10 Best Substitutes For Créme Fraîche

We here at Mashed love versatile ingredients, and créme fraîche is one of them. French for "fresh cream," this dairy product is a thick, cultured cream that has bacterial cultures added to it, giving it a rich flavor that Masterclass describes as "nutty, tangy, and slightly sour." It has a seemingly endless number of uses in the kitchen that range from savory dishes to desserts, and is Gordon Ramsay's secret ingredient for a batch of fluffy scrambled eggs. Créme fraîche makes a great base for a dip or salad dressing, can be incorporated into baked goods, and also works as a thickening agent for soup or stew that won't curdle when added to the pot thanks to its high-fat content.

Needless to say, créme fraîche can be incredibly helpful in all of your culinary endeavors. However, if you're someone that pulls this particular ingredient out every time you whip up something scrumptious in the kitchen, you can quickly go from having a full container to hardly any left. Luckily, there are plenty of substitutions you can make if you find yourself low on the ingredient, or are possibly in need of a vegan-friendly swap, many of which you may also have stocked in your fridge.

Sour cream

If the above description of créme fraîche reminded you of sour cream in any way, you wouldn't be wrong. Not only do these two ingredients share a cream base, but they are nearly identical in looks and texture as well. Therefore, sour cream can be an excellent replacement for créme fraîche if you don't have any on hand, though there is one specific case in which you'll need to be careful when making the swap. Per All Recipes, sour cream contains less fat than its French cousin, meaning that cannot stand up to heat. You can still use it in place of créme fraîche as a thickening agent, but be sure to remove your soup or stew from heat before stirring it in to prevent curdling. Sour cream is also tangier than créme fraîche, so it may be best to forego this swap if you're looking for a dollop of something to top a bowl of fruit.

Aside from these situations, sour cream is an easy replacement for créme fraîche that A Couple Cooks says can be used in a 1:1 ratio. However, if you're worried that the tanginess of sour cream will affect the final taste of your dish, you can start with a little bit less of the ingredient than the recipe calls for.

Mexican crema

Mexican crema is another product that boasts a similar tangy flavor to both sour cream and créme fraîche. In fact, A Couple Cooks describes this ingredient as "créme fraîche with lime and salt added," clearly making it another suitable replacement for the French dairy product that has the added bonus of being a little bit easier on your wallet. It contains a high level of fat, giving it the ability to hold up against heat (via Kitchenous), though its runny consistency means it may not be the best swap if the original purpose of using créme fraîche was to thicken your dish. However, if it is the richness and creaminess that you're trying to mimic in soup or sauces, Cooking Chew asserts that this is your best option for a substitution.

Mexican crema may be a bit difficult to track down, but it requires little effort when using it in place of créme fraîche, as Kitchenous says you can substitute it in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Full-fat Greek yogurt

Full-fat Greek yogurt is both creamy in texture and tangy in flavor and, despite its name, actually contains less fat than créme fraîche, not only making it a potential substitution, but a healthier one at that (via Kitchenous). Of course, like sour cream, this makes Greek yogurt susceptible to curdling when subjected to high temperatures, so it's best to hold off on adding it into a sauce, soup, or stew until the end of the cooking process, either over very low heat or no heat at all. This swap works incredibly well when replacing créme fraîche in a salad dressing, and can also be used as a substitution in dessert recipes, though A Couple Cooks notes that its lower fat content may affect the final texture of your treats.

Greek yogurt has become somewhat of a hot commodity in recent years, meaning that if you don't already have a huge tub of it in your refrigerator, you can easily find it at the store. It is also another effortless replacement for créme fraîche that can be substituted in equal amounts.

4. Heavycream + buttermilk

Créme fraîche may not be available at your local grocery store, or if it is, it may have a hefty price tag that makes it difficult to justify purchasing. Luckily, there is a way to combat both of these situations: make your own! Homemade créme fraîche is incredibly easy to make, as it requires just two ingredients that you might already have on hand, though it does require at least 24 hours, so you'll need to plan ahead of time if this is the substitution you want to go with.

Per The Pioneer Woman, two cups of heavy cream and two tablespoons of buttermilk are all it takes to whip up your own batch of créme fraîche. Combine both ingredients into a glass jar and leave it partially covered on the counter to thicken up for anywhere between 10 to 24 hours. Once it's ready, you can use your DIY créme fraîche exactly as you would store-bought créme fraîche, just make sure to finish it off within two weeks so it doesn't spoil!

5. Cream cheese

If you're someone that likes to slather a bagel in cream cheese for breakfast every morning, you're in luck, as there are many cases in which your schmear can act as a substitution for créme fraîche if you don't have any on hand. Cream cheese is both rich and smooth, and, although a bit on the mild side, it does have a tangy flavor that can replicate that of créme fraîche in a dish, which Kitchenous notes you can amp up even more with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The thick texture of cream cheese does put some limits on where this swap should be used. Per The Pioneer Woman, this substitution isn't the best when créme fraîche is called for as a topping on a dish. However, it can work in some desserts as well as an addition to a sauce or soup in a small amount so long as it is blended well. In most cases, cream cheese can be subbed in for créme fraîche in a 1:1 ratio, though you may need to thin it out with milk for some recipes.

