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Is Cool Whip the same as whipped cream?

Cool Whip and whipped cream are two popular whipped toppings used in desserts, on fruit, in coffee drinks, and more. At first glance, they may seem very similar – after all, they’re both light, fluffy whipped toppings. But Cool Whip and real whipped cream actually have some important differences when it comes to ingredients, nutrition, taste, and how they’re made.

This article will compare Cool Whip versus whipped cream to see how they stack up in areas like:

  • Main ingredients
  • Nutrition facts
  • Taste and texture
  • Uses and applications
  • Storage and shelf life
  • Cost and availability

Looking at all these factors will help shed light on whether Cool Whip can be considered a true substitute for real whipped cream, or if the two products are too different to be used interchangeably.

Main Ingredients

First, let’s examine the main ingredients in Cool Whip versus whipped cream. This gives insight into the composition and nature of each product.

Cool Whip Ingredients

Cool Whip’s main ingredients include:

  • Water
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil (vegetable fat)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Skim milk
  • Light cream

Cool Whip is made with water, vegetable oil, and corn syrup as the main ingredients. It also contains some skim milk and light cream. But Cool Whip doesn’t contain heavy whipping cream, which is the key ingredient in whipped cream.

Whipped Cream Ingredients

The main ingredients in whipped cream include:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Vanilla extract or other flavorings (optional)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Stabilizers like gelatin or corn starch (optional)

Whipped cream is made by whisking or whipping heavy cream until it becomes light and fluffy. The main ingredient is therefore heavy whipping cream, also known as heavy cream. Some recipes add sugar, vanilla, or stabilizers for extra flavor and structure.

Key Differences

The key takeaway when comparing the ingredients is:

  • Cool Whip’s main ingredients are water, vegetable oil, and corn syrup.
  • Whipped cream’s main ingredient is heavy whipping cream.

Cool Whip contains no real cream at all, while real whipped cream is made entirely from heavy cream.

Nutrition Facts

Due to the different ingredients, Cool Whip and whipped cream also have quite different nutritional profiles.

Here is a nutrition facts table comparing them:

Nutrition Facts Cool Whip Whipped Cream
Calories 25 kcal per 2 tbsp 52 kcal per 2 tbsp
Total Fat 2 g 5 g
Saturated Fat 2 g 3 g
Sodium 25 mg 10 mg
Sugar 2 g 0.4 g
Protein 0 g 0.4 g

As you can see, Cool Whip is lower in calories and fat compared to whipped cream. However, it also contains more added sugar. Whipped cream has a small amount of protein, while Cool Whip contains none.

Ultimately, Cool Whip offers no nutritional benefits. Whipped cream, made from pure dairy cream, contains more natural fat and nutrients.

Key Differences

The key differences in nutrition are:

  • Cool Whip is lower in calories and fat, but higher in added sugar.
  • Whipped cream provides pure dairy fat, some protein, and very little sugar.
  • Whipped cream offers more nutritional benefits from its real cream ingredients.

Taste and Texture

Beyond just ingredients and nutrition, Cool Whip and whipped cream also differ quite a bit in terms of taste, texture, and mouthfeel.

Cool Whip Taste and Texture

Cool Whip has a light, foamy, and airy texture. However, it lacks the rich creaminess of real whipped cream. The taste is sweet, with undertones of vanilla. But the flavors tend to be muted. Overall, the taste and mouthfeel is more artificial than fresh whipped cream.

Whipped Cream Taste and Texture

Whipped cream has a rich, indulgent taste and texture from the pure dairy fat. It coats the mouth with a smooth, creamy flavor that is deeply satisfying. The taste can vary from lightly sweetened to purely milky, depending on recipe. But it always delivers a fresh, non-artificial flavor. The mouthfeel is much denser and richer than Cool Whip.

Key Differences

  • Cool Whip has an airy, foamy texture while whipped cream is dense and rich.
  • Whipped cream tastes naturally creamy and milky, while Cool Whip is sweet with an artificial taste.
  • The indulgent mouthfeel of whipped cream beats out the waxy texture of Cool Whip.

When it comes to taste and texture, real dairy whipped cream is hard to mimic with fake products like Cool Whip.

Uses and Applications

Due to differences in stability and composition, Cool Whip and whipped cream are not always interchangeable in recipes and uses.

Uses for Cool Whip

Cool Whip can be used for things like:

  • Topping cakes, pies, fruit, and desserts
  • Adding to pudding cups or gelatin desserts
  • Making “ice cream” by blending with frozen fruit
  • Frosting cookies or cupcakes
  • Adding to milkshakes or smoothies

Because it is shelf-stable and freeze-thaw stable, Cool Whip can be kept on hand for whenever you need a topping. It’s easy to scoop onto desserts right from the tub. The light texture also makes it good for blending and whisking into recipes.

