ByRebecca Riddle/Updated: Oct. 21, 2022 10:42 am EST
We get it — crème fraîche is one of those ingredients that can deter you from choosing a recipe that includes it. It's not something most people have in their fridge all the time (if you do, props to you), and even the name sounds fancy and fussy.
However, crème fraîche is actually a pretty simple ingredient, and there are several substitutes you can use if you don't want to make a trip to the grocery store. Made from heavy cream that takes on a tangy, rich, sour flavor from the addition of bacteria, you can think of it as the posh cousin to other dairy products like sour cream. Some of the absolute best ways to use crème fraîche include using it in savory contexts like soups, potatoes, and sauces, as well as sweet applications like cakes and pies. Context matters when you're swapping out crème fraîche for other ingredients, and some substitutions work better in some recipes than others.
To help make your (culinary) life easier, we've rounded up some of the best substitutes for crème fraîche.
Buttermilk and whipping cream
Many people assume that they have to buy pre-made crème fraîche, but it's actually incredibly easy to make your own homemade version. This is by far the best substitute, since it's essentially just a fresher, DIY version of what you'd pick up in the dairy aisle. It's also usually significantly cheaper, since crème fraîche's expensive-sounding name usually comes with a price tag to match.
The best crème fraîche recipe only requires two simple ingredients: buttermilk and heavy cream. All you have to do is add a splash of buttermilk to your heavy cream, and let the miracle of fermentation get to work for you. The only thing that's difficult about this method is that you do have to plan ahead. Letting the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for at least 24 hours is crucial, so this swap won't work if you're in the middle of cooking dinner when you realize you don't have any crème fraîche on hand.
However, if you have the time, making your own crème fraîche from scratch is delicious, and you can rest assured knowing the finished product is free of any coagulants or additives that you might find in store-bought brands. We recommend using the absolute freshest dairy you can find for this, even if it means making a trip to the farmers market. Trust us, it's worth it!
If you're like us, the sheer number of dairy products out there can be overwhelming (and often downright confusing). However, when it comes to thedifference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt, it's clear Greek yogurt is a far better choice to use as a substitute for crème fraîche. Greek yogurt is strained multiple times, which results in a thick texture that mimics the consistency of crème fraîche.
It's not as smooth or as mild as the real thing, but it has enough of a tang to provide the complexity and bite that crème fraîche lends to recipes. We like this swap because it's versatile enough to use in both sweet and savory applications. Plus, you probably already have a container in your fridge (because we know there's nothing like a Greek yogurt parfait for breakfast).
One word of caution: this is notthe time to reach for a fat-free option. Opting for full-fat Greek yogurt is key to achieving the best results because the fat provides the creamy mouthfeel you're looking for, and it also softens up the otherwise overpowering tang.
Ricotta isn't the best crème fraîche substitution in the world, but it will work if you're desperate. However, if you're making something where a smooth texture is important, such as a salad dressing or a velvety sauce, you should probably skip this one.
There are a few things to know about ricotta cheese: It's made from whey (not curds), it has a relativity mild flavor, and it has a slightly grainy texture. It's great when paired with hot honey as an unexpected topping for toast, or in a variety of classic Italian dishes.
As far as using it as a substitute for crème fraîche, it works best in cases where a thick consistency is desirable, such as in a hearty pasta sauce. Keep in mind that crème fraîche has a higher fat content than ricotta (via Jules Cafe Bakery),so the final product of your dish won't be quite as rich as if you used the real deal.
A staple in many Mexican recipes, Mexican crema is, as its name suggests, a creamy dairy product that can be a great swap for its French counterpart. It provides the same mildly tangy flavor and a smooth texture, albeit with a thinner consistency. It's buttery, silky, and neutral enough to not alter the flavor of dishes that call for crème fraîche too significantly.
Since Mexican crema isn't as thick as crème fraîche, it works best in recipes that call for using it as a drizzle or a topping. For example, swapping Mexican crema for the crème fraîche in this recipe for chestnut soup with caraway crème fraîche would work perfectly. You can find Mexican crema in most large grocery stores, and brands like Cacique offer nice options. The best part is, having a jar of this on hand gives you all the more reason to whip up a tasty Mexican dish for dinner!
