Cream Types and Definitions



What is cream- Are you confused about the different types of cream available?

Let us help you with this guide of cream types and definitions.

Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-layer of yellowish fatty component that accumulates at the top surface of unhomogenized milk.  This is skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization.

The amount of butterfat contained in the cream will determine how well cream will whip and how stable it will be.  Higher fat creams tend to taste better, have a richer texture, and don’t curdle as easily when used in cooking.


Leftover Cream Tips:

If you have leftover cream that is close to the expiration date, just freeze it (making sure you leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of the container to leave room for expansion.  To thaw, refrigerate overnight.  It will probably separate, so shake it well to recombine it.

You can also whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.  Then spoon dollops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze.  When the whipped cream dollops are frozen, pack them into an airtight container and freeze up to several weeks or until you need a dollop for dessert.  Just be sure to let them thaw for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.


Different types of creams available:

TypeButterfat ContentUses
Half and Half12% fat (range 10.5-18%)In the United States, half and half is a mix of 1/2 whole milk and ½ cream, typically used as a cream in coffee. Half-and-half does not whip, but it can be used in place of whipping (heavy) cream in many recipes for less fat cooking.
Single Cream20%Cream with a low fat-content, which does not thicken when beaten. Used in both sweet and savory dishes. Also know as light cream.
Light Cream20% fat (range 18-30%)Pretty much the same as half and half. Also know as coffee cream or table cream. Will whip if it contains 30% butterfat but will not be very stable. Generally contains only 20% butterfat. Also know as single cream. Light cream is not available everywhere.
Whipping Cream30%Cream with enough butterfat in it to allow it to thicken when whipped. Does not whip as well as heavy cream but works well for toppings and fillings.

Almost all whipping cream is now ultra-pasteurized, a process of heating that considerably extends its shelf life by killing bacteria and enzymes.
Heavy Cream
Heavy Whipping Cream
36 to 38%This cream whips denser than whipping cream. Whips up well and holds its shape. Doubles in volume when whipped.

How to make Basic Whipped Cream.
Double cream 48%Double cream is the British term for heavy or whipping cream in the United States, but it is a little thicker than our whipping cream. It contains about 48% butterfat.

Double cream is so rich, in fact, that it is easy to over whip it and get it too thick.
Clotted Cream55 to 60%Also know as Devonshire or Devon Cream. It is a thick, rich, yellowish cream with a scalded or cooked flavor that is made by heating unpasteurized milk until a thick layer of cream sit on top. The milk is cooled and the layer of cream is skimmed off.

Traditionally served with tea and scones in England.

How to make a Mock or Faux Devonshire Cream
Creme fraicheIt is a matured, thickened cream that has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. The thickness can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room temperature margarine. In France, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally. In America, where all commercial cream is pasteurized, the fermenting agents necessary can be obtained by adding buttermilk or sour cream.

It is used as a dessert topping and in cooked sauces and soups, where it has the advantage of not curdling when boiled.

How to make a Mock or Faux Creme Fraiche.

Pasteurized and Ultra-pasteurized: Creams will generally be labeled pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized.

Pasteurized cream will provide a better flavor, will whip up fluffier, and will hold up longer.

As ultra-pasteurized whipping cream has been heated between 260 and 280 degrees F. and held for only two seconds to extend its shelf life. It is more temperamental when it comes to whipping.Ultra-Pasteurized Heavy Cream “will not work” if peaks or frothing are required in your recipe.



Comments and Reviews

22 Responses to “Cream Types and Definitions”

  1. Rachel

    Americans have been taught to be terrified of bacteria for purposes of greed by the Packaged Food & Pharmaceutical Industries
    Bacteria is as an integral part of our bodies as is blood cells, yeast, enzymes, microorganisms – we all have several pounds worth of bacteria in our gut & would die within minutes if we were devoid of this necessary life-sustaining force

