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How to Make Crème Fraîche at Home

Yes, you can make homemade crème fraîche! My easy homemade crème fraîche recipe is effortless — all you need is milk, buttermilk, and a jar.

After making crème fraîche at home you’ll never want to buy it again!

homemade creme fraiche

Wondering What to Do with Crème Fraîche?

I’d never heard of crème fraîche until I moved to Germany as a teen. (In case you’re wondering, you pronounce it like “creme fresh.”)

That year, I lived with a German family and noticed that while they rarely ate sour cream, they did often have a small container of crème fraîche in the fridge.

I grew to love crème fraîche that year because there are so many sweet and savory ways to use it. Here are a few examples:

Savory:

  • Add it to pasta to create a simple creamy sauce
  • Mix with herbs and serve as a dip for potatoes or veggies
  • Use it on pizza instead of tomato sauce or in savory tarts like my German Zwiebelkuchen (Savory Onion Tart)

Sweet:

Crème fraîche is something I always missed when living in the US — until I learned how to make it at home. Now you can make it at home, too!

homemade crème frâiche topped with slices of strawberries in a glass

What Is Crème Fraîche?

Crème frâiche is a “soured cream” that originated in France but is commonly found all over Europe.

What Does Crème Fraîche Taste Like? Is Crème Fraîche Like Sour Cream?

While it does have a bit of a sour tang to it, crème fraîche is more deeply flavored, richer, thicker, and smoother than sour cream. It also has a higher fat content.

One benefit of cooking with crème fraîche is that it won’t curdle at high temperatures, so it’s great to use in sauces. It’s seriously good with pasta, on pizza and in quiches, tarts, etc.

I wouldn’t use it as a topping on things like tacos, though. Sour cream is better for that.

Where Can I Buy Crème Fraîche?

If you’re wondering where to buy crème fraîche, try Whole Foods, Wegmans or Trader Joe’s.

I’ve bought crème fraîche but it tends to be expensive. So, I decided to learn how to make it myself!

As it turns out, it’s incredibly easy to make it at home. Plus, you can choose your ingredients so you know exactly what’s in your crème frâiche.

I’m kicking myself for going all these years in the US without crème fraîche!

homemade crème frâiche in a glass and jar

What’s a Good Crème Fraîche Substitute?

You can use sour cream instead of crème fraîche but do note that sour cream is more sour, it doesn’t have the same flavor, and the texture is a little different – it’s not as thick or rich.

You can also use Greek yogurt, but again, it doesn’t have the same flavor as crème fraîche.

So, while you can use these two substitutes, they won’t add the same flavor or texture. If a recipe calls for crème fraîche, I highly recommend using ccrème fraîche

What You Need to Make Crème Fraîche at Home

You only need two ingredients to make crème fraîche at home:

  • Heavy cream
  • Buttermilk

And you only need two pieces of equipment:

  • A jar or small bowl (I use these jars)
  • Cheese cloth or a towel

How to Make Homemade Crème Fraîche

I have hard time saying this is my crème fraîche recipe because it’s just so simple!

The first step is to pour the heavy cream into a jar or small bowl.

Then add 2-3 tablespoons of buttermilk.

Finally, stir to combine the cream and buttermilk.

Note – I used organic pasteurized cream (not the ultra pasteurized kind) and found that 3 tablespoons buttermilk worked better than 2.

The first time I made crème fraîche I only used 2 tablespoons and it didn’t thicken up enough.

Cover the jar loosely with cheese cloth or a clean tea towel and leave the jar on the counter in a warm room for 12-36 hours.

Once the crème fraîche has thickened, put a lid on the jar and let it chill in the fridge (it will thicken up a little more as it chills).

Notes:

I left my jar of crème fraîche next to my stove for a couple hours, then set the jar on the warm stovetop after I’d used the oven.

Doing so seemed to help speed up the process a bit compared to the first time I made crème fraîche, when I just left it on the counter.

The warmer your kitchen, the faster your crème fraîche will thicken up.

I checked my crème fraîche every 6-12 hours. It took more than 24 hours for my crème fraîche to thicken, so don’t worry if yours is still liquid after several hours. Just keep it in a warm place and let it sit out longer.

