Smith: Fresh, frozen or canned, whipped cream a holiday tradition

Smith: Fresh, frozen or canned, whipped cream a holiday tradition


Whipped cream makes a decadent addition to many holiday favorites, including pumpkin pie, gingerbread cake and hot chocolate. The question is, do you make homemade whipped cream, purchase whipped cream in a can, or buy whipped topping?

Whipped cream is simply heavy cream that has been whipped until it’s fluffy enough to form stiff peaks. It’s often sweetened with sugar. Some bakers prefer confectioners’ sugar to granulated, as confectioners’ sugar dissolves easily. You can use vanilla extract for flavoring, although technically it would now be called Chantilly cream or crème Chantilly.

The fat in the heavy cream forms air pockets when whipped, doubling the volume. Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are the same, but whipping cream (without the heavy) is lower in fat. Both can be used for whipped cream, but heavy cream will hold it’s shape for longer.

Whipped cream in a can is whipped cream with added ingredients, such as stabilizers, emulsifiers and preservatives. Nitrous oxide is the propellant that “whips” the cream as it comes out. It won’t hold it’s shape as long as homemade whipped cream.

Whipped topping, on the other hand, will hold it’s shape for days on end. However, it’s actually not whipped cream. It’s made with hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, stabilizers, added flavorings and preservatives. It’s usually found in the frozen section of the grocery store. The convenience of whipped cream in a can and whipped topping is unparalleled.

While whipped cream is not hard to make, it soon deflates. Nonetheless, homemade whipped cream is far superior in taste, though it’s also higher in calories. Ultimately, if you choose canned whipped cream or whipped topping, you’ll have fewer calories and greater convenience, but you’ll sacrifice on additives, taste and cost. If you choose homemade whipped cream, you’ll have the best flavor, lower cost and natural ingredients, but more calories and more work. In the end, the choice is yours!

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream (cold)

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Add heavy cream and sugar to a chilled bowl. Using a wire whisk, whisk by hand for 1-3 minutes or until stiff peaks form. (If using a mixer, whip using medium-high speed. Do not overmix). Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.

Yield: 3-4 cups

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 60 calories, 6 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 0 grams protein

Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306. 

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