Long-Lasting Whipped Cream: Which Method Works Best?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

When Megan wrote about stabilizing whipped cream with crème fraîche, many readers commented with their own tricks for making whipped cream that lasts using additions like melted butter or marshmallows. Curious, I decided to put a handful of these methods to the test, whipping up batches using the recommended additions and seeing how well they held up in the refrigerator over the course of an afternoon.

A couple hours and several pints of heavy cream later, I have great news: it turns out the most effective way to make long-lasting whipped cream is also the easiest.

In total, I made six different batches of whipped cream. I tested three additions recommended in reader comments: melted butter, melted marshmallows and dry instant vanilla pudding mix. I also tried the addition of crème fraîche. And I made two batches with no additions beyond powdered sugar and a little vanilla extract, one whipped using an immersion blender with the whisk attachment, the other using a mini chopper. (All the other batches were made with the immersion blender and I added a little powdered sugar and vanilla to all except the vanilla pudding mix batch.) I checked on each batch after one hour and then two hours. All of the above photos were taken after two hours in the refrigerator.

Let’s talk about my ideal whipped cream, so you know what I was looking for. Fluffy, light and smooth, but firmly holding its shape when dolloped — that is the whipped cream I want on my pies and cakes.

Here are my observations from each method, from least to most successful.

Melted marshmallow: I have no results for this method, as I was never able to melt a marshmallow without it cooling and shriveling up into a desiccated husk that spun around whole in the bowl of heavy cream. It may be that the marshmallows I had on hand were too old and dried out for this method, or perhaps marshmallow fluff is the way to go. Feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments, if you have successfully made whipped cream with this addition.

Dry instant vanilla pudding: Instant vanilla pudding powder was not my friend in this test. I overwhipped the first batch in an attempt to incorporate all the flecks of powder and, after tossing out that round, ultimately gave up on fully incorporating all the powder in the next batch for fear of overwhipping again. The pudding powder-enhanced whipped cream came together much more quickly than any other type, and was mostly smooth, with a not-overpowering vanilla sweetness.

But one hour later, it was a different story. The cream had become unpleasantly firm after refrigeration, and had developed a strange, artificial taste and noticeably yellow color. Although it was soft just after whipping, it now looked overwhipped and chunky. It was indeed long-lasting, staying just as firmly whipped for 24 hours or more, but I was reminded of artificial whipped topping rather than real whipped cream. Perhaps using a smaller amount of powder would produce better results, but the artificial ingredients and coloring of the instant pudding keep me from wanting to explore this option further.

Melted butter: If increasing the fat content of whipped cream is supposed to make it better able to hold its shape over time, adding a little butter seems like a natural solution. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a way to add cooled, melted butter to cold heavy cream that didn’t cause the butter to seize up into tiny, solidified chunks. I initially poured all the butter in at once before whipping, which resulted in an overwhipped mess that had to be tossed. For the second batch, I poured in a thin stream of butter as I was whipping, but there were still noticeable flecks of butter throughout.

This whipped cream held its shape well after two hours in the fridge, but the not-quite-smooth texture did not improve.

Crème fraîche: This whipped cream was soft and billowy, with a definite crème fraîche tang. I tasted it before adding the powdered sugar and vanilla and found it a little too sharp, but once it was sweetened, the tanginess was rounded out pleasantly. Because of the pronounced flavor, this would not be an all-purpose whipped cream for me, but I can see using it on rich chocolate cakes or other heavy desserts that pair well with the refreshing zip of crème fraîche.

After an hour, this batch had softened slightly, but still held its peaks. After two hours, it was the softest of all the batches I tested, but not to the point of appearing wet or leaky. Although not as firm as the butter batch, I preferred the smoothness of this whipped cream.

Mini chopper & immersion blender: Since writing about using a food processor or mini chopper to whip cream, it has become my go-to technique for quick, long-lasting whipped cream. But I think the immersion blender may be my new favorite tool, as it seems to whip the cream more uniformly than the mini chopper, without the occasional wet spots where the chopper’s blades didn’t reach. Both tools produced whipped cream that was soft, smooth and fluffy, with firm peaks.

After an hour and even two hours, the whipped cream batches made with the mini chopper and the immersion blender maintained their shape and texture, looking as good as when they were freshly whipped.

The winner! Making whipped cream with an immersion blender is the most effective way I found to make long-lasting, perfectly textured whipped cream. It’s also the most straightforward, with no special ingredients needed, aside from optional sugar or flavorings. I like to add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract per half cup of heavy whipping cream for a little extra sweetness and flavor.

Are there any other methods you recommend for long-lasting whipped cream?