Sour cream makes a great substitute for crème fraîche for several reasons. For one, most people already have a tub of the stuff sitting in their fridge, so it can be a lifesaver if you happen to be halfway through cooking before you realize you don't have crème fraîche. Secondly, it's easy to find, so if you find yourself doing your grocery shopping at a bodega or even a gas station, you'll still probably be in luck. Finally, its signature sour flavor can serve the same purpose as crème fraîche in plenty of recipes.
That being said, there are some key differences to keep in mind. The most important thing to be aware of is that sour cream has lower fat content than crème fraîche and is more prone to curdling when exposed to heat (via MasterClass). This means that while you can add crème fraîche to a soup as you cook it, you'll want to save sour cream for topping purposes only. No one wants curdled sour cream in their bowl!
Another thing to note is that while the flavor of crème fraîche can be classified as mildly tangy, sour cream is downright sour — so we recommend skipping this swap for dessert recipes.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
You already know that cream cheese is the ultimate bagel topper, but there's more to this delicious spread. This beloved dairy product is more utilitarian than you might think, and can work as a substitute for crème fraîche in some situations.
If you've ever wondered whethercream cheese is actually cheese, the answer is yes. Since it meets all the requirements outlined by the FDA, a tub of this spread is technically in the same category as a wheel of brie. Taste-wise, it's in a unique category that shares enough similarities with crème fraîche to work as a swap.
Texture-wise, though, it's a lot thicker, so we recommend reaching for this one in instances when the crème fraîche is being used as an ingredient rather than as a garnish, drizzle, or topping. We also recommend pulling it out of the fridge and allowing it to come to room temperature so it's easier to work with before you use it. Otherwise, the thickness will make stirring it into a recipe feel like an arm workout.
What is a good substitute for creme fraiche? ›
Sour cream is the most common substitute for crème fraîche, since both have a slightly sour taste and are cultured. You can substitute an equal amount of sour cream for crème fraîche in just about any type of recipe.Can you use cream cheese instead of crème fraîche? ›
Cream cheese has a similar creamy, slightly tangy flavour to crème frâiche, and can be substituted at a ratio of 1:1 in most recipes.Is crème fraîche same as sour cream? ›
The flavor of crème fraîche is slightly less tangy than sour cream but the texture tends to be thicker, and the taste overall is richer because it gets about 90% of its calories from fat. Unsurprisingly, crème fraîche is French for "fresh cream." Crème fraîche is phonetically pronounced "krem fresh" in English.Can I use cottage cheese instead of crème fraîche? ›
Crème Fraîche Substitutes
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.
Though crème fraiche is a staple in Europe, it's not so common in the United States. You can find it in some grocery stores and specialty shops, but many American home cooks choose to make their own (more on that later) or use sour cream as an easy-to-find substitute.Can you buy crème fraîche in the US? ›
While you can find crème fraiche in the United States, it can be hard to get in some grocery stores. (Look for small tubs of it in the dairy aisle, near the cream cheese.) Sour cream (which has less fat) is the best and easiest substitute, but it's not as rich or tangy as crème fraiche.Is cottage cheese crème fraîche? ›
While similar to sour cream, crème fraîche has a thicker, cheese-like consistency and its flavor is less tangy. Unlike cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, it contains a higher amount of fat and calories than sour cream.Can I use Philadelphia instead of creme fresh? ›
Philadelphia Cooking Creme
Some find it to be a great substitute for creme fraiche and it doesn't separate at high temperatures.
Add heavy whipping cream to soups and sauces in place of creme fraiche for thickening and a creamy texture. Cream has a high fat content and won't curdle, so use it as you would creme fraiche in soups and sauces. You can also whip your cream to use as a substitute for creme fraiche.What is crème fraîche compared to? ›
Creme fraiche is thicker, richer (see: fat content), and less tangy than sour cream, and since it won't curdle if you boil it, it's great to use in soups and sauces. Or just spoon it into your mouth, unadorned.
