How to Fold Ingredients for Best-Ever Baking

Updated: Dec. 09, 2020

Learning how to fold ingredients is a must! Folding makes your mousses airier, chiffon cakes lighter and your souffles sky high. Here's how to do it step by step.

Person using a spatula to fold together chocolate and creamTaste of Home

From chiffon to angel food, mousses to sponges, folding is an essential technique in the world of baking. Some of my favorite desserts require this method to achieve that light-as-a-feather texture. But for new and experienced cooks alike, getting the perfect fold can be a challenge–overmix and you lose the air that provides the lift and lightness, undermix and end up with a streaky batter. But if you follow just a few simple rules, you’ll end up with the perfect folded mixture.

What Does “Fold” Mean in a Recipe?

The term folding can trip up some bakers. That’s because this term is pretty ambiguous—not like toasting nuts or whipping cream. But the simple definition of folding is carefully adding a light, airy mixture to a thicker, heavier mixture.

This has to be done carefully so that light mix (typically whipped cream or egg whites) doesn’t deflate and lose all the air that you beat inside. Folding is done slowly and using a certain technique where you scrape the bottom of the bowl to combine the two mixtures—no aggressive stirring.

How to Fold Ingredients

These universal steps can be applied to practically any recipe that calls for you to fold in ingredients. Follow along as our experts guide you step-by-step.

Step 1: Add Light to Heavy

Person digging into a bowl of whipped cream with a spatula while standing over a bowl of melted chocolateTaste of HomeAlways add your lighter ingredients (beaten egg whites or whipped cream) to your heavier mixture. Starting at the center of the bowl, cut straight down the center with a wide, flexible spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

If you’re working with a particularly dense batter, you can start by incorporating just a bit of your lighter ingredients to loosen it up a bit before folding in the rest. This will help keep the airy, puffy nature.

Step 2: Scrape the Bowl

Person using a spatula to fold together chocolate and creamTaste of Home

Scrape along the bottom of the bowl towards you, continue up the side and scoop the mixture over the top. That’s the fold we’re talking about!

Step 3: Rotate and Repeat

Person using a spatula to fold together chocolate and cream and rotating as they goTaste of Home
Rotate your bowl a quarter turn and repeat step two until just combined. Once you achieve a homogeneous mixture without streaks or separation, you’re done! Resist the temptation to give it another stir. Simply pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Tips for Folding Ingredients

Here are our top tips for getting the perfect texture with expert folding.

  • Use a large bowl: You’ll want to use a large bowl when folding ingredients. Having a large bowl provides you with the space you need to incorporate two parts of your mixture without having to worry about overflowing or deflating your egg whites or whipped cream.
  • Grab a flexible spatula: A wide, flexible silicone spatula works best for folding. This tool allows you to scrape every last bit of your ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate into the mix.
  • Work slowly: You don’t want to rush this process. Folding takes a little patience, so don’t worry if your mixture doesn’t come together all at once. Just keep folding. If you rush and stir the ingredients together, you’ll lose all the air you’re trying to incorporate. Remember that air is the key to light and fluffy desserts.

With these tips and steps in your baking arsenal, you’re ready to tackle some of our favorite recipes. I’m partial to this Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cheesecake–yum!