How to Thicken Whipping Cream

Whipped cream is a light and fluffy topping that can transform desserts into something truly special. There's nothing quite like a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top of a slice of pie or a piping of whipped cream to decorate a cupcake.

How to Thicken Whipping Cream

However, sometimes whipped cream can be too thin and runny. Whether you want your whipped cream to hold its shape better for decorating or you simply want a thicker consistency, there are several methods you can use to thicken whipping cream.

Why Thicken Whipping Cream

There are a few reasons you may want to thicken whipping cream:

  • To stabilize it for decorating - Whipping cream that is stabilized with a thickener will hold its shape much better when piped or dolloped on top of desserts. Unthickened whipped cream tends to deflate quickly.
  • To make whipped cream frosting - Thickened whipped cream makes an excellent frosting for cakes that is lighter than buttercream. Unthickened whipped cream is too thin for frosting.
  • For a thicker consistency - Some recipes call for thicker whipped cream rather than light and airy. Thickeners give whipped cream a richer, denser texture.
  • To make whipped cream further in advance - Stabilized whipped cream holds up better than plain whipped cream, allowing you to make it ahead of time.

No matter what the reason, there are several easy ways to turn whipping cream into a thicker whipped topping or frosting.

What Is Whipping Cream?

Before learning how to thicken it, it helps to understand exactly what whipping cream is. Whipping cream, also sometimes called heavy cream, is a dairy cream that contains between 30-40% milk fat. This high fat content allows the cream to be whipped into soft, billowy peaks.

The exact fat percentage and labeling differs by region:

  • In the U.S., whipping cream must have 30% milkfat. Heavy cream typically has 36-40% milkfat.
  • In the U.K., whipping cream has 35% fat while double cream has 48% fat.
  • In Australia, thickened cream is the whipping cream sold with 35% fat.

No matter what it's labeled, look for cream containing at least 30% milk fat. Lower fat creams like half and half or light cream won't whip up properly.

Key Takeaway: Whipping cream should contain 30% milk fat or higher to whip up properly. Look for cream labeled as whipping, heavy, double, or thickened cream based on your location.

How to Thicken Whipping Cream

There are a variety of methods that can be used to thicken whipping cream. Here are some of the most common and effective options.

Method 1: Chill and Whip Well

One of the easiest ways to get thicker whipped cream is to start with very cold cream and whip it well. The key steps are:

  • Make sure your cream is very cold. Keep it refrigerated until ready to use.
  • Chill the bowl and beaters. This helps the cream whip faster.
  • Whip the cream, by hand or with a mixer, until it reaches firm peaks. Don't stop when soft peaks form.
  • Whip the cream just until it thickens fully. Don't over-whip or it can become grainy and butter-like.

Getting the cream as cold as possible, along with persistent whipping, is often enough to turn out nicely thickened whipped cream for many uses.

Method 2: Whip with Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar naturally helps stabilize and thicken whipped cream. To use it:

  • Chill the cream well before whipping.
  • Start whipping the cream, adding 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar per cup of cream as you whip.
  • Continue beating the cream to medium peaks or until it reaches the desired thickness.

The powdered sugar sweetens the whipped cream while the starch helps hold the structure. You can use more or less sugar to suit your tastes.

Method 3: Add Gelatin

Unflavored gelatin is an ideal way to thicken and stabilize whipped cream. Gelatin is commonly used in food production because it allows whipped cream to hold its shape longer. Follow these steps:

  • Combine 1 teaspoon gelatin with 2-3 tablespoons cold water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Melt the gelatin mixture. Microwave for about 5-10 seconds until fully dissolved.
  • Let the gelatin cool slightly so it doesn't melt the cream.
  • Whip cream to soft peaks then drizzle gelatin into the cream while mixing.
  • Continue whipping until cream is thickened. Don't overbeat.

The gelatin doesn't affect the taste but allows the whipped cream to hold its shape for decorating, frosting, and filling desserts. Use about 1 teaspoon gelatin per cup of cream.

Method 4: Combine with Mascarpone

Adding a creamy cheese like mascarpone or cream cheese is a simple way to thicken whipped cream. Try this easy method:

  • Whip 1 cup cold heavy cream to soft peaks.
  • In another bowl, beat 4 ounces room temperature cream cheese or mascarpone until smooth.
  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese until uniform.

This creates a thicker, fluffier whipped cream perfect for frosting cakes or stabilizing a dessert like tiramisu. Adjust the ratios to suit your needs.

Method 5: Use Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk instantly thickens and adds flavor to whipped cream. Here's how to use it:

  • Chill a can of sweetened condensed milk by placing it in the fridge overnight.
  • Whip the cold heavy cream to soft peaks.
  • Open the can and beat in 2-4 tablespoons of the condensed milk until well blended.

The thickened whipped cream is ideal for topping pies, cakes, hot chocolate, and more. It provides thickness and sweetness in one convenient ingredient.

Method 6: Add Cornstarch

A simple cornstarch slurry can help thicken whipped cream without affecting the taste. To use:

  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon cold water until smooth.
  • Whip cream to soft peaks then slowly drizzle in the cornstarch mixture while whipping to combine.

This adds just enough thickness to turn whipped cream into a frosting consistency without changing the flavor.

