Heavy cream vs whipping cream: which is better and healthier? This guide compares the key differences between heavy cream and whipping cream.
Cream is one of the most common ingredients used in desserts.
Picture yourself in the grocery store. Do you grab heavy cream or whipping cream? What is the difference…is there a difference?
We are here to tell you that yes, there is a difference between heavy cream and whipping cream and it matters which one you use in recipes. It is important to note that the two cream products have similarities, as they are both high-fat dairy products. They are both homogenized mixes of milk and milk fat, and both whip well.
Here is everything you need to know about heavy cream vs. whipping cream:
What is Heavy Cream
Do you think heavy cream is the exact same thing as whipping cream? Think again, wise-acre! We are here to explain what each cream is and what it is used for.
Heavy cream is the thick part of milk that rises to the top because of its high-fat content. Heavy cream has 36% or more milk fat content. It is sometimes referred to as heavy whipping cream.
The high milk fat content of heavy cream makes it an ideal thickening agent for certain dishes. Heavy cream can be diluted to make a lighter cream.
Heavy cream is versatile and a staple ingredient. It is perfect if you are making a super creamy dish like lobster bisque, homemade butter, sour cream, or ice cream.
Heavy cream helps add moisture to a variety of baked items. Feel free to use it in both sweet and savory dishes!
Heavy cream has good staying power and its high-fat content helps add flavor and richness to a dish. Use heavy cream for desserts that require a strong cream. Heavy cream contains about 50 calories per tablespoon.
Substitutes for heavy cream include:
- Butter and whole milk
- Coconut milk
- Light cream
- Sour cream
- Evaporated milk
What is Whipping Cream
Whipping cream has a 30-35% milk fat content, which is slightly lower than heavy cream’s milk fat content. It is sometimes referred to as light whipping cream.
Whipping cream has an airy texture and is best used for light toppings and fillings. Whipped cream is not the same thing as whipping cream. Whipping cream can be whipped to make whipped cream.
When you use whipping cream to make whipped cream, you will have the perfect dollop for whipped toppings for pies, ice cream, crumbles, or meringues. It can also be transformed into a dip for fresh fruit – can we say, yum?!
Whipping cream is thin and slightly less flavorful and rich than heavy cream. Its natural consistency is similar to whole milk or half-and-half. Whipping cream contains about 45 calories per tablespoon, which makes it slightly healthier than heavy cream.
Are you dairy-free? No problem! Non-dairy whipping cream is one of the most flexible dessert ingredients to bake with. It is a great alternative if you want to enjoy the deliciousness of whipped cream without the stomachache or guilt.
Substitutes for whipping cream include:
- Banana and egg white
- Dry milk, lemon juice, and vanilla
- Frozen, non-dairy whipped cream
- Milk, flour, and cornstarch
Heavy Cream vs Whipping Cream
The main difference between the two creams is their fat content. The Food and Drug Administration has labels for both creams that detail their percentage of milk fat content (see above).
The small percentage difference between heavy cream and whipping cream may not seem major, but it can make a huge difference in the consistency of desserts, soups, and sauces. The fat difference plays a major role in how the cream behaves. This is why each type of cream has a different list of substitutes.
Heavy cream is a richer type of liquid cream than whipping cream. It takes less time to cook down and thicken a sauce, as it is a better overall thickening agent.
From a nutritional standpoint, heavy cream has five more calories per tablespoon compared to whipping cream. Whipping cream is a good option if you are trying to be more health-conscious and want something lighter.
As you might have guessed, whipping cream is lighter than heavy cream. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? We wanted to mention it just in case!
Heavy cream holds shape better than whipping cream. This is what makes heavy cream the top choice for pastry fillings, toppings, and piping.
Because whipping cream is lighter, it has a more pillowy texture than heavy cream. It tends to soften quicker than heavy cream. However, whipping cream is the better choice for making whipped cream due to its light, airy texture.
Whipping cream’s lower fat content means you will have a hard time achieving nice, stiff peaks when whipped. So, if a stiff topping is what you are looking for, you will probably want to reach for the heavy cream. Heavy cream will leave you with a thicker cream topping whereas whipping cream will have the consistency of Cool Whip.
The Bottom Line
Both creams are great but have their similarities and differences. The main difference boils down to fat content.
Choosing one over the other most likely will not ruin a dish. But, choosing the right one will make it perfect! Or as close to it as possible….we know nothing is ever perfect, right?
Whipping cream is surely the lighter, more nutritional option between the two. However, when it comes to heavy cream vs. whipping cream, heavy cream is the more versatile cream. It is the more all-purpose option between the two and will have you covered for most recipes.
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