Whether you use half and half in your coffee or for a sauce or soup, making a substitute for it isn't difficult and you have several options to choose from. Fresh choices, such as cream and milk, offer versatility and taste more like half and half. Canned milk works too, especially if you chill it first. Choose a product based on what you're using it for.
What It Is
Half and half is nothing more than a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk combined at a rate of one part each. Typically used in coffee, half and half contains 12 percent butterfat. It's not thick enough to whip, but it can replace heavy cream in sauces, baking and cooking.
Fresh and Fast
For an identical product, combine heavy cream and milk yourself to make a substitute for half and half. You can also use products labeled table cream, light cream or coffee cream, which contain slightly more butterfat than half and half. These substitutes work well for fresh use, such as pouring over fruit or oatmeal, as well as for baking, sauces and soups. Add a bit of milk to thin them down if you prefer.
For baking and cooking, combine milk and melted butter at a ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons butter for every 7 to 8 cups of milk. Although this mixture won't taste like the real thing when used fresh, as in poured over fruit, it adds a creamy consistency when cooked in sauces and soups. Because regular milk has less fat than cream or half and half, it's more likely to curdle when heated. Add it to soups and sauces at the end of the cooking time and don't let it boil.
Evaporated milk also makes a fine substitute for half and half. Evaporated milk, not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, is a canned product made by heating milk to remove 60 percent of the water. Evaporated milk has a thick, creamy consistency that works well in almost any application. When chilled, it can be whipped although it won't be as thick as heavy whipped cream. Evaporated milk is unlikely to curdle and can be used in soups, sauces and even the slow cooker. Use the same amount of undiluted evaporated milk as you would half and half.