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A whisk full of whipped cream being lifted out of a large bowl of whipped cream.
Do you get confused when a recipe calls for heavy cream? Is that the same as whipping cream? This article breaks it down for you. click to tweet Twitter

How to use cream in recipes 

Uh oh. Your recipe calls for heavy cream and you’re not sure—is that the same as whipping cream? Cream is generally categorized based on the percentage of milk fat (MF) it contains, but every country has different standards for the term “cream”. You’re likely to find  several different types of cream at your local grocery store, and may come across some different terms for cream in your favourite recipes.

This article will help you sort through all of the terminology that’s used for cream, so you know which type of cream to use in your next recipe.

Varieties of cream available in British Columbia 

These types of cream are commonly available in BC:

  • Light cream  - contains 5-6% milk fat and is typically used as a lighter version of either half-and-half or coffee cream

  • Half-and-half, or cereal cream - contains 10% milk fat

  • Coffee cream, or table cream -  contains 18% milk fat

  • Whipping cream - contains anywhere from 33-36% milk fat, and is used for making whipped cream. It can also be used in recipes that call for heavy cream. Not sure how to whip cream? Check-out our tips for making the best whipped cream.

  • Heavy cream  - contains at least 36% milk fat. It is available in BC, but may be harder to find than 33% whipping cream.

More terms for cream

Double cream - you will see this term used in recipes from the UK. This is cream with 48% milk fat, which is not available in BC. Use whipping cream instead.

Single cream - another term used in the UK. Single cream is equivalent to our 18% cream.

Light cream - this term can be especially confusing. In the US and Australia it means 18% cream. In Canada, light cream refers to a product with 5-6% milk fat. You can make your own light cream by blending milk with half-and-half.

Country cream - is a product found in Québec, which contains 15% milk fat. If you are using a recipe that calls for country cream, you may substitute 18% cream.

Crème fraîche -  this is a thick, rich, lightly soured cream with 30-40% milk fat. Unlike sour cream, creme fraiche can be whipped, like whipping cream. While this isn’t always easy to find at the grocery store, you can readily make this product at home.

Clotted cream -  Clotted cream is a thick, spreadable cream, the consistency of butter, with at least 55% MF. Clotted cream is traditionally served as a spread on scones, along with fruit preserves. The cream is made by slowly heating and cooling a very thick cream. The heating imparts a nutty, sweet flavour. You can make your own clotted cream at home.

Devonshire cream - Devonshire Cream is clotted cream made in the Devon region of England. Specialty stores and some supermarkets in BC sell Devonshire cream.

More about cream 

Want to make sure the cream you are buying is Canadian? Learn how to find Canadian dairy products.

Want to learn more about other dairy terms? Check out the Dairy Dictionary.

Out of a dairy product when cooking and baking? Learn about dairy substitutions with this handy chart.

Have some cream on hand? Check out some of our delicious recipes that call for cream. 

Recipes using cream

What Type of Cream Should I Use?

Strawberries and Potted Cream

What Type of Cream Should I Use?

Sweet Potato and Turnip Soup

What Type of Cream Should I Use?

No-Cook Mango Kulfi Ice Cream

What Type of Cream Should I Use?

