14 Crème Fraîche Substitutes

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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When your baking recipe seems to lack a tangy note, crème fraîche might enter the scene to put a perfect finishing touch. But let’s face it: we bakers don’t always have some of them around in the kitchen. 

Pot de crème fraîche

Well, I’m here to save you that hassle with 14 widely available alternatives to crème fraîche. Some of them might even up your baking game with an interesting twist!

What Is Crème Fraîche?

Crème fraîche is a French cream made by fermenting heavy cream with bacterial cultures. Once it reaches the desired thickness, the cream will be refrigerated. This fermentation process gives this creamy dairy product a unique flavor that sets it apart from other creams.

Its texture and taste are just as luxurious as its origin, I must say. The luscious, velvety cream is gifted with a delicate tang that perfectly complements the sweet taste in your baked goods. 

As crème fraîche doesn’t curdle on high heat, it works like a charm in baking recipes without curdling. Rich cakes, like pound cakes, coffee cakes, and carrot cakes, tarts, and pies, all welcome this cream. And for recipes where tartness is the star, crème fraîche is the key to whipping up a crowd-pleaser. 

14 Easy Crème Fraîche Substitutes

1. Sour Cream

bowl of sour cream

If you ask me what to use in place of crème fraîche, it’s definitely sour cream, hands down! It closely mirrors the texture and flavor profile of crème fraîche, and only a trained palate can notice the difference after baking. The rich, silky cream imparted with a dominant tangy flavor—isn’t that what you are looking for?

If you have a gourmet’s taste buds, then I have to admit that the sour cream tastes a bit stronger, and the crème fraîche boasts a smoother consistency due to its higher fat content. I usually toss in some icing or powdered sugar to balance things out. If you don’t mind, simply swap them 1:1.

2. Greek Yogurt (Full-Fat)

Milk and Greek Yogurt

If you happen to have some plain Greek Yogurt in the fridge, congrats! It makes a perfect stand-in for crème fraîche thanks to its comparable tartness. That said, it contains less fat, so the texture might be a bit lighter than expected (even when we use the full-fat type, my friend).

This yogurt can add moisture to your pound cakes, carrot cakes, cheesecakes, or banana bread. While it’s a good one-to-one substitution, it might be a tad thinner, so you might need to adjust other liquids slightly to maintain the desired thickness.

3. Plain Yogurt


Still out of Greek yogurt? No problem! Plain yogurt can swoop in to replace crème fraîche in a pinch. The bacteria commonly used in this cream are lactic acid, also found in yogurt. So, if used wisely, plain yogurt can introduce a similar tang to the flavor profile.

Its thinner texture might be the only thing holding you back, but don’t give up just yet! Grab a cheesecloth and strain the plain yogurt to achieve a thick, silky texture like the Greek type. And now, you get an instant 1:1 crème fraîche substitute for baking!

4. Mascarpone Cheese

Substitutes for Mascarpone Cheese

Only want to replace the creamy crème fraîche texture? Mascarpone cheese gives you just that! With a kinda similar fat content, the two share the same richness that gives your baked goods a luxurious mouthfeel. That’s why it’s safe to use this creamy cheese with the same amount as crème fraîche.

Flavor-wise, Mascarpone cheese leans towards the sweet side a bit, so you might kiss goodbye to the classic tang you’re used to. However, a few drops of lemon juice can nicely make up for the lack. 

5. Cream Cheese

Dairy Free Cream & Vegan Cream Cheese

Creamy and tangy, cream cheese is another wonderful replacement for crème fraîche. But here is the catch: it’s much thicker than crème fraîche, so you will want to stir it well in the batter until combined.

Does that take too much elbow grease? Well, here’s my trick: I fold in 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk to loosen it up a bit. By the way, don’t forget to let the cream cheese cool down to room temperature to soften. Then, you can swap them with an equal amount.

6. Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta Cheese

All right, ricotta presents a tangy-sweet dance that nicely graces your baked treats instead of crème fraîche. Of course, other options on my list might come in handy in recipes where the crème fraîche tang is the MVP.

Otherwise, this Italian cheese works just fine as a 1:1 substitute. The only thing to keep in mind is its grainy and lumpy texture, which might end up with a different result. Try giving ricotta cheese a good whisk to match the desired creamy texture of crème fraîche.

7. Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Heads-up: Skip this if you are short on time! Why? While cottage cheese adds both richness and tang to your baked treats, it quite falls short compared to crème fraîche. So, you need some prep work to transform it into an excellent substitute.

First, strain cottage cheese using a cheesecloth, colander, or whatever strainer you get on your hands to drain out the excess liquid. Then, toss it in a food processor and blend it until smooth. Voila! You can now swap it for crème fraîche with the same amount.

