It’s the season for cozy mugs of hot cocoa, pumpkin pies, and other delectable desserts, all of which can benefit from a heaping spoonful of fluffy, cloud-like whipped cream. And not just any whipped cream, homemade whipped cream. If you’ve been using whipped cream out of a tub or can your whole life, please allow me to blow your mind. Homemade whipped cream requires only three ingredients, takes only 5 minutes, and is the smoothest, creamiest dream you’ve ever tasted. Please promise me you’ll try it, at least once!
First things first. When we’re talking about making homemade whipped cream, you have to make sure you have the right type of cream. And it can definitely be a little confusing, so let’s take a closer look.
Whipping Cream vs. Heavy Whipping Cream vs. Heavy Cream
They all sound similar, right? But they’re not the same thing and choosing the wrong one can impact your results. Whipping cream is 30-35% milk fat. Heavy Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream (two names for the same product) is a minimum 36% milk fat. The higher fat Heavy Whipping Cream or Heavy Cream is the best for making homemade whipped cream. It will whip up faster and easier, and you’ll be able to create stiffer peaks (if that’s what you want).
So, instead of looking for “whipping” on the label, look for “heavy” on the label of your cream.
Do I Need a Mixer to Make Homemade Whipped Cream?
Homemade whipped cream can easily be made with nothing more than a bowl, a whisk, and about five minutes of intense tricep work. That being said, it’s a lot easier if you have a hand mixer or stand mixer. It takes me about five minutes to whisk heavy cream into whipped cream by hand, but only about 2-2.5 minutes to do it using a not-so-powerful hand mixer.
How Long Does Homemade Whipped Cream Last?
Homemade whipped cream is best when whipped fresh just before serving. Luckily, it’s so fast and easy to make that this is usually doable. If you can’t use it right away, you can refrigerate it for a day or so, but it will slowly deflate over that time. There are ways to stabilize homemade whipped cream and make it last longer, usually by adding additional ingredients. Here’s a great article from Food52 about ways to stabilize whipped cream.
Can You Freeze Whipped Cream?
Another option for saving leftover whipped cream is to freeze it! Simply add dollops of your whipped cream to a parchment lined baking sheet, freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag for long term storage. The frozen whipped cream dollops can be stored for about three months in the freezer. To use the frozen whipped cream, add the dollop directly to the top of a hot mug of coffee or cocoa, or let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to thaw.
Soft Peaks or Stiff Peaks?
As you whip your heavy cream it will become more stiff, first achieving soft peaks, then stiff peaks, and then if you keep going the fat molecules will begin to clump and separate from the water and you’ll create butter. You don’t want to go that far. But whether you want soft peaks or stiff peaks is a matter of personal preference. For something like pie, I prefer a soft peak so that it will kind of slump over the side of the pie. For something like hot cocoa, I prefer more of a stiff peak so that it will sit tall and fluffy on top of the mug like a big cumulous cloud.
Soft peak stage is when you pull the beater out of the bowl of whipped cream and it forms a peak that slumps over to the side. Stiff peaks will stand straight up at attention when you pull out the beater. Never keep beating past stiff peak stage (unless, of course, you are trying to make butter).
Medium peak whipped cream pictured above.
Homemade Whipped Cream
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar ($0.04)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.30)
- 1 cup cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream ($0.78)
- Add the sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream to a glass or metal bowl. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer* to whip the cream on high until soft or stiff peaks form (depending on your preference, about 2-3 minutes). Stop the mixer occasionally to test the stiffness of the peaks, to avoid over whipping.
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How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream – Step by Step Photos
Add 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 cup cold heavy cream to a bowl. If you’re going to be whipping by hand, pre-chilling the bowl in the freezer will make the task a lot easier.
Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the cream on high for about 2-3 minutes, or until soft or stiff peaks form. Whether you want the whipped cream to be soft or stiff is a personal preference. I like mine slightly on the soft side for pies, a little more stiff for hot cocoa.
As you whip the cream, occasionally lift the whisk or beaters out of the cream to see how stiff the peaks are. If they slump over, they are soft peaks, if they stand straight up, they are stiff peaks. Do not whip past stiff peaks or the cream will begin to separate and you’ll make butter.
If you want to freeze your leftover whipped cream, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then drop dollops of the whipped cream on top (about the size that you’d use for serving). Freeze the whipped cream on the baking sheet until the little mounds are solid.
Then once frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer bag for air-tight long term storage. You can keep them in your freezer for about three months. Either pop them directly onto a hot mug of cocoa or coffee, or let them thaw at room temperature for about 10 minutes.