The battle between heavy cream and heavy whipping cream ends in a draw.
Why? Because these two products are almost the same thing!
The most significant difference between the two creams lies in the name alone.
Both types of cream behave the same way in the baking process.
What if your recipe calls for heavy cream, but you only have heavy whipping cream? It’s all good.
Let’s look at heavy cream vs. heavy whipping cream and any possible subtle differences.
Heavy Cream vs. Heavy Whipping Cream (Is There a Difference?)
There is no difference between heavy cream and heavy whipping cream.
The FDA dictates heavy cream must have at least 36% milk fat. And heavy cream and heavy whipping cream both fit the bill.
So, why is there a difference in the names? Precise baking is hard enough already!
It’s all a matter of branding. Some brands like the term heavy cream. Others find heavy whipping cream sounds more fancy.
There are subtle differences between heavy cream and light whipping cream. But more on that a little later.
Can You Use Heavy Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream Interchangeably?
Absolutely! Whether you make creamy fettuccine Alfredo, mashed potatoes, or decedent tiramisu, it doesn’t matter.
You can use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream, which will create the same results.
Both varieties of cream incorporate 36% milk fat. So, the finished product will be the same.
Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream
But here’s where things get a little tricky. Heavy cream and whipping cream are not the same.
Heavy cream has 36% milk fat. Whipping cream (or light whipping cream) has 30-35% milk fat.
They are both great options for whipped cream. But there will be subtle differences in the overall texture.
When to Use Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is the workhorse of the kitchen. I like to keep a carton in the fridge when my life needs extra creaminess.
It’s perfect for soups, alfredo, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and sweet treats.
You can whip heavy cream into stiff peaks that hold their shape incredibly well. It is delicious as a filling or a cake topping.
Or, as a topping for warm beverages!
When to Use Whipping Cream
Whipping cream has a smoother whipped consistency.
It creates light, pillowy clouds of whipped cream that are impossibly light. However, they don’t hold their shape as well.
Also, whipping cream deflates quickly. It doesn’t make a great cake topping.
Whipping cream is a better option as a topping for fresh fruit or waffles. It is best to use it immediately.
Storing & Freezing Heavy Cream
Always store heavy cream in its original carton in the coldest part of your fridge.
(The coldest section of the fridge is on the bottom shelf, close to the cooling unit).
And always pay close attention to the best-by date on your heavy cream.
- A refrigerated carton of unopened heavy cream will last 2 weeks past its expiration date.
- Once opened, that best-by window shrinks. A carton of heavy cream will stay fresh for 5-7 days after opening it.
You can also freeze it for up to 4 months. But it will change the consistency of your cream.
- The cream will separate after freezing, so shake it well before using it.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution regarding dairy. Before adding it to your recipe, smell it. If it smells off, pitch it!
Can’t tell? Taste it (put a bit on your finger and try it). If it tastes even a little funky, toss it!
Still cannot figure it out? Throw the cream away.
Best Substitutes for Heavy Cream and Heavy Whipping Cream
Find yourself out of heavy cream and don’t want to go the store? Check out these great substitutes.
- Butter and Whole Milk. For 1 cup of heavy cream, melt 1/4 cup butter with 3/4 cup whole milk.
- It will have a similar fat content as heavy cream.
- It works wonders in savory dishes but doesn’t whip up into whipped cream.
- Coconut Milk. Using coconut milk is a great way to cut calories and veganify your dishes. It’s a fantastic substitute for both sweet and savory dishes.
- It will thicken when whipped but won’t create airy whipped cream.
- Evaporated Milk. When all else fails, evaporated milk is a great substitute. It’s not as rich and flavorful as heavy cream but works in a pinch.
- Evaporated milk offers that silky smooth consistency of heavy cream sans the rich flavor.
- Also, it will not whip well.
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