What should you not do when whipping cream?

Whipping cream to soft or stiff peaks is an essential technique in baking and dessert making. However, there are several things you should avoid doing when whipping cream that can lead to failed whips or over-whipped cream. Learning what not to do when whipping cream will help you end up with perfect whipped cream every time.

What is Whipped Cream?

Whipped cream is cream that has been beaten by a whisk or mixer to incorporate air bubbles, which causes it to increase in volume and take on a light, fluffy texture. The extent to which cream is whipped depends on the recipe and desired use. Cream can be whipped to soft peaks, which falls back onto itself when the whisk is removed, or stiff peaks, which holds its shape. Whipped cream is used as a topping or filling for desserts like cakes, pie and ice cream sundaes. It can also be flavored and sweetened for use on coffee drinks. When perfecting whipped, soft billowy mounds of sweetened clouds. But if mistakes are made during the whipping process, you’ll end up with a runny, greasy mess. Avoid these common errors when whipping cream for flawlessly fluffy whipped cream every time.

Don’t Use Ultra-Pasteurized Cream

The first key to perfect whipped cream is using the right type of cream. Whipping cream, also sold as heavy whipping cream, contains between 30-36% milk fat. This high fat content allows the cream to whip up into billowy peaks. On the other hand, ultra-pasteurized cream does not whip up well at all. The ultra-high temperature pasteurization process damages the proteins in cream, making it nearly impossible to whip properly. So be sure to avoid ultra-pasteurized, ultra-high temperature (UHT) creams if your goal is freshly whipped cream. Purchase pasteurized heavy whipping creams only for successful whipping.

Don’t Use Cream That’s Too Warm or Too Cold

Temperature is also key when it comes to whipping cream. Cream that is too warm or too cold will not whip up correctly. Ideally, cream should be well chilled but not ice cold during whipping. Cream straight from the refrigerator at around 35-40°F is best. If your cream feels room temperature or warm, place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before attempting to whip it. On the flip side, if you use cream straight from the freezer, it will whip very slowly and the fat may separate. Let ultra-cold cream sit out for 5-10 minutes before whipping. Getting the cream to the right temperature helps facilitate whipping.

Don’t Whip Too Long

It’s important not to overwhip your cream. Whipping introduces air bubbles into the cream that give it volume and structure. But over-whipping pops all of those air bubbles, causing the cream to deflate and liquefy once more. When whipping to soft peaks, mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until mounds form. For stiff peaks, beat 2-3 minutes. Visually monitor the cream and stop mixing once it reaches the desired consistency. Don’t walk away from your mixer while whipping or you might come back to broken cream. With the proper technique, it’s easy to avoid overwhipping.

Don’t Add Sugar Too Early

When making sweetened whipped cream, make sure to add the sugar at the right time. Adding sugar too early prevents the cream from whipping properly. Sugar inhibits the formation of stiff peaks. The granules cut through the proteins needed to create the whipped structure. Add powdered sugar only after whipping the cream to soft peaks first. Then continue mixing briefly to integrate the sugar evenly into the whipped cream. This results in fluffier, sweeter whipped cream. With the correct order, you can both sweeten and whip your cream.

Don’t Use Low-Fat Cream

Stick to heavy whipping or heavy cream containing at least 30% milk fat. Low-fat cream, half and half, and light cream contain less fat. The lower milk fat content prevents them from whipping up properly, regardless of technique. Low-fat cream will whip faster due to a higher water content, but the peaks will not be stable and can easily collapse. For light, airy whipped cream, always rely on heavy cream with a high fat percentage. Stay away from low-fat or “lite” creams if you want your whipped cream to hold its shape.

Don’t Use a Plastic Bowl

Avoid using plastic bowls when whipping cream. Plastic bowls tend to absorb some of the fat from the cream as you whip it, which can hinder the whipping process. Stainless steel, glass, or copper bowls are best. Make sure any bowl you use is absolutely clean of grease and oil, as any traces of fat will also prevent the cream from whipping properly. Your choice of bowl can make a difference in the ease and success of whipping cream.

Don’t Overfill the Bowl

When whipping small amounts of cream, be sure not to overfill your mixing bowl. The cream needs room to expand in volume and take on air bubbles as you whip. Using a large bowl, fill it no more than halfway when whipping 1 cup or less of cream. As the cream whips up, it will multiply in size and fill the bowl. If you overfill, it can overflow over the edges of the bowl and make a mess. Monitor your bowl capacity as the cream grows and adjust accordingly.

