A fluffy touch of whipped cream dresses up everything from pies and cakes to hot chocolate and ice cream sundaes. But if you only know whipped cream from an aerosol can, you don't know how incredibly easy and satisfying it is to whisk it up yourself in mere minutes. Here are eight different ways to achieve handmade whipped cream perfection, with tips for choosing the right method for you.
How to Make Whipped Cream
Before You Get Started
Follow these basic guidelines, no matter which whipping method you use.
Chill the cream, mixing bowl, and whisk or beaters from your kitchen mixer until they're very cold. For a quick chill, put all the hardware in the freezer for 10 minutes, and keep the chilled cream refrigerated until you're ready to use it. The colder the cream, the faster it will whip up.
Use a deep mixing bowl large enough to allow the whipped cream to expand as you whisk, while keeping the cream from splashing out. A cup of cream will make about 2 cups of whipped cream.
Whip it in wide circles incorporating all the cream until it starts to thicken and the whisk or beaters start to leave visible trails. As you continue to whip, gradually add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar for every cup of cream, depending on how sweet you want the final product.
Whip it good until soft peaks start to form. At this point, add liquid flavorings such as a teaspoon of vanilla extract or liqueur, and beat for a couple of strokes just to incorporate it. If you want stiffer peaks, beat a little longer, but check frequently to make sure it's not getting too thick.
Know when to stop when the cream is just right for how you want to use it. Recipes will usually specify how soft or stiff the whipped cream should be. When in doubt, go for medium peaks.
- Soft peaks fold over when you lift the whisk out of the cream.
- Medium peaks keep their shape when you lift out the whisk, but the overall texture is still soft and pillowy.
- Stiff peaks have the firmest structure and are what you want for frosting a cake, layering between crepes, or piping embellishments.
8 Ways to Make Whipped Cream
Best for making a cup or two of whipped cream. This method uses a regular or balloon whisk and a bowl, and takes only about 5 minutes. Whisking by hand gives you the greatest amount of control over a small batch of whipped cream, and the cleanup is minimal. The wow factor bumps way up there if you whip up the cream very casually in front of your friends like it's no biggie. What? You mean this?
2. Hand Mixer
Hand-whisking not happening? Let an electric hand mixer power through it for you. Be sure to move the mixer blades all around the bowl to incorporate every bit of cream. For best results, start off with a lower speed so the cream doesn't heat up.
This video shows you how to make whipped cream with a hand-mixer.
3. Stand Mixer
Making a big batch of whipped cream? It might be worth the extra cleanup to pull out the stand mixer. Don't walk away, though. A fast-moving stand mixer can make whipped cream go from soft peaks to pre-butter clumps in seconds.
4. Immersion Blender
Good for making a quick batch of whipped cream. If you use the cup that comes with the blender, fill it only about a third of the way full to allow for the increase in volume as the cream whips. Move the blender up and down to get at all the cream.
5. Food Processor
Simple and fast. Pour the chilled cream, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of the food processor, and whip it for a minute or two.
6. Cocktail Shaker
For when you want to appear seriously cool. Remove the spring from a hawthorne strainer (a kind of cocktail strainer) and place it in a cocktail shaker with the chilled cream, sugar, and vanilla. Close it up and start shaking. In a minute or two, you can spoon out the whipped cream to a chorus of oohs and aahs.
7. Whipped Cream Dispenser
If you need to make enough whipped cream in a quick minute, this one's for you. This handy gadget makes whipped cream using nitrous oxide cartridges to pressurize the cream, sugar, and flavorings into a sturdy whipped cream you can squirt out through a nozzle. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, of course.
8. Glass Jar
Want to demo a little food science for the kids? Put all the ingredients into a clean glass jar, screw on the lid, and start shaking. After a few minutes, the cream will thicken up enough to spoon out. Don't go overboard, though, or you'll make butter. Which is another science project in itself.
Whipped Cream FAQ
Q: What kind of dairy should I use to make whipped cream?
A: Any cream with more than 30% milk fat will whip up nicely, but the higher the fat content of the cream, the less time it takes to turn it into whipped cream and the denser the foam. Look for cartons that say light whipping cream, whipping cream, heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream. Heavy whipping cream weighs in at the far end of the milk fat scale (38 to 40%), so it will whip up more quickly than light whipping cream (30 t0 36% milk fat).
Q: Can I use half-and-half or whole milk to make whipped cream?
A: No. It's the fat in cream that helps whipped cream hold its semi-solid structure, and neither of these dairy products has enough fat to do the job. You can froth it, though, but it's not the same thing.
Q: What can I use to sweeten whipped cream?
A: Granulated sugar works just fine. Some cooks like superfine sugar (if you can find it) because it dissolves faster. Confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar) works, too, and contains cornstarch, which helps prevent the whipped cream from getting watery as it sits. Try liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave syrup, too.
Q: How far ahead of time can I make whipped cream?
A: Your freshly whipped bowl of cream will hold for an hour in the fridge before it starts to deflate and go watery.
Q: Is there a way to make whipped cream last longer?
A: Why, yes! For every cup of cream you use, beat in another ¼ cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, or crème fraîche after you've whipped the cream to the soft peak stage. The extra fat and acid helps keep the whipped cream stable for longer.
Q: How will I know when I've whipped the cream enough?
A: The cream will be thick and fluffy, but still soft enough to form peaks that fall over when you pull the whisk out. Beat just a tad longer if you want stiffer peaks.
Q: I overwhipped my cream! Now what?
A: Whipped cream can go from soft peaks to stiff peaks to clumps in just a few strokes, especially when you're using an electric or stand mixer. But there is a save if it's not too far gone. Just add a little more cream to the mixture and stir it gently with a whisk by hand until it becomes creamy again. Add a bit more cream every few stirs if necessary. But if it's too clumpy, you're on your way to making butter. Better to use it in a recipe and start on another batch of whipped cream.
Pro tip: Until you're completely comfortable making whipped cream, hold aside a couple of tablespoons of cream to stir in just in case your whipped cream starts to clump.
Flavored Whipped Cream
Just a little something extra can take whipped cream to a whole new flavor dimension. Try these ideas:
- Bourbon Whipped Cream is a lightly boozy companion for pumpkin pie and pecan pie, or spoon it over hot chocolate and coffee. Variations: Amaretto, raspberry liqueur, coffee liqueur, Irish cream, limoncello.
- Mocha Cream is flavored with coffee powder. You could also stir in cold brewed coffee or espresso after whipping the cream.
- Food Processor Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting has cocoa powder in the mix.
Whipped Cream Frostings
The whipped cream you see on gorgeous desserts in bakeries and restaurants has usually been stabilized with extra ingredients like gelatin or cream cheese to help it keep its shape longer. This sturdy kind of whipped cream is ideal for piping designs onto cakes and pies.
These recipes help you make stabilized whipped cream frosting at home:
- Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting is created by folding whipped cream into whipped cream cheese. Read these excellent tips from chubss before you make it, then watch the video to see it all come together.
- Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing uses unflavored gelatin to provide structure.
- Easy Whipped Cream whips cream and sour cream together for a super-easy stabilized whipped cream.
Vegan Whipped Cream
Here's how to make whipped cream without cream! Chilled coconut milk (the kind in a can) makes an excellent non-dairy whipped cream. Get all the tips and steps for how to make Whipped Coconut Cream, and give the video a quick watch, too. Or, just go directly to the vegan whipped cream recipe.