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Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream

Fine Cooking Issue 36
Photo: Scott Phillips
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I used to think that heavy cream and whipping cream were the same product simply marketed under different names. Now, after a bit of research and a few tests in the kitchen, I’ve learned that there are differences—albeit slight—between these two types of cream.

Heavy cream is the richest type of liquid cream with a fat content of at least 36% (one local dairy I spoke to produces its heavy cream at 39%), while whipping cream contains between 30% and 36% fat.

In general, the more fat in the cream, the more stable it will be for whipping and for saucemaking. For whipping, you need a minimum of 30% fat. While both whipping cream and heavy cream whip up quickly, I did discover that whipped cream made with whipping cream was softer, more voluminous (25% to 30% more), and more enjoyable spooned on top of desserts (see our quick tip for how to rescue overwhipped cream). The whipped cream made with heavy cream was more dense and firm—making it a good choice for piping through a pastry bag.

In saucemaking, the minimum amount of fat required to prevent cream from curdling when boiled with acidic and savory ingredients is 25%, so again both creams qualify. Heavy cream, however, has the advantage here since it is a bit more unctuous and requires less time to cook down to thicken and enrich a sauce.

The final difference is that heavy cream has 5 more calories per tablespoon than whipping cream, and it costs 5 to 10 cents more per pint.


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  • Munchy | 01/24/2018

    Excellent. Thanks for this. I found this article when I googled "Can I use Heavy Whipping Cream in an article that calls for Heavy Cream?" Even though this article doesn't specify heavy whipping cream, I think it gave me the info I needed. I don't like wasting food, and I have some low carb recipes that call for heavy cream, others that call for heavy whipping cream. They appeared to me the same consistency, so I thought maybe I could sub the heavy whipping cream into a recipe before it goes bad. But this recipe specifically calls for piping the ingredients through a (makeshift) pastry bag. So I'll probably try it anyway, since it is "heavy" whipping cream, but I'll proceed with caution. Thank you, Molly!

  • JustPassingBy | 01/08/2018

    Thanks for the article! I had no idea what the difference was between the two. I've always use heavy whipping cream because its is easier to find at the store but now I'm intrested in heavy cream.

  • krumpett | 09/24/2017

    What a hurtful thing to write to Molly! None of us knows everything, and there are things in life that we don't know until we learn them. There are probably many people who appreciated the information, and it's very prideful and arrogant of you to condemn and criticize her. Pride goes before destruction, so watch out! It was very unkind of you.

  • PuckFan | 08/26/2017

    Whobei, you made an error: You're not dumbfounded; you're dumb. While you obviously have enough knowledge to run a cooking school, you gravely lack the concept of respect, and discipline to leave your snobbish words unsaid for the sake of another (and your own image). Perhaps you're not clever enough to see why you should. Not everyone was born omniscient as you. The rest of us learn as we live, so show compassion, at least for your own karma's sake. You are mature enough to know everything but not mature enough to refrain from acting like a troll. Therefore you are not as wise as you think. Additionally, after having said all that, you still won't see what is wrong; thus sadly proving my point again. Curious though...if you already knew this, why were you researching this article?

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