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Can I cook with heavy whipping cream?

Yes, you can absolutely cook with heavy whipping cream! Heavy whipping cream, also known as heavy cream, is a dairy product that contains between 36-40% milk fat, making it thicker and richer than other types of cream. While heavy cream is most commonly used to make whipped cream or add richness to desserts, it can also be used for savory cooking and adds luxurious texture and flavor to soups, sauces, pastas, and more. Here’s what you need to know about cooking with heavy whipping cream.

What is Heavy Whipping Cream?

Heavy whipping cream, commonly just called heavy cream or whipping cream, has a milk fat content between 36-40%. This high fat content gives it a thick, rich texture and creamy flavor. Heavy cream contains less water and more fat molecules than lighter creams like half and half or light cream. The high fat content means heavy cream can be whipped into soft peaks, making it perfect for topping pies, cakes, or bowls of fruit. Heavy cream is pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized to allow for longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurized heavy cream does not need to be refrigerated until opened.

How Does Heavy Cream Differ from Other Dairy Products?

Here’s a quick overview of how heavy whipping cream compares to other common dairy products:

  • Half and Half – Contains 10.5-18% milk fat, less thick than heavy cream.
  • Light Cream – Contains 18-30% milk fat, can’t be whipped like heavy cream.
  • Whipping Cream – Contains 30-36% milk fat, can be whipped but is lighter than heavy cream.
  • Heavy Cream – Contains 36-40% milk fat, thick texture and can be whipped.
  • Butter – Contains at least 80% milk fat, solid at room temperature.

Benefits of Cooking with Heavy Cream

Here are some of the benefits that heavy whipping cream offers for cooking:

  • Richness – The high fat content adds richness, mouthfeel, and flavor to sauces, soups, desserts.
  • Smoothes Textures – Heavy cream has an emulsifying effect that can blend flavors and create smooth, creamy textures.
  • Keeps Sauces Stable – The fat in heavy cream helps stabilize emulsified sauces like hollandaise or béchamel.
  • Tenderizes – Marinating meats in heavy cream can help tenderize tougher cuts.
  • Browning – Milk solids in heavy cream promote nice browning when searing or sautéing foods.
  • Adds Moisture – Using heavy cream in baked goods helps keep them moist and tender.

Tips for Cooking with Heavy Cream

Follow these tips when using heavy whipping cream for cooking:

  • Opt for ultra-pasteurized cream if not using right away as it has a longer shelf life unopened.
  • Shake the carton before pouring as the cream separates during storage.
  • Add cream at the end of cooking as extended heating can cause cream to curdle or split.
  • For ultra-richness, look for heavy cream with 40% milk fat.
  • Reduce heat to low or medium-low when adding cream to prevent curdling.
  • Thicken sauces gradually with a slurry if needed vs. adding heavy cream.

How to Cook and Bake with Heavy Cream

Here are some ideas for using heavy cream in sweet and savory recipes:


  • Alfredo sauce
  • Cream sauces for pasta, chicken, or fish
  • Newburg sauce for seafood
  • Hollandaise or béarnaise sauce
  • Mushroom cream sauces for steak

Soups and Stews

  • Creamed corn or potato soup
  • Lobster bisque
  • Beef or chicken stews
  • Creamy tomato soup
  • Puréed vegetable soups

Marinades and Basting

  • Buttermilk-herb marinade for chicken or pork
  • Heavy cream-lemon marinade for fish
  • Roasting pan drippings gravy
  • Basting roast turkey or chicken

Baked Goods

  • Cream pies like banana cream or coconut cream
  • Whipped cream frosting
  • Pastry cream for filling éclairs or cream puffs
  • Rich buttercream frostings
  • Ice cream and custards

Storing and Handling Heavy Cream

Follow these guidelines for best results when storing heavy cream:

  • Refrigerate heavy cream in original carton until use.
  • Use within 5-7 days of opening.
  • Heavy cream can be frozen for 2-3 months in an airtight container.
  • Thaw frozen cream overnight in the fridge before whipping.
  • Ultra-pasteurized cream can store 3-4 weeks after opening when refrigerated.
  • Don’t whip cream that has curdled or separated.

Recipes Using Heavy Cream

Try using heavy cream in these delicious recipes:

Savory Heavy Cream Recipes

Sweet Heavy Cream Recipes

Substitutes for Heavy Cream

In a pinch, these dairy products can be used as substitutes for heavy whipping cream:

  • Light Cream – Not as thick but contains 30% milk fat.
  • Half and Half – Lower fat content (10.5-18%) but can be used in cooking.
  • Whole Milk & Butter – Equal amounts blended can mimic heavy cream.
  • Evaporated Milk – Must be whipped; balances thickness of cream.
  • Greek Yogurt – Adds richness without the fat, not suitable for whipping.
  • Cottage Cheese – Puréed in blender has a rich creaminess.
  • Silken Tofu – Puréed smooth has a very thick texture.

Non-Dairy Heavy Cream Substitutes

For non-dairy recipes, try these heavy whipping cream substitutes:

  • Coconut Cream – Thick, rich cream made from the coconut solids.
  • Full Fat Coconut Milk – Chilled overnight so cream separates and can be whipped.
  • Cashew Cream – Blend soaked raw cashews with water or non-dairy milk.
  • Hemp Milk – Contains healthy fats and has a creamy consistency.
  • Silken Tofu – Blends into a thick, creamy base for desserts.


Heavy whipping cream is a versatile ingredient that can add richness, moisture, and flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. With a high milk fat content, heavy cream provides thickness and creamy texture perfect for smoothing out soups or stews, making ice cream or creamy desserts, preparing custards, and whipping up pillowy mounds to top pies and cakes. Follow proper handling and storage methods to keep heavy cream fresh and incorporate it into recipes gently at lower heats to prevent curdling. With a few tips, heavy cream can help take your cooking and baking to the next level.