How to Thicken Cream Filling

Cream fillings are useful in pies, tarts, cream horns and other recipes. After spending time and money on preparing a dish, a cream filling that is not thick enough or too thick is disappointing. For instance, it can result in a pie filling that seeps out into the plate and does not hold its shape well when served. This results in a dessert that must be eaten with a spoon instead of a fork and that doesn't look as appealing. Using the right thickening agent in making your cream filling is vital to the success of the dish.

Scoop the amount of thickening agent into the measuring cup with a spoon according to the directions. If the recipe calls for flour and you want to use cornstarch -- which is gluten-free -- use half the amount the directions suggest. When using cornstarch rather than arrowroot, tapioca or potato starch, add the exact same amount that the recipes states.

Pour the thickening agent into the mixing bowl.

Measure the liquid, such as cream or water, to the mixing bowl. Use the liquid while it is room temperature or cold, do not attempt to mix the thickening agent and liquid together while the liquid is hot. This often causes lumps in the cream filling.

Whisk the liquid and thickening agent together well until it is a smooth consistency and contains no lumps.

Pour the mixture into a cooking pot and add the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe directions. Some cream fillings for pies cook and thicken in the oven.

Stir the cream filling constantly while cooking it over medium-low to medium heat until the mixture starts to boil. Continue stirring and allow it to boil for one minute to thicken well. Remove the cream filling from the heat and follow the recipe directions. Boiling the mixture for a longer time may result in the cream filling thinning too much when it cools.


Measure your thickening agent and liquid carefully. Even a small error may result in a cream filling that is not the right consistency. Cornstarch does not have a taste, therefore is an excellent thickening agent in dishes where the cream filling flavour is subtle. Eggs are also useful in thickening cream fillings if the recipe calls for them. The egg proteins start to coagulate between 62.2 and 70 degrees Celsius, as stated by the Prepared Pantry website. Follow the recipe carefully to avoid overheating the eggs and causing them to scramble in the cream filling.

Things You'll Need

  • Spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Flour, arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca, or cornstarch
  • Whisk
  • Cooking pot
  • Eggs
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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.