How to Make Crème Fraiche with Just Two Ingredients

Crème fraiche may sound fancy, but this two-ingredient recipe is perfect for topping tacos or stirring into savory sauces. And it’s a SNAP to make at home.

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homemade creme fraiche in a tulip shaped orange bowl

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What is Crème Fraîche?

In a nutshell, it’s thickened cream; a rich, thick, creamy wonderfulness. It’s a French recipe, made from dairy cream that has been soured.

Made with heavy whipping cream and buttermilk, this homemade crème fraiche recipe is beyond easy to make.

Ingredients

Heavy creme Traditional French creme fraiche is made with cream that has a fat content more than 30%. The heavy cream and whipping cream on America’s dairy shelves both meet this requirement. 

Buttermilk This is an ingredient that not everyone has on hand on the regular, but using it creates a thick texture and tangy flavor.

measuring spoon with buttermilk over a jar filled with heavy cream to make creme fraiche.

How to Make it

Trust me when I say this couldn’t be easier. It’s a one-step recipe: combine the cream and buttermilk in a glass jar.

hand holding an empty Ball canning jar

Hot tip: Use a canning jar with measurements on the side and you won’t even have to dirty a measuring cup.

canning jar covered with a striped red cloth, held on with a rubberband

Cover the jar lightly with a cloth and rubber band and allow the mixture stand at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight, until thickened. 

I know, letting dairy products sit at room temperature goes against everything you’ve been taught. But left to sit, the ingredients will thicken and take on a lovely tang.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Uses for Creme Fraiche

This deliciously tangy topping is so versatile and adds a depth of flavor to so many recipes! 

  • Use it to top tacos, enchiladas, or your favorite Mexican meal
  • Add a dollop to creamy soups, like this pumpkin soup
  • It’s a great ingredient to use in creamy salad dressings
  • Top pancakes and crepes
  • Sweeten it lightly with honey and use it to top fruit pies
  • Stir some into mashed potatoes for extra creaminess

The Best Substitute for Creme Fraiche

If you just don’t have the ingredients to make this recipe, the best alternative is to use sour cream. Store bought is fine, you can make your own using this sour cream recipe. It uses lemon juice rather than buttermilk, which is often more readily available in the pantry.

orange tulip shaped container filled with creme fraiche.

 

★ Did you make this crème fraiche recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

homemade creme fraiche in a tulip shaped orange bowl

How to Make Crème Fraiche with Just Two Ingredients

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Resting time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 6 minutes

It sounds fancy, but this two-ingredient recipe is easy as can be and a great substitute for sour cream. It's super easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Combine heavy cream and buttermilk in a jar. If you use a canning jar, the measurements on the side of the jar make it easy!
  2. Use a rubber band to secure a thin piece of cloth over the jar.
  3. Let mixture sit at room temperature until thickened to your liking, 8-24 hours.
  4. Stir creme fraiche and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Notes

Choose a heavy cream or whipping cream with a fat content that exceeds 30%.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 52Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 8mgCarbohydrates: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

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Originally published June 2019; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She’s a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

9 comments… add one
  • Rose Felton Mar 3, 2022 @ 3:16

    I just made some and it turned out very nice. I have been making it with sterilized milk and buttermillk, but this recipe is quicker and easier.

  • Bee Oct 16, 2021 @ 10:22

    Can you freeze heavy cream & then use it for this recipe as well?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 10, 2021 @ 7:45

      I have not tried this; let us know how it turns out if you do!

    • Rose Felton Mar 3, 2022 @ 3:14

      I have not made this with heavy cream that was in the freezer, but I have tried making other things with frozen milk and it doesn’t come out right. The texture is not creamy. You can always try and see if it works.

  • Mae Oct 4, 2019 @ 6:44

    I had made this once with store bought buttermilk and it came out perfectly! But recently I’d made some homemade butter that left me with plenty of buttermilk so I used that and this time it took almost 48 hours to even get moderately thick. What did I do wrong?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 5, 2019 @ 14:27

      Most store bought buttermilk is *cultured. I imagine that’s the difference.

      • SUZANNE Apr 11, 2020 @ 10:44

        What exactly do you mean by cultured when you refer to buttermilk. Is this a special process used to make commercial buttermilk?

  • Tracy Nelson Jun 23, 2019 @ 2:08

    This looks great. If I’m not able to use it all up in two weeks, will it freeze well?

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 23, 2019 @ 8:27

      I’d be more inclined to halve the recipe if you didn’t think you’d use it all. Freezing will work, but the texture will change slightly. (Good for baking with, though.)

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