The labels may look similar but believe it or not, there is a difference between heavy cream vs. whipping cream. Read on to find out what it is.

By Kelly Vaughan
Updated March 08, 2019
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With all the options in the dairy aisle, you may have wondered: what is the difference between heavy cream and heavy whipping cream? What about heavy cream and whipping cream? Their similar names and placement right next to each other on retail shelves can confuse even advanced cooks and ultimately affect the consistency, texture, and flavor of certain dishes. Below, we explain the differences between heavy cream vs. heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream, plus how to decode the labels and best uses for each type of cream.

Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are actually the same product just with two different names. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, heavy cream and heavy whipping cream must contain at least 36% milkfat. Their nutritional info is also the same— both contain about 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Next time you see them packed next to each other in the grocery store, you won’t have to think twice about which one to pick up. Different label, same delicious dairy.

Heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream— think they’re the same? Think again. These seemingly similar varieties of cream contain different amounts of milkfat, which can create very different products. Whipping cream contains between 30%-35% milkfat, which means that it is a lighter product than heavy cream and heavy whipping cream. Whipping cream contains only 45 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Most packages list the milkfat content so if you’re not sure which cream is right for your recipe, just read the label. The 5% milkfat difference may not seem like a big deal, but it can drastically change the richness and thickness of soups, sauces, and sweets. The lower fat content in whipping cream means that it won’t ever achieve perfectly stiff peaks when whipped, so for a truly impressive whipped cream topping on pies or cakes, use heavy cream.

RELATED: How to Make Whipped Cream

The versatility of heavy cream makes it best for super creamy, rich recipes like tomato and shrimp bisque, spinach and gruyère gratin, and classic butterscotch sauce. Whipping cream is ideal for, you guessed it, whipped cream. It has as a lighter, airy texture due to the lower amount of milkfat; however, this does mean that it won’t hold its shape as well when whipped. The end result will be similar to the consistency of Cool Whip, rather than a thick, intricate cream topping. Whipped cream made using whipping cream, not heavy cream, is perfect as a dollop on ice cream or a garnish for jelly bean meringues, berries and coconut cream, and this insanely beautiful sheet pan pavlova.

Bottom Line: We recommend purchasing heavy cream for all of your cooking and baking purposes. It’s a much more versatile product than whipping cream and oftentimes easier to find. In terms of nutrition, there’s hardly a significant difference between heavy cream and whipping cream.