How to Make Stiff Peaks in Whipped Cream


Some cakes and pies wouldn’t be the same without it, and cupcakes stand out because of its supremely fine form. Whipped cream with stiff peaks may seem like the domain of accomplished pastry chefs, but it’s a skill you can easily master. Understand that it’s part science, too: The higher the fat content of whipping cream, the thicker it can become and the more likely you can successfully create those standout peaks. Light whipping cream contains about 30 percent fat, whipping cream about 35 percent, and heavy whipping cream 38 percent. So give yourself every chance to succeed and begin with heavy whipping cream.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy cream
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla (optional)
  • Metal bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • Select a metal bowl that will afford the heavy cream to balloon to twice its original size. About 1 cup of heavy cream will create about 2 cups of whipped cream.

  • Store the heavy cream in the coldest compartment of your refrigerator. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to mix or beat it, fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and water. Place the whisk attachments from your mixer in the refrigerator, too. Cool components will help the whipped cream form stiff peaks faster.

  • Empty the bowl of the water and ice and place the heavy cream inside. Whisk the cream for about 30 seconds on low, then work up the speed to medium. At this point, small bubbles should pop up in the cream.

  • Turn off the mixer just as soft peaks begin to form in the cream. Add a little sugar or vanilla to sweeten the cream, if you wish. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar – either granulated or confectioners.

  • Resume whisking the cream, first on medium for a few seconds and then on high, until you see stiff peaks. If you’re unsure about whether the peaks are truly stiff, lift the whisk out of the bowl. The whipped cream should remain upright in the bowl, and the cream should cling to the whisk.

  • Resist the temptation to keep whisking the cream once stiff peaks appear. At this point, it can curdle. But if you do go overboard, try rescuing the effort by adding several tablespoons of heavy cream to the bowl and whisking it in.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can whisk the whipped cream by hand, too. This approach should give you more control over the cream and prevent “bubble-ups” and splatters that can result from using an electric mixer. However, it does take longer.
  • You can safely refrigerate any leftover whipped cream in an airtight container. Try to use it within a day though.

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