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Homemade whipped cream is way easier than you think, and infinitely better than the stuff from a can. It’s the perfect thing to top off your Valentine’s Day dessert, from molten chocolate cake or mousse to easy brownie parfaits or a single-serving mug cake!
I used to think whipped cream automatically came from a can, that there was something magical about my shaking that red and white metal before tilting the plastic nozzle and squirting a generous amount either on top of a slice of pie or, more exciting, directly into my mouth. And there might be something to that. After all, you can spend $50 to buy a metal whipped cream dispenser, powered by nitrous oxide chargers (another $50 a pop for a 50 pack), to make whipped cream at home. But unless you’re planning on filling a kiddie pool with the stuff, there’s a better, more economical way. Plus, if you do it my way—by hand—you can skip arm day at the gym!
You only need a few ingredients (so make sure they’re of the highest quality), and a stand mixer or a metal bowl and a balloon whisk.
Related Reading: All the Other Things You Can Do with Your New Stand Mixer
How to Make Whipped Cream
Let’s start with the basic recipe:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer, chill a metal bowl and a balloon whisk instead.
2. Add all your ingredients to the bowl and whisk on high speed for about 1 minute, until medium-stiff peaks form. If you’re whisking by hand, it will take more like 5-10 minutes.
Either way, that’s it! Serve immediately.
Go beyond the basics and employ some tips and tricks.
Add a Little Salt
When I make whipped cream at home, I add a bit of salt. A couple pinches, up to ¼ teaspoon, is sufficient to help brighten the notes of sugar and vanilla without making it taste salty.
Work Out Your Aggression
I personally do not use the stand mixer; I just use a metal balloon whisk (I love my $10 Oxo) and I sit in front of the TV and get out some of my aggression this way, whisking the cream mixture vigorously until it stiffens and peaks form when you remove the whisk. This is the option that allows me to skip my bicep curls. It’s not as daunting as you might think.
Ice, Ice, Baby
If you’re going to whip by hand and are impatient (like me), you can skip the part where you freeze the bowl and whisk. Just empty an ice cube tray into a large glass bowl—the mouth should be wider than your metal bowl—and plop your metal bowl inside. The cream needs to be kept cold while you whip it, so either ice or a frozen bowl and whisk will do the trick.
Spice It Up (or Spike It)
Once you know the basic recipe, you can add various liqueurs or spices before you begin whipping and create a whipped cream perfectly suited for whatever you’re serving. While you can use the basic whipped cream for all of these and get guaranteed results, it’s even more fun and satisfying to play around with different flavor combinations. Plus, with barely any extra effort, your friends will think you’re a culinary genius.
Can You Make Whipped Cream Ahead of Time?
Fresh whipped cream is best served right away, as it can start to slump and weep fairly quickly. If you want to make it ahead of time, only whip it until soft peaks form, then refrigerate for a few hours. Whip it a bit more until medium peaks form just before you’re ready to serve.
Whipped Cream Recipes
Whipped cream is ideal for plopping on top of pies, cakes, and ice cream sundaes, but here are some more specific ideas on how to use your delicious homemade whipped cream—with suggestions on tweaking the whipped cream itself to complement each dessert.
Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake with Classic Whipped Cream Frosting
If you, like me, really enjoy the cream whipping process, and also like strawberries, get ready to have a blast. This recipe invites you to make three batches of basic whipped cream to frost a cake that’s layered with strawberries and is fluffy, light, and delicate as anything. In winter, try swapping in ripe chunks of pear tossed in a bit of cinnamon instead of the strawberries. Get our Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake recipe.
Mexican Churros and Mexican Chocolate Whipped Cream
Instead of Mexican hot chocolate, why not dip your churros into some Mexican chocolate whipped cream? All you need to do is add equal parts cocoa powder and cinnamon (a tablespoon or so of each) and a dash of cayenne to your standard whipped cream. Get our Mexican Churros recipe.
Sour Cream Banana Bread and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
My new favorite thing is to make this banana bread (moist and with a zing that other banana breads don’t have, thanks to the sour cream), cut a slice while it’s still hot, and top it with ice cream. Of course, it gets better when you add some whipped cream to that, especially the kind with cinnamon in it (around 1/2 teaspoon). Get our Sour Cream Banana Bread recipe.
Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream
This might be too much for some of you, but for all us basic folks who love a healthy dose of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, add about a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to your whipping cream and use it to top a classic pumpkin pie. Casually dollop it on top or use a piping bag with a star tip to make it pretty. Get our Classic Pumpkin Pie recipe.
Buttermilk and Brown Butter Waffles with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
While vanilla extract in whipped cream adds a depth of flavor, you can elevate and enhance it by adding vanilla bean. And it’s easier than you might think. Just follow this tutorial and add the seeds from the bean before whipping. Then, since you’ve already elevated one classic, why not do it again with waffles that are better than the kind you can make from the yellow and blue box. These buttermilk and brown butter waffles with a handful of seasonal berries and a dollop of whipped cream are just the ticket for Sunday brunch. Get our Buttermilk and Brown Butter Waffles recipe.
Upside Down Apple Cake with Bourbon Whipped Cream
So now that you have a handle on spices, try your luck at liqueur—or liquor. Just one tablespoon of bourbon in your cream is all you need for a complex, earthy, adult whipped cream perfect for topping an Irish coffee or this lovely cake. Get our Upside Down Apple Cake with Bourbon Whipped Cream recipe. (But try the spiked whipped cream with our Easy Peach Cobbler recipe in the summertime.)
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