Frequently Asked Questions About Whipped Cream

Got questions about preparing whipped cream? I’ve answered over 15 frequently asked questions about whipped cream that’ll help you figure things out for the holidays or anytime you are preparing homemade whipped cream!

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Fresh whipped cream piped into 4 ounce mason jars with the words, "Whipped Cream FAQs".

I love homemade whipped cream. It’s one of those treats that’s almost a bit magical to prepare and I consider the flavor unmatched (especially for topping Thanksgiving pies, mmm). You can serve it at the holidays or just for a casual night of pancakes (breakfast for dinner anyone?).

Making it at home is so easy. It’s worth skipping the spray cans or frozen whip in favor of a homemade treat with simple ingredients and unbeatable flavor. I’ll admit though, I also like the spray can stuff and the frozen stuff–it’s all pretty darn good. But, homemade remains my fav!

Alright, let’s get started with the answers to frequently asked questions about homemade whipped cream!

How do you make whipped cream?

Making whipped cream at home is a delicious alternative to processed products like frozen whipped topping or spray can whipped cream (as tasty as they might be!). You only need one ingredient (heavy cream) to make your own whipped cream, but most recipes add sugar and vanilla extract too.

My post on How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream details the entire process with a printable recipe, helpful photos, and tips and tricks.

To make whipped cream, you’ll need heavy cream (or “heavy whipping cream”), a bowl, and a whisk (or stand mixer or hand mixer). Ideally, you would use a chilled metal bowl and whisk attachment. This keeps the cream cold which yields a more stable finished product.

Most whipped creams are flavored with a bit of sugar (often powdered, but granulated works too) and vanilla extract. This works well for desserts and dessert-like treats (like pancakes or crepes).

What is the difference between “whipping cream” and “whipped cream”?

“Whipped Cream” is the finished result of thoroughly whisking liquid “heavy cream” (or “whipping cream” or “heavy whipping cream”) until soft, medium, or stiff peaks form. The resulting fluffy treat (usually flavored with sugar and vanilla) is used to top desserts, coffees, sundaes, breakfast treats and more.

If you want to make your own whipped cream at home, opt to purchase “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream” in the refrigerated dairy section of your grocery store.

You might also see “whipping cream” which sounds like a good choice, but it’s actually a bit lower in fat and won’t yield the same results (see notes below). Skip the half-and-half too, it won’t whip!

Is heavy whipping cream the same as heavy cream?

Heavy whipping cream and heavy cream are the same product. Layla Khoury-Hanold writing at Food Network discusses this in detail noting that these products (same product, slightly different names) are required to contain at least 36% milk fat.

Lighter “whipping cream” contains 30%-36% milk fat. This means it may not whip as well and the finished product will lack stability (and fall flat more quickly). For recipes where the cream does not have to be whipped (scones, soups, etc.) you may not notice a difference. It will depend on the brand you purchase too.

However, I highly suggest opting for the higher fat product (“heavy whipping cream” or “heavy cream”) when making whipped cream so that you get the best texture and stability.

What is the best way to whip cream?

There are several great ways to prepare whipped cream:

  1. Bowl and whisk: The classic method is with a simple chilled metal bowl and a large whisk. This takes a bit of time (and certainly energy!) so most home cooks opt for a more modern method.
  2. Electric mixer: To save time and energy, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat the whipped cream to soft, medium, or stiff peaks in just minutes.
  3. Mason jar: You can also use a mason jar to make whipped cream! It’s easy to do and great for when you just want a small amount.
  4. Whipped cream dispenser: Another option is to use a whipped cream dispenser. These are enormously fun and a great party trick. It’s handy for the holidays where you want fresh whipped cream without any extra work (and you can skip all the extra stabilizers and additives in the store-bought cans).
    I own a EurKitchen Whipped Cream dispenser like the one linked, but mine is aluminum instead of stainless steel. Spring for the stainless steel if you are interested in trying one of these–the quality is worth the extra cost! Note that you will need a fresh charger for each batch of whipped cream.
Finished homemade whipped cream shown with hand mixer and with a spatula.

What do you eat with whipped cream?

The sky is the limit my friend! If you want to whip up a batch and don’t want to feel tooooo indulgent (i.e. just eating it with a spoon), here’s a few things to eat with or serve with whipped cream:

  • pie (particularly pumpkin and apple, my favorites!)
  • no bake pies (whipped cream is the perfect topping for many popular summer desserts)
  • ice cream sundaes
  • milkshakes
  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • crepes
  • coffee
  • cakes/cheesecakes
  • fresh berries
  • mason jar desserts

Should whipped cream be refrigerated?

