All About Whipped Cream: Beyond Cool Whip

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Whipped cream is perhaps one of the most influential and necessary toppings in the world of sweet confections. Perhaps more than anything else, what makes this product unique is its texture. It forms soft, light peaks that are higher than many dairy products. But what exactly is it?

Whipped cream is basically heavy cream that has been beaten until it forms into a light and airy texture. Additional flavorings can be added to create many different varieties for use across a wide range of desserts. 

In this article, we are going to learn all about this delicious topping. Although a fairly self-explanatory dessert topping, its various consistencies, and flavors, in addition to multiple styles, make for a very versatile sweet confection. Read on to learn more about this airy treat. 

What Is Whipped Cream?

whipped cream and mixer

Whipped cream is heavy cream that has been beaten until it is light and fluffy. It may be beaten with (in order from easiest to hardest) a mixer, a whisk, or a fork. It is often sweetened (usually with confectioner’s sugar, which dissolves easily in the cream and does not leave a grainy texture) and it is sometimes flavored with vanilla. 

Whipped cream that has been flavored with vanilla is often called Chantilly cream or crème Chantilly. It is a very rich, foamy dairy product that adds lots of flavor to a wide range of foods and drinks, such as a frosting for cakes, a spread for “cookie sandwiches” and scones, or a topping for hot chocolate and other sweet drinks.

Whipped Cream Basics

Whipped cream is able to be formed into its light mass due to both air and fat content. This is because it is made with heavy cream, which has a higher butterfat content (at least 30 percent). You see, when you whip heavy cream, the air is forced into the liquid, and (thanks to the high-fat content) a stable mass of bubbles forms. 

It’s basically that the fat in the cream forms little air pockets throughout the mixture, and keeps stabilizing them with its heft. Each air pocket is encircled by a thin film of water with proteins and other substances dissolved in it. In total, the volume of whipped cream is double that of the cream used to make it, all because of its many, tiny air bubbles.

Using a lower-fat product (such as low-fat cream) causes the resulting food (or, more correctly, drink) to be thin and watery, or unstable. For example, whole milk can create foam when whipped, but it doesn’t hold up as long or form as strong of peaks because its fat content is so much lower. 

Canned whipped cream (or whipped creams in pressurized cans) are typically packaged with nitrous oxide as a propellant. The nitrous oxide actually ‘whips’ the cream as it comes out of the can, so it makes fresh whipped cream on the spot. 

Other advantages to the canned version include its ease of ‘preparation’ (if you can even call it that–you literally shake the can and push a button on the nozzle to ‘make’ it), its standardization (unless it’s rancid, it will taste pretty much exactly the same every time) and its frothiness (it’s foamier than most homemade whipped cream, and, some say, richer). 

However, there are some distinct downsides to canned whipped cream, too:

  • Whipped cream is at its very best when it is made with fresh cream, and the fresher the cream, the better it tastes. Buying it in a can makes it less likely that it will be fresh, and thus less likely that it will be awesome.
  • The canned version often contains added ingredients, such as preservatives, artificial flavors, and stabilizers, so it’s not as natural as homemade whipped cream. Worse yet, it can have a nasty, metallic taste if it is heavily stabilized and not very fresh.
  • The canned product is often more expensive than the ‘real thing’ (even though not as great quality).
  • And, finally, since it is made with pressurized gas rather than a stronger whipping action, it tends to ‘go flat’ and dissolve back into liquid much faster than the real thing, making it pretty much impossible to use if you want to prepare a dish in advance or eat leftovers that don’t look terrible.

So, as you can see, homemade really is better. If you really want the convenience of a can, you could buy a reusable canister that lets you make whipped cream at the (shake of a can and) press of a button. You can use it to make all kinds of foams and such. 

And, more importantly, unlike regular canned whipped cream you can control the ingredients, their quality level, and their amounts when you make whipped cream this way. However, it’s really not that difficult to make it homemade (more below).

Is Whipped Cream The Same As Whipping Cream or Whipped Topping?

Now that you know all about the canned product, I probably don’t need to convince you of the inferiority of ‘whipped topping.’

Sometimes, people confuse whipped cream with so-called “whipped toppings.” These products are usually sold in the refrigerator or freezer section of grocery stores in large, plastic tubs. 

Whereas whipped cream is usually made with only heavy cream, sugar, and (optionally) vanilla (for flavor) and gelatin (as a stabilizer), whipped toppings often contain a cream substitute of some sort (usually nasty stuff you’d never cook with at home), more sugar than real whipped cream (or, worse yet, chemical-y sugar substitutes) and lots of added flavorings (often artificial) and stabilizers (also often artificial).

Whipped toppings are generally regarded as far less tasty and more expensive than real, homemade whipped cream. To reiterate, if you have never made your own before, I highly recommend trying it—you won’t go back to the tubs of fake stuff ever again—unless you are in a quick bind. 

Is Whipped Cream The Same As Chantilly Cream?

Not exactly. It is often sweetened with a small amount of sugar (usually granulated) and sometimes vanilla extract. While a Chantilly recipe has a greater quantity of sugar and often confectioners’ sugar versus granulated. Generally speaking, Chantilly is twice as sweet.

Is Whipped Cream The Same As Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream and whipping cream are two similar high-fat dairy products that manufacturers make by mixing milk with milk fat. The main difference between the two is their fat content. Heavy cream has slightly more fat than whipping cream. Otherwise, they are nutritionally very similar.

Is Whipped Cream The Same As Whip Cream?

Whipping cream is a thick cream that can be whipped so that it doubles in volume. They come in cans or cartons. Whip cream is a thick cream that has already been whipped. It is usually comes in aerosol canisters.

