make your own crème fraîche

Crème fraîche, the ultra-rich, slightly tangy and impossibly dreamy cream I like to stir into pastas and soups and drizzle over baked fruit desserts is not carried in every grocery store, and even where it is, it’s not exactly the most budget-minded ingredient. Here’s how you can make your own at home: Mix one cup of room temperature heavy or whipping cream with two tablespoons of butter milk in a glass jar and cover. Let it stand at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, or until it thickens. Stir well and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

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24 comments on make your own crème fraîche

  1. Symphonic Chef

    Um, just wanted to say thanks for this tip…. why on earth has no one told me this before? I always make my own buttermilk thanks to SK. But now that I can make my own creme fraiche… watch out!

    1. deb

      Excellent question. I haven’t tried it, but in theory, it should work. It’s all about acidity and even substitute buttermilk has it.

  2. How serendipitous! I was reading my very tattered copy of “The Silver Palate Good Times” cookbook last night (cuddled up in bed) and stumbled across their two versions of creme fraiche (page 399.) I tried version one this morning — a cup of sour cream with a cup of heavy cream. (Their version two is identical to yours.) They note NOT to use ultra-pasteurized cream but all I was able to find in my grocery store was just that. I made it anyway with the ultra-P (because how bad could sour cream mixed with heavy cream be!) I am curious about what type of cream you used.

  3. Zoe

    wow this is great! I used to use creme fraiche as a sub for mascarpone in Tiramisu and haven’t been able to locate either since I moved out of the US. Thanks!

  4. Amanda

    I was also wondering about the ultra-pasteurization thing. I’m not sure where to find non-ultra-pasteurized (that can’t be a real word) cream. Can I just use UP heavy whipping cream? Quick, before my buttermilk’s gone!

  5. angela

    Will substitute buttermilk made with lemon juice or vinegar really work? I think I read somewhere that the thickening is a result of live active cultures rather than acidity (although my google-fu is failing me right now).

  6. I have also used equal parts heavy (or whipping) cream and sour cream. Let sit on the counter for the same amount of time. Works and tastes great! It’s worth noting that I’ve had success using ultra-pasteurized cream, so don’t sweat it if that’s all you can find.

  7. Susan

    I have made your gingerbread apple upside-down cake a number of times. Although it involves a bit of time and a multitude of bowls/pans, it is by far our favorite dessert. I have a question regarding the wooden tester inserted at the end. Because of the glorious apple/brown sugar base under the cake, the tester does not come out clean regardless of how long it cooks.

  8. Angela (number 8), I think with mascarpone and creme fraiche, you can either make ‘mock’ of both, which is the way Deb’s is made (with lemon juice, or bought buttermilk), or you can use unpasteurized milk and allow them to ferment slightly at room temperature, a process which generates its own acidity. It’s been so long since methods like this have been advocated (due to all our pasteurization anxieties), there aren’t that many specific recipes floating around. I’d love to see some if anyone has any.

  9. hjs

    Just a heads up to JR, you can make your own yogurt without any machine, my family’s been doing it for centuries (we’re Indian and it’s a very central part of our diet) all you need is a live culture, ie a spoon of yogurt – I would get it from an Indian Restaurant theirs wouldn’t have all the weird side ingredients it would just be whole milk yogurt, and milk. Pour your milk into a pot, heat it on the stove till it boils/raises turn it off and remove it from the stove, transfer the milk into whatever you want to make the yogurt into, wait till the milk cools to just a little bit above room temp. mix in the spoonful of live culture/yogurt cover and put in a warm place. You can then go about your day evening whatever and in about 8 hours, depending how warm the place is you will have homemade yogurt that you didn’t need any fancy machine for. :-)

    As for this creme fraiche am definitely gonna give this a try – I always see it in the grocery store but it’s too expensive to splurge on when I really don’t know what to do with it. Now my own home grown version I can def. experiment :-)

  10. Marie Stratton

    I tried this and the flavor is great, but it didn’t get as thick as store-bought creme fraiche. any suggestions for getting it to thicken up a bit?

  11. Ory

    Marie (15)…I would think that you would be able to strain this homemade creme fraiche as you would yogurt or ricotta cheese. Straining helps remove some excess liquid. I like to buy plain yogurt on sale and strain it for a day or two to make my own ‘greek’ yogurt. Recently I have been straining ricotta cheese because for my taste is is simply to runny out of the package. I must try this creme fraiche and buttermilk recipe not to mention yogurt!! YUM

  12. Pam

    Marie (15) and others, my recipe for thick homemade yogurt came from a Lebanese friend. Put 2 quarts of 2% milk in a 2-quart pyrex bowl and put it in the microwave for 16 minutes. By then the milk has “risen up.” Let it sit until you can hold your index finger in the middle of the bowl for the count of 10. (Really!) Add a small amount of the hot milk to about 1/4 cup of real, plain Greek yogurt from the store or from your previous batch of homemade, stir it well, then stir it all into the milk remaining in the bowl. Put the bowl in a warm draft-free place (like an oven) for 8 – 24 hours. Lay a clean, dry, folded tea-towel directly on the surface of the yogurt and put it in the fridge. When the towel becomes soaked, replace it with another one, and later with a third one if you want the yogurt to be even thicker. It’s delicious!

  13. Lee

    Thank You Thank you! Creme Fraiche is really expensive in Perth and sometimes the local grocery supermarket doesn’t even stock it! I had no idea it was so easy!

  14. Carol

    You always give me the courage to try something. I did just try making this…with the only heavy cream available at my store…ultra pasteurized and I used dried buttermilk. It worked!!! I dissolved 1 Tablespoon buttermilk powder in some of the cream, then stirred in the rest of the one cup cream. It took about 1 1/2 days to fully thicken at room temperature, I stirred it a couple of times over that period and voila…it worked. Now I am ready to make your Braised Short Ribs, with Potato Puree, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream and simple Apple tart for New Years Eve dinner. You are the best. thank you.

  15. C

    I like the flavor from starting with (expensive) commercial crème fraîche instead of buttermilk. I think the temperature is important, though. I’ve waited >24h in a 72/74 F room for it to thicken (but then it did like magic after resting for a bit in a warm water bath). I just tried zapping about a cup and a half of cream for a minute to give it a head start before adding the culture, and it seemed rather warm. After 36 hours it was still very thin, even with a few hours in a warm water bath. Then I added a bit more crème fraîche in case the heat killed some of the culture. Crossing my fingers but getting nervous…

    Did have luck making yogurt from an online recipe, but I followed the instructions pretty carefully.

  16. C

    I am counting the recent batch as my first cultured dairy failure. After about 51 h (>12 in a warm water bath, though with time that cooled), it thickened but doesn’t taste great. I put it in the fridge, where it got really thick (but then thinned out with stirring). It’s a bit hard to describe, but one word I would not use is delicious, the way good crème fraîche usually is. Not sure if there’s anything to salvage–does anyone know? I’ll try again and be more careful with the temp.

    BTW, I recently saw that you can freeze yogurt for at least 3 mos. to use as a starter in another batch. Pro tip!

  17. Katiek

    Lushly yummy. This is much better than store bought. Just takes a bit of preplanning to make certain you have enough time for it to set up.

  18. Katie K

    Second post for this: I asked my husband to mix the two ingredients together but failed to tell him to put in glass. BIG mistake. Let me reiterate, it has to be made in a glass jar or measuring cup. It doesn’t set up–runny with lumps. That said, done properly, it really is easy and much less expensive than store bought.