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How To Make Rich Homemade Crème Fraîche with Yogurt or Whey

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Sneak Preview: It’s so easy to make this homemade crème fraîche recipe with yogurt or yogurt whey. No buttermilk required = no wasted leftover buttermilk. Many uses!

Check out the price of crème fraîche at your local grocery store if you can find it. Amazon Fresh is currently (8/2020) asking $5.99 for 8 ounces. It seems outrageous, doesn’t it? Now you know why I like to make it.

Buttermilk has traditionally been used to make homemade crème fraîche. It turns out that buttermilk is not the only game in town. This is great news if you don’t keep buttermilk in the house and hate to buy a whole quart for 1 tablespoon.

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

If you’re like me, you may be wondering what Crème Fraîche is (keep reading) and how do you even pronounce those words? I had to google how to get those little marks over the letters, for heaven’s sake.

What is crème fraîche?

Crème fraîche originated in France where it was traditionally made with unpasteurized heavy cream. The cream was naturally inoculated with the right bacteria to thicken it.

Since our cream is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, we are forced to 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 just add a spoonful of yogurt to a cup of heavy cream. Whisk until smooth.

Let it sit unattended for 8-24 hours, 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 the heat is turned up.

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

Crème fraîche is milder and richer in flavor with 36% butterfat. It won’t curdle when added to a hot or boiling mixture like sour cream does.

It’s also much more expensive to buy.

Although similar to sour cream, crème fraîche is not the same.


What’s in this magical stuff?

Two ingredients. Yep. 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.



Use heavy whipping cream which has 36-38% butterfat. If you have a choice between heavy cream and whipping cream, the latter has less fat but will still work.

Half and half does not contain enough fat to get thick with this method.

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. 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. 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. 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. Both will come to room temperature fairly quickly on their own.

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 quite slow. Experiment to see exactly how much time is needed in your microwave.)



If you make your own yogurt like so many of my readers do, this is another use for whey (the yellowish liquid that separates out of yogurt).

Granted, you won’t need much–just one tablespoon for one cup of cream.

Instead of whey, you could use plain unflavored yogurt. Again, one tablespoon is plenty for a cup of cream.

Avoid using yogurt with anything added like thickening agents or flavorings.

Which is better for making crème fraîche? Yogurt or yogurt whey?

It doesn’t matter whether you use Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, fat-free yogurt, or yogurt whey.

The most important thing is that the yogurt be fresh–no more than 7-10 days old.

In my experience, yogurt may thicken heavy cream a little faster than yogurt whey. The final product of either will be excellent provided they are inoculated with fresh ingredients.

The longer yogurt or whey sits in the fridge or the store shelf, the less potent it becomes.

How long will crème fraîche keep in my refrigerator?

You can store crème fraîche 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 definitely time to pitch it

Can I freeze crème fraîche?

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 do I use crème fraîche?


My favorite way to use crème fraîche is slathered on homemade bread, specifically rye bread. The characteristic flavor of rye and caraway seeds goes perfectly with the creamy but slightly tangy flavor of crème fraîche.

crème fraîche spread on rye bread

Use in place of butter on scones or hot biscuits. Slather a layer of jelly under the crème fraîche 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. De-e-e-elicious!


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


crème fraîche on top of fresh peaches

Use instead of whipping cream over fresh fruit. It’s the perfect foil for sweet fruits like these peaches.


Make cultured butter with your homemade crème fraîche. 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.


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


This is my favorite way use it. Spread it on hot bread and toast the same way I would butter. It’s never gets hard like butter and contains fewer calories than butter (100 calories per tablespoon for butter vs. 52 calories per tablespoon for crème fraîche). BONUS: It’s always spreadable.


Make Crème Fraîche ice cream. It’s fabulous. I have a recipe in the works. As soon as I publish it, I’ll come back and leave a link.

How to make crème fraîche 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 1 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 like 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. (My oven is NOT turned on.) The temperature should be in the 70’s.
Just like making regular yogurt, don’t move them or shake them while the yogurt bodies are working, or your fun will be over.
comparing the effect of yogurt vs. whey
7. When the yogurt is set, 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?

If you enjoyed this recipe, it would help others and myself if you give it a five-star rating in the recipe card below. 🤩 No comment required. Thank you.

Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Email me: paula at

Yield: 16 servings

Making Crème Fraîche with Yogurt or Yogurt Whey

creme fraiche made 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.

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 14 hours 3 minutes


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


  1. Pour cream into a glass or ceramic bowl or a glass jar.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt or yogurt whey. Whisk until smooth.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After 8 hours, check to see if your cream mixture is set by barely tipping jar. It should be as firm as gelatin.
  6. When set, refrigerate 2-3 hours until cold and stiff. If you like, use a whisk to make it soft and creamy.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 tablespoon

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 65Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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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.