Hi, and welcome to one of my fundamental posts, how to whip cream by hand.

Yes, you can use a mixer or any number of other tools to whip cream. But you’ll have the most control over the texture if you whip it by hand.

In this post, you’ll learn to whip cream using a whisk, how to stabilize the cream so it keeps better, how to know how you’ve over-whipped your cream and how to avoid it, and more.

This post is part of my Fundamental Friday series in which I answer readers’ baking and pastry questions. For ease of browsing, you can find all my Baking Fundamentals posts in one place. Thanks for reading.

A glass bowl of whipped cream with a whisk in it.

Watch my how to make whipped cream by hand web story here.

Why whip cream by hand?

I’ve whipped gallons of cream by hand (a little at a time!), and I promise you that it’s not hard to do.

Hand whipping allows you to control the speed at which you whisk and to vary that speed as your cream gets closer to being done.

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Since you build up all the bubbles more slowly, this will result in a more stable whipped cream.

Reader Rave

I just used this recipe for a topping for butterscotch pie. It was perfect. And everyone of your tips was so helpful. Thanks!

Reader Travis (emphasis, mine)

Two secrets about whipping cream

It seems as though most “recipes” for whipped cream start with either a big old stand mixer or at least a hand mixer. For large amounts, that’s fine.

But you can whip up to a cup or a cup and a half of cream with no more than your balloon whisk, a good, sturdy bowl, and some elbow grease in about 2 minutes.

Here’s a secret: warmer cream whips faster than cold.

I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s just something you should know.

The purpose of getting everything–the cream, bowl, beaters, etc–super cold before whipping has more to do with the plasticity of the butterfat in the cream than it has to do with the speed of whipping.

Since butterfat is firm at refrigerator temperatures it takes longer to whip air into it, but the resulting foam will be much more stable.

Room-temperature whipping cream will thicken shockingly quickly, but since you haven’t had a lot of time to pump air into it through whisking action, it will collapse almost as quickly.

You also run way more of a risk of ending up with butter when whipping warmer cream.

What kind of whisk to use

Here’s another secret: a whisk with more wires/tines will whip up cream or egg whites faster than one with fewer.

Also, a rounder shape is better for whipping than a more compact shape. The more wires, the more you can agitate the cream and whip air into it.

A big round whisk will also help you get more air into the mixture more quickly than a whisk with a more compact shape. If you are looking for just one whisk to own, buy a balloon whisk.

Close up view of the wires on a balloon whisk.
That little ball cage thing inside the larger whisk can provide faster aeration, but I think it’s a better idea to build the bubbles up slowly so you end up with a more stable cream.

 

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02/29/2024 05:07 pm GMT

Procedure

  • Pour cold cream into your cold bowl. Don’t chill the whisk because you’ll just end up freezing your hand while you’re whisking.
  • To stabilize the bowl on the counter, wrap a damp towel around the base of your bowl. It’s like a little nest for the bowl that it can settle down into. You can also use a piece of that non-slip shelf liner, although I actually prefer using a damp towel.
  • Add a pinch of fine salt and just a bit of sugar. Maybe 1 Tablespoon per cup to start. You can always whisk in a bit more. Why the salt? Just as salted butter tastes better on toast than unsalted butter, adding some salt to your whipping cream will make it taste better too. You won’t need a lot, but you will be amazed at the depth of buttery flavor you can achieve with just a tiny pinch of salt.
  • Start whisking slowly and steadily. You don’t really even need to pull the whisk up out of the cream. Just keep it moving steadily back and forth across the bottom of the bowl.
    I often whisk side to side. You can also whisk back and forth. I don’t suggest doing a lot of “round and round” whisking until the cream starts to really thicken up.

    Going around and around with your whisk just ends up pushing the cream ahead of the whisk rather than allowing the whisk to cut through the mixture introducing air. You end up stirring rather than whisking, and the whole process will take longer.
  • Once the cream starts to thicken up a bit, taste it. Add a bit of sugar if you think it needs it. You can also add a few drops of vanilla. Or some cinnamon. Or some other spice or extract that will complement whatever you’re putting it on.
  • Continue to whisk, alternating back and forth and side to side when you get bored, but keep the it moving and be pretty assertive with the whisking. You don’t have to break a sweat, but you want to whip the cream, not just massage it.
  • Once the whisk starts leaving tracks, it will start to thicken up fairly quickly. At this point you can do some around and around whisking if you can’t help yourself. You can also lift the whisk up out of the bowl, whisking in a circle perpendicular to the surface of the cream. If that makes sense.
  • Check the consistency of your foam every few turns of the whisk, pulling it straight up and out of the bowl, and then turning it sideways to check on the peaks. I almost never take mine to full stiff peaks–where the peak just points straight out to the side without any curling over. At that point there’s not much room for error. I generally stop when the peaks curl over a bit–medium to medium-firm peaks.
  • And there you have it: how to whip cream by hand. Ta da!