Is mascarpone the same as crème fraîche? ›
How Do Mascarpone and Crème Fraiche Differ? Mascarpone and crème Fraiche, a French cultured cream, share a rich, creamy consistency. However, crème Fraiche is more acidic and has a 30 percent fat content (compared to 60 to 75 percent fat content in mascarpone), which results in a lighter, thinner cream.Is crème fraîche just yogurt? ›
The most important difference you should know between yogurt and crème fraîche is that yogurt is made from milk while crème fraîche is made from heavy cream; and this initial difference of starting ingredients affects the culturing process and ultimately the flavor and texture of the final product.Is Philadelphia cream cheese the same as crème fraîche? ›
Nope. Creme fraiche is a cultured product. It's similar to sour cream but not as tangy and has a higher fat content. Heavy cream is just heavy cream.Is ricotta the same as crème fraîche? ›
But because crème fraiche is not quite as sour as sour cream, and is creamier and richer, thanks to a higher fat content, it can work as a substitute for ricotta in dishes where the main thing you are going for is a luscious, creamy consistency.
Whipped ricotta can be used in place of Greek yogurt, sour cream, or even crème fraîche in cold soups, as a base for dips, and in desserts. The sweetened version is similar to something called ricotta impastata, often used by pastry chefs in desserts like cannoli.Can you buy crème fraîche in the store? ›
You can purchase crème fraîche in specialty food stores or even some supermarkets. It is often found in the dairy aisle or mixed in with specialty cheeses. Crème fraîche is usually more expensive than sour cream and it can be easy to make your own at home with just a few simple ingredients.Does Aldi sell crème fraîche? ›
Cowbelle Fresh British Lighter Creme Fraiche 300ml | ALDI.What is the Italian equivalent of crème fraîche? ›
What is crème fraiche in Italy? The closest thing to crème fraiche in Italy is panna acida, or sour cream. Panna acida is a little less thick than crème fraiche and it has less fat.What the heck is crème fraîche? ›
Crème fraîche is a thick, cultured cream with a tart, slightly nutty flavor.What is crème fraîche and what does it taste like? ›
Creme fraiche is fresh heavy cream that sours and thickens when bacteria cultures are added and allowed to grow and multiply in a friendly environment. It's rich, tangy and creamy and has a place in both sweet and savory dishes where it can be added before, during or after cooking.
What type of cheese is crème fraîche? ›
Creme Fraiche is a cultured cream product with high butterfat and a wonderfully mild, tangy flavor. It is thick and rich, so it is often used like sour cream. It provides a delicious topping for soups, main dishes and especially desserts.Can I use evaporated milk instead of crème fraîche? ›
You could try some of them if the fat content of the regular crème fraiche is preventing you from enjoying it. Also, as a complete alternative to cream, you can use evaporated milk for your cooking and baking needs. It will taste nothing like crème fraiche but will get the job done.Can I use coconut cream instead of crème fraîche? ›
Coconut cream is a great vegan substitute for creme fraiche. Coconut cream has a high-fat content like creme fraiche so it will give you a similar consistency. However, coconut cream has a strong flavor that will come through in the recipe.Is heavy whipping cream crème fraîche? ›
In France, creme fraiche is made with unpasteurized heavy cream that already has the necessary healthy bacteria to thicken. However, in the US, dairy products are required to be pasteurized, so bacteria needs to be added to pasteurized cream to start the thickening process.Is crème fraîche and whipping cream the same? ›
Double cream has a higher fat content – around 48-50 per cent, and it's not commonly available here. Crème fraîche, on the other hand, is cream that's had a culture added, making it slightly sour in flavour. It's around 40 per cent fat. If you're trying to cook healthily, however, cream is not an everyday ingredient.Is crème fraîche similar to whipping cream? ›
Creme fraiche is similar to sour cream, but with more butterfat, where whipped cream is is not soured like creme fraiche.Is sour cream better for you than crème fraîche? ›
Creme fraiche has a higher fat content than sour cream. Creme fraiche has a fat content of around 30-45%, while sour cream has a fat content of around 18-20%.Does crème fraîche taste like yogurt? ›
Sometimes called French cultured cream, this specialty food is a mild tasting dairy product that pairs perfectly with the world's best caviar selections. The light textured consistency of crème fraîche closely resembles yogurt or sour cream, but its flavor is far richer and creamier on the palate.What is the point of crème fraîche? ›
What Is Creme Fraiche Used For? Because of its high fat content, creme fraiche does not curdle when boiled, which makes it ideal to use as a thickener in sauces and soups. Creme is also used as a finishing touch for sauces and soups, or spooned over fruit or warm desserts such as cobblers.Can you use Philadelphia cream cheese instead of mascarpone? ›
Many recipes call for a combination of both cream cheese and mascarpone, so depending on the application, cream cheese may be a good substitute, especially in baked goods. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream or whipping cream to mimic mascarpone's airy, meltaway consistency in dishes like risotto or soup.
