I was an incredibly picky eater as a little girl. Even on holidays, I stuck with plain basics, the familiar flavors and textures firmly inside of my comfort zone, and rarely branched out to try anything new.
On Thanksgiving, I loaded my plate with homemade whole wheat bread rolls and a mound of mashed potatoes topped with a thick slab of butter and a generous showering of salt. If I felt a little adventurous, I added a bite or two of sweet potato casserole — but only if lots of toasted marshmallows sat on top.
I left just about everything else untouched. The herbed stuffing, cranberry salad, green bean casserole… Even the turkey and pies.
When dessert rolled around, I reached for “cinnamon sugar dough” instead. My mom placed the leftover dough from her homemade pumpkin and pecan pie crusts onto a cookie sheet and sprinkled it with (you guessed it!) cinnamon sugar, and she popped the tray into the oven until those scraps turned flaky and golden.
Eventually, I felt brave enough to try the teensiest, tiniest, most minuscule sliver of pumpkin pie — one that would barely even feed a mouse — when my mom promised I could top it with as much whipped cream as I wanted. I turned the store-bought aerosol can upside down and doused my entire slice with it, leaving no crumb untouched, and after my first little nibble, I happily polished off the entire thing… Before reaching for more cinnamon sugar dough and whipped cream.
Later in life, I realized not all whipped cream came from store-bought cans and that the homemade kind was actually really quick and simple to mix up — and tasted even richer and more indulgent. So while there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the sweet and nostalgic taste of that light and airy canned whipped cream, I love this healthy homemade whipped cream too!
QUICK OVERVIEW – HEALTHY WHIPPED CREAM
Difficulty: Easy, including for many beginner bakers.
Taste: Luxuriously rich and indulgent, with a light sweetness in the background.
Texture: Creamy and velvety smooth, with a thicker consistency that’s fairly stabilized and stiff enough to pipe.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY WHIPPED CREAM
You only need 3 ingredients to make this homemade whipped cream! I know, I know… Many whipped cream recipes only include 1 or 2 ingredients — but the extra ingredient in my recipe helps stabilize your whipped cream and adds protein too!
Heavy whipping cream. This is the one ingredient you’ll find in just about every classic whipped cream recipe. In the US, heavy whipping cream may also be labeled as “heavy cream” or “whipping cream.” You can find it on the dairy aisle near the milk, half-and-half, and coffee creamers.
But what’s the difference between heavy whipping cream, light cream, and half-and-half? As an ex-scientist, I’m glad you asked! 😉
In a nutshell milk carton…
The amount of fat — or, more specifically, the percent of fat in each one.
Half-and-half has the lowest amount and generally ranges from 10.5% to 18% (in the US!).
Light cream is next, typically right around 20%, but it can fall anywhere in the range of 18% to 30% (again, this is in the US!).
Heavy cream is the highest (as I’m sure you guessed!), and it contains at least 36%.
That’s really important… And we’ll cover why that is soon! But for now, reach for the real deal at the grocery store, true heavy whipping cream (nothing lighter!), because it makes the best homemade whipped cream. I promise!
Greek yogurt. Here’s that bonus ingredient I promised you! If you’ve browsed through my other recipes, then you probably know how big of a Greek yogurt fan I am already. I’ve used it to make cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies, brownies, muffins, scones… Even frosting. As much as I dislike double negatives, I don’t know that I’ve ever not tried using it to make something!
In this whipped cream, the Greek yogurt has two roles.
First, it adds volume, so you don’t need to use as much heavy whipping cream. This helps keep your homemade whipped cream low calorie when compared to traditional recipes!
Second, it acts as a stabilizer. This means your whipped cream is more, well, stable. It’ll maintain its shape better for a longer period of time, and it’s less prone to weeping (aka losing water) or deflating when at room temperature or chilled.
However, the brand of Greek yogurt that you use can make a big difference! Look for brands that only include milk and live and/or active cultures. (It’s fine if the carton lists the cultures by name in the ingredients!) These Greek yogurts are generally thicker, which will yield a better consistency and more stabilized whipped cream.
Tip: My favorite is FAGE plain nonfat Greek yogurt. It has the thickest consistency of any brand that I’ve tried so far, and it also has less of a yogurt “tang” to its flavor. (It makes fantastic frosting too!)
If you see any other ingredients, such as sugar or cornstarch, put it back on the shelf. Even if they’re plain and nonfat, those Greek yogurts with any extra ingredients are typically thinner in consistency, which yields a looser, almost watery whipped cream that doesn’t hold its shape very well. I know they’re often cheaper, but it’s worth spending a little more for a higher quality Greek yogurt!
Sweetener. Because just about every brand of plain nonfat Greek yogurt does have at least a little tang to it, I like to add a small amount of sweetener to my homemade whipped cream to mask that. It also brings out the richness of the heavy whipping cream!