Don’t Add Extracts or Liqueurs Too Soon

When making flavored whipped cream, wait until after whipping the cream to soft or stiff peaks before adding extracts, liqueurs or flavoring oils. Adding them too soon can impede whipping, similar to adding sugar prematurely. The ideal time to add flavorings is right after you finish whipping the cream. Then fold in the flavoring gently to distribute evenly throughout the whipped cream. This ensures you build the right structure before introducing other ingredients.

Don’t Use an Unsuited Mixer

Your choice of mixer can make whipping cream much easier or more difficult. Handheld mixers with whisk attachments are ideal for whipping small amounts of cream. Stand mixers fitted with the whisk attachment are best for larger batches. Deep, narrow mixing bowls help cream whip faster in stand mixers. Wide, shallow bowls don’t concentrate the cream enough. Avoid trying to whip cream with electric beaters lacking any whipping attachment. The wrong choice of mixer can prevent your cream from whipping properly.

Don’t Whip When Humid

On very humid days, whipping cream can be nearly impossible. The moisture in the air sabotages your whipping success. Cream whips best on low humidity days. If it’s humid, you can try to counteract the effects by chilling your cream mixture even colder and being vigilant while whipping. Whip only to soft peaks then immediately use or store whipped cream in the refrigerator. The humidity makes it difficult to whip cream to its full potential. Keep an eye on the weather if whipping cream.

Don’t Store Whipped Cream Too Long

Freshly whipped cream has a short shelf life. The air bubbles popping over time causes whipped cream to deflate quickly. For best results, use whipped cream immediately after preparing. To store briefly, place in airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 12 hours. The chilled temperature helps preserve the whipped structure. But after about 12 hours, you’ll notice your billowy whipped cream turning runny once again. Enjoy whipped cream as soon as possible for the best texture.

Don’t Freeze Unstabilized Whipped Cream

Plain whipped cream does not hold up well when frozen. The ice crystals rupture the air bubbles, causing the cream to weep and deflate after thawing. To make whipped cream that freezes well, add a stabilizer first. Gelatin, powdered milk, or commercial whipped cream stabilizers prevent weeping when frozen. With a stabilizer added, dollop whipped cream onto your desserts then freeze. After thawing, the whipped cream will retain its smooth, mounded shape. Stabilize whipped cream if you want it to freeze successfully.

Don’t Leave Cream Out Too Long

Always return leftover heavy cream to the refrigerator immediately after use. Heavy cream left out too long will spoil quicker than milk due to its higher fat content. Bacteria grows rapidly in the cream when unrefrigerated. To maximize freshness, pour only the amount of cream needed into your mixing bowl. Don’t prematurely measure out all your cream. Leftover cream starts deteriorating in quality the longer it sits out. For best results, refrigerate cream right away.

Don’t Use Dirty Utensils

Be sure to whip your cream in a scrupulously clean bowl with clean beaters or whisk attachment. Any residual fats or flavors can taint the flavor of your fresh cream. Wash your bowl, whisk, and spatula thoroughly in hot, soapy water before whipping. Rinse and dry completely. If making sweetened whipped cream, wash utensils again after whipping up the unsweetened cream, before adding sugar. Contamination from utensils imparts an unpleasant taste. Always whip cream using pristinely clean tools.

Don’t Guess When Measuring Ingredients

Successful whipping relies on precise ingredient ratios. Measure your cream accurately using proper kitchen measuring tools. Eyeballing amounts or estimating leads to issues like cream that’s too loose or too stiff. Similarly, precisely measure any sugar or flavorings added. Following a trusted recipe removes the guesswork and chances of failure. Carefully measuring your cream and add-ins eliminates frustration when whipping up a batch of perfect whipped cream.


From the proper heavy cream and mixing method to ideal storage conditions, many factors go into creating light, fluffy whipped cream. Avoiding common mistakes will help prevent your whipped cream from turning out runny, greasy, watery or overwhipped. By steering clear of plastic bowls, overbeating, unsuitable cream and other missteps, you can whip up mounds of stiff, stable whipped cream every time. With the right techniques and ingredients, whipped cream is easy and delightful. Just be mindful of what not to do when whipping for sweet Success!

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