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Want to add an authentically European je ne sais quoi to your baking and French-inspired cooking? Find out more about crème fraîche—which means “fresh cream” in French—including how to use crème fraîche and even how to make your own.

What Is Crème Fraîche?

heart shaped bread with orange fish eggs
Source: Instagram
Crème fraîche makes a good topping for hors d’œuvres. 

Crème fraîche is cream soured with bacterial culture. It is, essentially, a type of soured cream with a higher fat content than the sour cream more commonly used in the U.S. Crème fraîche itself is not sweet, but it can be used in both sweet and savory recipes and baking. 

Wondering where to buy crème fraîche? It can usually be found with similar dairy products (like sour cream and cream) in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, but not all smaller grocers in the U.S. will stock it.

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The Difference Between Crème Fraîche and Sour Cream

crem fraiche on potatoes
Source: Pexels
Crème fraîche vs sour cream? Sour cream is tangier and less fatty.

Crème fraîche tastes similar to sour cream but is somewhat less tangy. It also contains more fat: around 30%, compared to sour cream’s 20%. Because of its higher fat content, crème fraîche works better than sour cream for many cooking projects because it’s less likely to separate. 

What Is Crème Fraîche Used For?

salmon tarte
Source: Pixabay
Salmon tarte flambée uses crème fraîche.

Wondering how to use crème fraîche? Crème fraîche can be used as a topping or dressing in a similar way to fresh cream or yogurt, or as a thickener in cooking and baking. Some dishes that use crème fraîche include:

  • Pumpkin soup (as a dollop on top)
  • Chicken with creamy (crème fraîche) sauce
  • Creamy pasta
  • White pizza
  • Potato latkes
  • Blinis and pancakes

Crème Fraîche Substitutes

creme fraiche on potatoes
Source:Instagram
If you don’t have crème fraîche, there are other dairy-based alternatives you can use.

If you’ve been wondering where to buy crème fraîche but can’t find it near you, there are substitutes you can use instead. In addition to sour cream, other ingredients that can be used instead of crème fraîche include thickened cream, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mascarpone, ricotta, and Mexican crema.  

How to Make Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is super easy to make yourself at home and doesn’t require any fancy equipment or ingredients. Be sure to make it at least one day before you want to use it in cooking, though, as you’ll need to let it rest.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients and Equipment

lady teaching
You don’t need many ingredients to make your own crème fraîche.

To make this crème fraîche, you’ll need 1 pint of heavy cream and 1 Tbsp commercial buttermilk (plain, live culture), as well as a pint jar with a lid.

It’s important to sterilize your jar before using it, as bacteria can easily spoil your crème fraîche. Run it through the sterilizing cycle on your dishwasher.

Step 2: Mix the Cream and Buttermilk

lady pouring milk
Pour the ingredients into the jar.

Mix the cream and buttermilk together in the jar, or mix in a larger bowl first and then pour into the jar. Give it a quick, gentle shake.

Step 3: Wait for 24 Hours, then Refrigerate

creme fraiche in jaar
After about 24 hours the crème fraîche is ready to be chilled.

Leave the mixture for between 20 and 24 hours, at room temperature, to allow the souring of the cream to happen. After this time, refrigerate.

Step 4: Eat and Enjoy!

creme fraiche on berries
Source: Pexels
Add a dollop of crème fraîche to a fresh waffle. 

After you’ve refrigerated the crème fraîche, use it however you’d like. Just make sure to use it up within two weeks, to avoid spoiling.

Crème Fraîche Recipe

Adapted from Ancestral Evolution’s Skillshare class: Fermented Dairy 101.

Ingredients

• 1 pint heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)

• 1 tablespoon commercial buttermilk (plain, live culture)

Equipment 

•  Jar with a lid (1 pint)

Instructions

1. Add cream and buttermilk to jar and mix.

2. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20-24 hours, or until thickened.

3. Store in the fridge; use within 2 weeks.

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