    The body becomes weakened by man-made chemicals & unnatural, inbalanced, isolated food properties such as refined, hybridized endosperm wheat flour, sugar-cane isolates, hybridized corn syups, dairy products that have their natural enzymatic bacteria destroyed by pasteutization. These isolated compounds & dead foods no longer offer nutrition to the the human body
    Eating a diet of isolated compounds creates tremendous chemical inbalance & results in a weakened body that is using far too much of its energy to try & sustain a physio-chemical balance,
    which results in allergies, high blood pressure, arthritis, alimentary digestive problems, poor immune system

    By feeding our bodies the natural, whole food diet of living bacterias, yeasts, enzymes (vitamins + sunlight) they require, the human body can remain healthy
    By feeding the body dead food devoid of living compounds, the body starves, cannibalizes, weakens & becomes diseased
    Eating a diet rich in cultured, unpasteurized dairy products, fermented foods such as homemade kimchi & kombuca, unpasteurized (nonAmercan) beers & wines, living foods such as whole seeds & green herbs, unfrozen, uncanned, fresh-picked fruits & vegetables, even raw meats such as sushi & steak tartatre, vitamin-rich non-muscle proteins, will restore health
    Eating foods that have had the living bacteria killed by the heat of pasteurization or canning offers zero nutrition for the cells of our bodies
    The body’s cells require living enzymes to metabolize food – the body is unable to metabolize the chemical compounds in foods without the aid of enzymes, bacteria, yeast (another type of bacteria), microorganisms

    Thus, you must aid your body by feeding it living enzymes, bacteria, yeast & sunlight (an enzyme activator) as people on earth have always done for the past 200,000 years of humankind

    • Jacked Beanstalk

      The reason dairy is pasteurized in America has nothing to do with the industry “teaching” Americans to fear bacteria. It’s because people used to die from drinking raw milk.

      If the dairy cow has an infection or the raw milk is improperly stored then it is a deadly health risk. Europeans don’t deal with the same distances from farm to table as US did, and they have stronger cuisine traditions so their handling was always better.

      Fun fact: One of the reasons Americans can’t make good cheese is because it must be made with pasteurized milk.

      With modern animal husbandry and transportation/storage technology, raw milk could probably be permitted without being a severe health risk. But remember that every year people die in the US from eating produce that was improperly grown or handled. If raw milk were re-introduced, a small number of people would definitely die each year from drinking it. Is that an acceptable risk? Maybe, maybe not. Personally I wish we could get raw milk here in the US, but realistically it’s not going to happen.

  2. Janette Williams

    This above comment is foolish and ignorant to the point of being literally dangerous. There are bacteria, parasites, etc. that can make us very, very sick and even die – particularly children and seniors. This is the kind of stuff someone says because they are entitled and privileged, and have never experienced cholera, tuberculosis, e. coli, etc. It’s not magic, it’s not greed, it’s plain fact, and it has been demonstrated for over a century. Pasteurization and vaccination has saved countless lives. Ask anybody who has had to live with these diseases. Don’t be a dunce and fall for this hippy dippy woo woo just because this person knows some fancy words. I’ve been to countries where they don’t have these protections. The child mortality rate is so sad. If you love your family, do not ever give them raw dairy products. Do not trust that the milk is 100% safe and tested; you very well may never get anything, but if you don’t, think of the price you could pay. Don’t believe me? Go to your local library and look up tuberculosis, cholera, and e. coli outbreaks in the 1800s. You can’t blame those outbreaks on “a diet of isolated compounds” or “Packaged Food & Pharmaceutical Industries”.

    • Abo Fahad

      Well said Janette
      My uncle used to advocate for none pasteurize milk till he got sick (Brucellosis).

    • Linda Tooch

      All I know for sure, is that they use unpasteurized cream for everything in Europe. I think I found a local organic farm that sells unpasteurized milk and cream. I bake lots of British cakes, and our heavy whipping cream just doesn’t hold up. It needs more butterfat. British double cream has about 48% fat. Maybe their tanks are cleaner and their cows aren’t full of bacteria and pus.

  3. Anonymous

    I like cream

  4. CHRIS

    It’s disappointing to read angry posts no matter what the subject. The labeling, name calling, disrespect and bullying is out of control. Makes all of us look weak and unreasonable. Wether we sound like a pompous ass or whether we act like a thin skinned schoolyard bully. Both points of view have truth once we strip away the emotions and read the content, we are talking about cream, not weapons of mass destruction, LOL.

