How to Make Creme Fraiche, the Tangy, Creamy Condiment You Need in Your Life
Let us introduce to you sour cream's fancy French cousin. We'll teach you how to make creme fraiche (it's easy!) and share some of the many ways you can use it.
By Nicole Doster, Digital Associate Editor and Peggy Woodward, Food Editor
Creme fraiche may sound highfalutin, but don't let that deter you. It's incredibly delicious and actually quite simple to make from scratch. We're diving into everything you need to know about creme fraiche, plus step-by-step instructions for making it at home.
What exactly is creme fraiche?
First off, for those like me who don't speak a lick of French, it's pronounced krem fresh. A cultured cream similar to yogurt or sour cream, our friends across the pond can't get enough of the stuff. It has a thick, creamy texture and refreshingly tangy taste—and it's versatile. Take a gander at any European cookbook, and you'll see creme fraiche stirred into sauces, dolloped on soups, tossed with lemony pasta, dished up alongside desserts and fresh fruit...even baked into cakes.
Is it the same thing as sour cream?
Although creme fraiche looks a lot like sour cream, these condiments differ in a couple of key ways. Creme fraiche is slightly thicker than sour cream, and it tastes less sour, too. Another big difference is that creme fraiche contains more protein and less fat, so when you're adding it to hot stuff like soup, it holds its texture instead of falling apart or curdling.
Are you sold? We most definitely are! If you'd like to give it a try yourself, here's how to make creme fraiche at home:
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
A quick note before we begin: Creme fraiche is very simple to make, but it takes a fair amount of time for the healthy bacteria cultures to do their magic. Make sure to do your prep a day in advance.
Step 1: Stir it up
Combine the buttermilk and cream in a container and stir. Any nonreactive container will do (basically, avoid most metals). We like to use glass.
Step 2: Let it sit
Cover the container and let it stand at room temperature until the mixture thickens. (Don't worry; it won't spoil at normal room temperature. In the summer, though, if your house is very warm, let the container sit in the basement or, at the very least, keep a close eye on it.) It'll take anywhere from 8 hours to a full day to thicken. At room temp, allow it to thicken to a consistency slightly thinner than you actually want to wind up with. When it's at the right (slightly too thin) stage, stir, cover and refrigerate. It will thicken more as it cools.
And, simple as that, you've made creme fraiche.
This condiment can be used to amp up the flavor in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use homemade creme fraiche:
- For extra-creamy scrambled eggs, stir in creme fraiche just before cooking.
- Use it in place of milk or cream in mashed potatoes for a rich, nutty flavor.
- Dollop the stuff over a bowl of fresh berries for a light, easy dessert.
- Serve it alongside a slice of cake or pie.
Making sauces and spreads from scratch is budget-friendly and delicious. Check out our best homemade condiment recipes for more inspiration.