How to Replace Whipped Topping in a Recipe

Looking for a substitute for whipped topping? You have a few choices.

Whipped topping isn’t the worst ingredient in the world, but it’s come under scrutiny recently. It can be a great option for bakers looking for reduced-fat options, and it contains stabilizers that help it retain its consistency better than real whipped cream. But anyone hoping to stay away from processed foods or looking for fresh ingredients might want to steer clear. So is there a substitute for whipped topping in your recipe, or are you stuck with the store-bought variety?

Is Whipped Topping the Same as Whipped Cream?

Whipped cream is exactly what it sounds like: Heavy cream that’s been whipped until it doubles in volume. It generally contains very few ingredients—just cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract (although store-bought whipped cream may also contain gelatin as a stabilizer). It’s easy to make whipped cream at home with an electric mixer, or you can whisk it by hand or make whipped cream in a jar.

Once made, whipped cream needs to be used immediately or stored in the fridge. You can store it refrigerated for several hours, but it begins to deflate quickly, and you’ll want to re-whip it briefly before serving.

Whipped topping, on the other hand, is a store-bought product that contains little or no dairy. You’ll find it in the freezer or refrigerator section of the grocery store, and it’s worth taking a peek at the ingredients list. It’s made by emulsifying water, hydrogenated vegetable oil, sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup) and a handful of other ingredients. It contains significantly less fat than whipped cream, but it’s usually higher in sugar. On the plus side, it also contains stabilizers that help it keep its shape, making it a better option as a topping or for folding into certain baked goods.

How to Make a Substitute for Whipped Topping

In most recipes, you can use whipped cream as a substitute for whipped topping. There will be some changes in texture and stability, which could result in minor changes in the end product. It’s not a 1-to-1 substitution, either: If your recipe calls for an 8-ounce carton of whipped topping, you’ll want to whip 1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream to create 3 cups of whipped cream.

To make your whipped topping substitute, start with a chilled bowl and beaters. The colder everything is, the better, so don’t be afraid to pop them in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cream to the bowl and begin beating. Continue until it starts to thicken, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

When the mixture is about twice its original volume, add 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the bowl and continue beating until soft peaks form. (Here are the best vanilla extract brands, according to our Test Kitchen.) Use the whipped cream immediately, or store it in the refrigerator for up to four hours. You’ll need to re-whip it to obtain its original consistency before use.

Tips for Making a Whipped Topping Substitute

How do you keep whipped cream from melting?

We mentioned earlier that whipped topping contains stabilizers that help it keep its form, while whipped cream deflates quickly after being whipped. Of course, you can always add stabilizers to your homemade whipped cream to help it keep its shape for longer. Try adding 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 tablespoons milk powder or 3 tablespoons pudding mix to every 1 cup of whipping cream, adding them after the cream thickens in the first step.

To use gelatin, mix 1 teaspoon of gelatin with 2 tablespoons cold water. Let the gelatin bloom for 2 minutes before heating it in the microwave in 10-second intervals, until the gelatin is dissolved. Let it cool completely before adding it to the whipped cream alongside the confectioners’ sugar.

What is the healthiest whipped topping?

Cool Whip is the go-to option for most people looking for reduced-fat whipped topping, but it does contain some dairy. Each 2-tablespoon serving contains 25 calories, 1.5 grams fat and 3 grams carbohydrates. For a whipped topping that uses vegan-friendly ingredients, try Truwhip. Each 2-tablespoon serving contains 30 calories, 2 grams fat, and 3 grams carbohydrates.

What are other whipped topping substitutes?

Some whipped topping contains dairy, so you’ll want to look for a dairy-free whipped topping if you’re lactose intolerant. Try a store-bought whipped coconut milk (like So Delicious) or whipped cashew cream, or try making your own at home. You may need to add some of the stabilizers we talked about earlier to get the non-dairy milk to reach the same thick consistency.

Use your newfound knowledge to make our favorite dreamy desserts with whipped cream.

Up next: Learn all about heavy cream substitutes!

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.