Is Philadelphia cream cheese like mascarpone? ›
Yes, you can use Philadelphia cream cheese instead of mascarpone. Philadelphia is a rich brand, but cream cheese is less creamy and contains less fat compared to mascarpone, so it's right for you if you're conscious about your fat intake. However, it does have a tangier taste than traditional mascarpone.Is Philadelphia cream cheese the same as mascarpone? ›
Mascarpone is essentially Italian cream cheese, but it's made from whole cream. Since mascarpone or "Italian cream cheese" has a higher fat content than "American" cream cheese, mascarpone has a much richer, creamier taste.Are mascarpone and crème fraîche the same? ›
How Do Mascarpone and Crème Fraiche Differ? Mascarpone and crème Fraiche, a French cultured cream, share a rich, creamy consistency. However, crème Fraiche is more acidic and has a 30 percent fat content (compared to 60 to 75 percent fat content in mascarpone), which results in a lighter, thinner cream.Can I substitute crème fraîche for sour cream? ›
Crème fraîche can be used as an easy one-to-one substitute for sour cream, but keep in mind that its milder flavor may come across in the taste of the food. Crème fraîche is very similar to sour cream but higher in fat and calories.What is the difference between crème fraîche and normal cream? ›
Crème fraîche is usually made with cream that has at least a 30% fat content. This creates a product that is naturally thicker and creamier in flavour, with a lower level of acidity than sour or soured cream, although not too dissimilar in favour, crème fraîche is a little higher in fat, and so creamier.Can I use Philadelphia instead of crème fraîche? ›
There is a product out called Philadelphia Cooking Creme. Some find it to be a great substitute for creme fraiche and it doesn't separate at high temperatures.Does crème fraîche taste like Greek yogurt? ›
Full fat Greek yogurt (in a pinch).
However, keep in mind that Greek yogurt is not nearly as rich and creamy, and the flavor is much tangier than creme fraiche. This substitution can work in baking recipes, but it will change the texture because there is less fat. It's an easier substitute for dolloping soups.
Can I use mayonnaise instead of creme fraiche? While you can easily replace mayonnaise with creme fraiche in most recipes, it's harder to use mayonnaise to replace creme fraiche. That's because creme fraiche is often used in sweeter, dessert style recipes and isn't quite as tangy as mayonnaise.Is Philadelphia cream cheese the same as creme fraiche? ›
Nope. Creme fraiche is a cultured product. It's similar to sour cream but not as tangy and has a higher fat content. Heavy cream is just heavy cream.Is creme fraiche the same as whipped cream? ›
Creme fraiche is similar to sour cream, but with more butterfat, where whipped cream is is not soured like creme fraiche.
Is crème fraîche a little sour? ›
Crème fraîche has a nutty, tangy, slightly sour flavor and a fat content of around 30 percent. The high-fat content makes crème fraîche an excellent thickening agent for sauces and soups.Is crème fraîche the same as soft cheese? ›
We've included crème fraîche as it can be used in similar ways to a soft cheese, even though it is really a cultured sour cream. It can be whipped and it doesn't separate when heated, so it is said to be a good alternative to cream, sour cream or thickened cream.Is creme fraiche the same as half and half? ›
As a warning, creme fraiche is not a sweetened cream. It can thicken soups, stews, and sauces but will not add a bitter taste to the cooking process. Both would work well in a dish calling for half-and-half. However, creamier dairy products are at a firmer finish according to the New York Times scale.What is the point of creme fraiche? ›
What Is Creme Fraiche Used For? Because of its high fat content, creme fraiche does not curdle when boiled, which makes it ideal to use as a thickener in sauces and soups. Creme is also used as a finishing touch for sauces and soups, or spooned over fruit or warm desserts such as cobblers.What is the French equivalent of creme fraiche? ›
A literal translation of crème fraîche is "fresh cream." However, in French-speaking countries, crème fraîche may refer to either: (A) the thick fermented product, crème fraîche épaisse or fermentée, or (B) a liquid cream, crème fraîche liquide or fleurette.