Not quite, and the difference does matter. Here's what you need to know. 
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Let’s face it — homemade whipped cream is way better than the stuff from the can (and free from all of the added chemicals and stabilizers, too). Plus, no apple pie is complete without it! In order to make your own whipped cream, you know there’s one ingredient you absolutely need: cream. But take a trip down the dairy aisle and it’s easy to get stumped by the flurry of options, including heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, and whipping cream.

Heavy cream vs. whipping cream: what’s the difference?

So, what’s the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? Is there a difference? And what about heavy whipping cream? 

As it turns out, there is a difference between heavy cream and whipping cream, primarily the fat content. 

Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are essentially the same thing, and both must contain at least 36% or more milk fat. Whipping cream, or light whipping cream, is lighter (as you'd expect) and contains 30% to 35% milk fat. In short, if you see the word “heavy” on a carton of cream, it’s the higher-fat kind. If the label doesn’t have “heavy” on it, it’s lighter in fat. 

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Can you use heavy cream in place of whipping cream?

Given these small differences in fat, can you use both types of cream interchangeably? For making whipped cream, yes — but you’ll get a slightly different product. Here’s how:

Heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream) will whip better and hold its shape longer than whipping cream. Therefore, it’s recommended more for piping, pastry fillings, and toppings. Additionally, heavy cream’s higher fat count makes it a better thickening agent for creamy sauces, like penne alla vodka, or creamy soups like vichyssoise.

Whipping cream still whips well, but it has a lighter, more pillowy texture. It’s also more likely to lose its texture and become liquid again after time. Because of that, it’s best used for something you’d like to keep a little lighter, like a topping for milkshakes or iced coffee. 

The key takeaway? If you need whipped cream for your homemade pie, both types of cream will whip perfectly fine. But if you’re looking for an all-purpose, versatile option that you can use for a wide variety of recipes, then stock heavy cream in your fridge.

What about double cream?

To put it simply, double cream is the UK and European equivalent for heavy or whipping cream. However, there is a difference between American whipping cream and double cream. Double cream contains about 48% milk fat, making it much richer than heavy cream. In fact, double cream can easily be overwhipped and become too thick due to its high fat content. If you see a recipe that calls for double cream, using heavy cream as a replacement is your best bet. 

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How to ensure the best whipped cream

No matter what type of cream you use, keep your cream, mixing bowl, and beaters well-chilled beforehand to ensure a faster and better end product. We recommend sticking all of your tools in the freezer for a few minutes before whipping up your cream. 

Once your ingredients and tools are properly chilled, whip your cream at medium-high speed. Beating too slow can under-whip the cream, and beating too high can turn your whipped cream into a curdled mess. For the best whipped cream, keep an eye out for medium peaks — when you lift the beater or whisk from the bowl, the cream should form a soft peak that droops slightly, but not entirely. One quick note — if you’re expecting homemade whipped cream to taste like the canned version, you’ll need to add a bit of sugar and vanilla extract. Canned whipped cream is automatically sweetened, while plain heavy or whipping cream is not. 

Want to try out your new whipped cream knowledge? Try whipping up a batch and spooning a bit over fresh fruit, or serve whipped cream as an accompaniment to our rich and luscious chocolate custard.