Sometimes, even when following a recipe exactly, the final product of a dish or dessert just does not turn out right. Many have had issues with their whipped cream turning out too runny after they’ve completed all the instructions. Your whipped cream may even turn runny after it has been sitting in your refrigerator for a while, but how do you fix runny whipped cream?
Runny whipped cream can be thickened in several ways, including by slowly adding powdered sugar while whisking or adding a half teaspoon of chilled, unflavored gelatin or cream of tartar and then whisking. The best way to prevent runny whipped cream is to keep the ingredients chilled.
Continue reading to learn more about what you can do to thicken your runny whipped cream, and ways you can prevent it in the future.
Why is my Whipped Cream Runny?
Your whipped cream may be runny for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is that the whipped cream was stored in a warm room or at room temperature after it was made. The warmth of the environment surrounding it can cause the whipped cream to go flat and eventually go runny, whereas storing it in cold temperatures will help it stay firm, fluffy, and at the right consistency.
Leaving your whipped cream out will not only cause it to go runny, but after a certain amount of time, it will begin to grow bacteria and taste sour. This is why it’s important to keep whipped cream chilled soon after it has been made or used.
If your whipped cream is flat and runny right after you’ve whipped it and before you’ve had the chance to store it, it’s possible that your ingredients were not chilled before you whipped them together. Whether you just brought home your ingredients from the store, the cold ingredients warmed up in your hot car on the drive home, or you left the ingredients out on the counter for a while prior to making your whipped cream, there are many reasons why your ingredients could have been warmed.
Another reason your whipped cream is runny is that you didn’t use the correct type of cream. The best type of cream to whip has a higher fat content, as the higher fat will solidify the cream and help keep it nice and fluffy. To more easily find a cream with higher fat content, look for cartons of cream that say “whipping cream” or “double cream.” If you use single cream, it will not hold up as well, and the final product will likely be runny.
Lucky for you, there are many ways you can thicken your runny whipped cream.
Re-Whipping the Whipped Cream
Before attempting to add anything else to the whipped cream, I recommend trying to re-whip your whipped cream. This simply involves whipping the cream at the same speed you used when you first whipped it (according to the recipe) until it gets to the consistency you want.
Keep a watchful eye on your whipped cream during the whipping process so as not to overwhip your whipped cream. Doing so can cause your whipped cream to become too thick and more of a butter-like or curdled consistency, which is not easily reversible. The only thing you can do after this point is add a tablespoon or two of milk and beat the mixture, but at this point, the mixture won’t get back to its original fluffy consistency.
This fix is especially useful if the whipped cream went flat and runny after you stored it or left it out for some time, as the temperature caused the cream to go flat, not the ingredients.
Whisking in Powdered Sugar
Something you can do to try to thicken your whipped cream, whether your recipe calls for powdered sugar or not, is to whisk in a bit of powdered sugar. Keep in mind that this will add sweetness to the whipped cream, so if your recipe already calls for a vanilla extract or sugar of any kind, adding (extra) powdered sugar can cause the sweetness to be overpowering. If you don’t mind the sweetness, then whisking powdered sugar into your whipped cream can help to thicken it because the powder will absorb the extra moisture.
By the way, the value of a good whisk, like the simple but effective one I use, found on Amazon, cannot be overstated. In fact, it might be my favorite tool in the kitchen and is great for tasks like this!
Begin beating your whipped cream with a hand whisk, a hand mixer, or a standing mixer, and slowly add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar to it at a time. Continue whisking/beating the cream to distribute the powdered sugar into the mixture. Continue adding 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time until you reach the desired texture, making sure you don’t overwhip the cream. As a general rule of thumb, you can add about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar per 1 cup of cream that is already in the mixture.
Adding Cream of Tartar
The second easiest method to thicken your runny whipped cream is to add cream of tartar to the whipped cream mixture. Cream of tartar can often be found in the baking section of your grocery store, and you may even have it in your collection of spices. It’s made with starch, which is a natural thickening and binding agent.
This thickening method will provide immediate results, and you can serve your whipped cream right away! Or, after adding the cream of tartar, you can keep the whipped cream in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours without worrying about it going flat again! You can even add it to your original recipe (if it doesn’t already call for it) to prevent your whipped cream from getting runny in the first place.
For this solution, all you will need is 1/4th teaspoon of cream of tartar per 1 cup of whipped cream. For example, if you have 4 cups of whipped cream, you’ll need to add 1 full teaspoon of cream of tartar to it. Once you have your cream of tartar measured out, do the following.
- Chill the whipped cream in the refrigerator in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the measured cream of tartar to the whipped cream.
- Using a whisk, hand mixer, or standing mixer, gently beat the whipped cream.
