The Best Homemade Whipped Cream

No slice of pie is complete without a heaping spoonful or two of the best homemade whipped cream, made from scratch and not from a can. It’s easier to make than you’d think!

a gold spoon rests in a gold bowl filled with fluffy whipped cream

Fresh and fluffy, sweet and supple —  there is simply nothing better than homemade whipped cream, is there?

My great-grandmother was famous for her whipped cream. She made so many delicious recipes that my family still makes today, like these cheese straws and berry cobbler.

But her whipped cream was something special, and my dad often requests it with his apple pie.

The secret she passed down to her grandkids was that she always made it in the same bowl, a blue one by Pyrex. And she mandated that nothing else could be made in said bowl.

Luckily my dad inherited the special whipped cream bowl (and he picked up a matching one for me at a flea market once as a Christmas present) so we can make whipped cream her way.

About our whipped cream bowl: It’s a 1940s-era blue Pyrex bowl, the smallest from a colorful set of nesting bowls. You can usually find these sets at flea markets and vintage shops, in the stack of vintage Pyrex. There are lots of Pyrex finds on Etsy too.

Do you have to make whipped cream in the same bowl, and only use it for whipped cream? No, friend. We have dishwashers now! My great-grandmother did not.

But you can still make her homemade whipped cream recipe, which is what I’m sharing today.

a top view of a gold spoon and a gold bowl containing the best homemade whipped cream on a blue tea towel

Why make homemade whipped cream?

The best homemade whipped cream is fluffy and creamy, and so much different than the ready-made stuff you can find at the store.

For some reason, those always have a sort-of waxy texture to me that I don’t love. But the homemade version is just divine.

It really doesn’t take very long to make, and you can make it before dinner and store it in the fridge for dessert.

a blue stand mixer with an empty bowl of whipped cream

What is in whipped cream?

The ingredient list is surprisingly simple, and that’s what makes it so heavenly.

You’ll need to pick up some heavy cream or whipping cream at the store. It will be in the dairy section with the half-and-half and coffee creamers.

To sweeten it, I use confectioners sugar. You can also use granulated sugar or even brown sugar. (Brown sugar whipped cream is my fave, but the finished whipped cream won’t have quite the same pure-white color.)

You will also add vanilla extract for some added flavor and sweetness. Try not to skimp on good vanilla, okay? Yes, it’s expensive, but this is the kind of recipe where the quality of ingredients makes a big difference.

My favorite is Nielsen Massey’s vanilla extract, but you can also make your own — my friend Jamie has a fab recipe for homemade vanilla extract.

There are also tons of ways you can flavor whipped cream, which we’ll get into in a few!

What kind of cream should I use for homemade whipped cream?

Heavy cream or whipping cream are usually next to each other on the shelf, but they’re not that different.

The difference between the two is in the fat content of the cream.

You can honestly use either one, but the one labeled “heavy” is going to give you a thicker, sturdier whipped cream than the “regular” whipping cream.

There are some substitutes you can try, but for the fluffiest whipped cream, heavy cream is your best bet.

a stand mixer with whipped cream on the beaters

How to make the best homemade whipped cream

You will need a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Both of mine are by KitchenAid.) Either one works, but I prefer a hand mixer for whipped cream because I can’t get too distracted!

If you don’t have either, you can simply use a whisk, but be prepared to also throw in some elbow grease.

In a mixing bowl, combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla, and mix on low speed.

Every so often, check the consistency — when the whipped cream begins to hold its shape when you pull the beaters out, you’re ready to serve it.

How to serve homemade whipped cream

There are a number of ways to serve homemade whipped cream.

  • Use a spoon to place dollops of creamy goodness atop your creations.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star-shaped tip with whipped cream, and pipe stars or cones of whipped cream on top.
  • Fill a whipped cream dispenser with whipped cream to serve it like a culinary artist.
a blue tea towel next to a gold-colored bowl filled with whipped cream

What is the secret to whipping cream?

The secret to the best homemade whipped cream is — I don’t know if you’re going to like this — paying attention.

I know, I know, I too want to turn on the stand mixer and do some dishes or scroll through Instagram while I wait.

But, friends, that’s how we end up with butter. And we want to make whipped cream, right?

The key is to go slowly, turning the mixer off and on as you go so you can check the consistency. Once stiff peaks form (AKA the whipped cream holds its shape) when you pull the whisk out of the mixture, you’ve arrived at the perfect whipped cream.

Any longer and you will indeed end up with butter. And unfortunately, you can’t really save it after that and would do better just to start over.

How long will whipped cream last?

You can make homemade whipped cream 24 hours in advance of when you plan to enjoy it.

Whipped cream will last about a day covered in the fridge. It can separate a little bit, so you may need to whip it for 30 more seconds or so before you serve it.

Warm up a winter evening with a mug of Spiked Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Featuring homemade peppermint vodka, this easy minty hot cocoa drink is made on the stove with real chocolate. (via feastandwest.com)

Flavor variations for homemade whipped cream

The best part of homemade whipped cream is you can customize it to your liking. You can use more or less sugar to get it to taste how you like.

An easy modification is changing up the sugar you use, and try brown or demerara sugar, or something you mix up like lavender sugar.

In lieu of the vanilla, you can use other extracts. Peppermint extract is one I love in whipped cream for the spiked peppermint hot chocolate pictured above. You could also try chocolate extract or coffee extract for coffee and hot cocoa. A hint of lemon extract would be really delicious for a fruity dessert.

You can also flavor it with alcohol. Just a hint! Too much and you risk your cream not setting up properly. I make my Bailey’s whipped cream with homemade Irish cream. You could also use rum, coffee liqueur or another favorite liqueur.

a gold spoon rests in a gold bowl filled with fluffy whipped cream

What to serve with homemade whipped cream

For me, whipped cream is for drinks and desserts only. I do not like it when I order a stack of pancakes or a waffle at a restaurant and it comes with a big swirl of whipped cream on top. No thank you.

But if that isn’t you, this whipped cream would be delicious on these orange vanilla waffles or these banana pancakes.

In terms of dessert, we have many options year-round. In the spring and summer, enjoy it with raspberry lemon dream parfaits, in my favorite berry cream pie or atop a sundae of homemade peanut butter ice cream. Or on a bowl of fresh farmers’ market berries and peaches!

In the fall, we can serve it with caramel apple slab pie, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie. And when it gets colder, it’s perfect over hot chocolate.

In fact, whipped cream is wonderful when spooned over coffee drinks like the autumn spice cafe latte or iced Irish coffee. You can even use it on these birthday cake shots or these apple cider jello shots!

The options are limitless. I hope you love your homemade whipped cream, and maybe you’ll love it so much, you’ll invest in your own vintage whipped cream bowl, too. My Mama would be proud. // susannah

a gold spoon and a gold bowl containing the best homemade whipped cream on a blue tea towel
a top view of a gold spoon and a gold bowl containing the best homemade whipped cream on a blue tea towel

Homemade Whipped Cream

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The fluffiest homemade whipped cream is a welcome addition to desserts, drinks and breakfast dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a hand mixer in a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, the confectioner's sugar and the vanilla extract until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  2. Store covered in the fridge for up to 1 day.

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