Easy Homemade Creme Fraiche with Yogurt or Yogurt Whey

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Sneak Preview: It’s so easy to make homemade creme fraiche with yogurt or yogurt whey. No buttermilk is required. Many uses!

a bowl of thick homemade crème fraîche using yogurt or yogurt whey

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Homemade creme fraiche is traditionally made with buttermilk. But, I have great news if you don’t keep buttermilk in the house and hate to buy a whole quart of buttermilk when you only need one tablespoon. Buttermilk is not the only game in town.

Check out the price of creme fraiche at your local grocery store if you can find it. It’s crazy. Now you know why I like to make it.

If you’re like me, you may wonder what creme fraiche is (keep reading).

What is Creme Fraiche?

Creme Fraiche originated in France, where they make it with unpasteurized heavy cream. The cream is naturally inoculated with the right bacteria to thicken it.

Since our cream is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, we must add bacteria back to the cream. This process makes a thick cream with a slightly tangy flavor.

You won’t believe how simple it is to make at home.

Drain a tablespoon of whey from the top of your daily portion of (unflavored) yogurt, or add a spoonful of yogurt to a cup of heavy cream. Whisk until smooth.

Let it sit unattended for 8-24 hours in a warm place and wait for the magic to happen. Chill and serve.

How is sour cream different?

They look identical. However, sour cream contains less fat (made with whole milk), making it less stable and prone to curdling when boiled.

It often contains ingredients such as gelatin, added to make it thicker.

Creme Fraiche is milder and richer in flavor with 36% butterfat. It won’t curdle when added to a boiling mixture, as sour cream does.

It’s also much more expensive to buy.

Although similar to sour cream, creme fraiche is not the same.

What’s in this magical stuff?

Two ingredients:

  1. Heavy Cream: Use heavy whipping cream, which has 36-38% butterfat. If you have a choice between heavy cream and whipping cream, choose heavy cream. The latter has less fat, but will still work. Half-and-half does not contain enough fat to get thick with this method.
  2. Yogurt or yogurt whey

That’s it. You can add sweetness such as sugar, honey, or an artificial sweetener. Extracts such as vanilla or almond are another way to customize this treat.

How can I use Creme Fraiche?

#1

crème fraîche spread on rye bread

Use in place of butter on scones, hot biscuits, or toast (in this case, rye toast). Or slather a layer of jelly under the Creme Fraiche for a flavor party.

#2

a bowl of homemade crème fraîche next to homemade melba toasts

Along the same line, try smearing this creamy mixture on cinnamon melba toasts. Delicious!

#3

Substitute Creme Fraiche for sour cream in sauces or soups that need to simmer. It won’t curdle like sour cream because of the higher fat content.

#4

crème fraîche on top of fresh peaches

Use a dollop of creme fraiche instead of whipping cream with fresh fruit. It’s the perfect foil for sweet fruits like these peaches.

#5

Make cultured butter with your homemade Creme Fraiche. You can see the simple process for making cultured butter in this post from Mark’s Daily Apple.

#6

Try adding it to scrambled eggs. Gordon Ramsay has a famous recipe for scrambled eggs with Creme Fraiche that people rave about.

#7

#6 This is one is my favorite way to use creme fraiche. Spread it on hot bread and toast the same way you would butter. Creme Fraiche won’t get hard like butter and contains fewer calories than butter (100 calories per tablespoon for butter vs. 52 calories per tablespoon for Creme Fraiche). BONUS: It’s always spreadable.

#8

Make Creme Fraiche ice cream. It’s fabulous. This recipe has flakes of Nutella throughout, which makes it even better.


How to make Creme Fraiche with yogurt or yogurt whey:

adding heavy cream to jar.
1. Add one cup of heavy cream to a glass jar or bowl.
adding yogurt to cream
2. Add one tablespoon of yogurt or yogurt whey to the cream.
whisking the cream
3. Whisk until the cream is smooth.
4. Cover with something that will allow air to get in, such as a coffee filter, cloth, or a flat plate laid on top.
covering the jar
5. Secure covering with the outer band of a Mason jar 2-part lid or use a rubber band.
incubating the cream.
6. Place the inoculated cream in a place where no one will disturb it. (The oven is off.) The temperature should be in the 70s.

Just like making regular yogurt, avoid moving or shaking them while the yogurt bodies are busy propagating.

comparing the effect of yogurt vs. whey
covering the jar

7. When the yogurt sets, it will be firm and jiggle only slightly, like gelatin. (See the video.) Refrigerating for several hours will firm up the texture even more.

yogurt crash course signup

Frequently Asked Questions about Creme Fraiche:

1. Does it matter whether the heavy cream is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized?

You will find many instructions online that say you must use pasteurized cream. However, that’s not my experience. I have only ever used ultra-pasteurized cream, and it works beautifully.

