How to Make Whipped Cream from Scratch
Learn how to make whipped cream with our foolproof recipe for fresh whipped cream. We share step-by-step instructions and call out sneaky things to avoid.
In college, I worked as a server at a family-run Italian restaurant in Baltimore. From night to night the menu would change, showcasing different Italian dishes, but one dessert never changed: Poached Pear in Chianti Wine Sauce with Chantilly Cream. (Psst: Chantilly cream is just a fancy name for whipped cream.) The concept was simple, much like this poached pear recipe, but it was probably our most popular dessert.
On a particularly busy evening, one of the prep cooks asked me to make whipped cream for the dish. I stared at the bowl of cream and sugar before me and confessed that I had no idea what to do. The cook scoffed, snatched the bowl and began to whisk feverishly, by hand. Within moments, the liquid ballooned into airy whipped cream.
That was it? When I tried it at home, I learned it wasn’t quite as easy as he made it look. So for this article, I’ve enlisted help from our Test Kitchen.
How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream
To make whipped cream from scratch at home, you can rely on our Test Kitchen’s sweetened whipped cream recipe—and a hand mixer (it’s wayyyy easier to make whipped cream with the help of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment). You’ll need:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1: Start whipping the cream
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Before you begin, make sure that your beaters and bowl are chilled. Cool tools will help the cream beat up more quickly. You can chill them by popping them in the fridge or freezer for ten minutes before you start.
Then add your cream to the chilled bowl and beat until it begins to thicken. You’re not looking for peaks here, but just for the cream to start to get a little body.
Step 2: Keep whisking
Once slightly thickened, add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until soft peaks form. The recipe will double in size and become a mound of smooth and sweet whipped cream.
Editor’s tip: Keep an eye on your cream as it begins to thicken. If you over-beat cream, it turns to butter!
Add Flavor to Your Whipped Cream
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Once you know how to make fresh whipped cream, you can experiment with many flavor variations. Try swapping out the vanilla extract for these substitutions:
- Cocoa and coffee whipped cream: Add a tablespoon of cocoa and a teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso granules
- Peanutty whipped cream: Add in two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
- Hazelnut whipped cream: Include the vanilla extract but also add a splash of hazelnut liqueur
- Mojito whipped cream: Amp up the flavor with a little fresh mint, lime zest and rum extract
5 Secrets for Perfect Whipped Cream
While whipped cream is easy to make, there are a few techniques that’ll ensure success.
- Keep the cream and your equipment cold: Cream simply whips better at a lower temperature, so it’s best to chill the bowl you’re creating it in, and the beaters (or whisk), too.
- Machines make it easy (and extremely quick):Your stand mixer or electric beater can churn out stiffly whipped cream in a couple of minutes.
- Whisking by hand is possible: Don’t own an electric beater or mixer? Grab a big balloon whisk, pour the cream into a deep bowl (remember, it’ll grow) and start whisking. Flick your wrist so you don’t tire out your arm. Stick with it! It will take several minutes, but you’ll feel totally gratified (and buff) when you’re done.
- Be careful not to over-whip: It’s actually possible to overbeat the whipped cream, especially if you use a mixer. If the cream starts looking grainy and curdled, you’ll know you overdid it. Check on the status of the cream throughout the beating to make sure you’re on track.
- You can make whipped cream in advance: To make whipped cream in advance, slightly under-whip the mixture. Then cover and refrigerate for several hours. You can beat it briefly to the right consistency before serving.