ light cream, to create a dairy product that is 10.5 to 18 percent butterfat. Although heavy cream contains a minimum of 36 percent butterfat, thickened half and half is still a valuable addition to recipes calling for light and heavy cream. Thickened half and half adds flavor and a richer thicker consistency to soups, sauces and desserts. Benefits of half-and-half include reduced calories and cholesterol. As an added benefit it is generally less expensive than heavy cream.

Half-and-half is interchangeable with heavy cream in many recipes. (Image: Eising/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Large saucepan

  • Wooden spoon

Step 1

Pour the half-and-half into a large saucepan and place it on the stove burner.

Step 2

Heat the half-and-half on the burner's low setting. The thickening process is slow and reducing 2½ cups requires several hours.

Step 3

Add 3 tbsp. sugar and a pinch of salt to every 2 ½ cups of half-and-half. Stir the half-and-half frequently with a wooden spoon until it is cooked down to half of its original volume, or thickened to the degree you desire.

Tip

Use the microwave at medium setting to reduce the half-and-half.

Reduce the half-and-half before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. The reducing process is difficult to time and the thickened half-and-half may not be ready when the rest of the recipe calls for it. Store the half-and-half in the refrigerator until it is needed.

Extra half-and-half, after thickening, can be stored in the freezer.

Warning

Stir the half-and-half frequently to avoid scorching it.

References & Resources