My first batch of homemade crème fraîche wasn’t quite as thick as I remember crème fraîche being in Europe but it tasted spot on. The batches I’ve made since have been thicker but still not quite as thick as what I used to buy in Europe. But it still tastes amazing and has worked perfectly in recipes.

One thing to note is that it tends to take longer and come out thinner when I make it in the winter (colder kitchen) than in the summer.

You can see the difference below (winter is on the left, summer is on the right):

If you’ve never had crème fraîche, I highly recommend making some just to try it. You can use it to make the strawberry crème fraîche mini tarts in my free ebook!

Yield: about 1 cup

Easy Homemade Crème Fraîche

Easy Homemade Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is delicious in both sweet and savory dishes and super easy to make at home - only 2 ingredients needed!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Chill Time 1 day 12 hours 12 seconds
Total Time 1 day 12 hours 5 minutes 12 seconds

Ingredients

  • 1 cup [227g] heavy cream 
  • 2-3 tablespoons buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Pour cream into a jar or small bowl.  
  2. Add buttermilk and stir until combined.  
  3. Cover jar loosely with cheese cloth or a towel. Leave in a warm place for 12-36 hours.  
  4. Once the crème fraîche has thickened, put a lid on the jar and chill in the fridge. 

Now Make Easy No Churn Crème Fraîche Ice Cream

Easy no churn crème frâiche ice cream with fresh strawberry topping

Craving a quick and easy cold treat that’s a step up from vanilla? Try this no churn crème frâiche ice cream made in mini mason jars! It’s delicious eaten right out of the jar or topped with fresh berries. Yum!

Click here to see my other easy no churn ice cream recipes featuring international flavors.

Yield: 1-2 portions

Crème Fraîche Ice Cream

Crème Fraîche Ice Cream

This easy no churn ice cream is a deliciously tangy variation on standard vanilla and a great way to use up left-over crème fraîche!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Freeze Time 2 hours 1 second
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes 1 second

Ingredients

  • ½ cup [120 ml] heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche (see note below)
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Pour all ingredients into a small jar that has a lid. (I typically use an 8oz jam jar.)
  2. Stir until ingredients are well combined.
  3. Put the lid on the jar and then shake the jar several times until the cream has thickened. (I usually shake it 20-25 times.)
  4. Place the jar in freezer for 1-2 hours.
  5. When you're ready to eat the ice cream, take the jar out of the freezer and let it warm up for a few minutes.
  6. Top with lemon curd, raspberry sauce or fresh berries (optional).

Notes

Readers Often Ask…

What is crème fraîche similar to?

It’s similar to sour cream in that they’re both made with cream and have a similar texture. crème fraîche however, is thicker, has more fat, and isn’t as sour as sour cream. crème fraîche has a distinct flavor that complements many sweet and savory dishes. You can simply add some to salted noodles and the crème fraîche will make the dish flavorful and delightful!

Is Greek yogurt a good substitute for crème fraîche?

It really depends on what you’re making. While similar in texture (though crème fraîche can be thicker), they’re very different in taste and crème fraîche has more fat than Greek yogurt. If the flavor of crème fraîche is important to what you’re making, Greek yogurt probably isn’t the best substitute.

What about mascarpone? Can that work as a substitute for crème fraîche?

Maybe. Mascarpone (which you can also make from scratch) is somewhat similar in texture, though it could be thicker, but has a different flavor. Mascarpone is actually a cheese, which crème fraîche is not. If creaminess and texture is what you’re after, and the crème fraîche flavor isn’t important, you might be able to sub mascarpone for crème fraîche.

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Oliver

Thursday 16th of December 2021

Maybe the reason why your Creme Fraiche isn't as thick as the store-bought it because you did not use "cultured" buttermilk. You cannot use uncultured buttermilk, it will not work because it does not contain live bacteria that ferments and thickens the mixture. If you are unable to find cultured buttermilk, you may substitute the same amount of sourcream to the heavy cream to make Creme Fraiche. The "cultured bacteria" that ferments the heavy cream is the most important part.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Friday 17th of December 2021

Cultured buttermilk has been difficult to find where I live. Thanks for the idea to give sour cream a try!

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