What's the Difference between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream

Updated on February 1, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Cream (c) Marye Audet 2009
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Cream (c) Marye Audet 2009

Heavy cream vs. whipping cream; did you ever wonder if there was a difference and what it might be? Are they interchangeable? Are they two terms for the same product?

Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream: The Breakdown

Heavy cream is the part of the milk that carries the fat. In the days before milk was homogenized the cream rose to the top of the milk over a period of a few hours. Many older Americans can remember milk in bottles with a thick layer of luscious cream on the top. When the cream was skimmed off the milk the remaining liquid was referred to as "skimmed milk".

In the United States regulations state that heavy cream must have a fat content of 30 to 40 percent or more. This gives it a thick, rich texture and a buttery mouth feel. When heavy cream is an ingredient in a recipe it will add these characteristics to the recipe in direct proportion to the percentage of cream to the other ingredients.

Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are essentially the same thing. For the freshest, richest flavor you want to check the ingredients,however. You want a heavy cream with a short shelf life. Ultra-pasteurized cream has been heated to very high temperatures to make it last longer. During this process it loses flavor and some of its texture characteristics.

When you look at the ingredients on the side of the carton it should list only cream and possibly carrageenan, a seaweed derivative that helps stabilize the cream. If you can buy local, raw cream from a local creamery you are in for a real treat. If not, try to at least get organic cream. It is the least likely to have unnecessary additives and sugars in it.

Whipping Cream

You may also see a product in your grocer's dairy case that is labeled whipping cream or light whipping cream. This means that the cream has a lower fat content, often in the 30 to 34 percent range. Cream that has less than 30 percent fat will not whip.

Sometimes this type of cream will have skim milk listed atone of the ingredients and it will have many additives and stabilizers. You may save a little money with this but the end result in your recipe will not be as rich.

How to Whip Cream

Freezing Cream

So, you hit an awesome clearance at the grocer and bought a ton of heavy cream. Can it be frozen? Sure! You can freeze heavy cream or whipping cream up to four months. Make sure the container is airtight so that the cream does not pick up flavors from freezer odors.

To thaw it just place it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed you can use the cream as you would fresh. You do need to know that the cream will take much longer to whip and you may need to add a little stabilizer to get it to whip up. You can use a teaspoon of vanilla instant pudding quite successfully for this.

Once cream is frozen and then thawed it can develop a grainy texture. This is from fat globules in the cream. Because of this it may be best to use the cream in sauces, soups, and cooked dishes once it has been frozen – or, freeze it in ice cream!

Choose Quality

Heavy cream vs. whipping cream; which you choose depends a lot on the result you want from your recipe. A cream with a high fat content will always be silkier than a cream with less fat. Also consider that some companies are using skim milk and stabilizers in whipping cream; something that is not allowed under the heavy cream label.

Always read your labels carefully and stick with organic cream whenever possible. You will be surprised at the difference in quality that you get.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Marye Audet


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • happypuppy profile image


        6 years ago

        Thanks! I just learned the difference between the two now. Great hub.

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        Raw dairy products ftw!

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Hm... I just knew that they are different. Really thanks for the information.

      • tlpoague profile image


        7 years ago from USA

        I found a difference when using fresh cream from a cow and store bought cream when making our ice cream. The fresh cow cream seemed richer and held its flavor. This is a great hub! I didn't know about looking for certain ingredients on the carton. Thanks!

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        7 years ago from Lancaster, Texas


      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Heavy cream or whipping cream for a silky smooth ganache

        Which is better?

      • Sun-Girl profile image


        7 years ago from Nigeria

        Well written article which really made me to salivate because of my love for ice cream.

      • Research Analyst profile image

        Research Analyst 

        8 years ago

        Whip cream is good on apple pie, my favorite, I have not tried heavy creams, even though I know someone who likes to use it in their tea.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        8 years ago from London, UK

        Thank you for the news that you can freeze cream. Great hub.

      • HealthyHanna profile image


        8 years ago from Utah

        Thanks! I have often wondered what the difference was. We watch our fats, so I always use whipping cream if I need cream for toppings, otherwise I use half and half.

        Did you know that if you whip your whipping cream with powdered sugar it will stay good for use as a whipped topping and not separate for a couple of days?


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)