Do you have a heart sweet tooth? If you like your sweet nice and sweet, then you are most likely fairly familiar with whipping cream and its variations. You can make whipping cream from scratch and there are so many things you can do with it.
Whether you make pies and cupcakes or whether you just like additional toppings on your ice cream, whipping cream serves a multi-faceted purpose. There are also many soups and main course and side dishes that use cream and it’s delightful!
Is all cream the same? Is there a difference between whipping cream and heavy whipping cream? While these are both cream and both used for similar purposes, they are not the same. Heavy whipping cream has a high milk fat content of 35-45%, which gives it more volume. Light whipping cream contains only about 20% milk fat content.
In this guide, we will cover heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream. It truly does matter which one you use when and it’s best to be familiar with the differences so you don’t use the wrong thing at the wrong time.
We will cover each type of cream and how it’s made in order to give you a reference on each cream. We will then round out the guide with a comparison overview to give you a quick reference point as to their similarities and differences.
Keep reading to see how the competitors measure up in heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream.
Your Complete Guide to Whipping Cream
When the names are so similar, it’s very easy for us to think that these two products are the same. In this case, the two products on the shelf are whipping cream and heavy whipping cream. Despite the striking similarity, these two products are actually quite different.
We will get into each of these in this guide. What you need to keep in mind is that heavy whipping cream has a significantly higher fat content – like of at least 35% more milk fat content than your typical whipping cream. This makes a significant difference.
What you can count on is that both of these things have cream. But that was probably a given.
Let’s cover each of these types of cream individually and then we will round back up with a quick summary that details the primary differences you should know.
Heavy Whipping Cream
Heavy whipping cream is also often referred to as heavy cream. Heavy whipping cream is what you might find in cream pies – like maybe your favorite coconut cream pie that you start drooling every time you talk about it.
There are really a lot of great ways to use heavy whipping cream. If you make a batch of it, you will most likely end up with far more than you need but it is so easy to make at home and you can store it if you don’t need it right away.
Here are some common things you might use heavy whipping cream for.
- Make fresh whipped cream
- Coffee creamer
- Creamy soups
- Add to egg dishes
- Homemade ricotta cheese
- Homemade salad dressings
- Homemade ice cream
- Make creamy sauces
- Creamy mashed potatoes
- Cream pies
- Cream macaroni and cheese
Heavy cream and whipping cream could perhaps be interchangeable but you will notice a significant difference in the creaminess if you use whipping cream instead of heavy cream when your recipe calls for it.
Heavy whipping cream typically has a milk fat content of 35-40%. This is the highest fat content of any milk-based or cream product. Its counterpart, whipping cream, only contains 30-34% and light cream is even lower at 20% milk fat content.
What makes heavy cream stand out against whipping cream? It’s the intense richness that comes from the high-fat content. It is incredibly rich and creamy and makes a notable difference in both the taste and texture of any dishes you might add to.
Heavy whipping cream is typically mixed into dishes in some way (cream pies, soups, etc.) It’s not often used as a topping but you can use it to make your own rich whipped topping.
Heavy whipping cream does not curdle when it is heated thanks to the high-fat content.
The fat content in heavy whipping cream allows it to last much longer before spoiling. If you keep it nice and cold, it could potentially last up to a month and the rule of thumb is that if the cream itself does not smell spoiled then it isn’t spoiled.
How Heavy Whipping Cream is Made
Heavy whipping cream can be made at home or you can purchase it. Remember, it’s not quite the same as whipping cream or light whipping cream. Essentially, during the process of making heavy cream, the fatty layer is skimmed from the top of the whole milk.
Just to give you some insight, we wanted to walk through a quick process of how heavy whipping cream is made.
- You need whole milk and melted real butter for heavy whipping cream.
- Mix melted butter and whole milk together vigorously, stirring hard. You can also use a blender.
When you make heavy cream at home, you’re not skimming like it is done in the processing plants. That’s because you’re using whole milk and just making a makeshift heavy cream product.
When you purchase heavy whipping cream from the store, it is processed with the skimming practice. Factory-made heavy whipping cream also generally has thickeners, vitamins, stabilizers, and potentially other additives as well.
Light Whipping Cream
Whipping cream is much more similar to what we know as whipping cream when we think of the terminology. Do not confuse whipping cream with whipped cream as they are not the same. However, whipping cream might be used to make whipped cream.
In contrast to heavy whipping cream, light whipping cream contains only about 20% milk fat content.
Whipping cream and heavy cream can mostly be interchangeable but there is a difference in flavor and texture when you do so. Whipping cream is not as thick and creamy and not quite as rich either.
Light whipping cream, on the other hand, is much thinner and not nearly as rich and flavorful. Light cream has the consistency of whole milk and is much more similar to whole milk as well. Light cream is interchangeable with half-and-half in most instances.
Where heavy cream is almost always mixed into a dish, light whipping cream can be mixed into things to make them creamy but it can also be used for drizzling as a topping or even making a topping.
Here are some common uses for light whipping cream:
- Table cream
- Coffee cream
- Chicken pot pie
- Creamy sauces
- Dips (particularly queso)
- Crème Brulee
- Scampi dishes
- Ice cream
- Cream soup
These are just a few things you might use light cream for. It’s a great way to make things creamy without the added richness of heavy cream.
How Light Whipping Cream is Made
Cream is still very much a dairy product. In the making of light cream, the higher-fat layers are wholly separated from the milk during processing.
You can make light cream by diluting your heavy cream if you have some on hand. Interestingly, you don’t use water to dilute but rather you add additional milk and blend. This dilutes the cream without diluting flavors and textures.
You can also make light cream using evaporated milk and whole milk or whole milk with butter or margarine. There are several ways to dilute or combine other things in order to make light cream.
Ultimately, the best option is to buy light cream from the store because it’s been processed to make the light cream. Although, these other options are great if you have those items on hand and need a light cream in a pinch.
The biggest differences between light whipping cream and heavy whipping cream boil down to the milk fat content. Heavy whipping cream has nearly twice as much fat content as light cream does.
Heavy whipping cream is more closely comparable to whipping cream. They are thick, creamy, and incredibly rich in flavor. There really isn’t much you can do to break it down from there.
On the other hand, light whipping cream is much more like milk in texture. You can dilute heavy cream to make light cream. The flavor of light cream is also much closer to milk.
We hope that you have found this guide to Heavy whipping cream vs. light whipping cream to be informative and helpful.
We invite you to take a look at the following question and answer section for some additional information.
Which Cream is Best for Whipping?
The thicker texture and higher fat content make heavy whipping cream a more suitable option for whipping.
How Do You Store Creams?
No matter the type of cream, they should be stored in a sealed container in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Light whipping cream will last 2-3 weeks while heavy whipping cream could last a month or more.