Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream on Keto

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Written by Vanessa Johnson, Keto Expert and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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When you’re cruising along the supermarket aisle, the selection of cream-based products can be more than a little confusing. You’ve got heavy, light, whipping, heavy whipping, light whipping… but the recipe just says cream!

So which do you choose? Are they interchangeable? Which are good for the keto diet, if any?

Let’s clear up these questions! We’ll also have a look at how to incorporate different creamy ingredients in ketogenic recipes.


What is heavy cream?

It is a liquid dairy product, like milk, but it contains more fat and has a thicker texture. By the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition, heavy cream must have at least 36% milk fat.

This product is also sometimes called heavy whipping cream, but that’s just another name for the same thing. To remember, keep in mind that “heavy” means it has more fat.


What is whipping cream?

Also known as light whipping cream, this is another high-fat liquid dairy product, with 30-35% milk fat.

As its name suggests, it can be used to make whipped cream for dessert toppings or fillings. However, it’s not the only dairy product that can be whipped until it is light, fluffy, and ready to top a pie or cake.


Whipping cream vs. heavy cream nutrition

When following a ketogenic lifestyle, the most important thing to compare between two foods is usually the carb count.

In this case, the net carbs in heavy cream (3.4 g per ½ cup) and whipping cream (3.5 g per ½ cup) are almost equal.

Let’s see how these two ingredients compare side by side.

Serving size: ½ cup liquid (yields 1 cup whipped)

Nutrients Heavy cream Whipping cream
Energy 405 kcal 349 kcal
Fat 43 g 37 g
Protein 3.4 g 2.6 g
Net carbs 3.4 g 3.5 g
Total carbs 3.4 g 3.5 g
Fiber 0 g 0 g

Here we see that the biggest differences are in calories and fat content.


Are heavy cream and whipping cream the same?

No, they are not. Heavy cream has about 16% more calories, 16% more fat, 30% more protein, and 3% less carbs than whipping cream. The heavy version is richer in flavor and has a thicker consistency.

Other than that, these two high-fat dairy products are very similar. They are both made from blending milk and milk fat, and they have similar uses in the kitchen, which we will see in detail further below.

Is heavy cream the same as heavy whipping cream?

Yes, these are two names for the same product.

Is double cream the same as heavy cream?

No. Double cream, found in the United Kingdom, is similar to the product called heavy cream in the United States, but the double version has even more fat: about 48% (compared to as low as 36% for heavy). They can be used in the same recipes, but double provides a thicker texture, so you may want to use less.


Ways to use heavy cream and whipping cream on keto

You can use heavy or whipping cream to make ketogenic recipes including:


  • whipped cream
  • cheesecake
  • mousse


  • alfredo sauce
  • creamy mushroom sauce
  • creamy sun-dried tomato sauce
  • chicken curry
  • quiche
  • frittata

Add a splash to:

  • coffee or tea
  • scrambled eggs
  • soups

These two products can actually be used in the exact same dishes! Just keep in mind that the heavy version is thicker, so using the whipping type could make your dishes watery if you’re not careful.

One way to solve this is by using a smaller amount. Or, for recipes that are heated, you can reduce the sauce. Just bring it to a low boil or simmer, and stir to let the extra liquid evaporate.

Both can be used to make whipped cream, but the heavy version will have a richer flavor and be longer-lasting. The whipping type will have a lighter flavor and texture, and will return to a liquid more quickly.


Which one is better for the keto diet?

Both whipping and heavy cream are good for keto because they are low in carbs and high in fat.

However, if weight loss is one of the reasons you’ve chosen a ketogenic lifestyle, you’re better off choosing whipping cream instead of heavy because it has less calories. This is especially important for those following a low-calorie keto plan.

Otherwise, you can just follow your taste buds.

In the mood for the most decadent version of a rich and creamy dish? Go for the heavy. Keep in mind that the higher fat count will make you feel fuller faster.

Want something that tastes lighter and fresher? Opt for whipping cream. This is probably the way to go if you have any intention of exercising later in the day!

In terms of carbs, both whipping and heavy cream have about 3.5 g of sugar (lactose) per ½ cup of liquid or 1 cup whipped.

This is less than how much sugar is in whipped cream if you buy it in a pressurized can (4.8 g per 1 cup), so that’s one advantage of making your own from scratch!

Keep in mind that this isn't added sugar. It's actually lactose, an intrinsic sugar that occurs naturally. Still, it pushes the carb count up.

Is whipped cream keto?

Usually, yes. The best option is to make your own, but even the store-bought kind is usually keto-friendly. For example, the original Reddi Whip has 1 gram of carbs per 2 tablespoons, compared to 0.4 g carbs per 2 tablespoons of homemade whip.

However, some brands may add sugars and other sweeteners, so be sure to check the carbohydrate information on the nutrition label and limit your serving size accordingly.

Are heavy cream and whipping cream healthy?

They do contain several nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus.

The fat they contain is mostly saturated fat, so that’s not as healthy as fats that come from plant sources, like avocado or olive oil.

However, recent studies have not shown a link between saturated fats from dairy foods and cardiovascular disease, as was previously thought. In fact, dairy has been associated with benefits for people with diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. 


The bottom line

If you’re stressing about which cream to use, don’t! Both heavy and whipping cream are very good for keto and can be used interchangeably.

Heavy cream is more versatile and easier to work with because it has a firmer, thicker texture. When using whipping cream as a substitute, slowly stir in small amounts to ensure that the mixture doesn’t get too watery.

Whipping cream is lower in calories, which is important for those looking to lose weight.

Each will add a slightly different taste to your recipe: rich and creamy or light and airy.

Feel free to experiment depending on what flavor you’re in the mood for!