Whipping Cream vs. Cooking Cream

Whipping cream and cooking cream are two common types of cream used in cooking and baking.

Whipping Cream vs. Cooking Cream

While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between these two ingredients that impact how they can be used.

What is Whipping Cream?

Whipping cream, also known as light whipping cream, contains between 30-36% milk fat. The high fat content allows whipping cream to be whipped into soft, billowy peaks and hold its shape well.

This makes whipping cream the ideal choice for:

Key Takeaway: Whipping cream can be whipped into soft peaks and holds its shape well due to its high milk fat content of 30-36%. It's great for making whipped cream, lightening the texture of desserts, and enriching sauces.

What is Cooking Cream?

Cooking cream, sometimes labeled culinary cream, contains less milk fat than whipping cream, usually between 10-25%. It also contains stabilizers and emulsifiers that prevent the cream from separating when heated.

Cooking cream is designed specifically for cooking at high temperatures. It can be:

  • Simmered or boiled without curdling
  • Easily incorporated into soups, sauces, and gravies
  • Used to add creaminess and richness to recipes without overpowering other flavors

Key Takeaway: Cooking cream has a lower milk fat percentage of 10-25% but contains stabilizers that prevent curdling at high heats. It's great for simmering in soups and sauces.

Fat Content Comparison

The main difference between these two cream products comes down to their milk fat content:

  • Whipping cream - 30-36% milk fat
  • Cooking cream - 10-25% milk fat

The higher milk fat content of whipping cream allows it to be whipped into soft, billowy peaks and hold its shape relatively well.

Cooking cream with less fat cannot be whipped. But its lower fat content makes it more versatile for cooking and simmering in recipes without overpowering other flavors.

Key Takeaway: Whipping cream has a higher milk fat content (30-36%) than cooking cream (10-25%), which impacts their ability to be whipped and hold peaks.

How to Use Whipping Cream

Here are some of the best uses for whipping cream:

Make Whipped Cream

Whipping cream is designed to whip up into soft, cloud-like peaks thanks to its high fat content.

  • Chill a metal or glass mixing bowl and beaters/whisk in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before whipping. Cold equipment helps the whipping happen faster.
  • Pour cold whipping cream into the cold bowl and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
  • Sweeten with sugar if desired, or try natural vanilla or other flavorings.

Use freshly whipped cream right away or store covered in the fridge for 4-5 hours maximum.

Lighten Dessert Textures

Add some lightly whipped whipping cream when making mousses, puddings, ice cream, or parfaits to lighten the texture without overpowering the other flavors.

Make Airy Baked Goods

Fold whipped whipping cream into cake, muffin, waffle, or pancake batters right before baking for added lightness and fluffiness.

Enrich Sauces

Stir a splash of whipping cream into pan sauces, gravies, or soups just before serving to enrich the flavor and add body.

Key Takeaway: Whipping cream is ideal for making billowy whipped cream, lightening dessert textures, making airy baked goods, and enriching pan sauces.

How to Use Cooking Cream

Cooking cream is designed specifically for using in high heat cooking applications:

Simmer in Soups and Sauces

Cook down cooking cream to thicken and enrich soups, sauces, gravies, and stews without worrying about curdling.

Make Creamy Baked Dishes

Bake casseroles, pasta bakes, scalloped potatoes, and other creamy dishes with cooking cream for velvety richness.

Stir into Hot Foods and Beverages

Drizzle cooking cream into hot soups, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, coffee drinks, and more. The emulsifiers prevent the cream from separating.

Soften Sharp Flavors

Round out sharp flavors in curries, tomato sauces, and salad dressings by simmering in cooking cream.

Key Takeaway: Thanks to added stabilizers, cooking cream can be simmered, baked at high heat, and stirred into hot foods without curdling or separating.

Whipping Cream vs Cooking Cream

Whipping CreamCooking Cream
30-36% milk fat10-25% milk fat
Can be whipped into soft peaksCannot be whipped
Holds its shape wellRemains pourable
Ideal for dessertsIdeal for cooking
Enriches flavorBlends into dishes

Key Takeaway: The higher fat whipping cream whips up lighter and holds its shape but cooking cream with less fat blends into simmered dishes without overpowering.

Whipping Cream Substitutes

If you want to make whipped cream but only have cooking cream, try one of these substitutions:

  • Mascarpone - Has a similar fat content to whipping cream and whips up beautifully.
  • Heavy cream - Contains 36-40% milk fat so it whips up even better than whipping cream.
  • Half and half - Won't whip up as light and fluffy but can work in a pinch.
  • Evaporated milk - Chill the can overnight then whip for softer peaks.

For desserts that need whipped cream folded in, substitute an equal amount of thick Greek yogurt or silken tofu blended with milk and vanilla.

Key Takeaway: Mascarpone, heavy cream, half and half, and evaporated milk can all substitute for whipping cream in whipped applications. Greek yogurt or silken tofu work for folding into desserts.

Cooking Cream Substitutes

If a recipe calls for cooking cream but you only have whipping cream, use one of these substitutes:

  • Half and half - Has a similar fat percentage and won't curdle when simmered.
  • Whole milk - For a lower-fat option, use a 1:1 ratio of whole milk to cream.
  • Evaporated milk - Equally shelf-stable and won't curdle when cooked.
  • Creme fraiche - Substitute 1:1 but its tangy flavor will come through.
  • Plain yogurt - Good for curry dishes, blend first to achieve a creamy texture.

For stability in cooked applications, arrowroot, cornstarch, or a roux can also help prevent curdling without cooking cream.

Key Takeaway: Half and half, whole milk, evaporated milk, creme fraiche, and plain yogurt all work well in place of cooking cream in simmered dishes. Starches help stabilize cream substitutes.


Can I whip cooking cream?

No, cooking cream cannot be whipped because its lower milk fat content means it doesn't contain enough fat to trap air bubbles. Whipping cooking cream will not form stiff peaks.

Can I use cooking cream uncooked?

Yes, cooking cream can be used uncooked in applications like coffee creamer or folded into desserts. But its stabilizers will affect the final texture. Whipping cream is a better choice for uncooked uses.

Is cooking cream healthier than whipping cream?

Cooking cream is slightly lower in fat and calories than whipping cream. But both are considered high-fat ingredients and should be used in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

What's the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream?

There is no difference - heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are the same product. Whipping cream has a slightly lower fat content of 30-36% compared to the 36-40% found in heavy cream.

Can I substitute half and half for whipping or cooking cream?

Half and half can be used as a substitute for both whipping and cooking cream in a pinch, but with some caveats. It won't whip up like whipping cream, but can work folded into desserts. In cooking, it may curdle more easily than cooking cream.


Understanding the differences between whipping cream and cooking cream helps you pick the right cream for your desired use.

Follow recipes closely, but if you only have one cream on hand, the substitutes provided can help you adapt either one in baking and cooking.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions