Serves a Crowd

Whipped Cream Frosting

June 28, 2021
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes enough to generously frost a 9-inch layer cake
Author Notes

I love whipped cream frosting but found that just whipping cream with sugar and vanilla didn't hold up very well. I found this recipe in James McNair's Cakes and it is really good. Holds up well, is not too sweet, and spreads nicely. —sdebrango

Test Kitchen Notes

If you are looking for a super simple frosting that lets the cake shine, whipped cream is the way to go. Unlike a buttercream, which is rich to a fault (it's called buttercream, after all), whipped cream is relatively light and delightfully fluffy. Not to mention, its ingredient list and method are as simple as can be.

That all said, whipped cream isn't quite stable enough to hold its own when it comes to frosting a cake. Which is why you need to call in some reinforcements for added stability.

For example, in Erin McDowell's Genius Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake, this means adding cream cheese to the whipped cream (which obviously adds a cream cheesy flavor, too).

In this community recipe from Food52er Sdebrango, the secret ingredient is cornstarch. Used to thicken everything from pastry cream to gravy, cornstarch is neutral-flavored, and a little really goes a long way. Here, you heat up some with a bit of cream, then add this mixture to more cream and whip it.

As is, vanilla extract is the only flavoring. You could skip it altogether, for a pure sweet cream flavor, or swap in something else. Think: fresh herbs infused into the warm cream (discard them before whipping), instant espresso powder, almond extract, lemon zest...

This whipped cream frosting would be divine with a fudgy chocolate cake, a moist yellow cake, or even a carrot cake (for a lighter twist from the usual cream cheese). You could also put it toward cupcakes or pound cake loaves. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place a metal bowl and the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or the beaters of a hand-held mixer) in the freezer to chill.
  2. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan, and whisk. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream until smooth. Place on medium heat and stir constantly, to prevent scorching at the bottom, until the mixture thickens and almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and set aside stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature. Make sure it is completely cooled before adding to the heavy cream—very important!
  3. In the chilled bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla extract, and beat with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until the cream begins to hold shape (it will still be rather loose). While still beating, add the creamy confectioners' sugar mixture, a little at a time. Beat just until the cream forms stiff peaks when the beater is raised and is spreadable, but be careful not to over beat. Use immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sdebrango
  • Teresa Austin
    Teresa Austin
  • pqmommy
  • India Simmons
    India Simmons
  • DelphicaNYC
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.

179 Reviews

[email protected] August 20, 2022
After trying and failing with 2 other frostings for my son’s birthday cake, this recipe saved me! So easy to make and really tasty; not too sugary tasting either!
AlexE81 July 17, 2021
Oh my gosh, this was SO lovely! I was a little weirded out by the texture I ended up with in the cornstarch/sugar mixture, but it all came together beautifully. I ended up adding a bit more powdered sugar at the end to make it a little sweeter (bunch of kids in the crowd, lol) but I loved how it turned out!
sdebrango July 17, 2021
I’m so glad you liked this and were able keep going even though the stabilizer texture wasn’t appealing. In the end it all comes out and sometimes I add a little extra sugar as well, it’s not a sweet frosting!! Thank you for making it and so glad you liked it!!
LauraMGoin June 28, 2021
I finally remembered that I had to leave a review for advice lol. Okay so, I made this frosting for my birthday cake last month and omg it was so easy to make! I definitely bookmarked it. I made chocolate cake and was planning on just leaving the frosting to add red food coloring to make it a cute baby pink. And I read in one of your comment replies you mentioned adding fruit syrup to it so I remembered i had pomegrenade syrup and used this and lord was is delicious and beautiful.