After you’ve prepared whipped cream it should be stored in the fridge asap. The cool temperatures will keep the whipped cream safe to eat and will also preserve the texture and stability.

Whipped cream is best used immediately or within a few hours of preparing (stored in the fridge). I find that whipping it up in a chilled bowl and using powdered sugar (instead of granulated) will keep the whipped cream from weeping (separating into liquid) as it hangs out in the fridge.

How long will whipped cream last?

Ideally, prepare the whipped cream immediately (or a few hours in advance) before using it. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. The texture won’t be as good as freshly whipped, but it’s excellent for topping desserts, coffee, and more. I often use my own leftovers to spruce up a breakfast-for-dinner meal of waffles or pancakes!

What if you have piped homemade whipped cream and are wondering if it will hold its shape? I’ve photographed a lot of whipped cream for my various recipes and after about 20-30 minutes at room temperature I notice the piped whipped cream starts to droop. It’s ideal to pipe on whipped cream directly before serving your dessert (or keep it in the fridge once prepared).

Note: If you are using store-bought spray can whipped cream it’s going to start melting quite quickly. It’s generally not ideal for topping desserts, especially ahead of time.

How do you keep whipped cream from going flat?

Homemade whipped cream is actually pretty good at holding its shape. However, traditionally-made it won’t stay too long at room temperature. You can opt to try a stabilized whipped cream with gelatin or a stabilized whipped cream with pudding mix (like I use in my No Bake Banana Pudding). There are other ways to stabilize it too.

Starting with a well-chilled heavy cream, a chilled bowl, and a chilled whisk will help a ton. Adding slightly more sugar and sticking with powdered sugar over granulated (powdered sugar contains cornstarch) will help too.

How long will whipped cream last on a cake?

Whipped cream by itself isn’t always the best choice to top cakes. It works pretty well for sheet cakes or no bake desserts, which usually last 2-4 days in the fridge (watch out for potential sogginess–check your recipe for the best advice).

Whipped cream isn’t a good choice for layer cakes or piped cupcakes without a little doctoring first. A great option is to make Stabilized Whipped Cream or a Whipped Cream Frosting that gives you the flavor you are looking for with the stability of a stronger frosting.

What can I use leftover whipped cream for?

Often when I’ve prepared whipped cream for serving alongside a dessert I will find that I have leftovers. You can store the leftovers in the fridge (up to 5 days) and use the whipped cream in a variety of ways.

Here’s just a few ideas!

  • top your morning coffee
  • top hot chocolate
  • spruce up “breakfast for dinner” and serve it with pancakes or waffles
  • top a scoop of ice cream (or try folding it into softened ice cream, mmmmm)
  • freeze piped swirls for topping future desserts
  • add a scoop to a bowl of fresh berries or fruit
  • top mason jar desserts
  • dollop on top of a fresh scone or slice of pumpkin bread

Check out my tutorial on How to Freeze Whipped Cream!

Can you frost a cake with whipped cream the day before?

It depends. A sheet cake will probably be fine–I do this myself all the time such as when I prepare my No Bake French Silk Pie. However, you have to consider a few things. First, how will you store the frosted cake? Whipped cream does not “crust” like some buttercreams do so it can be tricky to store it once it’s been piped onto something.

Second, will the whipped cream affect the texture of the cake? Whipped cream has a higher water content than many frostings so it might create some sogginess on your cake if stored overnight.

Third, are you expecting whipped cream to behave like a sturdy frosting? Whipped cream is delicate and not stable for overly long at room temperature (needs to be stored in the fridge) and it’s not the best choice for frosting cakes. It *can* be done, but you might have more success with a stabilized whipped cream or a frosting that has a similar flavor but sturdier texture.

Does whipped cream melt in the fridge?

Homemade whipped cream should be stored in the fridge to prevent “melting” or “deflating”. It will keep for awhile at room temp (especially if you are piping it onto a dessert and serving immediately), up to two hours for food safety. More like one hour for optimal presentation.

Your whipped cream will have the best texture immediately after preparing, but it will not melt in the fridge. If it does separate a bit, you can whisk it back together no problem.

My general rule is that I will prepare whipped cream the same day if I am serving it to guests for peak quality. If I’m just making it for myself I might prepare it up to a few days in advance.

How long does it take to whip cream with a whisk?

I’ve done this with my family before and it really depends on the amount of whipped cream! For two cups of whipped cream (and at least two or three people alternating taking turns) I would plan that it would take 10-15 minutes to reach soft or medium peaks.

You can also trying using a mason jar!

A mason jar used for homemade whipped cream and a bowl full of whipped cream.

Can you use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar for whipped cream?

Yes, either granulated sugar or powdered sugar will work in whipped cream. Add your sugar right at the beginning before beginning to whip and it will dissolve completely by the time the cream is ready. The perk of using powdered sugar is that it contains cornstarch which is a stabilizer. This helps the whipped cream last longer so I prefer to go with powdered sugar when I can!

How do you make whipped cream without heavy cream?

You can’t make traditional whipped cream without heavy cream. HOWEVER, there are some possibilities for alternative whipped creams, like coconut cream (great for dairy allergies), whipped cream made with butter, and I’m sure there are more. But while these work-arounds can be handy, I suggest sticking to the real deal if you can.

It’s far less hassle and if you use good quality heavy cream you shouldn’t have any problems whipping up an amazing homemade treat. So, head to the grocery and snag some heavy cream!

How do you make whipped cream fast?

A stand mixer is the fastest way to make whipped cream. It will usually take about 3-5 minutes. The large bowl and whisk make tackling larger amounts of heavy cream a breeze. If you make a lot of whipped cream, use a stand mixer if you can!

Oh, and a food processor is pretty fast too, but because it incorporates less air into the mixture, it’s not my favorite option.

With my hand mixer, I usually need about 6-8 minutes to make whipped cream. If you are shaking it up in a mason jar it could be 8-10. Whisking by hand? Even longer, but you will have fun and build those arm muscles!

What do soft, medium, and stiff peaks look like in whipping cream?

How to tell when your whipped cream is ready? Simply turn off your stand or hand mixer and dip your whisk into the bowl of whipped cream and pull away. A peak will form when the whipped cream is stiff enough to consider “done”. Peaks are rated as “soft”, “medium”, or “stiff”. Here’s a quick summary of each type:

  • Soft peaks – These are peaks that just flop over. A soft billowy cream that melts in your mouth. Great for spooning on top of desserts like pie, cake, and cobblers. Best for scooping and swirling, not piping.
  • Medium peaks – A peak of cream that holds its shape, but flops over at the top. Medium or stiff peaks are best for piping. This is the ideal whipped cream texture in my opinion!
  • Stiff peaks – A stiff peak of cream that holds its shape and does not flop over at all. Careful if you are aiming for a stiff whipped cream because it is very easy to overdo it! Great for piping.

Quick Tip: Once you’ve reached the soft peak stage it is helpful to whisk the whipped cream by hand until you reach your optimal consistency. Whipped cream can be easily overbeaten at this point so it makes it easier to fine-tune the texture if you finish it by hand.

I usually opt for medium peaks (or sometimes stiff peaks if I plan to pipe the whipped cream). Here’s a couple visuals where you can see the whipped cream pulls into a peak that just flops over right at the top.

A medium peak in a bowl of whipped cream:

A bowl of whipped cream demonstrating medium peaks.

Whipped cream ingredients and a medium peak in the bowl after whipping:

A metal bowl filled with ingredients for whipped cream and the finished whipped cream.

How to Fix Overbeaten Whipped Cream

Can you salvage overbeaten whipped cream? Yes, you can! The texture won’t be as perfect as getting it right the first time, but it’s do-able. You just need more (un-whipped) heavy cream.

If you have overbeaten your whipped cream the cream will look clumpy and overly stiff. When you pull the whisk away from the bowl you won’t see peaks, but rather just a clump of stiff whipped cream.

You can fix it by adding more heavy cream. The amount you need will depend on the amount of cream you are whipping to begin with and how far gone it is. So work slowly and carefully as you follow the instructions below and be careful not to overwhip again!

Drizzle heavy cream into your bowl (start with a tablespoon or two) and gently whisk or fold in with a spatula. Continue until the texture is restored to a soft and fluffy cream. You might need far more cream than you expect so don’t be afraid to keep going!

Note: If you’ve had the misfortune of creating butter, you are out of luck in the whipped cream department. However, go ahead and salvage that butter! You can finish whipping it up, separate the solids from the buttermilk and store the butter in the fridge for a few days.

Can I Make Different Flavors of Whipped Cream?

Oh absolutely! We all see those tempting spray cans around the holidays–pumpkin spice, peppermint, chocolate. But you can make your own that taste far better.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

More Whipped Cream: Check out all these variations of whipped cream you can make.

I hope this post answered all of your questions and curiosity! Thank you for stopping by today!

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