Mulligatawny Soup

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  • Hi Nancy. You are not alone in wanting to use heavy cream in baking and cooking. I belive I saw a 36% MF heavy whipping cream from Avalon Dairy. I would also reach out to other local processors and ask if th... more
    Hi Nancy. You are not alone in wanting to use heavy cream in baking and cooking. I belive I saw a 36% MF heavy whipping cream from Avalon Dairy. I would also reach out to other local processors and ask if they can start putting more 36 % MF cream on the shelves. Dairy processors are always open to hearing from the public about what type of dairy foods they want on the shelves. less
  • Will heavy cream be available in Canada? So many recipes and cooking channel call for it. You can get it in other countries. Why is Canada different?
  • Hi Chris. Using a cream with 33% MF will make a nice ice cream. Don't over churn though. You can get some big ice crystals which will prevent your ice cream from becoming smooth. As far as freezing cream w... more
    Hi Chris. Using a cream with 33% MF will make a nice ice cream. Don't over churn though. You can get some big ice crystals which will prevent your ice cream from becoming smooth. As far as freezing cream with 40% MF, I have never run into a problem. Make sure the carton is unopened and to double wrap it in plastic wrap. You can thaw it in the refrigerator and shake it well before using. less
  • I am making ice cream, and the recipes call for heavy cream. Is 33% MF ok to use? I have also read that you can freeze cream but only with a higher MF of 40%, is that correct?
  • Thank you for your comment Lisa. Yes, this is an interesting time for health and nutrition. We learn more and more about the relationship between diet and disease all the time. At the end of the day it is a... more
    Thank you for your comment Lisa. Yes, this is an interesting time for health and nutrition. We learn more and more about the relationship between diet and disease all the time. At the end of the day it is about having a balanced pattern of eating from all food groups. less
  • I just wanted to add my two-cents regarding Heavy Cream, by saying it should be available in B.C. stores! A recent Canadian study at McMaster U. (of 135K people in 18 countries over 7 years) confirmed that a hi... more
    I just wanted to add my two-cents regarding Heavy Cream, by saying it should be available in B.C. stores! A recent Canadian study at McMaster U. (of 135K people in 18 countries over 7 years) confirmed that a higher fat diet is BETTER for you than a diet high in carbohydrates. So despite conventional thinking, heavy cream is healthier (than light versions) and consuming more (good) fats are linked to cardiovascular health and a decrease in stroke and mortality. less
  • So glad you liked it Renee! It sounds like you really enjoy cooking. Love it!
  • I have made butter with 18% cream today. Had to mix it with the blender for the longest time and it gave a fluffier butter (whipped), and just about 1/2 c for 1L cream. Next time I will try the 35% see if it gi... more
    I have made butter with 18% cream today. Had to mix it with the blender for the longest time and it gave a fluffier butter (whipped), and just about 1/2 c for 1L cream. Next time I will try the 35% see if it gives me more. It tastes good though! less
  • Hi Renee. I have not made butter with light cream myself. I have made it with heavy, cream though. Technically it will make less butter with a lighter version of cream, but the difference in amount should b... more
    Hi Renee. I have not made butter with light cream myself. I have made it with heavy, cream though. Technically it will make less butter with a lighter version of cream, but the difference in amount should be negligible. Let us know how it turns out! less
  • Question: homemade butter. If I use a lighter creme, does it make less butter(because there is less fat) or same quantity as with heavier creme but lighter( with less fat in the content)?
  • Well, I did the maths and reducing 35% cream by about a quarter should push it up to about 45 or so % MF, which is close enough for jazz, IMO. Clark raised the issue of denaturing and I would do the reduction o... more
    Well, I did the maths and reducing 35% cream by about a quarter should push it up to about 45 or so % MF, which is close enough for jazz, IMO. Clark raised the issue of denaturing and I would do the reduction on a low heat over time and, I hope avoid that problem. The basis of my theory is how clotted cream is made where the cream is heated to evaporate the water and push the MF content to about 55%. I just thought why not apply the same principle to the production of double cream? I'll try it and let you folks know. (Now if I could just find some pure Jersey milk ...) less
  • Joel I think you will run into major issues with denaturing the protien. If you're talking about reducing using heat youll need to make sure the temp you hit doesn't reach the level where it will screw up you... more
    Joel I think you will run into major issues with denaturing the protien. If you're talking about reducing using heat youll need to make sure the temp you hit doesn't reach the level where it will screw up your clotting by destroying the proteins. Evaporation might be a better option but at that point you'll be introducing a lot of wild cultures. I don't know much about what you're talking about doing but I think those will be your hurdles - please post results! less
  • Hi Derek. Thank you for your comment, and no, it is not a silly question. To be honest, I have not tried that one myself. You have to take into account total volume loss, I would think. Try it out and let... more
    Hi Derek. Thank you for your comment, and no, it is not a silly question. To be honest, I have not tried that one myself. You have to take into account total volume loss, I would think. Try it out and let us know how it comes out. Maybe do a side a side comparison. I do have to mention, if you plan on storing your cream in the refrigerator after it has been reduced, make sure to keep proper food safety. In basic, keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot. Happy cooking! less
  • This may be a silly question but, if you take 35% cream and reduce it by about a quarter: will you wind up with a facsimile of double cream?
  • Hi Nancy. Thanks for the comment. My name is Joel and I am a new Nutrition Educator as BCDA. I am also a trained chef so I love answering questions about food. There are high milk fat creams available and t... more
    Hi Nancy. Thanks for the comment. My name is Joel and I am a new Nutrition Educator as BCDA. I am also a trained chef so I love answering questions about food. There are high milk fat creams available and they really hold up great in whipping creams and adding into soup. Even though your local store may not have creams with 36% milk fat, there are plenty of options with around 33% and they will be fantastic to use. Happy cooking! less
  • Why can't you get heavy cream in Canada? I am sure there is no good reason for it ...
  • Hi Clark, Most cheese is made from milk, not cream. And you can certainly make butter from whipping cream—we've done it many times! The products end up with a higher milk fat content because you've pressed ou... more
    Hi Clark, Most cheese is made from milk, not cream. And you can certainly make butter from whipping cream—we've done it many times! The products end up with a higher milk fat content because you've pressed out the whey. However, we know that some bakers would really like a higher fat cream than we have. You'll need to let the processors in BC know about your wish—if there is enough of a market for the product, maybe we'll see it emerge. less
  • Why can one not get real heavy cream in BC? It really hinders the ability to make cheese and butter. Seems very odd. Also the suggestion to just use whipping cream in its place seems extremely misleading. T... more
    Why can one not get real heavy cream in BC? It really hinders the ability to make cheese and butter. Seems very odd. Also the suggestion to just use whipping cream in its place seems extremely misleading. Thank you for any thoughts. less
  • Hi Kelsey, Thanks for your feedback. Glad you found it useful! Melissa Baker, RD
  • This is a very helpful article, thank you!

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