When you can make perfectly sweetened whipped cream from scratch in five minutes with even fewer ingredients, we see no reason to top your dessert with store-bought “whipped topping.” The pie you slaved over (or, uh, bought) deserves a delightful dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. And why not when it’s so easy to make?
Our recipe for how to make whipped cream is as simple as they come. In fact, it’s so easy that we’re throwing in some not-so-basic upgrades, too. Because when going from stupid-easy to totally-doable means the difference between plain whipped cream and honey mascarpone whipped cream, sometimes it’s worth it.
Top: honey mascarpone whipped cream at Sprig and Flours
Most whipped cream recipes are a combination of vanilla and cream or sugar and cream. Our recipe uses both: The vanilla gives depth of flavor and the sugar a touch of sweetness that you can adjust to your liking. Either way, the most important ingredient is cream. You want to be sure to use either heavy cream or whipping cream, both of which have high enough fat content to go from silky liquid to fluffy topping. Definitely don’t try to make whipped cream with the 2% you’ve got in the fridge.
Also, if there’s one thing that I like to buy organic, it’s dairy. If you’re able, consider splurging on organic cream for this recipe or, even better, cream from a small, local dairy. Whipped cream gets most of its flavor from, well, the cream; the fresher and better the quality of the cream, the fresher and better the taste of your whipped cream.
If you want to add flavor to your whipped cream, your best bet is to infuse the cream with aromatics like lavendar, thyme, coffee beans, rose petals, cinnamon or toasted coconut before you whip it. This way, you add flavor without losing the lightness of whipped cream.
You can infuse cream in two ways and our friends at Food52 explain both the hot and cold methods to infuse your whipped cream (two pictures above). Both methods are easy, but keep in mind that the mostly-unattended process adds a couple hours to your cooking, at least.
You don’t need anything special to make whipped cream, though whipping it up in a stand mixer is much easier and faster. If you don’t have a stand mixer (or are coveting a new one), you’re in luck because we’re giving one away! I know, shameless, but who doesn’t want to try to win a KitchenAid stand mixer?
Stand mixers aside, all you really need to make whipped cream at home is a whisk and metal bowl. It’ll take longer to whip by hand, but at least you’ll burn off the calories you’ll eat later. Well, almost.
No matter how you go, it’ll help to place your bowl and whisk or mixer attachment in the fridge for 10 minutes before start whipping the cream. Using cold tools will help the cream hold together as you do your thing.
Basic Whipped Cream
Makes 2 cups
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Add cream (straight from the fridge, you want it cold!), sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. If making by hand, start whipping the ingredients with a cold whisk or, if using a stand mixer, turn to medium-high. The cream will progress from bubbly to soft peaks to firm peaks. When it has doubled in size and the cream holds its shape when you pull up the whisk, your whipped cream is done. It will take about 5 minutes in a stand mixer and a little longer with a hand whisk.
Serve immediately or store whipped cream in a sealed container up to one day. If storing for more than a few hours, you may have to give it 10-20 good whisks before serving.
The most obvious—and important—variation on plain whipped cream is chocolate whipped cream. It’s just as easy to make as the basic: This chocolate whipped cream recipe at Beyond Frosting simply adds a package of hot chocolate mix. If you want a mocha flavor, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and substitute one tablespoon of cold coffee for the vanilla in our basic whipped cream recipe. Perfection!
Make your whipped cream super rich and creamy by adding thick, sweet mascarpone, a spreadable Italian cheese often used to make desserts like tiramisu. This honey mascarpone whipped cream (also pictured very top) at Sprig and Flours looks amazing. If you can’t find mascarpone, substitute cream cheese. You can even swap in maple syrup for honey to make a delicious whipped topping that you can use instead of icing on a carrot cake. Mmm.
There’s no reason why only dairy eaters should have all the fun. This Coconut Whipped Cream recipe at Gimme Some Oven is splendid and completely non-dairy. There are a few new considerations when making whipped cream using coconut instead of heavy cream, but they’re just as easy to manage. And the end result is delightful enough for anyone; even dairy eaters should keep this recipe in mind when they want a topping with a tropical twist.
Here’s something unexpected! A spoonful of savory whipped cream is a delicious addition to a bowl of soup, tacos, fish, or vegetables. This recipe at Bon Appetit substitutes salt and white pepper for the sugar in our basic recipe. You can also add add garlic, oregano, chives, or lemon juice for some brightness and added flavor.