creme fraiche substitute

What Can I Substitute for Crème Fraiche?

Super rich and creamy with a little tang, crème fraîche adds a velvety luxuriousness to many sweet and savory recipes. Although crème fraiche has its own unique flavor there are similar alternatives that can be used if you don’t have any on hand.

The type of creme fraiche substitute you choose will depend on the recipe you are making, flavor, and consistency.

 In this guide, we’ll help you select the perfect substitute for crème fraiche and even give you some dairy-free options so no one has to miss out on the creamy goodness.

What Is Crème Fraiche?

Crème fraiche is a thick dairy, cultured cream. You will generally find it in the dairy aisle of a grocery store with items such as sour cream and cream cheese.

Crème fraîche is extra creamy with lower water and higher fat composition than sour cream. Its high butterfat content makes it suitable to use in dishes cooked at a high temperature since it won’t curdle.

Crème fraîche is used in soups, stews, and sauces to add creaminess and act as a thickener. It is also used in dips, spread on scones or biscuits, stirred into scrambled eggs, and whipped with sugar for a dessert or fruit topping.

Best Substitutes For Crème Fraiche

#1. Homemade Crème Fraîche (Buttermilk + Heavy Cream)

How it compares: Sweeter with less tanginess

Best used for: Any recipe where crème fraiche is required, including sweet and savory items.

Substitute ratio: Substitute in equal amounts

Pros: Almost identical to the store-bought version

Cons: You need to make this at least one day in advance, therefore, it is not an immediate replacement solution.

If you’ve got the time, making your own crème fraiche is the best and closest in flavor and consistency to the store-bought version. Make it at least a day in advance. The great thing is that once you’ve made a batch, it can last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To make crème fraiche, mix two cups of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Cover the container partially and let it sit for 10 to 24 hours at room temperature. The amount of time you let it sit depends on how thick you want it. 

The longer it sits, the thicker it will be. Do not leave it at room temperature for more than 24 hours as it will go off. Store it in the refrigerator, or use it immediately.

#2. Mascarpone

How it compares: Sweeter with less tanginess

Best used in: Desserts, soups, sauces, and stews

Substitute ratio: Use the same amount of mascarpone as crème fraiche called for in your recipe.

Pros: Can be heated to a high temperature without curdling.

Cons: Mascarpone is an expensive ingredient.

Mascarpone is made from a whole cream base. It is a type of fresh cream cheese that has not been aged. Mascarpone has a high milk fat content of almost 75%. This allows it to be heated without curdling, making it ideal for soups, stews, and sauces.

Mascarpone is a little sweeter than creme fraiche without the sour notes. Its rich and creamy texture makes it ideal for desserts such as cheesecake, baked items, cupcake frosting, or dolloped onto fresh fruit.

#3. Sour Cream

How it compares: Tangier and less creamy

Best used in: Baking, topping for savory dishes, soups, sauces, stews, and dips

Substitute ratio: Use an equal amount of sour cream instead of crème fraîche.

Pros: It is the most common alternative for crème fraîche, as both ingredients are cultured, resulting in a slightly sour taste.

Cons: Since it is slightly tangier, it is not a good substitute as a dessert or fruit topping.

Sour cream is made by fermenting cream with bacterial cultures. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes with its smooth creamy texture and sour tang. Its high acid and high-fat content make it ideal for baking since it adds moisture, activates baking soda, and controls browning. It also serves well as a topping on Mexican dishes, balancing out hot spicy flavors.

As with crème fraiche you can add sour cream to soups, stews, and sauces without worrying about it curdling. Keep in mind that your recipe will have a slightly tart flavor with less creaminess when using it as an alternative.

#4. Mexican Crema

How it compares: Very similar but might be harder to find

Best used in: Sauces, soups, and in egg dishes

Substitute ratio: Substitute in equal amounts

Pros: Cheaper than crème fraiche

Cons: Mexican crema has a thinner consistency and is only available in certain areas.

Mexican crema is a type of cream cheese with a similar flavor to crème fraiche. It has a slightly sweeter taste and thinner consistency, yet it is still creamy and rich. It won’t separate when heated, which makes it a good alternative to add in soups, stews, sauces, and mixed into scrambled eggs or omelets.

#5. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

How it compares: With a lower fat content, it is not as rich and has a bit more tang than crème fraiche.

Best used for: Desserts, baked products, topping pancakes, and to dollop in soups.

Substitute ratio: Substitute in equal amounts.

Pros: It is a healthier alternative with less fat. Readily available from most grocery stores.

Cons: Due to its lower fat content, it will split at high temperatures. It will change the texture of some mixtures to be slightly thinner than when using crème fraiche.

Full-fat Greek yogurt is slightly sour with a creamy texture similar to crème fraiche. It can be used in savory or sweet recipes. Since it has a lower fat content and is not quite as thick, full-fat Greek yogurt can yield thinner batters or mixtures when making desserts.

It is not suitable to be used in recipes that require high heat. If you are using the yogurt in a cooked recipe such as soup or stew, add it at the very end of the cooking time at a low heat to prevent curdling.

#6. Cream Cheese

How it compares: Cream cheese is denser with a less tangy flavor.

Best used in: Small amounts in sauces, soups, or to make cheesecake

Substitute ratio: Substitute in equal measures. Thin out with a little milk for a runnier consistency in dips.

Pros: Slightly less sour and easily available in stores

Cons: Not ideal as a fruit or dessert topping

Full-fat cream cheese is smooth, very thick, and spreadable. It is a soft, mild-tasting cheese that is less sour than crème fraiche. Cream cheese can be used as a substitute in most recipes. If you want a little more tang, add a squeeze of lemon juice to your mixture.

If you’re using cream cheese as a replacement in soups or sauces, make sure to stir or whisk it into your mixture until it dissolves to form a smooth consistency. It can also be used to make frosting for cakes and cupcakes.

Best Non-Dairy Creme Fraiche Replacement

Using a non-dairy replacement for crème fraiche will give your dish a different flavor, especially if you use coconut crème. You won’t have the same tanginess either, but you will achieve a creamy texture.

Try the below alternatives if you need a dairy-free alternative. Use the substitutes measure for measure as a non-dairy replacement.

  1. One part soy cream cheese mixed with one part plain soy (or other non-dairy) yogurt.
  2. Two parts extra-firm silken tofu blended well with one part non-dairy yogurt.
  3. Full-fat coconut cream is an ideal substitute in soups and stews.

FAQs

Conclusion

Choosing the best replacement for creme fraiche largely depends on what you are cooking. For heated applications, mascarpone, cream cheese, sour cream, or Mexican crema are the best options.

For desserts where no cooking is required use cream cheese, ricotta, or full-fat Greek yogurt. If you know in advance that you are going to need it, make your own a day before with cream and buttermilk for the best overall creamy, rich, and tangy replacement.

creme fraiche replacement

*image by picturepartners/depositphotos

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