Don’t have any crème Fraiche on hand? We both know making a home crème Fraiche is not an option at this point. But have you tried using sour cream?
It is one of the most popular crème Fraiche substitutes you can immediately use; only it is not as rich and thicker as the crème Fraiche.
But don’t worry if you don’t like sour cream.
There are several other good crème Fraiche alternatives such as Greek yogurt, Mexican cream, Cream cheese, ricotta, Mascarpone, Greek yogurt, and many more that mimic its nutty, tangy, and slightly sour flavor, as well as its density.
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What Is Crème Fraîche?
If you are familiar with sour cream, crème fraîche is like the French version.
In French, Crème fraîche means “fresh cream.” It is a thick cultured cream with a rich, tangy flavor and has a butterfat content of about 30 percent.
This cream is usually packaged in mini tubs and is found in the dairy aisle, like sour cream and cream cheese.
More importantly, you don’t have to know how to speak French before using this cream.
They are suitable for thickening soups sauces but best known for desserts — whether spooned over cakes, pies, fruit or mixed into the batter.
Best Creme Fraiche Substitutes
While you are thrilled to get something close or even better than the crème Fraiche, have it at the back of your mind that these alternatives work depending on the recipe you want to make.
So without wasting much of your time, let’s get straight into it.
1. Sour Cream
Think about it for a sec.
Crème fraîche is the French version of sour cream. And since crème Fraiche is quite challenging to find and more expensive, sour cream stands a better chance of trading place with it.
It is naturally rich and creamy. Both products function similarly. Unfortunately, the crème Fraiche is far more versatile due to its higher fat content and tangier taste.
You can go ahead and sub this velvety cultured cream for crème fraîche in a 1:1 ratio.
It will give a little tangier taste, but it can do the trick if you have it on hand.
Besides, they are readily available at any grocery shop, and it goes well with both sweet and savory meals.
2. Mexican Crema
Try the Mexican cream if you think the sour cream can’t get the job done. It is the Mexican version of French crème fraîche, and both have the same 30% fat content.
More than that, both creams have a similar tangy taste. But the Crema tends to be thinner in consistency and has a slightly sweeter flavor.
Regardless, Crema will substitute crème fraîche when dolloping or drizzling on tacos, soups, potatoes, or anything else that needs a slight tang.
It only works best in recipes that only need a small amount of crème fraîche.
And it is very affordable and always available in Mexican markets or supermarkets.
I’d prefer the homemade version as it has a smoother flavor than the commercial ones.
3. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is another delicious creme fraiche substitute I can vouch for.
And odds are you are likely to have this cream in your fridge to spare for a recipe that calls for crème fraîche.
They are pretty standard among diary products and are affordable.
Although, it is denser but less tangy than the crème Fraiche.
Many people who prefer dense toppings, whether for sauces, soups, cakes, and bakes, always add squeeze lemon juice to enrich the tangy flavor.
You can also use it for an ultimate sandwich, Fondue, Cheat’s cheesecake, Meatballs, Ice cream, or Paté.
4. Buttermilk + Heavy Cream
You can have this mixture ready and not spend up to $5. Sometimes we have all of these sitting dormant in our fridge waiting to be used.
Well, this is the time for some chemistry — because I’d feel guilty of throwing them away when expired and never-opened.
So if you’re out of crème Fraiche, grab 2 cups of heavy cream and two tablespoons of buttermilk and mix in a glass jar.
Like making a homemade crème, the longer it sits, the thicker it gets — just don’t let it sit for more than 24 hours, or it will spoil.
Your finished product will taste and feel more like the crème fraîche, so worry not!
Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese comparable to the crème fraîche in both flavor and texture.
Many homeowners and pro chefs consider Mascarpone the best substitute for creme fraiche, other than making it yourself — since they both have a rich, creamy consistency.
However, crème Fraiche is a thinner cream because it is more acidic and has lesser fat content than the Mascarpone with about 60 to 75% fat content.
Surprisingly, they both work when swapping on a 1:1 ratio.
On top of that, the mascarpone flavor is slightly sweet without a trace of tang, so it will work best in desserts.
You can quickly get them at the local grocery store. However, if you feel ambitious or cheffy, you can challenge yourself for a homemade mascarpone.
Besides, you only need two ingredients — 3 cups of heavy cream and three tablespoons of lemon juice.
6. Greek Yogurt
I know you probably saw this one coming. I mean, who doesn’t know the famous Greek yogurt?
This cream is a MUST-HAVE supply on hand for everyday use. It is more similar in texture to the crème fraîche; only the whey has been removed to give it a thick consistency.
And you use them in a 1:1 ratio swap for crème fraîche.
The only sad part is Greek yogurt has less fat content, it is not as rich as the crème fraîche, and it has a tangier taste.
While it will work in nearly all recipes, it might alter the texture due to the less fat content. It will curdle easily in hot sauce or soup.
We recommend turning off the heat and adding the cream when you are almost done with the recipe. Or better still, you can use lower temperature when simmering.
Weird choice but can be used in place of sour cream, Greek yogurt, or even crème fraîche, especially in cold soups, as a base for dips or in desserts.
It has an almost similar consistency as the others; only it works with no cooking involved.
And it is best if you use the homemade version. So another yet interesting experiment awaits you.
8. Make It Yourself
YES, the last alternative is to make it yourself if it comes to that.
Did you just shudder?
Making a crème fraîche at home is incredibly simple. Think about making a Vanilla Ice Cream — that is how easy it is, if not easier.
All it will take is cream, buttermilk, and your patience.
Good a thing, both ingredients are easy to get from any grocery store and are likely to be found in your fridge.
So you will need:
- Three tablespoons of buttermilk
- 2 cups of heavy cream
The first thing to do is to get a glass jar and whisk the heavy cream with buttermilk in it.
Secondly, use a breathable material like Cheesecloth to airtight the glass jar.
Then allow it to sit at room temperature, likely between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius 70—75 °F for up to 24 hours.
I know, I know. You can’t wait to get a taste. But patience is the actual ingredient because Crème Fraiche tends to thicken the longer you let it settle.
After that, you can now stir the mix and fasten the lid.
Before using it, make sure it has slept in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours.
Only then can you truly enjoy your homemade crème fraîche.
Make sure you are using ONLY fresh heavy cream, and it should be the regular pasteurized fresh cream and not ultra-pasteurized for the best result.
As for the buttermilk, it should be cultured. Any attempt of using uncluttered buttermilk is likely to ruin the desired result.
As you can see, you have ample choices within your grasp. Either you are going for any of the seven crème Fraiche substitutes, or you can make your crème Fraiche right there and then in your kitchen with just two ingredients.
If you are a foodie or a food enthusiast, admit it, it is always exciting trying something new. And it’s even more fun when you whip it up in the kitchen all by yourself. You might not be Gordon Ramsay, but you feel a sense of achievement and more like an experienced chef.
So the ball is in your court!