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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 required = no wasted leftover buttermilk. Many uses!

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. It seems outrageous, doesn’t it? Now you know why I like to make it.

Buttermilk has traditionally been used to make homemade creme fraiche. 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.

If you’re like me, you may be wondering what creme fraiche is (keep reading) and how do you even pronounce those words?

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

What is creme fraiche?

Creme fraiche 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 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 the heat is turned up.

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 like 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. 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 as 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 creme fraiche? 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 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 definitely 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 do I use creme fraiche?


My favorite way to use creme fraiche 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 creme fraiche.

crème fraîche spread on rye bread

Use in place of butter on scones or hot biscuits. 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. De-e-e-elicious!


Substitute creme fraiche 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 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.


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


This is my favorite way to use it. Spread it on hot bread and toast the same way I 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.


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 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 me if you give it a five-star rating inside 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

Homemade Creme Fraiche Recipe 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

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