What is Crème Fraîche? (And How to Use It!)
If you’ve ever wondered, What is Crème Fraîche? This post is here to help. Plus learn where to find it, how to store it, and the best recipes for using it!
What is Crème Fraîche?
If you’ve ever wondered, “What is Crème Fraîche?” – well, it’s time to get acquainted with this beautiful ingredient!
Crème fraîche (pronounced “krem fresh”) is a cultured dairy product that’s similar to sour cream. It originated in France and is more popular in Europe – but it’s been slowly catching on in the US. And no wonder, because it’s absolutely lovely!
Think of crème fraîche as a luxurious French version of sour cream, with a slightly subtler tang and a bit less thickness.
Crème fraîche is made by adding bacterial culture to heavy cream, then allowing it to thicken and sour. If you can’t find it at the grocery store, it’s easy to make at home – just scroll down for more info on that.
You can use this product much like you’d use sour cream, and I share a variety of ideas in this post. But my own personal favorite way? I like to make crème fraîche ice cream – it’s super delightful!
Crème Fraîche Substitute
You can find crème fraîche in the refrigerated dairy section at the grocery store, but here are some easy substitutes:
- Sour cream. Sour cream is the most common crème fraîche substitute, as they are the most similar in both texture and flavor.
- Mexican crema. If you just need a dollop or two of crème fraîche, Mexican crema is another alternative. The consistency is thinner and it’s a bit sweeter but it’ll work in a pinch.
- Greek yogurt. Full-fat Greek yogurt has a similar tangy flavor, though it’s not quite as rich. Still, you can substitute it in many recipes at a 1:1 ratio as it’ll still provide the creamy texture.
- Cream cheese. Cream cheese doesn’t make the best substitute, since it’s so much denser. In many cases, you’ll have to thin it out with milk. But in cases like soup, a small amount will provide the same rich creaminess.
- Make your own. You can also make homemade crème fraîche with heavy cream and buttermilk. See the next section for details.
How to Make Crème Fraîche
You can make homemade crème fraîche with just two ingredients, and it’s easy to do!
Ingredients you’ll need
- 16 ounces heavy cream
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cultured buttermilk
How to make crème fraîche
- Combine the heavy cream and buttermilk in a clean, dry non-reactive jar or container.
- Cover and let sit at room temperature until thickened to desired consistency. Check at 12 hours to see if it has thickened and has a tangy flavor. If not, let it sit for up to 6 more hours (18 hours total).
- Give it a stir once the mixture has thickened.
- Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight to fully set. It’s now ready to use!
How long will it last?
Store your homemade crème fraîche in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The exact shelf life will vary depending on things like how fresh your heavy cream and buttermilk are, the temperature of your fridge, and the level of acidity in the crème fraîche.
Ways to Use It
There are so many great ways to use crème fraîche, from dips, to soups and salads, to ice creams!
Some of these ideas call for crème fraîche in the recipe card. And others call for sour cream – in which case, you could substitute some or all of it with crème fraîche.
- Dips – Such as million dollar dip (shown in photo above), spinach artichoke dip, or dill pickle dip.
- Potato salad – Stir some into potato salad for extra creaminess.
- Vegetable salads – Such as cucumber salad or creamy coleslaw (shown in photo above).
- Pasta salads – Sub sour cream for crème fraîche in bacon ranch pasta salad or Hawaiian macaroni salad.
- Baked potato topping – Spoon some over these baked potatoes with salty, crispy skins.
- Soups and stews – Add a creamy texture and tangy flavor to soups and stews, such as this bacon cheeseburger soup or creamy potato soup (shown in photo above). You could also use it in this spicy lentil soup by replacing the Greek yogurt with crème fraîche.
- Pasta sauces
- Ice cream – Crème fraîche offers a rich texture and flavor, it’s super delightful in this crème fraîche blueberry ice cream. (shown in photo above)
How to Store Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche should always be stored in the fridge. If it’s unopened, you should follow the “best by” date printed on the container. It will have a similar longevity to sour cream. Once you open it, it should keep well for at least a couple weeks.
If separation occurs, stir the liquid back into the crème fraîche, just like you would with sour cream.
Give it the “sniff and look” test. If it smells fresh and looks fresh, it’s probably good yet. But if it smells funky or you see any signs of mold, discard the crème fraîche immediately.
No. While the two are similar, they are not the same. They have a slightly different flavor and texture, with crème fraîche having a slightly softer tang and a bit looser texture.
Nope. Crème fraîche is cream that has been cultured, hence the tangy flavor. If you make homemade crème fraîche, heavy cream will be the main ingredient, though.
It’s pronounced “krem fresh”.
Yes. It’s typically found in the dairy section, near the sour cream and cream cheese, although some grocery stores might not carry it.
Recipes To Try With Crème Fraîche
Now that you know the answer to, “what is crème fraîche?”, here are my favorite recipes that call for crème fraîche as an ingredient. Remember how I said that ice cream is my favorite way to use crème fraîche?!
These delicious ice cream recipes all utilize crème fraîche, with its creamy texture and tangy flavor.