8. Mexican Crema

Why not add a Mexican twist to your baked goods with crema? This heavy cream-based dairy product lends your treats with a heavenly smooth texture, a delicate tangy flavor, and a subtle sweet hint. 

Note that Mexican crema boasts a thinner consistency, so you won’t want to use crema in recipes where crème fraîche is the key component. Replace it at a 1:1 ratio and taste-test to ensure the desired flavor profile, as some brands might create a different taste.

9. Buttermilk


How come buttermilk can replace the creamy crème fraîche? Yeah, I know what’s on your mind. Buttermilk, no doubt, is watery and can’t substitute for the velvety texture of the cream. But hear me out: It does contain lactic acid that lends it a subtle tang similar to crème fraîche.

So, you can definitely swap them out in a pinch. Due to its liquid content, only use ¾ cup of buttermilk for every cup of crème fraîche. Remember to scale down other liquids in your recipe, as well.

10. Lemon Whipped Cream

Though light and fluffy, whipped cream offers a creamy mouthfeel, making it a decent crème fraîche replacement. However, it still lacks a tangy edge, so I usually add lemon or lime juice to replicate the sour flavor. 

Okay, some bakers use vinegar, but I’m not into it at all since it imparts a strong vinegar hint to my treat. Replacing it with an equal amount is fine, yet only use it as a topping or a decoration for sweet, fruit desserts.

11. Coconut Cream

coconut cream

Vegan bakers, time to give your dairy-based baked goods a vegan retreat! Coconut cream is a 100% plant-based alternative to crème fraîche. Its high-fat content also gives it a rich, creamy texture, but it, of course, does taste like “coconut” rather than the characteristic tang of crème fraîche.

But that won’t be a huge deal if you toss this cream into sweet recipes, as the coconut note only adds more depth to the flavor profile. Swapping 1:1 is good, but don’t mistake it for coconut milk!

12. Silken Tofu

Soy Milk and Silken Tofu

Tofu in baked goods? Yes, you’ve heard it right! It is another vegan crème fraîche substitute in dairy-free baking recipes. Despite lacking the signature tang, silken tofu brings a comparable creamy, smooth mouthfeel. 

You can use the same amount of tofu with an extra dash of lemon juice in cakes, muffins, pastries, and cheesecakes. However, it comes packed in water, so you must press it in a bowl and drain all the liquid first. Then, toss the tofu in a blender to reach a creamier texture.

13. Cashew Sour Cream

Let’s make it clear: cashew sour cream is simply cashew cream with additional lemon juice. Cashew, if blended well, delivers the same creamy, smooth, and rich texture as crème fraîche, while the lemon juice will compensate for the sour taste. This cream even introduces a delightful nutty flavor to your vegan treats.

Making it at home is super easy. Soak cashews in water and blend them until smooth. Then, add lemon juice, and you’re good to go with a soured cream. 

14. Hummus

Only for savory baked goods! Using hummus, a staple Middle East dip, instead of crème fraîche sounds weird at first. But trust me, I’ve played around with this dip several times, and the results are just as delicious (If you don’t mind the grainy texture, of course).

However, only use it in savory recipes that call for a little crème fraîche, say 1-2 tablespoons. Go overboard with hummus, and your treat will pack a strong punch of chickpea.

3 Easy Steps To Make Crème Fraîche At Home

Still into that distinct crème fraîche flavor? Good news for you: I have a super easy recipe for the homemade version that even a first-timer can nail. The result? A silky cream with a rich tang!

You only need to prepare two simple ingredients: 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk.

Step 1: Pour the buttermilk and heavy cream into a glass jar and seal it with a tight lid. Shake thoroughly until they blend.

Step 2: Let the jar in your pantry for 24 hours. This is when the cream ferments and thickens up. Remember to keep track of the time since passing 24 hours can spoil the mixture.

Step 3: You now have a beautiful jar of homemade crème fraîche. Store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.


What Are Other Names Of Crème Fraîche?

Crème fraîche translates to “fresh cream” in English, so you might encounter this name somewhere. However, fresh cream covers a lot of ground, while crème fraîche only refers to the fermented thickened kind. Therefore, this name is kinda misleading to call crème fraîche.

Where To Buy Crème Fraîche?

Okay, this cream is not a staple in the United States. However, some local grocery stores, specialty shops, or supermarkets supply it. Swing by one of them, and you can easily pick up a tub of crème fraîche. If that isn’t an option, a quick browse on Amazon, Walmart, or other online retailers will do.

How To Store Crème Fraîche For Longer?

Crème fraîche should always be refrigerated to retain all of its essence. Unopened ones can stay fresh for 8 weeks in your fridge. But once opened, I noticed the flavor went off after 2 weeks. So, it’s best to use it up within a week or two of opening.

Having the distinct crème fraîche taste in your baked goods is great, but you don’t have to ditch your baking recipe without it. Hope that my 14 common substitutes can save your day!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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