    There is a great WIKI definition of Pastuerization, just Google iit. Some highlights: circa 1100AD either China or Japan (I forgot which 😠) discover by heating certain veggis or meats & storing immediately in super heated containers, the foods would be preserved for extended periods without dramatically impacting flavor.

    Fast forward to around 1764, Louie. Pasteur uses this Asian process, modifies to suit wine & beer, uses mass production and developed a business. Early 1900’s, major TB breakot, THOUSANDS (65,000 I beleive was estimate at the time ) die, Brits conclude after long root cause analysiis, contaminated fresh milk supply & they also officially label whole Milk as the #1 MOST DANGEROUS FOOD in all of Great Briton. This when GB decided to use a modified version of Pasteur’s process for wine/beer, to effectively & as important for taste, consitancy, & selectivity (which enzymes, nutrients, healthy bacteria REMAIN AFTER PROCESS ) coining the the new phrase PASTEURIZATION as the new process for fresh milk.

    As others in this of chat pointed out, early in USA history Milk supply (cows ) were kept near populated areas, but our towns grew became cities & populations grew as people from all over the world came to America, the need for healthy, fresh & SAFE foods became #1 critical priority. If we studied just milk maintaining cows for large populations in or near those population settings was expensive because high demand for real estate for businesses that these came there to seek and housing, retail stores to shelter & sustain same groups.

    Many don’t realize how difficult it is just in the fresh (raw,unprocessed, unpreserved ) food category. People from all over the world, pockets of genetic markers, some with very strong fully functional immune systems from years of consuming raw natural meats, vegatable. Making at home or purchasing local naturally fermented beers, soft drinks, picked/ preserved fruits, veggies & meat done without chemicals or drugs (antibiotics, antivirus, growth hormones, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers. Many population groups had strong immune systems others came from regions of famine and were prone to infectious disease and many were carriers. USA FDA, CDC had to develop and implement a system that helped as many as possible as fast as possible through a series of food handling and safety standards, mandatory vaccination treatment & quarrentine centers etc… And managing ever growing demand via higher yeilds, safe preservation while monitoring and adjusting farmer to table cost & prices.

    Fast forward 100 years, does Rachel have a point? Yes, after years of nutrion vs health/longevity/ immune system health and today’s mega food factories… 100 years ago people all over the world, rich, poor, black, white, were getting and dying. From diseases from tap water supply, bad food, disease carrying rodents. Point is large western Democracies like us unless faced with a catastrophic disaster moves slowly when it comes to change, especially health or habit combined with big money , case in point – tobbaco. Today: many of these rules & associated processes were implemented to correct a major issue at that time. Unless the downsides, if any were apparent & significant (in the fresh Milk Pasteurization case—– the big issue was uncompetative CHEESE or lousy, non nutritional yogurt ) as compared to potentionally, saving 100s of thousands of lives from raw milk born diseases.

    Today, within the last 30 years (my estimate, further research required ) more emphasis on genetics especially family history, as compared to our great or great – great grandparents, our native genetic strengths & immunities r vulnerabilities, have been diluted through marriage and exposre, vaccines, natural immunity from having or carrying the disease.

    TO MOVE FORWAD HAVE TO LOOK BACK: We now know based new types of illness that manifests themselves as mental as well as, physical diseases. Many doctors believe the root causes to be related to large amount of processed foods Americans in particular consume, and often request/prefer/demand! Why? Because over the last 2 to 3 generations this is how we learned to eat. QUANTITY not quality, finish everything on your plate, cost vs nutrition, its better to have afull refrigerator full of jarred, canned, preserved food, as compared with either great grandma or your youngest child as a <30 adult. Homemade, store bought probiotic tea, juice, soda, organic veggies, meats, fish, dairy, yogurts, eggs. All fresh, all natural, no chemicals or preservatives. Grandma on limited income achieves this goal by having a small garden or may participate in a community garden. Young adult child may also have their own or partake in community garden. There r farmers' markets, Whole Foods chains, mail order, etc..

    Point is we r on too many medications, our young children r prescibed powerful & addictive psychotherapeutic drugs, many without knowing or understanding long term mental/ physical effects.

