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Easy Homemade Creme Fraiche with Yogurt or Yogurt Whey

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

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 need one tablespoon. Buttermilk is not the only game in town.

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

Check out the price of creme fraiche at your local grocery store if you can find it. Amazon Fresh is currently (8/2020) asking $5.99 for 8 ounces. Now you know why I like to make it.

If you’re like me, you may be wondering 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 and slightly tangy cream.

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.

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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 hot or 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Creme Fraiche:

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 any only-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, if necessary.

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

Do I need to heat the cream first?

No. Heating the cream to room temperature is not necessary. 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.)

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). Granted, 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–no more than 7 to 10 days old.

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.

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.

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.

How can I use creme fraiche?

crème fraîche spread on rye bread
Use in place of butter on scones or hot biscuits. Or, slather a layer of jelly under the creme fraiche for a flavor party.
a bowl of homemade crème fraîche next to homemade melba toasts
Along the same line, try smearing this rich and creamy mixture on cinnamon melba toasts. Delicious!

#2 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.

crème fraîche on top of fresh peaches

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

#4 Make cultured butter with your homemade creme fraiche. I’ll be showing you how in a future post. Meanwhile, you can see the simple process for making cultured butter in this post from Mark’s Daily Apple.

#5 Try adding it to scrambled eggs. Gordon Ramsay has a famous recipe for scrambled eggs with creme fraiche that people rave about.

#6 THIS 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.

#7 Make creme fraiche ice cream. It’s fabulous. This particular recipe has chunks of Nutella added to it, 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 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 it will not be disturbed. (The oven is off.) The temperature should be in the 70’s.
Just like making regular yogurt, avoid moving or shaking them while the yogurt bodies are busy propagating.
comparing the effect of yogurt vs. whey
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.

Would you like more recipes for using yogurt or yogurt whey?

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Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.

p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at

Hope to see you again soon!

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.
Paula Rhodes
4.8 from 5 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


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


  • 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 70's. 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 2-3 hours until cold and stiff. If you like, use a whisk to make it soft and creamy.



Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 52kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 6mgPotassium: 13mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 220IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Keyword homemade creme fraiche, how to make creme fraiche without buttermilk, yogurt, yogurt whey
Cuisine French
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recipe Rating


Thursday 15th of July 2021

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


Monday 1st of March 2021

Thank you!!


Friday 30th of October 2020

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.


Friday 30th of October 2020


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.

Flere Flerey

Saturday 3rd of October 2020

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


Saturday 3rd of October 2020

What an interesting "recipe"! Fiere, it's also a delicious way to use more whey. Thanks so much for writing.


Sunday 30th of August 2020

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!!)


Sunday 13th of September 2020


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


Friday 11th of September 2020


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


Friday 4th of September 2020

@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 but it's much cheaper from (£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.


Sunday 30th of August 2020

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.