Has anyone found a palatable substitute for cream/creamer in coffee?

I can't count how many times I've made up a cup of coffee, only to realize in horror that I don't have any cream/creamer.

This morning I almost reached for margarine in desperation, but I'm still gagging at the thought of it.

I ended up using skim milk instead, but it left a weird taste in the coffee.

Basically anything that the average person might have kicking around the kitchen to add some fat/flavour to black coffee.


10 Answers 10


Ice cream is always a good option. Vanilla ice cream is probably the most straightforward.

  • Oh! That would be good. Damn, we had that too. Can't believe I didn't think of that. Thanks. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:13
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    Ice cream + espresso is affogato and it's delicious! I don't know if I'd want it for breakfast...
    – Schwern
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 5:19
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    @Carcigenicate Definitely experiment! Interesting that you needed to add so much. Guess you'd better call a coffee shop in German, according to Jörg W Mittag's comment! Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 17:22
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    See facebook.com/BarCafePogo/photos/… for an example what Eiskaffee looks like. And yes, you get it everywhere in Germany. Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 19:29
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    This sounds deliciously dangerous to the physique
    – zkent
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 2:39

Milk. Can't even imagine why you'd want to put cream (or "creamer", whatever that is) into coffee. If your coffee needs "flavour", I suggest getting better coffee.

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    Idk where you're from, but in Canada, putting cream in your coffee is extremely common. I know far more people that put cream in than people who drink or black. And I'm currently drinking generic brand, pre-ground coffee from SaveOnFoods. Nothing fancy. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:55
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    @Carcigenicate At home, I usually drink Vittoria or Lavazza with a dash of milk. Buying good coffee is absolutely worth it. Cheap stuff is (usually) bitter and flavourless (hence the need to sweeten the crap out of it). Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 4:41
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    Putting cream in coffee is extremely common, regardless of the quality of the coffee. It's not just a north-American thing: you've heard of "café crème", right? "Creamer" is essentially fake cream. In any case, +1 because milk is the why-are-you-even-asking-this-question no-brainer alternative. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 14:53
  • @MarkyMark: Because it tastes better, and because you only live once. I drink my coffee black, but my iced coffee gets either half & half, or light cream. And I use good beans, freshly ground.
    – Fauxcuss
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 17:34
  • I have not found a coffee yet that, for my pallet, does not require some form of creamer. Then again, I drink boxed wine.
    – zkent
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 2:40

There's a whole world of shelf-stable milk products and milk alternatives. Keep one or two on hand for when you run out of fresh milk. Just be sure to rotate your stock, most last a few months.

Trader Joe's sells shelf-stable whipping cream for about $1.50. There's no weird chemicals, it's just milk and carrageenan (a thickener found in many creams) which has been Ultra High Temperature Pasteurized (UHT) and then sealed. Also useful for baking.

Horizon makes single serving UHT milk boxes, like juice boxes, which are shelf stable. At $1 each they're a total rip off, and I've only seen them in 1%, but it's better than nothing. I use them when camping because of the small portion size.

In fact, many of the national organic milk brands in the fridge are UHT. Horizon is one. You can buy a half-gallon of UHT milk and keep it for three months.

Any shelf-stable milk substitute will work. Almond milk, coconut milk, coconut cream, rice milk, etc... Go for the unsweetened varieties, you can always add sweetener.

Evaporated milk comes in cans, so does sweetened condensed milk, and they keep a long time. They're handy for baking.

Buy a box of Mini Moo's, those individual serving creamers you get in diners.

"Bulletproof Coffee" is adding butter and maybe coconut oil to coffee. The nutrition claims are likely a bunch of hooey, but it might cut some of the bitterness.

If you're adding cream to cut the bitterness, try making better coffee. Buy good beans and learn how to make pour over. You can buy fancy equipment, but with a good grinder you can do it on the cheap.

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    That bulletproof coffee link was a good read. It's amazing what some people will believe. Still sounds good enough to try. Unfortunately, we don't have either of those things sitting around the house though, so I'll have to pick them up. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:50
  • @Carcigenicate Buy a bunch of butter and keep it in the freezer. It freezes well.
    – Schwern
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 19:39
  • UHT milk has a... distinctive taste and may not be acceptable to somebody who's already objecting to fresh skimmed milk. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 14:54
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    @DavidRicherby Better than putting margarine in your coffee.
    – Schwern
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 18:03
  • @Schwern That, sir, is a very good point. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 19:10

They're all mainly milk options that I can think of, w/ the bold-ed ones being my favorites:

  • Whipped Cream
  • Canned Whipped Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Bailey's Cream
  • Chocolate
  • Powdered/Evaporated Milk
  • Condensed Milk
  • Whole Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Half & Half
  • Instant Carnation
  • Coconut Oil

Also, a pinch of salt may reduce the bitterness, allowing you to drink it w/o creamer, YMMV.

