Quick & Easy Homemade Whipped Cream
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if you grew up in an urban area in the United States post-1960, there was a lot of Cool Whip in your childhood. I say “urban area” because folks in more rural communities tend to do a better job of preserving food traditions – things like taking actual cream and whipping it.
And let’s be serious – when it comes to dessert, whipped cream can make or break. I have zero interest in key lime pie, pumpkin pie, strawberry shortcake, or chocolate pudding without whipped cream on top. Zero.
But real whipped cream and its doppelganger from the freezer section are two very different animals.
Recently, we were at a family get-together and I had already told my kids they could have dessert there. It was a special day and I was fine with a little sugar. But the tub of white stuff pretending to be cream got me. I wasn’t expecting it and I cringed as they begged for some on top. I could have said no but I try real hard not to be Food Nazi Mom, so I served them the smallest spoonful I could get away with.
Here’s why the fake stuff gives me the heebs:
Ingredients: Water, hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skim milk, light cream and less than 2% sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), natural and artificial flavor, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate and beta carotene (as a coloring).
Hydrogenated vegetable oil: Vegetable oil is bad enough (hint: there is no oil in vegetables), but adding hydrogen is what transforms the liquid into a solid that is now shelf-stable for a looooong time. Hydrogenated fats are also known as ‘trans fats.’ Heard of those? Dr. Oz, Mayo Clinic, all the big dogs will tell you these are the dangerous fats, the ones that increase risk of heart disease.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup: Why both? So weird. Okay, so here’s the thing. These are both uber-processed sugars, which means they metabolize really quickly (none of those pesky vitamins, minerals, fiber or enzymes from the original corn plant to slow them down). We want blood sugar to remain relatively stable throughout the day, not spike dramatically, which is what happens with refined sugar that hits the bloodstream almost instantly. So, corn syrup = not great. The high-fructose version means part of the glucose has been converted to fructose. All sugars get absorbed by the small intestine, but unlike glucose (which gets sent straight to the bloodstream for delivery to the cells), fructose has to report to the liver first for processing. When more fructose arrives than the liver can process in that moment, the excess gets converted to fat. (Side note: HFCS in foods marketed to children is a suspected culprit behind the increase in juvenile fatty liver disease. Rates have tripled since the 1980s.)
There are plenty of other unsavory ingredients listed, but I’m just gonna stop there so this blog post doesn’t turn into a beast. Tell us how to make real whipped cream, Meghan!
So, listen. People have been making whipped cream from nothing but fresh cream and a whisk for centuries. You don’t have to be a French pastry chef to do it. It seriously couldn’t be easier.
I would love for you to head to a farmer’s market or local co-op and get yourself some RAW, unpasteurized cream so all the naturally occurring vitamins, enzymes, proteins and fatty acids are still intact, just as nature intended — but in a pinch, just get a carton of organic heavy whipping cream from the store. Bonus point if you can find one that says “grassfed” (likely at a Whole Foods or your local health food store). We’ll call ‘making things from scratch’ Phase I. Buying from farmers is more of a Phase 2 kind of situation.
So, all you need is the cream, some natural sweetener (I use pure maple syrup or raw honey), some vanilla, and either a big whisk or an electric mixer. My ratio is 1:1:1 … 1 cup cream + 1 Tbs. sweetener + 1 tsp. vanilla. You can cut it in half or double or triple from there!
Just trust the process!
If using an electric mixer, this is what it looks like after 1 minute (still soupy):
After 2 minutes (some soft trails):
After 3 minutes (soft peaks) – stop here or in 30 more seconds you will have BUTTER:
Recipe is below – with some notes for how to vary your approach based on ingredients and equipment. There’s even a fun version just for kiddos. As well as a dairy-free option.
(P.S. Half & half will never whip. You will get a heckuva arm workout. But that’s about it. It MUST be full-fat, heavy whipping cream. I may or may not know this from experience.)
Let me know in the comments if you try it, and what you think! You can also snap a pic and tag me on Instagram, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Quick & Easy Homemade Real Whipped Cream
Prep Time: 5-10 min (depending on your “whipping” method)
Cook Time: 0 min
Total Time: 5-10 min
Makes: 1 cup whipped cream (about enough to top 12 cupcakes, if that helps)
1 cup raw cream, or organic, or grassfed heavy whipping cream (highest quality you can get)
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup or raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a large glass mixing bowl, add all your ingredients and whip until soft peaks form.
- Some recipes will say to use a metal bowl and chill it first. I have never done this and mine still comes out perfect every time.
- Some recipes will say to whip the cream first and then add the other ingredients. I always throw them in together and have never had a problem.
- You can whip the cream with a whisk, by hand (takes about 8 minutes this way), with an electric mixer (takes about 3 minutes, photos above), with a stand mixer, with an immersion blender, or even with a mason jar! Just pour the ingredients into a jar so that they only fill it up halfway (you must leave room for expansion). Screw a lid on tightly and shake, shake, shake until the cream thickens to soft peaks! It takes a bit of patience and some elbow grease, but it is super fun for kids to watch it change before their very eyes. And no mess!
- For dairy-free, use coconut cream. You can sometimes buy it this way from the store (or Amazon). Or, if you can’t find pure “coconut cream,” you can buy cans of organic coconut MILK and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the cream will have risen to the top, with coconut water down below. I find I need 2-3 cans of coconut milk in order to get 1 cup of the cream, depending on the brand. And I have had them not separate before if the fat content isn’t high enough. So, always buy a can or two more than you need. When it does separate, whip the coconut cream just like you would regular dairy cream. I save the coconut water for smoothies by pouring into silicone ice cube molds and freezing for later.
P.S. In case you’re the sort of person who gets bent out of shape at the mention of raw dairy, please refer to my Disclaimer. I am not a licensed dietitian or medical provider, and nothing in this post is to be taken as advice. It is for information and entertainment purposes only.