Some say it takes more time for ultra-pasteurized cream to set. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything but pasteurized cream in the store to experiment with so that I could speak from experience.

Even with ultra-pasteurized cream, it usually sets within 12 hours. So give it up to 24 hours.

The time to set may vary according to the ambient temperature, the virility of the culturing bacteria, your technique, and the freshness of your ingredients.

2. Do I need to heat the cream first?

No. Heating the cream to room temperature is unnecessary. Nor is it necessary to warm the yogurt or yogurt whey because they will come to room temperature fairly quickly.

You could warm the cream and the yogurt or whey to save on the “setting” time, but be careful not to overheat (over 100˚F) and kill the little yogurt bodies.

In my microwave, heating for 30 seconds on HIGH will bring a cup of cream up to 75˚F, saving me a little time. (If you want to try the same thing, consider that my microwave is relatively slow. Experiment to find how much time it takes in your microwave.)

3. Which is better for making creme fraiche? Yogurt or yogurt whey?


If you make yogurt, creme fraiche is another use for whey (the yellowish liquid that separates from yogurt). You won’t need much—just one tablespoon for one cup of cream.

Instead of whey, you could use plain unflavored yogurt. But, again, one tablespoon is plenty for a cup of cream. Avoid using yogurt with anything added, like thickening agents or flavorings.

Whether you use Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, fat-free yogurt, or whey drained from yogurt doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that the yogurt is fresh and not more than 7 to 10 days old.

4. Does it matter that my yogurt is two weeks old?

The most important thing is that the yogurt is fresh–no more than 7 to 10 days old. The longer yogurt or whey sits in the fridge or on the store shelf, the less potent it becomes.

5. How long will creme fraiche keep in my refrigerator?

You can store creme fraiche in the fridge for a week to two weeks. As with homemade yogurt, how long you can keep it depends on the freshness of the ingredients used when making it.

The longer you keep it, the more it will separate, just like yogurt. If the flavor starts to taste a little off, throw it out. If you see mold, it’s time to pitch it.

6. Can I freeze creme fraiche?

I don’t even try–the texture changes when you thaw it. Theoretically, if you whip it enough, you can bring it back close to its original smoothness.
If you want to try, here is a detailed post on how to freeze individual servings of crème fraîche.

7. How is creme fraiche different from Mexican crema?

“Mexican crema is similar to Creme Fraiche: it’s a littler runnier and tastes even more tangy. It’s essentially Creme Fraiche with lime and salt added!“–A Couple Cooks


If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula


creme fraiche made with yogurt or yogurt whey

Homemade Creme Fraiche Recipe with Yogurt or Yogurt Whey

Add fresh yogurt or yogurt whey to heavy cream to make this creamy and rich spread you can slather on bread, add to salad dressing, or stir into soups and entrees.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Chill Time 2 hrs
Total Time 14 hrs 3 mins
Course Sauces, Dressings and Condiments
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh unflavored yogurt or yogurt whey

Instructions
 

  • Pour cream into a glass or ceramic bowl or a glass jar.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt or yogurt whey. Whisk until smooth.
  • Cover with a coffee filter, cloth, or a flat plate. The mixture needs oxygen to work. Secure with the traditional metal collar or a rubber band if necessary to keep cover in place.
  • Set mixture aside on a quiet shelf where it will not be disturbed for 8-24 hours. The ambient temperature should be in the 70s. Do not stir, shake, or jostle during this time.
  • After 8 hours, check to see if your cream mixture is set by barely tipping the jar. It should be as firm as gelatin.
  • When set, refrigerate for 2-3 hours until cold and stiff. If you like, use a whisk to make it creamy.

Video

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Creme Fraiche Recipe with Yogurt or Yogurt Whey
Serving Size
 
1 tablespoon
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
52
Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
6
g
9
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
21
mg
7
%
Sodium
 
6
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Sauces, Dressings and Condiments
Cuisine: French
Keywords: homemade creme fraiche, creme fraiche without buttermilk, yogurt, yogurt whey
Like this recipe? Thanks for leaving a 5-star rating inside the recipe at the top! 🤩

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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  1. Charlotte says:

    Sorry to correct you, Paula, but you said that we serve creme fraiche with our scones in the UK. It’s actually clotted cream which doesn’t have the sour taste (but all the calories!!)

    1. You can feel free to correct me anytime. So you think it was clotted cream I was served with Sally Lunn bread in Bath? It has been over 20 years ago but I still remember it as some of the best stuff ever. The Sally Lunn was to die for.