How To Make Whipped Cream

To make this delicious treat, heavy cream is usually whipped with a whisk, an electric or hand mixer, or (with some serious wrist action) a fork. The homemade version is often flavored with sugar, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, orange, and other flavorings. 

It may also include a stabilizer to keep it from going flat or getting runny—this is usually gelatin, but you can also use gum tragacanth or whipped egg whites. Confectioner’s (icing) sugar is sometimes added in order to stiffen the mixture and to reduce the risk of over-whipping (more on that below).

For whipped cream to become fluffy and have nice peaks, the cream must have a fat content of at least 30 percent. This allows it to form air pockets. During preparation, as the cream starts to increase in volume, ingredients like sugar and flavorings can be added. When the cream has almost doubled in volume, it’s time to stop beating; otherwise, you’ll end up making butter. 

Use In Baking

Whipping cream can be used for several purposes. A common use is for making a whipped topping for cakes, pies, and other desserts. It is also used as an ingredient in recipes for desserts, soups, sauces, and beverages. 

Here are some desserts and baked goods for which it is commonly used as a topping or spread:

  • Pies (especially pumpkin pies and chocolate pies)
  • Ice creams (especially ice cream sundaes)
  • Cupcakes and cakes (especially as regular whipped cream on gingerbread cakes and in the form of whipped cream frosting on other cakes)
  • Puddings (especially banana pudding and chocolate pudding)
  • Mousse
  • Fresh berries and fruit salads (as well as the British classic Eton Mess—one of my personal favorites uses)
  • Scones

Substitutes For Whipped Cream

Whether you need whipping cream for your recipe or want to use it as a whipped, fluffy topping, there is a whipping cream substitute that will work for you. Here are some alternatives to consider.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a vegan and dairy-free alternative for whipping cream and contains just the right amount of fat content to whip up nicely. The key to making perfect peaks with canned coconut milk is to chill the can overnight and beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until soft and fluffy. Sifted powdered sugar and stevia make the best sweeteners because they will not weigh them down.

Coconut milk compares to whipping cream nutritionally but will add a coconut flavor to your dish. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of coconut milk provides 30 calories, 0.3 grams of protein, 3.2 grams of fat, and 0.4 grams of carbs. When compared to whipping cream, the nutrition values for coconut milk are quite similar.

Vegan Ingredients

Another vegan and dairy-free alternative is vegan whipped cream made with a combination of silken tofu, soy milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Because tofu is high in protein and low in fat, this alternative is lower in fat than dairy whipping cream, yet higher in carbs.

To make this version, you can combine 1 pound silken tofu, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. While the machine is running, gradually add the soy milk until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Though this option is not any lower in calories or fat than whipping cream, it does work if you are in a pinch and need whipping cream for baking or cooking. Mix 1/3 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup milk using an electric mixer until the desired consistency is reached.

You also can use dry (powdered) milk to make whipped cream. It is an excellent non-fat alternative and is easy to make.

Simply combine 1/2 cup cold water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk over the water and beat with an electric mixer or beater for 4 minutes, or until stiff. Then beat in 1/4 cup granulated sugar until it dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

Chill the whipped topping for at least 30 minutes before using. Remember, powdered milk is dairy, so it is not ideal for plant-based diets or for someone with a dairy allergy.

Milk and Lemon

lemon on milk splash

You also can use evaporated milk combined with lemon juice as a substitute for whipping cream. Simply take a can of chilled evaporated milk and combine it with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Beat it with an electric mixer and it will whip up well and make a suitable replacement.

For a simple, low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian option, try whipping two large, ripe bananas with two egg whites and 3 teaspoons of sugar until fluffy. Be careful not to overbeat, and stop when the desired consistency is reached.


The nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of light whipping cream is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 44
  • Protein: 0.3g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0.4g

Because whipping cream is mostly consumed as whipped cream, the nutritional information for 1 cup (120 grams) is also provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 350
  • Protein: 2.6g
  • Fat: 37g
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 3.5g

Whipped and whipping cream are both high in calories due to their high-fat content. Dairy fat has long been controversial for heart health. However, recent research suggests that dairy fat intake was associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.

How To Store

You can store a container on a shelf towards the back, not in the refrigerator door. The temperature is cooler at the back of the refrigerator and warmer at the refrigerator door. Store it underneath other chilled items to get the coolest temperature, preserving its peaks and texture.

Can You Freeze Whipped Cream?

Yep, it freezes – and thaws – surprisingly well. Just drop mounds of it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight. The next day, peel off the frozen whipped cream clouds and transfer them to a freezer bag or container for longer storage.

How Long Can Whipped Cream Sit Out?

Whether homemade, store-bought, dairy, non-dairy, opened, or unopened, product can only sit out for two hours. If left out longer, all of these types move into the Danger Zone. This is the term used by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the temperature zone that sits between 40˚F and 140˚F.

How To Tell If Whipped Cream Is Bad

Badly whipped cream may have an off and flat color (usually cream or yellowish). You may also notice a clumpy and thicker-than-usual texture. When this happens, your cream has gone bad and will give an off and sour aroma.

Fun Facts

Can Dogs Have Whipped Cream?

group of five dogs

Whipped cream is not bad for most dogs. Just like with humans, not all dogs can digest dairy products with ease. If your dog is lactose intolerant, avoid giving him/her this sweet cream. 

Can Cats Eat Whipped Cream?

Whipped cream is largely made up of chemicals that are harmful to cats. While humans can appreciate sweet foods, cats do not have the receptors to do so. In fact, it is likely to create health problems in cats, therefore owners should avoid offering it to their pets.

Where Is Whipped Cream In Kroger?

Whipping cream may be found in the dairy section of the grocery store. Heavy cream may be found in the dairy department of your grocery store, near the refrigerated milk and other dairy products. It is frequently found in the same aisle as other creams such as whipping cream, half-and-half, and light cream.