Whipping Cream vs. Heavy Cream: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Difference Between Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream

Whipping cream and heavy cream seem interchangeable. You can substitute one for the other, and you can make whipping cream from heavy cream. There is not a lot of difference between these two.

What’s the difference between whipping cream and heavy cream? The main difference just lies in the milk fat content. US FDA gives the standards for product labeling on whipping cream and heavy cream. Whipping cream, also called light whipping cream, must have at least 30% but less than 36% milk fat. Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream, must contain at least 36% milk fat.

What are Other Differences Between Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream?

There are more differences between these two. Firstly, heavy cream has more milk fat, so it whips faster than whipping cream. This is your choice for making quick dessert fillings and toppings.

Secondly, heavy cream has more milk fat, so it contains more calories. If you’re watching your calorie intake, whipping cream is a better choice for you.

Thirdly, heavy cream holds its shape longer than whipping cream does. So if you’re after whipping up cream to consume or serve at a party, you can go with heavy cream, and it will maintain its shape throughout the party. Your pie filling or dessert topping will not melt nor go all gooey.

However, if it is going to be an outdoor party or if the weather is going to be warm to hot, you might have to use some kind of stabilizer to extend the quality and texture of your whipped cream.

Some notice that a well whipped heavy cream can last for a full day in your fridge, while a well whipped whipping cream can lose its volume in a matter of hours even if you place it inside the refrigerator.

Fourthly, unopened heavy cream outlasts whipping cream by 1 week when stored in the refrigerator. Figures say you can use whipping cream 1 to 2 weeks after its best before date, while you can use heavy cream from 1 to 3 weeks after its best before date. But if you want to be safe than sorry, always use your supplies within the optimum time period.

Lastly, heavy cream is a better choice for making rich, thick sauces and soups, such as creamy pasta with bacon and mushrooms or creamy potato soup.

Is Light Whipping Cream the Same as Light Cream?

No. Light cream only has between 18% to 30% milk fat.

Is Heavy Cream the Same as Half-and-Half?

No. Half-and-half is only 10% to 18% milk fat.

How Do You Stabilize Whipping Cream or Heavy Cream?

There are many ways you can stabilize whipping cream and heavy cream. Here are ways to do it:

  • Use cream of tartar. ¼ tsp. per cup of heavy cream.
  • Add powdered milk. 1 tbs. to 3 tbs. per cup of heavy cream. The starch in milk will thicken and stabilize your cream. It will also enhance the milky flavor of your cream.
  • Use cornstarch. 1 tbs. per cup of heavy cream.
  • Add powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar). 1 tbs. or more.
  • Try gelatin. Follow the measurements given for 1 cup of liquid.
  • Add pudding. 1 tbs. to 3 tbs. per cup of heavy cream.
  • Use arrowroot powder. ½ tsp. per cup of heavy cream.
  • Add light corn syrup. 1 to 3 tbs. per cup of heavy cream.
  • Use melted marshmallow or marshmallow fluff. One regular size will do. Use more if you have only have marshmallow minis on hand.

Some bakers use these options in combination, usually confectioner’s sugar with one other type of stabilizer. This sweetens and stabilizes your whipped cream.

When do you add the stabilizer? Start whipping your cream. Slowly add in your icing sugar. Then add the other stabilizer if you’re using one more. Beat until soft peaks form. Bakers who use melted marshmallows usually add them when the soft peaks have started forming.

Watch that you do not overbeat. If you use well-chilled whipped cream along with chilled beating attachments and a mixing bowl, you can get beat a good looking whipped cream in 1 minute.

Can You Use Whipping Cream Instead of Heavy Cream for Recipes?

Yes, you can do that and the other way around. They are essentially the same, except for the lesser milk fat content in whipping cream. You can use either one for the same recipe that needs cream. Use whipping cream instead of heavy cream, particularly if you need to keep your calorie counts low. And use heavy cream if you want a richer, creamier dish or dessert.

When Do You Use Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream?

Besides making whipped cream for your pie fillings and toppings, there are more ways you can creatively use cream in recipes.

Instead of regular milk or buttermilk, try using heavy cream or whipping cream to make tasty and fluffy pancakes.

Skip buying caramel sauce and make your own. Here is how you do it:

  1. Pour ½ cup heavy cream or whipping cream in a small saucepan.
  2. Mix and blend in ¼ cup unsalted butter. Use salted butter if you want to go for a salted caramel version.
  3. Add 1 cup of cane sugar, raw sugar, or any brown sugar variety. Add more or lessen the amount as you prefer.
  4. Sprinkle some more salt if you desire.
  5. Add 1 tbs. of real vanilla.
  6. Stir and simmer in low heat. Remove from heat once it thickens to a desired consistency.
  7. Transfer to a heat-resistant jar to cool.

Final Thoughts

  • Whipping cream is at least 30% milk fat but less than 36% milk fat.
  • Heavy cream must be at least 36% milk fat.
  • Whipping cream is also called light whipping cream.
  • Heavy cream is also called heavy whipping cream.
  • Whipping cream has fewer calories than whipping cream.
  • Heavy cream whips faster than whipping cream.
  • Heavy cream will hold its shape for longer.
  • Stabilizers such as icing sugar, cornstarch, melted marshmallow, and light corn syrup keep your whipped cream’s texture for longer.

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