  • I was thinking of sour cream too, but I wasn't sure if it would be good! Interesting that it's one of your favorites. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 22:15
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    See, the thought of sour cream in my coffee makes me gag as much as the thought of using margarine, but I guess I haven't tried it do I shouldn't judge. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:42

Hot chocolate powder can be a good substitute for creamer. It will definitely add some flavor to your coffee. I call it "poor man's mocha".

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    Yes, and many hot chocolate powders contain some form powdered milk or cream.
    – AaronLS
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 16:54
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    This is actually what I do at work instead of creamer, the creamer they get clumps up in the coffee. The only thing to watch out for is the amount of fat and what not, if done daily I would suggest getting the low fat version.
    – Sidney
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 23:42
  • @Sidney, yeah they have it for free where I work and I used to do it once or twice a day. Had to cut that out as it was making me fat.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 12:42
  • I was addicted to this as my first cup of coffee at work in the morning because they had well stocked hot cocoa mixes. Half a pack adds the sweetness, the creaminess, and bonus cocoa.
    – zkent
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 2:35
  • You can even do this at service stations where they have the hot chocolate dispensers near the coffee dispensers. Half hot chocolate/half coffee.
    – zkent
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 2:36

Coconut oil or unsalted butter! The coconut oil tastes remarkably like coffee creamer, and butter is made from cream; or try putting some of each in and you'd have an ersatz bulletproof coffee!

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    It's not that remarkable, since coconut oil/fat is an important ingredient for many coffee creamers.
    – GolezTrol
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 14:36

If you're the baking type you may keep sweetened condensed milk. This makes a very sweet coffee (Skip the sugar!), but it's not at all bad.

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    Not bad? This is delicious!
    – GolezTrol
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:06

I didn't see my answer, so I’m going to tell you about what I put in my coffee every morning.

Unflavored “original” yogurt. Or maybe vanilla flavored.

I use milk too, but I put about a tablespoon or two (I like large silverware) into my coffee and stir it. It makes a nice, thick coffee, similar to what you might get with ice cream. My coffee is iced coffee, and I put chocolate powered and about 4 pumps of torrani syrup in there too. I top it off with ice and then head to work.

This also helps me because I get those probiotics and Jamie Lee Curtis is always talking about. I buy the fancy Greek yogurts that talk about having 100 septillion live cultures, or whatever the highest count is in general, because they are always richer and have a more palatable flavor when mixed with other things.

Off topic, I also use yogurt in my ranch dressing and my Alfredo sauce.

  • Vanilla yogurt is something else we had that I ignored because I thought it would be gross. I guess I need to broaden my horizons. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:53

I wouldn't give up on the butter idea so fast -- it is fat after all. Not sure how salted butter's salt would change the taste (maybe even make it better?) After all, frosting would probably work and that's little more than whipped butter with a ton of sugar and some flavor.

  • My idea was margarine. I haven't had butter in a long time, so I can't remember what the differences are. Maybe I'll try it one day if I'm feeling adventurous. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 20:39
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    Margarine is "imitation butter" made from vegetable source. The yellow colour is artificially added to make it resemble butter. Unless you have a good reason not to do so, I suggest switching to good quality butter (e.g. grass-fed) and skip all the industrial food creations.
    – ckpwong
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 20:52
  • @ckpwong I've given my parents the same speech. They refuse to switch since "the evidence is still up in the air". I don't think I could eat a container of butter to myself before it goes bad, so I'm stuck with margarine. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 2:48
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    @Carcigenicate Put a box of sticks of butter in the freezer, and store one stick in the refrigerator. That way you'll have plenty of butter on hand and it will keep a loooong time.
    – BenjiWiebe
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 18:04
  • @BenjiWiebe Thanks. Maybe I'll just keep the pressure on them to switch. My mom slathers it all over her eggs every morning. The smell makes me sick. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 18:06

Creamer is already a substitute for milk. So if you replace the creamer, replace it with milk.

If you add milk though, it may cool down the coffee much, so you should heat it first. But if you do, make sure you don't boil the milk. Boiling affects the flavor of the milk badly. Make it a lukewarm, so it doesn't cool your coffee down too much, but make sure there are no bubbles.

But I must say, I usually drink my coffee without any creamer or milk. A bit of sugar maybe, but a good coffee doesn't need anything else. :)

  • Creamer meets several criteria - "lightening" the coffee, and adding fat for a different mouth feel. Margerine would likely meet the second criteria, though with trans fatty acids, something you might consider replacing. My reputation is insufficient to comment - here is a faq about trans fatty acids in case you missed many of the headlines on how increased cardiovascular risk have been directly attributed to trans fatty acids. fsai.ie/faq/trans_fatty_acids.html and mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/…
    – G L
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 15:37

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