I often use liquid stevia, which is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that’s clean eating friendly (aka it contains nothing refined or artificial!). It’s also highly concentrated, so you only need about ½ teaspoon to sweeten your entire batch of whipped cream. That’s the equivalent of almost ¼ cup of powdered sugar! This is the kind I use, and I buy it online here because that’s the best price I’ve found. (I promise it’s not a “one-use” ingredient. You’ll use it to make all of these recipes of mine too!)
Tip: If stevia isn’t your thing, you can easily use other sweeteners! Just avoid “classic” liquid sweeteners such as honey or pure maple syrup. Because they are not concentrated like the liquid stevia that I use, they’ll add too much liquid volume… And turn your whipped cream into soup. Granular sweeteners are best, and I’ve shared my top recommendations in the Notes section of the recipe!
THE SCIENCE OF WHIPPED CREAM
Now that you have the ingredients you’ll need, it’s almost time to make your homemade whipped cream! But first, I want to cover one important (and nerdy!) thing… What makes whipped cream, well, whipped cream.
For a deep dive into the chemistry of it all, this Serious Eats article covers it in great detail. (As an ex-organic chemist, the article’s diagrams and explanations made my heart SO happy. I totally geeked out over everything!)
For a briefer overview, the main thing to know is that whipped cream is a suspension of air trapped in between other molecules — aka a foam! Those other molecules? Fats. More specifically, milk fats. Those milk fat molecules have two sides. One side attracts air molecules, and the other doesn’t want anything to do with them. Therefore…
We need to beat the heavy cream (with its 36% fat content!) enough to shake up all of those fat molecules until (a) the first side finds as many air molecules as possible and (b) the second side protects itself from as many air molecules as possible. When that happens, the air molecules get trapped inside (almost as if the fat molecules are hugging them close!), the heavy whipping cream looks as if it’s grown in volume, and eventually…
Voila! You’ve made whipped cream.
(Chemistry can be delicious, don’t you think?? 😉 )
This is why it’s really important to use heavy whipping cream. You need enough fat molecules to trap all of that air! Half-and-half and light cream don’t have a high enough fat content, so they won’t beat properly and can’t yield that luxurious consistency that whipped cream is known for.
Then there’s one more nerdy bit to cover, which is…
WHAT IS STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM?
Even if you beat the heavy whipping cream the correct amount (more on that momentarily!), it can — and will! — deflate over time. That’s not a big deal if you plan on eating it right away… But if you want to make your whipped cream ahead of time, then it could pose a problem.
So that’s where stabilized whipped cream comes in! It has added ingredients (aka stabilizers!) that, well, stabilize it and prevent it from collapsing so quickly. These stabilizers insert themselves alongside the air molecules, act like glue to hold everything together, and help your whipped cream maintain its shape.
The most common and effective stabilizers are unflavored gelatin and cornstarch. Both of these require heat to activate their stabilizing properties…
Which is why I prefer using Greek yogurt! It works as a stabilizer when chilled and straight from the refrigerator, so you don’t have to plan ahead or do anything else to it. Greek yogurt has a high protein content, and that protein acts like a pretty good glue to prevent your homemade whipped cream from deflating.
Pretty cool, right? (…no pun intended!)
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY WHIPPED CREAM
Now with all of that nerdy knowledge out of the way, let’s cover how to make the best homemade whipped cream! It’s a quick and easy process, and I also have some tips for you.
Cold ingredients + equipment. This is incredibly important! It’s much easier for the second side of the fat molecules to protect themselves and stay away from the air molecules when they’re cold. When they protect themselves, the first side of the fat molecules (that side that loves being around the air molecules!) can attract the air molecules more readily. Which means…
You can trap more air in your whipped cream, which gives it a better mouthfeel — and lighter consistency too!
So first, make sure you’re using heavy whipping cream and Greek yogurt that you’ve just pulled out of the refrigerator. Don’t let them sit out on your kitchen counter for too long!
Second, chill your bowl and beaters before using them. I like to use a glass bowl and the metal beaters from a hand-held mixer, and I put those in the refrigerator for close to an hour or in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Beat. First, you’ll beat only the heavy whipping cream until it reaches the soft peak stage. (This works best if you’re not using the lowest setting of your mixer. Use at least the second lowest setting, if not one more towards the middle!) With the soft peak stage, you should see small peaks that quickly shlump over when you lift the beaters straight up out of the cream. At most, it should just take a couple of minutes to achieve the soft peak stage.
After adding the Greek yogurt and sweetener, you’ll keep beating until you reach the stiff peak stage. (Just like before, it works best — and goes faster! — if you’re not using the lowest setting!) It should only take a minute or so. At the stiff peak stage, the whipped cream should hold its shape when you lift the beaters straight up out of it and not slump, slide, or fall over.
Hint: I’ve included a video directly above the recipe that demonstrates the soft and stiff peak stages, if you’re more of a visual person!
Tip: I like to use a hand-held mixer because I’ve found it’s faster, easier to manage, and less likely to over-beat the heavy cream than a stand mixer. It’s also better for making small batches of homemade whipped cream, like with this recipe!