Tips for Success

Set your bowl of cream in a “nest” made of a damp kitchen towel. It will keep the bowl from slipping and spinning around while you whip your cream.

Whisk back and forth rather than in circles. Your cream will whip faster.

Whisks with more wires and a rounder shape will whip up your cream faster than a whisk with fewer wires and a flatter shape.

How much cream do I need for…

Plan on the volume of your cream doubling when whipped to medium-stiff peaks.

1/2 cup of cream will yield about 1 cup of whipped cream

1 cup will yield about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups yields roughly 3 cups whipped, and on and on

How to stabilize whipped cream

For most uses, just whipping the cream with a pinch of salt, a little sugar, and some flavoring works great.

Sometimes you want it to hold up for a few days under refrigeration without weeping.

I have found the best way to do that is to whip some bloomed and melted gelatin into the cream. You can read how to stabilize whipped cream with gelatin in this post.

If you are vegetarian or want to keep your whipped cream, vegetarian, you can stabilize your cream with some (affiliate) Instant Clear Jel. Read to learn how to make stabilized whipped cream with Instant Clear Jel.

Whipping cream with a food processor

Another choice is to whip the cream in a food processor. This yields an incredibly dense and stable foam that will last for several days without weeping.

You will want to keep an eye on it, because it happens quickly and you don’t want to end up with butter.

Can I Over-Whip Cream?

You can absolutely over-whip cream, although whipping it by hand gives you more control so you probably won’t.

Still, you should know why it can happen.

When whipping cream by hand, most folks run into trouble by whipping it to very stiff peaks.

That’s okay as long as all you’re going to do with it is plop it into a mug of hot chocolate or on top of some plum crisp.

When NOT to whip to stiff peaks

There are two times when whipping cream to stiff peaks is not the best plan:

  1. when you are going to be folding it into something else like a mousse, cake batter, or pudding, or
  2. when you’re going to pipe it decoratively onto a cake, pie, or other dessert

In both cases, you run the risk of over-working your cream.

The act of folding cream into another mixture and the act of pressing it through a decorative piping tip both continue to work or “whip” the cream.

If you take it to very stiff peaks before folding or piping, you could end up with over-whipped-bordering-on-butter cream.

Give yourself a little wiggle room by whipping any cream that will be folded into another mixture to no more than medium-soft to medium peaks and whipping any that you’ll be piping onto something else to no more than medium-firm peaks.

Whipping Cream by Hand Q & A

Can I whip mascarpone or creme fraiche?

Yes! You can whip creme fraiche (homemade or store-bought) and mascarpone in exactly the same way as you whip cream. With mascarpone, you want to get it to room temperature and then whisk it fairly gently as it will get grainy if you over-whisk. You can also whip mascarpone and cream (or creme fraiche) together in the same bowl at the same time. NOTE: creme fraiche and mascarpone both will start out very thick, thin out once you start whisking, and then thicken back up pretty quickly as you whip air into them.

Can I whip sour cream?

No. You can’t whip straight sour cream, and you can’t add sour cream to liquid cream and expect it to whip up, but you can add some sour cream to already whipped cream without compromising its texture.
Here’s how:
Whip 1/2 cup cream to medium soft peaks and then
add 1/4 cup cold sour cream
continue whisking until you get the desired consistency.

Can you make creme chantilly by hand?

Creme chantilly is the fancy French term for softly whipped cream. So, the answer is yes. And it’s really the preferred way to make creme chantilly because you don’t really run the risk of over-whipping when doing it by hand. Whip cream with sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla to taste to soft peaks. The end.

Can you make chocolate whipped cream by hand?

Yes, it’s so easy, friends!
Make a milk chocolate variation by
heating 2 parts cream and a pinch of salt to just below a boil
pouring it over 1 part of finely chopped milk chocolate (like making ganache).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chocolate to melt and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Cool it quickly in an ice bath and then store in the refrigerator until well chilled.
When it’s good and cold, whip it to soft or medium peaks to spoon or pipe on…whatever you’d like:  cake, fruit, ice cream, etc.
Once you’ve got it at stiff-not-grainy peaks, you can quenelle it to top…whatever you’d like:  cake, fruit, pie, etc.

