If you have never heard of creme fraiche then you must try it. This sour cream is originally from France and it is a common ingredient in all types of sauces, either savory or sweet. It is so good that sometimes people eat it simply with fruit or nuts.
But let’s say you’re down to the last bit of your recipe and then creme fraiche comes up, but nowhere to be found in your fridge or the store. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Many of these alternatives are easy to find or make and will add a taste of their own to your recipe without changing too much.
What Is Creme Fraiche?
First things first, what exactly is creme fraiche?
As we said before, this cream is the French version of American sour cream, but it is richer and creamier. Because it has a delicious tang, oftentimes, creme fraiche is used as a topping for sweet desserts or in breakfast pastries.
Some people like to substitute yogurt for this yummy cream, though it is much less rich in protein and higher in fat.
How To Use Creme Fraiche?
And, what is creme fraiche used in?
You can use creme fraiche in a variety of dishes. For one, it can be used in pasta recipes to create a creamy, cheesy result, such as a fancier version of mac n cheese.
You can use it to top desserts like pudding, fruit cobblers, pies, or a simple bowl of fruit. If you want to surprise your brunch guests, use it to accompany smoked salmon and bagels.
These are just some ideas, but the flavor of creme fraiche is so easy to adjust to that you can use it in a wide range of plates, like nachos, Caprese salad, or as a creamy addition to your favorite sauces.
What Can You Use To Replace Creme Fraiche?
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s talk about the best creme fraiche substitutes:
#1. Sour Cream
This choice is a given considering that we just said creme fraiche is the same as sour cream. It is also rich and creamy, but sour cream is tangier and lower in fat, which is why it is less thick.
This choice is very easy to find in any store and is commonly used as a cream substitute in desserts or as an accompanying topping for savory dishes, particularly Tex-Mex, like nachos or quesadillas.
If you can’t find any creme fraiche anywhere, then you can bet safely on sour cream. Replace it for the same amount that the recipe calls for, especially if it is a baking process.
This is a good option if you don’t mind losing some of the tanginess. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese with a sweet taste to it that is often used in desserts and some pasta dishes. This cheese is denser than cream fraiche and softer, so you should take this into account when you use it.
With mascarpone, we recommend that you use it in desserts, and we would add a bit more than what the recipe calls for.
#3. Unflavored Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Though not as rich and creamy, Greek yogurt is a good alternative that is also tangy and if you pick the unflavored kind, it will blend well with any other ingredients. It has still less fat than creme fraiche even when you get the full-fat kind, so you should keep this in mind when baking.
You can replace it pretty much for the same amount as creme fraiche. You may need to adjust the ingredients to account for the deficit in fat and sugar.
#4. Crema Mexicana
This fresh, white cream is fresh cream cheese with a mild sour flavor. It is very thick and is commonly used in soups and sauces, but not so much in desserts because it is savory and can be overtly salty for sweet dishes.
You can find it at a local Hispanic/Latino food store and in some grocery stores depending on where you live.
Crema Mexicana is a great choice for soups, sauces, and creamy dishes. You can pretty much replace them with the same amounts, but consider that this is not a sweet substitute.
#5. Sour Cream and Heavy Cream
This double trouble mix is less tangy but very creamy and thick. We recommend using half of the sour cream and half of the heavy cream and beat it together for a while.
This is a good alternative to use in savory dishes, like creamy sauces and soups, but if you want the tangy addition you may have to adjust the ratio of sour cream to heavy cream.
How To Make Creme Fraiche at Home
An easy and quick way to make creme fraiche at home is to combine 2 cups of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk or sour cream. Mix them in a saucepan and begin heating them under light fire until it reaches a temperature above 85 degrees F.
You can then let it cool down and transfer it to an airtight container. You should let the cream mix sit at room temperature until it becomes very thick, which can take more than 8 hours. You can use it for up to two weeks if you keep it in the refrigerator.
Sour cream is about 20% fat and may include stabilizing ingredients, such as gelatin, rennin, and vegetable enzymes, to make it thicker. Creme fraiche is about 30% fat content and doesn’t contain any thickeners, and it is also naturally thicker and less tangy than sour cream.
Yes, you can replace creme fraiche with fromage frais, which is a creamy white cheese from France or Belgium. It is less tangy and less sweet than creme fraiche though, so make sure you take that into account.
While it is a sour cheese, the texture is very different, so we don’t always recommend using cottage cheese instead of creme fraiche. However, if you’re using creme fraiche in breakfast dishes, cottage cheese could be a good and healthier alternative.
Creme fraiche is a delicious, tangy, and creamy ingredient used in many desserts and savory dishes, but sometimes it can be hard to find, and the process to make it is long.
However, you don’t have to panic if you don’t have any, as these choices come very close and will turn out great.
*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos