Is Heavy Cream the Same Thing as Whipping Cream?

coconut cake topped with whipped cream

Question: When it comes to cream, does it really matter if you use heavy or whipped? Answer: Sort of. Here’s the deal.

The difference comes down to fat content. Heavy cream has slightly more fat (at least 36 percent) compared with whipping cream (at least 30 percent). Both whip well (and taste delicious), but heavy cream will hold its shape longer, while whipping cream produces a lighter, softer texture. Looking to up your kitchen game? Here’s how to maximize each cream’s potential.

Use heavy cream for: Piping and toppings, like in this rainbow waffle cake or this cookies-and-cream naked cake. Because of its high fat content, heavy cream also makes a great choice for sauces. It’s more resistant to curdling, like in this slow-cooker chicken tikka masala.

Use whipping cream for: Light toppings and fillings, like spooned onto an ice cream sundae, mixed into airy desserts (try Ina Garten’s berry pavlova) and as a silky companion to fresh fruit.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about half-and-half—save it for your morning cup of joe. The fat content (between 10.5 percent and 18 percent) means it won’t whip, no matter how hard you try. Final tip? Remember the immortal words of Devo: “Before the cream sits out too long, you must whip it. When something's going wrong, you must whip it.” Amen.

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Alexia Dellner

Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...
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