6. Mascarpone

You're probably familiar with mascarpone if a decadent piece of tiramisu is your dessert of choice. Made of a combination of heavy cream and some form of acid that has been heated and strained, this fresh cheese of Italian origins is thick, rich, and creamy, making it another possible substitution for créme fraîche on the days that it is nowhere to be found. Per On The Gas, this swap is a "miracle" in the realm of desserts thanks to the textural similarities it has to the ingredient it would be replacing as well as its slightly sweet flavor. It can be used in baked goods or simply dolloped over a bowl of fresh fruits, though thanks to its incredibly high-fat content, mascarpone can withstand high temperatures, giving it the ability to replace créme fraîche in savory applications as well if you're in a serious bind.

As Kitchenous points out, one downside to mascarpone cheese is that it can be a bit on the pricey side, although it is fairly easy to make yourself if you're feeling a bit ambitious. No matter which version you go with, you can use the same amount of mascarpone as you would créme fraîche in your recipe when making this swap.

7. Ricotta cheese

While we're on the subject of cheeses, ricotta is another option for when you're in need of something to replace créme fraîche. Also a product of Italy, this whey-based cheese can be subbed into recipes for both sweet and savory dishes, but not before doctoring it up a bit first. Despite being a soft cheese, ricotta has a noticeably grainy texture that could potentially alter the final texture of your dish if used straight out of the carton. To combat this, Kitchenous advises running it through a food processor with a drop of olive oil to give it a smooth, creamy texture that will better mimic that of créme fraîche. Taste Cooking also suggests throwing in a bit of lemon juice for a hint of tanginess as well.

Once your ricotta is smoothed out, you can substitute it for créme fraîche in a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind that this is another low-fat replacement, and while this makes it a healthier option, it does make it susceptible to curdling (via Healthy Food Guide). Make sure to add it towards the end of the cooking process to prevent this from happening.

8. Heavy cream

Considering that créme fraîche is made from cream, it makes sense that heavy cream can be used in its place. However, you may be wondering why it took us so long to get to this somewhat obvious option. Let us explain. Yes, cream is one of the base ingredients in créme fraîche, and both dairy products share a texture that is, for lack of a better term, creamy, though there is one major difference between the two that prevent heavy cream from being the number one replacement option to reach for: consistency. The coffee additive is much runnier than its French offspring which, in turn, limits the situations in which this substitution will work. Food Network star Nigella Lawson writes on her website that this option should be ignored if you're looking for an ingredient to use in place of créme fraîche for baked goods, though it will do the job for sauces, purees, and soups. Heavy cream also lacks the acidity found in créme fraîche, so you may want to add a squeeze of lemon juice when subbing it in as well.

While all of our suggestions so far have been easy one-for-one swaps, the thinner consistency of heavy cream doesn't make this substitution quite as easy. Per Our Everyday Life, you'll want to use half as much heavy cream as you would créme fraîche so as not to affect the overall texture of your dish.

9. Coconut cream

Often used as a vegan replacement for heavy cream, coconut cream can also work as a dairy-free alternative to créme fraîche. If you're unfamiliar with this product, coconut cream is similar to coconut milk in that they are both made from shredded coconut and water, and both have a fairly similar taste. However, this does not mean that coconut milk is a suitable créme fraîche replacement as well. Per Bon Appétit, coconut cream is made with less water than its milk counterpart, giving it a higher fat content and a thicker viscosity, giving it the ability to sub in for créme fraîche.

Per Tastessence, one cup of coconut cream can be used as a substitution for one cup of créme fraîche. Taste will obviously play a major factor with this swap, so only employ it in recipes where it makes sense, like desserts. It may also work in some savory dishes that benefit from the coconut flavor, though you might want to start with a smaller amount of coconut cream to avoid overpowering your meal.

10. Mayonnaise

Curiosity may have driven some readers to scroll through all 10 items on this list, but we're willing to bet there's at least one person still skimming this article for a créme fraîche substitution that can save their dinner. And if you're that person, this one's for you. If none of the aforementioned replacements for créme fraîche will work for you, mayonnaise could be your saving grace. The highly popular sandwich condiment is both thick and creamy, though Kitchenous points out that in terms of taste, mayo is saltier and more acidic than créme fraîche. Therefore, this substitution is best used in savory recipes rather than in the dessert realm. Also, we highly suggest not scooping a dollop of mayonnaise on top of a plate of fruit like you would créme fraîche, because ew.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a clear substitution ratio for this option, though because of the difference in taste between the two ingredients, it is probably best to start off with a smaller amount of mayonnaise and slowly work in a bit more so as not to entirely affect the taste of your dish.