- Watch for stiff peaks in the whipped cream. Once stiff peaks form and the whipped cream is the desired consistency, turn off the mixer or stop beating.
- If you’ve been beating the whipped cream for a while and it is still not forming into the fluffy consistency you want, you can add 1/8th teaspoon of cream of tartar at a time as you beat until it reaches the perfect whipped cream consistency. Just be careful not to add too much, as this can create a starchy texture in the whipped cream or cause it to become too stiff!
- Place the whipped cream back in the refrigerator or serve immediately and enjoy!
Adding Chilled Unflavored Gelatin
Another way you can thicken runny whipped cream is to add unflavored gelatin. Keep in mind that this will take longer than the other methods, as you will need to allow the whipped cream to be fully set in the fridge by refrigerating it for a few hours.
I recommend that you chill the whipped cream before trying this method. This will ensure that the chilled ingredients will have a better chance of stiffening and creating that fluffy consistency that is typical of whipped cream.
Adding unflavored gelatin not only ensures that it will form stiff peaks but can also keep the whipped cream from going runny again! You can even add the unflavored gelatin to your original recipe (if it doesn’t already call for it) to prevent it from going runny in the first place.
However, unflavored gelatin isn’t going to do the trick on its own. The unflavored gelatin should instead be paired with water, with a water-to-gelatin ratio of 4 to 1. I recommend the following ratios.
- 4 tablespoons of water per 1 cup of prepared whipped cream.
- 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin per 1 cup of prepared whipped cream.
Adding the appropriate amount of these ingredients to the mixture can stabilize the whipped cream by binding the cream together, causing it to hold a firm and fluffy consistency for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Whipped cream that doesn’t have unflavored gelatin will go flat and runny much sooner.
Follow the steps below for a detailed process for how you can add the unflavored gelatin to your whipped cream to help it thicken and maintain that firm consistency:
- Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator to chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Depending on how many cups of whipped cream you have, mix the appropriate amount of gelatin and water in a separate microwave-safe bowl.
- Let the gelatin and water mixture sit for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir the mixture once more, then place it in the microwave and set the timer to 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove the gelatin and water mixture from the microwave and stir it.
- If you still see a powdery consistency from the gelatin, the gelatin has yet to dissolve. Place the gelatin back in the microwave and heat it for 3-second intervals, stirring the mixture in between each interval until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
- Set the mixture on your counter and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
- Add the water-gelatin mixture to your whipped cream.
- Beat the mixture into your whipped cream on a low speed until the gelatin mixture has been fully distributed into the whipped cream.
- Place the whipped cream back into the fridge.
- Let the whipped cream set in the fridge for a few hours. By this point, the cream will have set and formed stiff peaks to create the desired fluffy texture.
Tips to Prevent Runny Whipped Cream
Make Sure It’s Cold
Often, whipped cream may turn out runny or may not even have the fluffy consistency you desire in the first place because the ingredients or the whipped cream itself were not chilled before you started the process.
Therefore, I recommend ensuring that your ingredients are chilled before you whip them together, especially your cream and any other refrigerated ingredients. That means whipping the ingredients soon after taking them out of the refrigerator.
After bringing those ingredients home from the grocery store, place them in the refrigerator immediately and let them chill until they reach about the same as refrigerated milk.
To keep things cold, you can also use chilled utensils and a chilled mixing bowl. I recommend using a metal mixing bowl and whisk, as these can retain the chilled temperature longer than mixing bowls and whisks that are made of other materials. You can chill both by putting them in the refrigerator or running them under cold water for a minute or two.
Use Electric Mixers
Your whipped cream will also stay up better if you use an electric hand mixer, an electric standing mixer, or a food processor, as these tools can maintain a consistent medium-high whipping speed, whereas it will be hard for you to do so if you whip the mixture by hand.
The next thing you can do to prevent your whipped cream from becoming runny after you’ve mixed it is to add the cream of tartar or the unflavored gelatin and water mixture into your initial mixture, following the appropriate instructions above.
Both of these things can be done to prevent your whipped cream from turning out runny in the first place, and you can keep both mixtures, whether it be whipped with cream of tartar or unflavored gelatin, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before it will begin to turn runny again. At that point, you can simply add a bit more cream of tartar or unflavored gelatin, or even powdered sugar, following the methods provided above.
Remember that making whipped cream can take practice, and a series of trials and errors using the aforementioned methods can help you revive your runny whipped cream to create the perfect topping for your dessert.
Keep in mind that the best method for thickening your whipped cream is by using an ingredient that isn’t already included in the original list of ingredients, although you can always add ingredients that are in the recipe in small increments if you think they will thicken your whipped cream.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.