Uses for Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is best used for things like:

  • Topping fresh-baked pies, cakes, waffles, pancakes, French toast, ice cream sundaes
  • Filling or frosting delicate cakes and pastries
  • Folding into mousses, custards, fresh fruit
  • Piping decoratively onto desserts and drinks
  • Dolloping onto hot chocolate, Irish coffee

The delicate, fresh texture of whipped cream makes it ideal for topping anything you eat straight away. Creative piping and dolloping makes it perfect for elegant dessert presentations. However, whipped cream needs to be used immediately before it melts and weeps.

Key Differences

  • Cool Whip can be stored and scooped, while whipped cream must be freshly made.
  • Whipped cream works better for topping and folding into fresh desserts.
  • Cool Whip is more convenient for mixing into recipes in advance.

Consider the application when deciding whether to use Cool Whip versus homemade whipped cream. Cool Whip offers convenience, while whipped cream gives superior texture and taste.

Storage and Shelf Life

The different natures of Cool Whip and whipped cream also affect how they are stored and how long they last. This determines when each one can be used.

Cool Whip Storage

Unopened Cool Whip:

  • Can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Lasts for 4-6 months in the refrigerator
  • Lasts for up to 1 year in the freezer

Opened Cool Whip:

  • Store in airtight container in the refrigerator
  • Lasts for up to 2 weeks refrigerated
  • Can be reused if frozen and re-whipped after thawing

Thanks to added preservatives and stabilizers, Cool Whip lasts a long time refrigerated or frozen. It retains its texture after thawing.

Whipped Cream Storage

Homemade whipped cream:

  • Best if used immediately after whipping
  • Can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 days
  • Does not retain stable texture after freezing

Since it contains no preservatives, freshly whipped cream must be eaten soon before it starts to weep and lose structure. It does not regain proper texture after freezing.

Key Differences

  • Cool Whip can be stored refrigerated or frozen for months.
  • Whipped cream is best freshly whipped and used immediately.
  • Cool Whip retains its texture after freezing, unlike whipped cream.

For convenience, Cool Whip wins for long shelf life. But for ultimate freshness, whipped cream must be made right before serving.

Cost and Availability

Convenience comes at a cost – Cool Whip is often more expensive and less readily available than real whipping cream.

Cool Whip Cost

An 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip typically costs between $2-$4 in grocery stores. Specialty flavors can cost even more. It must be specifically purchased from the store refrigerator aisle.

Whipping Cream Cost

Heavy whipping cream costs around $3-$5 for a 16 ounce pint. It’s readily available in the dairy aisle of any grocery store. For larger quantities, heavy cream costs around $4 per quart at warehouse stores like Costco.

Key Differences

  • Heavy cream is often cheaper per ounce than Cool Whip.
  • Heavy cream can be purchased just about anywhere, unlike Cool Whip.
  • Heavy cream allows making your own whipped cream at a fraction of the cost.

Unless you need the convenience of ready-to-use Cool Whip, you can save money by whipping your own cream. Whipping cream is also far more widely accessible.


While Cool Whip and whipped cream may seem interchangeable at first glance, they actually have significant differences when it comes to ingredients, nutrition, taste, use cases, storage, and cost.

Cool Whip offers convenience, long shelf life, and a light and airy texture. But it lacks the indulgent taste and mouthfeel of real dairy whipped cream. It also contains artificial ingredients and less nutrition compared to real cream.

Whipped cream made from heavy whipping cream delivers far superior flavor and texture. It contains just natural dairy ingredients. The downside is its shorter shelf life and the need to whip it fresh. But the cost savings and availability of whipping cream in stores makes preparing homemade whipped cream easy.

So while Cool Whip can work in a pinch, nothing truly compares to real freshly whipped heavy cream. When you need the absolute best taste and texture for topping cakes and pies or folding into delicate mousses, real whipped cream is a must. But if convenience and longer storage are priorities, Cool Whip can fit the bill in some recipes.

Just be aware that Cool Whip should not universally be substituted for whipped cream in all cases. Evaluate each use case to decide whether from-scratch whipped cream or ready-to-use Cool Whip makes more sense based on the context. But when it comes to pure indulgence, heavy cream that’s freshly whipped right before serving is hard to beat.

Key Takeaways

  • Cool Whip contains water, oil and corn syrup, while whipped cream is made from pure dairy cream.
  • Whipped cream offers more natural fat and nutrients compared to Cool Whip.
  • Cool Whip has a lighter, airier texture while whipped cream is rich and indulgent.
  • Cool Whip offers convenience but whipped cream gives superior freshness.
  • Heavy cream costs less per ounce and is more readily available than Cool Whip.
  • Each product has certain uses where it makes sense, but whipped cream shines when freshness is paramount.