Types of Cream and How to Use Them in Your Cooking?

Cream can come in all different consistencies and flavors. Below is a guide to some of the most popular types of cream and when to use them in your cooking.

Light cream

Light cream (also sometimes known as coffee cream or table cream) is the type of liquid cream that is often drizzled over desserts to add moistness. It contains 20% fat, which is lower than many other creams (an ever lighter version called ‘half and half cream’ also exists which is typically 10 to 12%). Light cream is typically sweet.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream is much thicker. It’s also more calorific and is usually 30 to 36% fat. Heavy cream can be shaped to create whipped cream. The best way to achieve this is to use a nitrous oxide cylinder and cream dispenser. Heavy cream is also commonly used to create ice cream. Like light cream, heavy cream is typically sweet.

Double cream

Double cream is even thicker than heavy cream. It also has one of the highest fat contents of any cream – anywhere between 40 and 60% – so it’s best avoided if you’re on a diet. It is the basis of popular desserts like cheesecake, mousse and creme brulee. Double cream can be whipped but generally has to be shaped manually rather than squirted using a cream charger. It is also typically sweet.

Clotted cream

Clotted cream has a similarly high-fat content at 48% and has a consistency to butter. It is made from unpasteurized milk, providing a unique texture. Clotted cream is commonly spread on scones in the UK, but can also be used on waffles and pancakes. It has a nutty, milky flavor.

Creme fraiche

Creme fraiche is another thick cream with a custard-like consistency. It usually has a fat content of about 38 to 48%. Creme fraiche is often used to enrich stews and pasta sauces and can also taste great drizzled over fish like salmon. It has a tangy flavor, which is why it is often used in savory dishes.


Mascarpone can be classed as both a cream and a cheese. In fact, it is very similar to cream cheese but sweeter. It is very thick and is most famously used as the main ingredient in tiramisu. It is also often used as a cake topping (as is the case with carrot cake) and can also be used to thicken out sauces. Mascarpone can have a fat content as high as 70%, although there are much lower fat content options that you can buy.

Sour cream

Sour cream is so-called because of its tangy taste. It is most commonly used in savory dishes like stroganoff and is often used to tone down spicy dishes like chili con carne. Sour cream has a low-fat content of about 10 to 19%. On top of having a low-fat content, it contains some probiotics like yogurt, making it one of the healthiest cream options. Sour cream can be light or thick.

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