Heavy cream vs whipping cream – both names used in a variety of keto recipes you'll find on the internet and in cookbooks. But what makes heavy cream different from whipping cream? Is it different at all?
What about half -and- half or light cream? How do you know what to pick when staring at the shelf in the grocery store. Let's take the confusion out of this question so you can confidently pick the best option for you.
The Difference Between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream
The main difference between these two options is that heavy cream contains 38% milk fat whereas whipping cream contains 35% milk fat. So, we're looking at just a few percentage points difference between heavy cream and whipping cream. If you have access to both options, I don't see a reason to NOT choose the higher fat option.
However, the ingredient list on a keto-friendly heavy cream or whipping cream should have just one ingredient. You got it – cream.
Now, both heavy cream and whipping cream have a high enough fat content to be whipped into indulgent homemade whipped cream. To do this, just mix a half teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) and a tablespoon sweetener of choice (optional) into a cup of heavy cream or whipping cream. Then, with your hand blender, mixer or immersion blender — whip it until soft peaks form.
A dollop of homemade whipped cream is a great indulgence mixed into your morning coffee or into a sugar free hot chocolate!
Again, these two products are so close in fat content – choosing one over the other won't make much of a difference in practical application. Purchase what is available to you in your area. If you have a choice, reach for the heavy cream.
What Is Light Cream?
In some areas, heavy cream or whipping cream is tough to find. The only thing on the shelf is something labeled “cream” or “light cream”. So what is this?
Light cream contains about 20% milkfat. So, if you can't find heavy cream or whipping cream at the grocery store – this is your next best choice unless you're looking to whip it.
Light cream doesn't have a high enough fat content to whip into a homemade whipped cream. But it will work for drizzling over fruit or into your morning cup of coffee.
One last note on light cream, if you're using a lot of it in a recipe or in your coffee – it may be worth searching for heavy cream or whipping cream. Otherwise, the carbs in the light cream may add up and slow your progress towards your goals of keeping your carbs low enough to get into (or stay in) ketosis.
What Is Half -and- Half?
As you may have guessed, half and half is equal parts light cream and whole milk. It contains approximately 12% milkfat. For comparison, whole milk contains about 3.5% milkfat.
If the only thing at your coffee shop is half -and- half, can you use it without undermining your low-carb efforts?
This depends on your carb count goals and how flexible you're willing to be from time to time. If this is a daily coffee you get at a coffee shop, it's probably worth requesting heavy cream or whipping cream! They just might be happy to stock it for you and others that may prefer this over a lower fat option.
What To Choose? Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream
The good news is – either option is great for the keto diet. Choose what's available to you in your local grocers.
My tip is, always read the ingredients list. In our Free Facebook Support Group, members have shared photos of labels of heavy cream and whipping cream that contained random ingredients — even dextrose (sugar)! So, go beyond the label and read the ingredient list so you can make the best decision for your body.
Keto Recipes Using Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream
You'll need a batch of my unsweetened condensed milk prepared ahead of time. Or you can simply start with that step. The result is well worth the time and effort.