Whipping Cream and Heavy Cream Aren’t as Similar as You Think

For casual or never-at-all bakers, the difference between whipping cream, whipped cream, and heavy cream may not be apparent. Look past the display label and into the contents to learn their differences. You’ll find that each is different from one another based on their fat content and flexibility. The umbrella term for “cream” covers a wide variety, but what’s the fat content like?

Whipping Cream Versus Heavy Cream

The fat content of the cream stems from the primary ingredient: milk. Each category of cream must contain a certain percentage of fat from milk or else the label isn’t slapped with the term. Let’s preface this by stating that all creams must contain at least 18% of fat from milk. Anything less is simply not cream and may not be that delicious in your recipes, either.

Whipping cream contains between 30% and 35% fat content from milk. How high the percentage goes between the brackets depends greatly on the manufacturer and their desired output. Any type of heavy cream must contain more than 36% of fat content from milk in order to fall under the term “heavy”. It’s rare to see any type of cream with more than 40% fat content.

All creams start out as a liquid mixture until it is shaken or whipped. Creams that have a higher fat content will become whipped and thick much quicker than creams with a lower fat content. More fat means the cream can hold certain shapes longer and is where the difference between whipping and heavy cream comes into play.

Whipped Cream Versus Light Creams

The one difference between whipping cream for cake baking and normal whipped cream is that whipping cream hasn’t been whipped yet. This affects the texture and form of the cream, causing it to be runnier than the thicker whipped form. You may wonder about the other cream forms including:

  • Light cream – 20% fat content
  • Light Whipping Cream – 30% fat content
  • Half-and-half – 12% fat content

If the fat content is the primary ingredient to cause thicker cream, what categorises the above three as cream? The more fat the cream has, the thicker it is. If normal whipped cream has a fat content above 30%, won’t anything less become too runny?


Light whipping cream is on the lower end of the designated bracket for whipping cream. This is because most non-light whipping creams are in the middle and higher ends of the fat content bracket. Light cream and half-and-half use healthier substitutes along with minimal fat content percentages in order to create a great consistency without too much fat.

Creamy Calories and Their Final Form

Heavy cream is not only more expensive but heavier on the waistline. Per tablespoon, the heavy cream contains roughly 5 to 10 more calories than normal whipped or light cream. It’s important to note that any type of whipped cream shouldn’t be re-whipped unless you want a runny disaster. The “-ing” suffix on the cream label signals that you can whip it further and usually comes in a different type of container than their already whipped form.