Heavy cream and whipping cream are similar high fat dairy products often used interchangeably, but have different fat contents. Heavy cream has slightly more fat than whipping cream.

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Have you ever followed a recipe that calls for heavy cream, but you only had whipping cream on hand and wondered if you could use it instead?

Heavy and whipping cream are two cream products with many similarities. Their main difference is in fat content.

This article reviews both types to explain what sets them apart, whether they’re keto-friendly, and whether you can use them interchangeably in cooking.

Heavy cream and whipping cream are homogenized blends of milk and milk fat, meaning that the fat they contain is emulsified and mixed thoroughly into the milk so that it doesn’t become separated.

Manufacturers make them both by adding specific proportions of milk fat to milk. Therefore, their main difference is the amount of fat each one contains.

According to the labeling standards of the Food and Drug Administration, heavy cream is a cream with no less than 36% milk fat. It may also be called heavy whipping cream (1).

In contrast, whipping cream has a slightly lower milk fat content, 30–36%. It may also be called light whipping cream (2).


Heavy cream and whipping cream are both made by mixing milk with milk fat. However, heavy cream has a higher fat content than whipping cream.

Heavy cream and whipping cream have virtually the same nutritional composition aside from their fat content. Their difference in calories mainly reflects this fat difference.

Here is a comparison between 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of heavy cream and the same amount of whipping cream (3, 4):

Heavy creamWhipping cream
Fat5.4 grams4.6 grams
Protein0.4 grams0.3 grams
Carbs0.4 grams0.4 grams
Sugar0.4 grams0.4 grams

Both heavy and whipping cream are significant sources of saturated fat.

While diets high in saturated have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the health effects of saturated fats are now being reexamined.

Some research suggests that neither low fat nor high fat dairy products — including cream — increase the risk of heart disease (5, 6, 7, 8).

Still, they’re both high calorie products with minimal nutritional value, so consider consuming them in moderation.

Additionally, both heavy and whipping cream provide fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E.

However, serving sizes of both types of cream are usually small, so you may not get significant amounts of these vitamins by consuming them.


Heavy cream’s higher fat content means it’s also higher in calories than whipping cream. Otherwise, their nutritional profiles very similar. The saturated fat they contain has not been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The keto diet is a very-low-carbohydrate diet. On this diet, you restrict your carb intake to 20–50 grams per day and get 70% or more of your daily calories from fats (9).

Therefore, keto-friendly foods are typically high in fat with minimal amounts of carbs.

Many people on a keto diet restrict or eliminate dairy products. That’s because milk contains a naturally occurring sugar called lactose. Most ice cream and some yogurts contain added sugars on top of that.

However, some dairy products, such as butter, ghee, and some aged cheeses, are naturally low in lactose, and thus they make the cut on a keto diet.

With only 1.75 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup (59 mL), both heavy and whipping cream can be considered keto-friendly (3, 4).

For this reason, many people on keto diets rely on whipping cream or heavy cream as a sugar-free coffee creamer or to make keto-friendly desserts, such as chocolate mousse.

However, both heavy and whipping cream may contain added sugars, depending on the brand, so be sure to check the nutrition label to avoid any confusion.


Heavy and whipping cream are high fat products with a low carb content, which means they’re keto-friendly.

The short answer is yes.

Flavorwise, you may use them interchangeably. However, which one you should use ultimately depends on the consistency of your dish or how thick you want it to be.

Due to its higher fat content, heavy cream produces richer, creamier results, while whipping cream delivers a lighter creamy texture.

For instance, you can use either type to make whipped cream. However, heavy cream allows for a sturdier whipped cream that can hold peaks, while whipping cream delivers a softer and airier version that doesn’t hold peaks as stiffly.

Heavy cream is used in both savory and sweet dishes. When it comes to the savory ones, heavy cream works well in:

  • quiche
  • Alfredo sauce
  • scalloped potatoes
  • creamy mac and cheese

On the sweeter side, people typically use heavy cream to make:

  • ice cream
  • chocolate ganache
  • cake frosting

In contrast, people mainly use whipping cream as a lighter topping for sweet items such as fruit salads and pies.


You can use heavy cream and whipping cream interchangeably in cooking, keeping in mind that your choice may change the consistency of your dish. Heavy cream tends to create a thicker, creamier result than whipping cream.

Heavy cream and whipping cream are two similar high fat dairy products that manufacturers make by mixing milk with milk fat.

The main difference between the two is their fat content. Heavy cream has slightly more fat than whipping cream. Otherwise, they are nutritionally very similar.

You can use them interchangeably in recipes without affecting the taste, although they may lead to different consistencies.

Heavy cream typically results in a thicker or creamier consistency, and people use it in both sweet and savory dishes. Whipping cream produces a lighter texture, and people usually reserve it for sweet recipes.

Also, both products are very low in carbs, which makes them suitable for you if you’re following a keto diet. Just make sure the versions you choose don’t contain added sugars.

Just one thing

Try this today: If you don’t have heavy cream or whipping cream at home, you can make your own heavy cream like this:

  1. Melt 1/3 cup (73 grams) of butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add 2/3 cup (160 mL) of whole milk.
  3. Stir over medium-low heat until well combined.
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