Whipped cream is a delightful addition to any dessert. Whether you’re eating ice cream, pudding, or cake, whipped cream is the topping of choice.
But what is “whipped cream”? Is it dairy or non-dairy? How long can whipped cream sit out before it goes bad?
Whipped cream comes in many forms. Whether homemade, store-bought, dairy, non-dairy, opened, or unopened, whipped cream can only sit out for 2 hours. If left out longer, whipped cream of any kind moves into the Danger Zone. This is the term used by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the temperature zone that sits between 40˚F and 140˚F.
Types Of Whipped Cream
As we mentioned above, there are two main categories when it comes to whipped cream. Dairy and non-dairy. But, within those two categories, there are several types.
All of the whipped creams we cover below are only good out of the fridge for 2 hours.
Once any of these whipped creams moves into the Danger Zone, they should be thrown away.
Dairy Whipped Creams
When we say whipped cream is “dairy,” it was created with a milk product. Simple whipped cream is made with heavy whipping cream and sugar.
To cover all our bases, we’ll go over store-bought whipped creams and the ingredients that go into homemade.
Store-Bought – In The Can
This type of whipped cream is probably the most popular brand in the dairy category.
Canned whipped cream is made from the same ingredients as homemade. But they add a stabilizer; mono and diglyceride carrageenan.
Stabilizers allow for canned whipped cream to be stable and have a quality texture. Nitrous oxide is the gas used to “whip” the contents in the can. The result is sweet, creamy goodness.
Whipped cream out at room temperature has 2 hours. The Danger Zone applies to all dairy products.
If you left a can of whipped cream sitting on the counter, we suggest you throw it away.
It might come out looking good but could be riddled with harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Whipping your cream is fun and tastes fantastic. It’s straightforward, and you can use most of the things you have in your kitchen.
In this section, we’ll cover dairy homemade whipped creams. When we touch on non-dairy, we’ll cover those homemade types there.
Making dairy whipped cream requires sugar, some type of dairy like cream, and typically vanilla extract. You put the correct proportions in a bowl and beat it with a whisk until it peaks.
Some forms of dairy won’t work as well as others. First, we’ve included a basic recipe below.
Then we’ll go over other types of dairy used to make whipped cream and tips on using them.
How To Make Basic Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
Are you using a hand or stand mixer? Whichever bowl you use, it should be metal and be cool to the touch. Put all your ingredients in the bowl.
Set your mixer to a medium-high speed and whip the contents for three to four minutes. You should have peaks that are medium to stiff. Be careful not to overbeat the cream, or it will start to look like butter.
Use it right away or store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Homemade whipped cream can only sit out of the refrigerator for 2 hours. Any longer, and it will move into the dreaded Danger Zone.
Food allowed to slip into the Danger Zone can become riddled with bacteria. Get it into the refrigerator before the 2-hour window.
Made With Milk
Homemade whipped cream can be created with milk, but you will need a bit of gelatin powder to thicken it.
Making homemade whipped cream with this light of a dairy product won’t come out as thick as the cream version. But, if you’re in a rush, and that’s all you have, give it a whirl.
If you’ve successfully created homemade whipped cream with milk, it can only sit out for 2 hours.
Even though milk is thinner than cream, the Danger Zone is still a threat. All dairy products fall under the 2-hour rule.
If you left it sitting out longer than those 2 hours, throw it away. Food poisoning is not worth the risk.
Half And Half
Using this type of cream to make your whipped topping will not come out as thin as milk. You also won’t be required to add gelatin.
But, it won’t come out as thick as if you use heavy whipping cream. The same recipe can be used as well. You’ll see that cream is a better base if you have the option.
Whipped cream made with half and half cannot sit out longer than 2 hours. Half and half are dairies, and all dairy products that move into the Danger Zone are risks.
Foodborne illnesses are nothing to take lightly. They can cause severe symptoms and including abdominal pains and dehydration.
Butter is another ingredient that can be used for whipped topping. It’s not considered whipped cream but buttercream frosting. And it’s delicious.
You can add all kinds of flavors, and it works well on cupcakes. Milk or cream is also needed to whip the butter, and you don’t need to add any gelatin.
Buttercream is just as susceptible to infestation from harmful bacteria if it’s left out for longer than 2 hours.
Whipped topping made with cream cheese is excellent and goes well with red velvet or carrot cake.
They’re made the same way as regular whipped cream, but you add cream cheese. Don’t forget the milk or cream for whipping.
Cream cheese frostings are perishable as well and cannot be out longer than 2 hours. Any longer, you should dispose of it; otherwise, you could get yourself and others ill.