Can you whip single cream?

No. Single cream is not an ingredient found in the US. Single cream is about 18% butterfat and can be used the same way as milk or half & half, but it will not whip.

Can I whip double cream?

Yes. Double cream is another ingredient not found outside the UK, but a good alternative is heavy whipping cream. If you can get double cream, you can absolutely whip it by hand.

Can you whip half and half?

No. Half and half doesn’t contain enough butterfat to whip. However, you can thin out whipped cream by whisking in a bit of half and half once the cream is whipped.

Serving suggestions

A bowl of cherry blueberry cobbler with hand whipped cream on top. Also a sprinkle of sugar in the raw on top.
A little softly hand whipped cream makes a lovely garnish to this bowl of cherry blueberry slump. I added a little sparkle and crunch with a sprinkling of Sugar in the Raw, too.

There are no shortage of ideas on what to serve your hand-whipped cream with.

Hold the sugar and whip your cream with a shot of butterscotch coffee syrup (or white chocolate sauce) for a lovely butterscotch (or white chocolate) whipped cream.

Serve a meltingly tender whipping cream pound cake with a side of softly whipped cream. Whip up some cinnamon whipped cream to top a slice of brown sugar cinnamon pound cake.

Top any kind of fruit dessert with a dollop. Some of my favorites are strawberry peach sonker, strawberry shortcake, lazy peach sonker, and peach crisp. Fruit and cream is a no-brainer combination!

Any pie would be happy to have a swirl or three of whipped cream on it. I think it’s especially dreamy on “plain” pies that don’t already call for a topping like chocolate chess pie or an old-fashioned shoo fly pie or key lime pie.

And please, I implore you, top some of this French vanilla no-churn ice cream with it. After you douse it with some homemade chocolate syrup. I mean, just look!

And yes, I did whip the cream you see on top of that sundae by hand!

A shot of ice cream in a white dish with chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

5 golden stars for rating recipes
A high-angle shot of whipped cream in a glass bowl with a whisk.

Hand-Whipped Cream

Jennifer Field
How to make whipped cream by hand. Whipping cream by hand will give you a whipped cream that is more stable than the canned kind and that you can flavor however you want.
As written, this recipe is for my basic whipped cream that I usually flavor with vanilla and a pinch of salt.
It is easy to whip up to about a cup of cream by hand. You can whip larger amounts, but your arm may end up getting tired. For amounts larger than 1 cup, I generally pull out my stand mixer.
4.88 from 8 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Cuisine American by way of France
Servings 1 cup
Calories 114 kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Place the cold cream into a large metal bowl.
  • Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  • Using a balloon whisk, whisk rapidly back and forth until the cream thickens to your liking.
  • With this amount of cream, you should have nicely whipped cream in about 2 minutes. Larger amounts will take a bit longer.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Video

Notes

You can put your metal bowl in the freezer for 3o minutes or so before whipping. If your whisk has a metal handle, I wouldn’t put it in the freezer because your hand will get really cold and the cream will whip up just fine with a room temperature whisk.
If your whisk has an insulated handle, feel free to put it in the freezer along with the bowl.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information is based on 4 1/4 cup servings of whipped cream.

How to Change the Flavor of Your Homemade Whipped Cream

  • An easy way to make chocolate whipped cream is to use squeeze in a little Hershey’s syrup once your cream is partially whipped. You may have to adjust the amount of sugar you use since chocolate syrup is sweetened.
    • You can also melt some chocolate chips into cream and chill until cold. Then whip that mixture up along with a tiny bit of salt and vanilla. Try 1 Tablespoon chips per 1/2 cup cream.
    • Add ground spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc.
    • Zest in a bit of orange or lemon zest.
    • Add different extracts like almond or peppermint.
    • Steep herbs in cold cream overnight. Strain them out before whipping.
    • Steep tea or coffee beans in your cream overnight before whipping.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1gCalories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 41mgSugar: 4g
    Keyword how to whip cream by hand, whipped cream
    Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

    And there you have it!

    Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, y’all!

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    35 Comments

    1. After moving and donating so much of my kitchen tools, I only have a silicone covered whisk for ceramic cookware. Not only does it have few tines but it’s also bulky. After 25 minutes of beating by hand, I got out my handheld blender. I’m going to get that balloon whisk you recommend, via your link. I do like the process of hand whipping cream.