    2. Charlotte says:

      @Paula,
      Your newsletters always make me feel very hungry!! I’ve lived in France for the last 13 years and there are a lot of things that are not available here – including clotted cream💔 It’s traditionally made in the West Country (mostly Devon, Cornwall & Somerset). When my husband & I went back to the UK a couple of years ago, we bought a pot from a supermarket near London. We knew that it wouldn’t be as good as the clotted cream made in dairies & farms but what a disappointment!!!!!! Creme fraiche is readily available here but other cream, for pouring and whipping, is not very good. The highest fat content is around 30%. After reading your email, I decided that I would try making my own clotted cream. It should be made with what you call heavy cream but I thought I would try with the 30%(pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized). The results weren’t quite as thick as usual but it was delicious!! Real clotted cream should have an uneven texture and should never be whipped or stirred much – the lumps are intentional.
      Here is what I did in case you want to try it yourself. Pour 1 litre of cream into a shallow, rectangular, (much easier to pour from than a round one) ceramic or glass baking dish so that it’s about 1 inch deep and put it in an oven preheated to 80 degrees C (175 to 180 degrees F). Bake for 12 hours without stirring, prodding or jiggling. The top will go pale brown. Carefully remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover dish with cling film and refrigerate for at least 8 hours until completely chilled. Remove a little of the top layer of thickened cream from one corner with a spoon (I ate it) and carefully pour the liquid underneath into a container to use in cooking or baking. Strangely I didn’t get much liquid but I got more clotted cream👍 Put it into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate up to 5 days. The brownish skin can be broken up a little so you get some in every spoonful but don’t stir too much. Wonderful served with gooseberry crumble, warm treacle tart, dark chocolate mousse (in equal quantities), scones and strawberry jam, warm poached fruit such as peaches, cherries, apricots, etc etc and, of course, Sally Lunn.
      I have a book that I think that you would love. It’s called ‘Porters English Cookery Bible’ by The Earl of Bradford. It is a by-product of Porter’s restaurant in Covent Garden, London. You can find it on amazon.com but it’s much cheaper from amazon.co.uk (£6.43 secondhand including delivery to America from The Cotswold Library). You can ‘Look inside’ and read the index of recipes and it gives american measurements as well as imperial and metric. The recipes say to use fresh yeast and that’s what I do. There’s a recipe for Sally Lunn which I haven’t tried but the hot cross buns are excellent. I do use more spice and dried fruit and also add nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Maybe Covid-19 has dulled my tastebuds.

      1. Oh my goodness, Charlotte. This recipe for clotted cream sounds fantastic. I will definitely try it. I found the cookbook for 6.00 and free shipping. Can’t resist. I’ll let you know when I try something.

        I’m amazed that there are a lot of foods you can’t find in France. I would have thought they had everything.

        Thanks so much for writing. Have a great weekend.

    3. @Charlotte,

      I ordered that book. Can’t wait to get it.

    4. Charlotte says:

      @Paula,

      I do hope that you like it otherwise I’ll feel very guilty!

      1. I order cookbooks all the time–mostly used. It’s the only thing I collect, and I really do read them and/or use them. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Flere Flerey says:

    I will try it. Thank you. We use yogurt whey to make a fresh cold drink. In a bottle add some yogurt to the whey and minced garlic, salt shake then refrigate and enjoy with every greek or meditterrian dish

    1. What an interesting “recipe”! Fiere, it’s also a delicious way to use more whey. Thanks so much for writing.

  3. I’ve never seen real heavy cream here in the Philippines. We avoid most recipes calling for heavy cream but when we do need it we substitute with evaporated milk or whole milk and butter. Do you think either of these, or something else, would work to make crème fraîche? I should probably also mention that store bought whole milk are all UHT processed.

    1. Dave,

      I’m not 100% positive, but I feel pretty sure evaporated milk or whole milk won’t work. If anything, it will probably make a thin yogurt. You need cream with at least 30% butterfat or very close to it. It’s probably not the healthiest food, but it doesn’t take much to work its magic.

  4. BARBARA BLUNKELL says:

    5 stars
    Who would have thought there were so many uses for (rather unappetising) whey left over from Greek yoghourt. Brilliant. Thank you.

  5. Ellen Prentice says:

    5 stars
    Delicios and easy to make!

    1. You and I are on the same wavelength today. I just made creme fraiche myself to go with our Challah tomorrow for Easter dinner.

  6. Sheri Aguillon says:

    Can I double this recipe?

    1. Yes. Should work just fine.