    We cant get off everything all at once, & some of what we use is necessary, like preventative vaccines for measules etc,,

    But I do believe we need to inrease levels of natural probiotics by eating natural raw fruits, vegatables, fresh meats, fed natural free roam diet no anti biotics, no hormones. I can go on & on my point is now that our food supply is abundant we nee to make sure that it is as nutritous as it is pretty, even if that means it costs a bit more


  5. Valerie

    Does whipping cream which contains 35.1% milk fat work as heavy cream?

    • Whats Cooking America

      Heavy Cream must contain between 36%-40% milkfat and it’s also known as heavy whipping cream. Both can be used for thickening sauces and make whipped cream, however heavy cream produces the best whipped cream for desserts.

  6. Mitchell Geller

    The article is incorrect. Double cream is not the same as Devonshire Cream. The latter is a clotted cream; we also call it. Double cream does not undergo a heating or clotting process.

  7. maria

    Where does cooking cream fall on this list? Can I subtitute cooking cream for whipping cream?

    • Holly

      Generally yes, but not in reverse. You can use it just as it is or thin it a bit with a little milk or water in a pinch.

  8. Linda

    No disrespect but Clotted Cream is Cornish, if there is two things we are most proud of it’s our Cornish Clotted Cream and our Pasties. Devon may make it but it’s NOT the real thing….

  9. Ben Bennett

    I am supporting Linda. Clotted Cream is most certainly Cornish in origin and the pale replica that Devon produces I wouldn’t feed my dog. He was born in Cornwall also. ;o)

  10. Jaye

    The author made a significant mistake. (S)he said:”As ultra-pasteurized whipping cream has been heated to above 280 degrees F. to extend its shelf life…”
    Ultra-pasteurized milk is heated to 180 degrees, not 280. Think about it…..milk boils at 212 degrees. You can’t get it to 280 without some serious pressure. This is the type of error that should be easy for an editor to spot. As you typed “280 degrees”, didn’t something in your head say, “Wait, is that right?” Other than this very obvious mistake, the article was interesting. I would like to know how the Brits make their double cream. I don’t think it’s natural, is it? I know that Jersey cows give rich milk. The question is, do the Brits manipulate the cream by adding back extra butterfat, or is the milk naturally that high in fat?

    • Nancy

      Thank you for your feedback. I doubled checked to be sure we had it worded correctly, and yes, Ultra-pasteurized cream is heated between 260 and 280 degrees F. for two seconds. I updated the web page and added the range and timing. Thanks for visiting What’s Cooking America.

  11. Tandy

    I am really amazed amazed at the ppl who have timebto do all this research and type it in! Also hats off to the french bakers, ppl who make their own butter, and ppl who freeze dollops of whipped cream for later!

  12. Tammie

    Thanks for the tip regarding freezing cream that’s close to the ex date. I’ve always read that it had to be thrown out. With it being as expensive as it is this tip is a money saver. Question… where does one find the % of milk fat on a carton of whipping/heavy whipping cream or really ANY cream? I’ve used 4 different brands (these were heavy whipping creams) here in the states yet only 1 has shown the %. Even going to the brands website didn’t help. At the moment I’m trying to figure out what I should use for a recipe that’s calling for 18% milk fat. According to the article that would be half and half, right? This is being used in a chocolate pie filling. How much of a difference would it really make if I just used heavy whipping cream (yes, I am aware that the % of milk fats are quite different). I would appreciate any info anyone can give to my questions. Tammie…

  13. cecile

    To make crème fraîche you mention mixing in some sour cream for the added bacteria (to ferment) but the sour cream is ALSO pasteurized…so what is the difference?

  14. Elizabeth Montville

    In the US half and half can contain a lot of additives. Make sure you read the label before purchasing. It’s amazing what some manufacturers pass off.

  15. Phil

    Here in the Britain we have single cream, double cream, extra thick cream and whipping cream, so not sure about the differences described, i think its much the same tbh.

  16. Brenna

    Actually there are several states that allow the sale of raw milk for quite a few years now.

    Here’s a locator as well.

    Hope this helps!!


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