      Thank you!

      1. I think you’ll be so happy and also kind of amazed at how well–and quickly–a balloon whisk gets the job done! I use mine for whisking dry ingredients together too. Those whisks with only a few wires should be outlawed. They don’t really do a good job at much of anything.

    2. I’m so confused.
      I’ve done exactly this. Cold whipping cream, whisk going back and forth/side to side,

      Yet every time it just… doesn’t work. The first few times I kept doing it figuring I thought if I just keot at it it should work.
      Always it skipped the whipped cream phase and separated.
      Sometimes I get some bubbly foam but it’s in patches, never the whole thing.

      I just don’t get it. Is it an issue if you don’t whisk consistently? My arm gets tired quickly, and I’m not sure I’d I’m whisking too fast- couod that cause the issue of it never becoming whipped cream?
      It just never gets thick for me. And this IS with “whipping cream” on the label.

      I just want to be able to quietly make myself some whipped cream as a late night desert man… yet I cant get it right.

      1. Hi, Kai. I emailed you as soon as I got your comment, but maybe you didn’t get it. I’m sorry to leave you hanging. Here’s what my email said:

        “I got your comment on my post about whipping cream, and I thought it’d be easier to talk via email.

        The first things I’d like to know are are you in the US? and what kind of cream are you using?

        If you could take a photo of the container, front and back, and send them to me, maybe I can help narrow down the issue.

        Because I do believe you should be able to quietly whip some cream whenever you want.

        Take care, and send me some pix when you get a chance.”

        Email me at [email protected]

    3. Actually, I’ve just prepared a whip cream just right now for my sister’s birthday. I’ve made it with the help of newly purchased hand blender and whipping attachment. Thanks for sharing.

    4. This was my first attempt at whipping cream and making chocolate mousse. I had started whipping it in circles before I decided to get some guidance on how to. This was when I came across your page. Your tips and technique worked so well. I managed to whip the cream to a stiff peak… unfortunately only then did I read your tip about not making it too stiff in case of adding it to a mousse. As of now its resting in fridge. Hope it hold and does not turn to butter when I add chocolate tomorrow. Thank you for making it so easy.

      1. So glad you found my post and that it was helpful, Priya! You should be good tomorrow, I’m betting. Just remove the whipped cream from the fridge 30-45 min or so before you need to fold it in with the chocolate, and give it a few stirs to loosen it up some.

    5. I just used this recipe for a topping for butterscotch pie. It was perfect. And everyone of your tips was so helpful. Thanks!

    6. Ha! I shared this post on my Life’s a Feast FB page and told my readers that if they came here and read your post they would learn something. I came over and I learned a lot!! I love these posts!

    7. You know what Fundamental I could use some help with? Browning butter.

      I seem to have mastered both dry-method and wet-method caramels and rarely screw them up any more, but for some reason when I’m making browned butter I go over the edge and ruin it almost 5 out of 10 times.

      And I love browned butter in baked goods!

      1. This is a great suggestion! Consider it on tap for this Friday if I can swing it. If not, definitely the following Friday, Maggie! Thanks for the suggestion. =)

    8. With small amounts of cream, my big ol’ Kenwood Major is just too big and the whisk doesn’t reach far enough into the bowl to do a thorough job. Love your little tips, Jenni! I think Fundamental Fridays sounds like a great idea.

        1. I’ve been following yours posts onfacebook for a while now and I think Fundamental Friday is a brilliant idea. Oh and… I also need some structure to relate to so I love the idea od dedicating days to each type of post.

    9. Great idea! I’m not sure it fits in with pastry stuff, but I’m always looking for videos and pictorials on how to use a knife. I am sure that even after all these years I’m not doing it right. It seems to take half an hour to chop an onion!

    10. I saw you do this in one of your videos and I have adopted the same practice for smaller amounts of whipped cream – so easy!

    11. LOVE this idea. We began making our own whipped cream about 2 years ago. Today, I branched out and made butter! I goggled it to get an idea of what I was suppose to do. But I would love it if I could go to you, a trusted source, when I feel like branching out!

    12. Yay! Someone else does this! I’ve been known to take a container of whipping cream and a stainless steel bowl to a pot luck as part of dessert, or to produce them in our own kitchen when we have company. Each person takes a turn at whisking and in no time the cream is done. Best of all, while everyone’s taking their turn with the whisk, we all get to socialize. Great fun.

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