Whipped cream is a white, fluffy, and usually sweet icing on many cakes and pastries. Or you could even find it on top of your morning coffee at some point. If you’re in a position where you need to think about the amount of sugar you take in – say, diabetic, or simply want to eat less calories – them the amount of sugar in whipped cream can matter.
But does whipped cream have any sugar ? Is its sweetness from the milkfat ? And what about those ‘diet’ or ‘no sugar’ versions ? Knowing the details about what goes into whipped cream can be really eye-opening, so let’s take a look.
Does whipped cream have sugar ?
Most whipped cream does contain added sugar, or at least artificial sweeteners. This means that you will need to mitigate the sweetness in the rest of the recipe, or if you want to avoid it altogether, look for a version without sugar.
The whipping cream cartons and cans that are sweetened usually have a label on them stating this. If you can’t find any, look at the ingredient list. There are two ways whipped cream can contain a form of sugar.
Actual sugar (sucrose)
The most common way to sweeten whipped cream is with actual sugar. This means you will easily find off on the ingredient list, and it should also be stated on the nutritional label. Look at the carbohydrate part, and under that should be ‘of which sugars’ and you should see the score there.
Read also: Why Are Dates So Sweet ?
In the case of artificial sweeteners, because those are sometimes used, you will see zero mg of sugar, because they don’t class as sugars. This means they’re technically ‘zero calories’, so won’t see them on the nutritional label. Still, they sweeten the whipped cream and this will affect whatever you’re cooking.
Look for ingredients such as fructose, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, and advantame.
Lactose is already present in cream
There is whipped cream that isn’t sweetened. But even that one will state the natural sugar score on the nutritional label. This is because milk, from which heavy cream is made, from which whipped cream is made, contains lactose. That is a form of sugar, and it does register as mildly sweet on the tongue.
This is why whole milk is so delicious, since it’s a flavor combination between milkfat and lactose.
So, unsweetened whipped cream will taste bland compared to the sweet version, but it will still have a trace amount of sweetness from the natural sugars it contains. A very small amount.
What does whipping cream usually contain ?
Whipped cream is usually just heavy cream, the only ingredient. Different brands may add a bit of sugar, and/or flavorings like vanilla extract. You may sometimes see a bit of thickening agent, such as xanthan gum. These are added mostly to stabilize the cream, and to make it hold its shape and structure once whipped.
We suggest going for the one with the least ingredients, and adding at home whatever you may think is necessary. This way you know what’s in your food, and how much of it there is. It’s also high customizable.
Should you sweeten or just add flavor ?
To sweeten or not ? The whole point of sweetening something is to bring out the flavor of the food, to make it more palatable. This means your whipped cream can be just a little sweet, if it has plenty of flavor. How much flavor it has depends on how much you add, and what you use. Some ingredients tend to cut through sweetness, others support it very well. Let’s take a look.
Fruity extracts bring a lot of flavor
If you want to bring a lot of flavor that is also sweet, go for fruity items. Choose your fruits carefully because some of them need a lot of sugar to be sweet instead of sour.
For example green apples, golden apples, strawberries, coconut, pineapple, banana all have a sweet aroma that just smells sweet even if there isn’t any sugar in that whipped cream. See where we’re going with this ?
Overly tart fruits like almost all berries, peaches, nectarines, mangoes are going to need way more sugar. With citrus you can save the day by simply using the rind to bring out their essential oils.
Read Also: Whipped Cream VS Buttercream
Vanilla brings on a sweet flavor
If you’re looking just something sweet but not fruity, you can always use plain ol vanilla. it’s simple but very sweet smelling, and you can even make a combination between it and something just as sweet. For example vanilla and coconut butter, or vanilla and strawberry essence.
Chocolate and cocoa will dampen any sweetness
Be mindful of what you add to your desserts, because some of the ingredients can be very rich but cut or dampen all that sweetness. Chocolate and cocoa need a lot of sugar and cream to bring out their sweetness, so you’ll only end up sweetening the whipped cream.
And juices form very tart fruits will cut through the sweetness too. Not to mention they will seize up the whipped cream. We’ve personally made this mistake with forest berry juice, in an attempt to bring color and flavor to a whipped cream filling. The cream nearly separated and it…dried out ? It wasn’t really pleasant.
If you want to add any kind of fruit, do not mix the fruit juice directly into the whipped cream.