What Is Creme Fraiche and How Do You Make It?
Let us introduce you to sour cream's fancy French cousin, creme fraiche. We'll answer all your questions: What is creme fraiche? How do make it? And how do you use it?
What is creme fraiche? It may sound highbrow, but don’t let that deter you. The creamy condiment is 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 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 (more on that later).
What Is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche?
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.
If you’re in a pinch, you can use creme fraiche as a sour cream substitute.
What Is Creme Fraiche Used For?
Take a gander at any European cookbook, and you’ll see creme fraiche stirred into sauces, dolloped on homemade soups, tossed with lemony pasta, dished up alongside desserts and topped on fresh fruit. It can be used to amp up the flavor and richness 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.
- Add to a bowl of fresh berries for a light, easy dessert.
- Serve it alongside a slice of cake. Or, make creme fraiche frosting.
- Thicken up a salad dressing by adding a little creme fraiche at a time.
Are you sold? We most definitely are! If you like making homemade condiments and want to give creme fraiche a go, try the recipe below.
How to Make Creme Fraiche
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Editor’s Tip: 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 stand at room temperature until the mixture thickens. Don’t worry; it won’t spoil at normal room temperature. Though if your house is very warm in the summer, let the container sit in the basement or, at the very least, keep a close eye on it.
It’ll take anywhere from eight hours to a full day to thicken. Allow it to thicken at room temp 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!