Oh! On that note, the other thing I love about using Greek yogurt is that it acts like a safety net and also helps prevent over-beating the whipped cream! If you didn’t add in the Greek yogurt and beat the heavy cream for too long, you’d end up making butter. Still delicious! Just not quite what we’re after. 😉
Taste and adjust. If you prefer sweeter whipped cream, you can easily add in a bit more sweetener at this point! Just remember… Your whipped cream will taste sweeter the warmer it is — and will taste less sweet the colder it is.
Hint: The same is true for ice cream! If you’ve ever eaten 100% melted ice cream (aka when it’s basically milk!), it tastes sweeter than when it’s cold and scooped. The cold temperature partially numbs the taste buds on your tongue, which is why the frozen ice cream (and cold whipped cream!) taste less sweet.
WAYS TO USE HEALTHY WHIPPED CREAM
There are countless ways to use your homemade whipped cream! I’ve piped it on top of pies and cheesecakes, layered it with fresh fruit in between shortcakes, and dolloped it on top of smoothies and hot chocolate. I’ve included links to some of those recipes for you below — plus some other ideas about ways to use it — but truly, the sky’s the limit!
♡ Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pie
♡ Ultimate Healthy Sweet Potato Pie
♡ Ultimate Healthy Strawberry Shortcakes
♡ Healthy Mixed Berry Shortcakes
CAKES (a dollop alongside each slice would taste phenomenal!)
♡ Healthy Chocolate Fudge Cake
♡ Healthy Strawberry Lemon Cake
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Bundt Cake
♡ Healthy Strawberry Pound Cake
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Bundt Cake
♡ Healthy Peach Pound Cake
♡ Healthy Blueberry Almond Bundt Cake
CUPCAKES (in place of the frosting, for example!)
♡ Healthy Lemon Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Blueberry Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Banana Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
♡ Healthy Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
♡ Lightened-Up Peanut Butter Cheesecake
♡ Lightened-Up Oreo Cheesecake
♡ Lightened-Up Cookie Dough Cheesecake
♡ Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
♡ Healthy Vanilla Ice Cream
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
♡ Healthy Apple Pie Smoothie
♡ Healthy Hot Chocolate
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
♡ Healthy Peppermint Mocha
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Latte
♡ Healthy Mint Chocolate Chip Frappuccino
♡ Healthy Chai Latte
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
♡ Healthy Eggnog Chai Latte
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY WHIPPED CREAM
Is this healthy whipped cream sugar free, gluten free, clean eating, or low calorie?
Yes — to all of the above! It’s naturally gluten free, low carb, and clean eating with no added sugar. Compared to traditional whipped cream, it’s also lower calorie and lower fat.
What is stabilized whipped cream?
Stabilized whipped cream is whipped cream with added ingredients (aka stabilizers!) that help it hold its shape for a longer period of time without weeping, collapsing, or deflating. The most common stabilizers are unflavored gelatin and cornstarch. (Both of these require heat to activate their stabilizing properties!)
Does this recipe yield stabilized whipped cream?
Yes! Adding Greek yogurt helps stabilize this healthy whipped cream so it holds its shape longer and doesn’t collapse or deflate as much, but it’s not quite as effective as gelatin or cornstarch. However, you don’t need to heat the yogurt (like you do with gelatin and cornstarch!), so it’s a much faster and easier method of mostly stabilizing your whipped cream.
What can I substitute for the heavy cream?
I don’t recommend substituting anything for the heavy whipping cream because you need a certain amount of fat to achieve the correct consistency. See “The Science of Whipped Cream” above for more info!
What’s the best yogurt to use?
I love FAGE plain nonfat Greek yogurt! It has the thickest consistency of any brand that I’ve tried, and its flavor also has a more subtle yogurt “tang.” For more info about the best yogurt, see the “Greek yogurt” header in the “Ingredients” section above!
Can I use a different sweetener?
Yup! I’ve included my recommendations in the Notes section of the recipe.
Can I make this whipped cream ahead of time?
Absolutely! I’ve made it a few days in advance, and it maintained its rich flavor and thick consistency.
How should I store this healthy whipped cream? And how long does it last?
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for a few days, if not longer… As long as nobody is tempted to sneak spoonfuls when others aren’t looking!
…not that I’ve done anything like that. 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy homemade whipped cream!
Healthy Whipped Cream
- 3 tbsp (45mL) heavy whipping cream, very cold
- 6 tbsp (90g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt, very cold (see Notes!)
- ½ tsp liquid stevia (or adjusted to taste)
- Place a small glass bowl and the metal beaters of a hand-held mixer in the refrigerator for at least an hour or in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the bowl and beaters, and add the heavy cream to the bowl. Beat to the soft peak stage, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the Greek yogurt and liquid stevia. Beat to the stiff peak stage, about 1-2 minutes. Chill until ready to serve.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Caramel Sauce
♡ Healthy Homemade Nutella
♡ Healthy Chocolate Frosting (3 Ways!)
♡ Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting (2 Ways!)
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter
♡ Healthy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter
♡ Healthy Chai Spice Cashew Butter