Sugar and extract can be left out in dry storage as long as they’re stored correctly. But, once they mix with dairy products, you cannot leave them out for longer than 2 hours.
Sugar is a preservative, but that doesn’t negate the risk for dairy products and bacteria.
Extracts are stored in the pantry and don’t need refrigeration. But once they mix with perishable food items like milk and cream.
Non-Dairy Whipped Cream
Dairy isn’t for everyone. Some people are allergic, some believe it’s not healthy, and lactose intolerance can cause issues. For these reasons and others, some people don’t eat dairy products.
Eliminating dairy from your diet doesn’t mean you need to miss out on whipped cream.
There are several store-bought versions and ways to make it yourself. Let’s take a look.
Store-Bought – In The Can
Non-diary whipped cream can also be found in the can, with a spout and nitrous oxide abilities.
They’re made with coconut milk instead of cream, sugar, and several additives. These could include mono and diglycerides, pea protein, natural flavor, xanthan gum, and carrageenan.
Non-dairy canned whipped cream cannot sit out longer than 2 hours. If it does, it will move into the Danger Zone and can become riddled with bacteria.
Store-Bought – In the Tub
Some whipped toppings come already prepared and in a tub. They’re typically in the freezer or refrigerated section of your grocery.
Depending on the brand, these usually contain palm kernel oil and tapioca syrup. Each brand has its specific recipe, so it’s a good idea to check the label.
Even though these t whipped toppings are dairy-free, they still have a limit of 2 hours at room temperature.
Once a dairy-free whipped cream moves into the Danger Zone, bacteria multiply rapidly.
If you love to work in the kitchen and can’t do dairy, there are several options. You can use several types of dairy-free ingredients like coconut cream or almond milk.
Coconut and soy milk are fantastic options too. There are even recipes that call for pine nuts, cashews, and apples. If you like to create, there are tons of choices for creation.
The thing to remember is once you have a whipped topping, it is full of moisture, which bacteria love.
All homemade whipped toppings have to be put away before that 2-hour time limit set by the Food and Drug Administration.
Once they move into the Danger Zone, they are an easy target for toxins that cause foodborne illness.
What’s The Best Way To Store Whipped Cream?
Dairy and non-dairy whipped creams are best kept in the refrigerator. If you have a can or either, just put it on the door.
Don’t leave it out at all. If you set up a sundae bar for your kids, keep it submerged in ice water.
If any store-bought whipped cream has been out longer than 2 hours, throw it away.
Homemade whipped creams should also be stored in the fridge. This is the rule whether they are made from dairy products or non-dairy substitutes.
All whipped creams that are kept out longer than 2 hours move into the Danger Zone. Seal them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge.
How long will they last in the fridge? That depends on the kind you have.
Canned – Dairy And Non-Dairy
The types of whipped cream that come in an aerosol can are suitable for two to three weeks in the fridge.
There should be an expiration date on the container. You can go two to three weeks past that. This rule goes for both opened and unopened cans of whipped cream.
In The Tub
Tub whipped creams can be both dairy, non-dairy, or a mixture of both. Store-bought items like this one also come with an expiration date.
They last for one to two weeks past that date. This rule applies to both opened and unopened tubs of whipped topping.
As you’ve read in this piece, homemade whipped cream is delicious and worth the effort. And you can use dairy products of all kinds or avoid them altogether.
The variety of options is almost endless. Whether it’s dairy or non-dairy whipped cream, it will last two to three days in the fridge.
Homemade whipped creams are free of food additives and preservatives. This is why they taste lovely and fresh.
The trade-off is the fact that it doesn’t last very long. When storing homemade whipped creams, be sure to seal them tightly.
Can I Freeze Whipped Cream?
Yes. Whipped cream freezes well and will last about four months. You can freeze it in dollops by using an ice cube tray or cookie sheet and pastry bag. Then you can pop one in your coffee or hot chocolate.
The consistency may be different, but the flavor should be the same. Defrost whipped cream in the fridge.
Whipped cream that defrosts at room temperature for longer than 2 hours will move into the Danger Zone.
How Do I Know If My Whipped Cream Is Bad?
Whipped cream that has gone bad may not have signs of spoilage. But, if you detect a sour smell or weird color, throw it away.
The best way to keep your whipped cream fresh is by storing it in the fridge. If you’ve left any whipped cream out longer than 2 hours, assume it’s gone bad.
While we all hate wasting food, there is no reason to risk your health. The 2-hour rule applies to every type of whipped cream available. So be smart and err on the safe side. Put it in the fridge.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.