Method 7: Simmer the Cream

While not always ideal, gently simmering the cream down does thicken it. Steps include:

  • Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking often.
  • Allow the cream to reduce, while whisking constantly.
  • Once slightly thickened, remove from heat and chill before whipping.

This condensed cream whips up thicker. However, reducing the cream can change the flavor slightly so it's not always the best option. But it does work in a pinch.

Key Takeaway: There are many easy ways to thicken cream without additives like chilling, whipping thoroughly, or adding sugar, condensed milk, or cornstarch. For longer stability, gelatin works well.

Thickening Dairy-Free Whipped Cream

The above methods all use dairy whipping cream. But you can make plant-based whipped cream too. Try these tips for thickening non-dairy whipped cream:

  • Use full-fat coconut cream and refrigerate cans overnight. The solids will separate and whip better. Drain and whip the solids.
  • Add powdered sugar or marschino cherries when whipping to help stabilize.
  • Mix in chilled mascarpone or dairy-free cream cheese for thickness.
  • Use agar powder instead of gelatin to stabilize vegan whipped cream.

It can take some trial and error to find the right method for your tastes. But you can definitely thicken plant-based whipped cream alternatives.

Troubleshooting Thick Whipped Cream

Follow these tips if you run into any issues:

  • If it's not whipping up: Make sure your cream and equipment are very cold. Whip the cream in a cold metal bowl using a hand or stand mixer on high speed.
  • If it's still too thin: Whip the cream a bit longer until stiffer peaks form. You can also try adding more powdered sugar or chocolate syrup.
  • If it starts to look curdled: Stop whipping immediately. Gently fold in 1-2 tablespoons of fresh cream until smooth again.
  • If it starts to “break” and look grainy: Unfortunately, overwhipped cream can't be rescued easily. Start over with new chilled cream.
  • If it won't thicken when simmered: Be patient and simmer longer, while whisking. You can also add a bit of cornstarch slurry to help.

With some practice and experimenting with different methods, you'll be able to make the perfect thickened whipped cream every time.

Key Takeaway: Chilling everything well is key for whipping cream properly. Stop whipping immediately if it starts to look curdled or grainy and gently fold in fresh cream.

How to Use Thickened Whipped Cream

Once you've whipped up a nicely thickened batch of cream, be sure to put it to good use! Here are some of the best ways to use thick whipped cream:

  • Cake frosting - Thick whipped cream makes a wonderful light frosting for cakes like angel food cake, sponge cake, or pound cake.
  • Filling for cakes - Use stabilized whipped cream as a yummy filling for layer cakes like coconut cake, red velvet cake, or chocolate cake.
  • Toppings for pies - It's hard to beat a billowy topping of freshly whipped cream on pies like lemon meringue, banana cream, or coconut cream.
  • Decorating cupcakes - Pipe thick whipped cream on cupcakes for decoration or fill them through a round tip for a creamy surprise inside.
  • Fruity desserts - Sweetened thick whipped cream is delicious dolloped on top of cobblers, crisps, or fresh fruit.
  • Hot drinks - Add a big pouf of lightly sweetened thickened whipped cream to hot chocolate, coffee, chai tea, or eggnog.
  • Dip for snacks - Fresh strawberries, apple slices, pound cake, and more are even better when dipped into a bowl of thick whipped cream.

With stabilized whipped cream that holds its shape well, you can get creative and use it to enhance all types of desserts and snacks.

Storing Thickened Whipped Cream

Since it contains dairy, whipped cream should be stored properly for food safety. Here are some guidelines:

  • Store whipped cream in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Plain whipped cream will keep for 2-3 days while stabilized whipped cream keeps for 4-5 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze whipped cream for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge before using.
  • To freeze, dollop or pipe whipped cream onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in portions. Freeze until solid then transfer to an airtight container.
  • Don't store whipped cream at room temperature or in a warm environment.

With proper storage in the fridge or freezer, you can make thick whipped cream ahead of time to have it ready whenever you need it.


What is the easiest way to thicken whipped cream?

The easiest method is whipping the chilled cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. The powdered sugar naturally helps stabilize the whipped cream.

Does cooling whipped cream thicken it?

Yes, chilling whipped cream helps thicken it. Make sure to whip chilled cream and store it in the refrigerator to maintain the thicker texture. Warm cream will thin out.

Can I use milk instead of cream?

No, milk does not have enough fat to whip up into thick whipped cream. You need whipping cream with at least 30% milk fat.

Is it better to hand whip or use a mixer?

A mixer makes things easier! Using a stand mixer or hand mixer on high speed makes quick work of whipping cream. But you can whip it by hand too; it just takes longer.

How long does whipped cream last?

Plain whipped cream lasts 2-3 days in the fridge while stabilized whipped cream keeps for 4-5 days. For longer storage, freeze whipped cream for up to 2 months.

What happens if you over whip cream?

If whipped too long, cream will take on a grainy, curdled texture and eventually turn into butter. Stop whipping immediately if it starts looking grainy.


Whipping cream is easy to thicken with many stabilizing options. Whether you chill it well or add gelatin, powdered sugar, or cornstarch, you can easily give your whipped cream more body and structure.

Thickened whipped cream is perfect for frosting cakes, filling desserts, topping off hot drinks, and anytime you need a light and creamy topping. With the proper techniques, you'll be able to create the ideal fluffy-yet-thick whipped cream every time.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions