How to Make Creme Fraiche Frosting (the Best Frosting You Haven’t Tried Yet)

If Goldilocks was looking for just the right frosting, she would choose crème fraiche frosting. It’s not too sweet, not too tangy, spreads beautifully and can’t be easier to make.

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Crème fraiche frosting includes only four ingredients, doesn’t take any special skills to make, is lighter than cream cheese frosting and spreads on silky smooth. The best part? Mild tang from the crème fraiche keeps this frosting from being cloyingly sweet. So, if simple American buttercream is too sweet for you, but you don’t have the time (or confidence) to make Swiss meringue buttercream, then crème fraiche frosting will be your new favorite way to adorn cakes and cupcakes.

Check out these other easy frosting recipes to know by heart.

What Is Crème Fraiche?

Crème fraiche is similar to sour cream, but it’s less tangy and higher in fat. (Much like Italian mascarpone compared to American cream cheese.) In Europe, especially France, crème fraiche is commonly dolloped over fruit and pastries or stirred into sauces and soups to create a rich, creamy texture. Most brands contain just two ingredients: cream and bacterial culture, which sours the cream giving it that characteristic tang. Since it’s high in fat, crème fraiche is unlikely to curdle when stirred into hot, savory dishes.

Crème fraiche isn’t as ubiquitous as sour cream, but most large supermarkets and specialty markets will carry it in their dairy case. If you can’t find crème fraiche in your local grocery store, sour cream can usually be substituted, especially for cold recipes like frosting. Mascarpone cheese isn’t a good substitute for creme fraiche, but you’ll love these sweet recipes made with mascarpone cheese.

Crème Fraiche Frosting Recipe

Here’s all you need to make creme fraiche frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 container (8 ounces) crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Tools

  • If you’re looking to upgrade your mixing bowls, this OXO stainless steel set would be a great addition to your kitchen. They are sturdy, have a non-skid bottom, are dishwasher-safe and nest for a small footprint in your cabinet.
  • This KitchenAid hand mixer is on the pricey side, but it’s the one I chose for my kitchen. It has 7 speeds, which is great for incremental changes and the motor is a workhorse. I’ve burned out more than one hand mixer, but not this one.
  • Rubber spatulas come in all sizes and colors. I tend to use the flat version more than the spoon-shaped spatulas. These are made from one piece, which means you don’t have to take it apart and clean into the nooks and crannies (bonus!).

Editor’s tip: This frosting can also be made using a stand mixer.

Directions

Step 1: Beat the butter

butter for creme fraiche frostingPeggy Woodward/Taste of Home

In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beating the butter first lightens the texture so the crème fraiche will blend in smoothly. It also ensures that your butter is softened enough. If it’s still stiff, continue beating or wait a few minutes for it to soften further before adding the crème fraiche.

Step 2: Add creme fraiche and vanilla

beat-creme-fraiche-frosting_2Peggy Woodward/Taste of Home

Beat in crème fraiche and vanilla until smooth.

Editor’s tip: Use clear vanilla extract if you want your frosting to be super white. You can also use other extracts (almond, orange, lemon, etc.) if you want to switch up the flavor.

Step 3: Beat in confectioners’ sugar

Peggy Woodward/Taste of Home

Gradually beat in enough confectioners’ sugar until smooth. If it is thinner than you prefer, cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or until it’s slightly thicker. Do this before being tempted to add more confectioners’ sugar, which can make it taste too sweet (if there is such a thing). It will be thinner than American buttercream, but thick enough to spread easily. Store your frosted cake in the refrigerator. The frosting will become firmer as it chills. Remove the cake from the refrigerator 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This will slightly soften the frosting and the flavors of the cake will be more pronounced when it’s not cold.

Editor’s tip: This frosting recipe yields about three cups, which is enough to frost a nine-inch two-layer cake, 24 cupcakes or a 13×9-inch. cake.

Can You Make Creme Fraiche Frosting Ahead of Time?

If you want to get a jump start, the frosting can be made then stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-3 days. Like most homemade frosting recipes, before frosting your cake, let the frosting stand at room temperature for 15 minutes then beat until smooth. You may need to adjust the consistency with a bit more confectioners’ sugar (if it’s too thin) or milk (if it’s too thick).

Are There Cakes That Shouldn’t Be Frosted with Creme Fraiche Frosting?

I haven’t met a cake that doesn’t do well with this frosting. Try it on Contest-Winning Chocolate Potato Cake, Gran’s Apple Cake or Hummingbird Cupcakes. I suppose if we’re going to get picky, I might be more inclined to use a sweeter frosting on cakes that are are milder in flavor and need the frosting to really add sweetness and interest.

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Peggy Woodward, RDN
Peggy is a Senior Food Editor for Taste of Home. In addition to curating recipes, she writes articles, develops recipes and is our in-house nutrition expert. She studied dietetics at the University of Illinois and completed post-graduate studies at the Medical University of South Carolina to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Peggy has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s a mom, a foodie and enjoys being active in her rural Wisconsin community.