So I did my frosting as said, already put in on the cake and smoothed it out. Then when I was done I put it in my fridge. Now here is where the problem was. The next day, the icing cracked! like it had cracks everywhere and you could see the chocolate cake peeking. I was really sad about it cause it was my first, well frosted, cake. So I just wanted advice so that next time I know what to do/not do. I do have to add that my refrigerator is VERY cold that sometimes it freezes things. So I don't know if that did something.
sdebrango June 28, 2021
Hi Laura; Thank you for making my recipe. I have never had the icing crack before its possible your refrigerator was too cold, was the cake covered? You could try leaving at room temp for about 30 minutes and using your flexible spatula carefully re spreading it. It sounds like you did everything right. Now when I used a fruit syrup I substituted that for the heavy cream when making the stabilizer. Did you do that? My guess is your refrigerator was too cold and possibly the cake was not covered. Let me know and so glad you liked it but also very sorry the frosting cracked.
LauraMGoin June 29, 2021
Ah yes, I definitely didn't cover the cake. Next time I'll try again and try to reduce the fridge temperature slightly + cover it. I was also wondering if maybe my frosting layer was too thin?
sdebrango June 29, 2021
Hi Laura; Yes the air in the refrigerator can definitely dry the frosting and cause cracks. I don't think it was caused by the frosting layer being spread thin. Even if the refrigerator is cold (I keep my refrigerator cold as well) it shouldn't dry and crack I believe its because the cake was not covered. I think you will find that if the cake is covered your frosting will be nice and creamy. Thanks again for trying the recipe and have a great day!
Terroryan10 July 26, 2020
Very bad. Super bad.
Terroryan10 July 26, 2020
Very bad.
jane F. May 26, 2020
I was a little nervous I would over mix the frosting but it was perfect! What a wonderful recipe! So worth the effort and time. I will be using this recipe again!
sdebrango May 26, 2020
Hi Jane; I am so happy
To hear that the frosting worked out for you and that you like it!! Thank you so much.
jane F. May 26, 2020
I was a little nervous I would over mix the frosting but it was perfect! What a wonderful recipe! So worth the effort and time. I will be using this one again!
jane F. May 26, 2020
I was a little nervous I would over mix the frosting but it was perfect! What a wonderful recipe! So worth the effort and time. I will be using this one again!!
Isabee25 January 30, 2020
Mine didn’t come out the way it said it would. Just wanted to get some advice on why that would be. I followed the recipe and it still became overmixed
sdebrango January 31, 2020
I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. Make sure the cornstarch mixture is completely cooled before adding to the heavy cream. You can add it to the heavy cream before starting to whip and stop once it’s spreading consistency. I Have overwhipped cream before. I think that putting everything in the bowl and then whipping may help and very import cream is cold and cornstarch mixture is completely cooled: let me know if you try again.
Genie November 27, 2019
My mother used to frost an angel food cake with whipped cream that had puréed (reconstituted) dried apricots, which was fantastic. I think she stabilized the mix with gelatin added to the apricots before being folded into the whipped cream.
sdebrango November 27, 2019
Oh I love that idea! Once I folded in a raspberry syrup so it would be pink. Adding fruit is a great idea!! Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!
AmandaRD July 12, 2019
Looking to make this, how far in advance can I make it and frost the cakes?
sdebrango July 13, 2019
Hi Amanda;

I usually make it and frost the cake the same day but it can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. The whipped cream is nicely stable because of the corn starch mixture and lasts a while: thanks so much!
sdebrango June 2, 2019
I got s notice that Hugh James has posted a comment but cannot find it. I hope you see this Hugh, yes you can use this as whipped cream it is more stable but tastes exactly like plain whipped cream.
Teresa A. March 24, 2019
Just tried this recipe today. I put a little vanilla in it though.
Turned out perfect. Used it to frost a lemon cake with lemon curd filling. Can't wait to eat it later.
sdebrango March 24, 2019
Thank you and so happy you like it! It’s my favorite frosting and you just made one of my favorite cakes love vanilla cake with lemon curd and whipped cream. It was what I always requested for my Mom to make for my birthday. I made this cake recently and made an elderflower soaking syrup and added some to the frosting it was wonderful as well. Thank you again!!
HUGH J. June 2, 2019
Im assuming i could use this just to make whipped cream for the house without having to worry about regular whipped cream collapsing?
Sally A. February 15, 2019
Fabulous! I was so grateful to find this recipe! I doubled the recipe for a three layer and after two day what’s left is still standing strong! Thank you!!!
(Wish I could include photos)!!!
sdebrango February 15, 2019
Thank you so much and I am so happy you liked it!! Very glad to hear it worked out so well!!
Erin S. April 22, 2018
Sadly, I did not have the best luck with this recipe. The first part in the stovetop was fine, however once I added the rest in the standup mixed, to combine with the remaining cream and powder sugar it went through a few stages. It came together, but was fairly loose and started becoming curdled about 7-10 minutes later while I was frosting the cake. I tried to salvage it, but unfortunately dumped in the sink and decide to go with whipping cream & powder sugar. I was pretty sad this one didn’t work.
Erin S. April 22, 2018
I did! I let it sit on a granite counter for about a half hour. At least I tried something new. Thanks for posting!
DS July 13, 2017
Thankyou so much for this recipe. can't wait to try it. Is it possible to add lemon extract to this to make a lemon frosting?
Eileen C. July 2, 2017
Thanks for the recipe, it looks great. One question, after I frost my cake can I leave it out at room temperature for 4 or 5 hours?
DelphicaNYC May 19, 2019
Hey Eileen, Did you end up making this frosting and let it sit out? I am considering making this frosting for my daughter's birthday party at the beach. I wonder how it might do for an afternoon on a chilly beach, not in the fridge for around 4-5 hours as well. Thank you!
sdebrango May 19, 2019
I know you are asking Eileen, I just wanted to put in my 2 cents. Will it be in direct sunlight? When you say chilly, how chilly? It is whipped cream so you have to consider that. You might want to put the cake in a ice chest for a few hours. As long as the
Cake is not in direct sunlight
And the temp is cool the cake
Can sit out a few hours.
pqmommy May 5, 2017
Is it possible to make the cream/cornstarch mixture The day before and refrigerate it?
ltownell April 29, 2017
I'm thinking of using this recipe to fill a cake with strawberries and cream. Will it hold up overnight in the fridge and be alright served the next day?
India S. March 3, 2017
Should the mixture on the stove have a almost custard texture or still liquid like?