Whipped cream is a light and fluffy topping that can transform desserts, coffee drinks, and more. However, because of its high dairy content, whipped cream is perishable and has a relatively short shelf life.
Knowing how long whipping cream lasts can help prevent waste and ensure you use it while it's still fresh and delicious.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about whipping cream's shelf life and how to maximize its freshness.
How Long Does Whipped Cream Last Refrigerated?
Once heavy whipping cream is whipped, its shelf life decreases significantly. Freshly whipped cream will only last 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
The high-fat content in whipping cream causes it to destabilize quickly. Over time, the air bubbles pop, and the whipped cream begins to “melt” back into a liquid state.
After 1-2 days, homemade whipped cream will become runny with a decreased volume. It may also separate, with liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
Key Takeaway: Freshly whipped cream only lasts 1-2 days refrigerated before quality loss becomes noticeable.
Extending Whipped Cream’s Shelf Life
Luckily, there are a few tricks to extend the shelf life of homemade whipped cream:
- Add a stabilizer. Incorporating a stabilizer like powdered sugar, cornstarch, gelatin, or commercial stabilizers will allow whipped cream to last 3-5 days refrigerated. The stabilizers help maintain the air bubbles and structure.
- Whip chilled cream. Make sure your bowl, beaters, and cream are chilled before whipping. Whipping cold ingredients helps the whipped cream hold its shape longer.
- Store in an airtight container. Cover whipped cream tightly and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator to minimize air exposure.
- Freeze any extras. Whipped cream can be frozen for 2-3 months with minimal quality loss. Pipe into portions or flatten in a freezer bag before freezing.
Key Takeaway: Adding a stabilizer and properly storing whipped cream allows it to last 3-5 days refrigerated. Freezing also preserves quality.
Shelf Life of Store-Bought Whipped Cream
Store-bought whipped cream products like Cool Whip have a much longer shelf life than homemade. Here’s how long different kinds last:
- Refrigerated tub: Once opened, refrigerated whipped topping lasts 10-14 days. Make sure to reseal the tub tightly after each use.
- Frozen tub: Unopened frozen whipped topping lasts 12-18 months in the freezer. After thawing in the fridge, it lasts about 2 weeks.
- Aerosol can: Unopened aerosol whipped cream lasts 4-5 months refrigerated. After opening, it lasts 3-4 weeks refrigerated. Shake well before each use.
Always refer to the expiry date on the packaging and inspect store-bought whipped cream before use. Check for changes in color, texture, or smell.
Key Takeaway: Tub whipped topping lasts 10-14 days opened, while aerosol whipped cream lasts 3-4 weeks opened. Both last over a year unopened.
How to Tell If Whipped Cream Has Gone Bad
Here are the signs that indicate your whipped cream has spoiled and should be discarded:
- Appearance: Mold, discoloration, watery texture, separation, deflated volume
- Texture: Runny, clumpy, gritty, curdled
- Smell: Sour, spoiled, cheesy, or rotten
- Taste: Sour, bitter, or unpleasant flavors
If your whipped cream exhibits any of these qualities, it's best to play it safe and throw it out. Consuming spoiled whipped cream can potentially cause foodborne illness.
When in doubt, remember the old adage: When in doubt, throw it out! Don't risk getting sick over a topping.
Whipped Cream Storage Tips
To get the most out of your whipped cream, follow these storage guidelines:
- Store whipped cream in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Exposure to air speeds spoilage.
- Place whipped cream in the coldest part of your fridge, away from the door. The back of the bottom shelf is ideal.
- Avoid temperature fluctuations by limiting the times you open the fridge door. Frequent warm-ups decrease shelf life.
- For homemade whipped cream, store in a sieve over a bowl to collect water and prevent separation.
- Freeze extra whipped cream in portioned amounts for later use. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Keep counters, utensils, and hands clean when preparing whipped cream to prevent contamination.
Proper storage is key for maximizing the shelf life of whipped cream. Following these simple tips will help keep yours fresh and creamy.
Can you refreeze thawed whipped cream?
Yes, it’s safe to refreeze thawed whipped cream, whether homemade or store-bought. Refreezing may lead to some loss of texture, but it will extend the shelf life. Limit refreezing to 1-2 cycles for best quality.
Can you re-whip whipped cream?
Rewhipping will temporarily improve the texture of deflated whipped cream, but it will deflate again quickly. For best results, make a fresh batch.
Does whipped cream need to be refrigerated?
Yes, whipped cream is highly perishable and must be refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth. Leaving whipped cream unrefrigerated for over 2 hours is unsafe.
Can you freeze whipped cream in a piping bag?
It’s best to pipe or spoon whipped cream onto a tray before freezing, rather than in a piping bag. The bag can lead to uneven freezing. Portion into a piping bag after thawing.
Can you make whipped cream with half and half?
No, half and half does not contain enough fat to whip properly. Heavy whipping cream or heavy cream with at least 30% milk fat is required to make whipped cream.
Maximizing the shelf life of whipped cream comes down to proper storage methods and keeping an eye on quality. With homemade whipped cream lasting just 1-2 days and store-bought versions 3-4 weeks, freshly whipping smaller batches are ideal for the best texture. Freezing also lets you enjoy whipped cream for months while retaining its light and airy consistency.
Implementing a few simple storage tips like using airtight containers, keeping things chilled, and freezing extras goes a long way. With the right handling, you can avoid having to toss whipped cream that's gone bad prematurely.