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The Difference Between Heavy Cream, Whipping Cream, and Heavy Whipping Cream

While grocery shopping, you might have noticed that whipping cream and heavy cream are often side-by-side. But are they interchangeable? It turns out there’s a difference between the two — and it matters when you’re cooking or if you’re on the keto diet. 

The biggest distinction between heavy cream and whipping cream is the fat content, reports the FDA. As you might expect, heavy cream contains more fat. While heavy cream must contain at least 36 percent or more milk fat, whipping cream just needs 30 to 35 percent milk fat to be classified as such. 

What is even more confusing is when things are labeled “heavy whipping cream.” But Cooking Light says to just ignore that, heavy whipping cream is actually the same exact thing as heavy cream. Meanwhile, the less fatty whipping cream is sometimes referred to as “light whipping cream,” which is the same exact thing as whipping cream. If this is still puzzling you, your best bet is to look at the nutrition label and check the fat content to get your answer.

This is especially good info to keep in mind if you’re on a high-fat diet like keto. That way, you can be sure to opt for the one with higher fat content — heavy cream — if you’re trying to add more fats to your meal plan. We bet this cream would taste great in your morning coffee!

Knowing the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream is also helpful for folks who aren’t on any diet. According to Fine Cooking, the amount of fat in the cream plays a huge role in how stable it is when whipping something or making sauce.

When whipped, heavy cream tends to yield a dense, firm product — making it an ideal choice for piping through a pastry bag for decadent desserts. Meanwhile, whipped cream made from the less fatty whipping cream results in a much softer, spoonable product. Ice cream sundae topping, anyone?

As for making sauce, both creams can help thicken and enrich a sauce and make it that much more delectable. However, if you’re in a hurry, the higher fat content in heavy cream means less time is needed to cook it down to a nice consistency. That said, light whipping cream could still be used in a pinch.

Just keep this all in mind, and your recipe is sure to be the cream of the crop!

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