3 Best Substitutes for Crème Fraîche

Glass cup of creme fraiche

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There seems to be a never-ending list of dairy products: milk, cheeses, creams, and so on. Dairy products are rich, creamy, and satiating adding richness and smooth consistency to many recipes.

Although crème fraîche is a lesser-known dairy product, it is a staple in French cuisine. A recipe may call for crème fraîche for mixing into soups, dips, eggs, salad dressings, ice creams, and more. You can also use this creamy ingredient as a topping for pie, fruit, meat, fish, potatoes, and cakes.

However, you may have difficulty finding this specialty ingredient in your local market. Or, you may want a non-dairy alternative, especially if you or someone you are cooking for has a dairy allergy. If you are searching for a creamy substitute for crème fraîche, there are a number of alternatives you can try.

What is Crème Fraîche?

Crème fraîche is a thick soured cream with a French origin. As a fermented dairy product, it is cultured with a mix of active bacteria. 

Because it is high in fat, the texture is thicker than a lot of other cream products like sour cream and Mexican crema. The flavor is often described as rich, tangy, and sour.

You can find small tubs of crème fraîche in the dairy section of some grocery stores. It is also available in some specialty stores. If you cannot find a store-bought crème fraîche, try making your own homemade version or using one of the substitutes below.

Why Use an Alternative?

If you stroll down the dairy section of your local supermarket and stumble upon a small tub of crème fraîche, consider yourself fortunate This is considered a specialty ingredient, and it is not as easy to find as substitutes like sour cream. If you are unable to find crème fraîche at your nearby grocery store, you may be looking for the next best thing.

Meanwhile, those who have dairy allergies or are lactose intolerant may avoid crème fraîche because it is a full-fledged dairy product. While the majority of crème fraîche substitutes also contain dairy, you may find success with a dairy-free alternative.

Similarly, those who follow a vegan or largely plant-based diet may prefer an ingredient substitution that is free of animal products. The non-dairy alternatives to crème fraîche are limited, but you may have luck with store-bought or homemade products.

Crème Fraîche Nutrition

This nutrition information for one 28-gram serving of crème fraîche is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Sodium: 5.04mg

Crème fraîche is a significant source of dietary fat with approximately 39% of calories coming from fat. But, it is not a significant source of carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, or protein. Crème fraîche is also a calorically dense food, so a small portion contains an adequate amount of calories.

Popular Substitutes

Crème fraîche adds a deep flavor, smooth texture, and rich taste to both sweet and savory recipes. It is a simple way to elevate any dish, though the ingredient may not be easy to come by. In the case a substitute is needed, try these alternatives to crème fraîche.

Sour Cream

Because crème fraîche is a type of soured cream, you may have guessed that the closest ingredient to it is sour cream. Sour cream is not as thick or rich, but it offers a similar tangy flavor and creamy consistency. It is also cultured like crème fraîche. Because the two are so similar, you can use sour cream at a one-to-one ratio as crème fraîche.

Nutritionally, sour cream offers more protein and micronutrients. People with allergies and intolerances to dairy products can look for a non-dairy sour cream alternative. There also are lactose-free versions available.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a go-to for breakfast, snacks, or as an ingredient swap. It is high in protein yet low in calories and sugar as well as a versatile ingredient that can be added to many recipes. 

When swapping crème fraîche for Greek yogurt, opt for yogurt made with whole milk varieties for best results. Because Greek yogurt comes in many fun flavors, choose one that is plain and unsweetened so that it is a blank canvas like crème fraîche. You can use Greek yogurt in equal amounts as crème fraîche for most recipes.

Compared to crème fraîche, Greek yogurt contains more protein and minerals. Meanwhile, non-dairy Greek yogurt options may be available for those who do not consume dairy products.

Coconut Cream

Finding a dairy-free substitute for crème fraîche can be challenging because the main ingredient is dairy-based cream. However, there are non-dairy cream alternatives, such as cashew cream and coconut cream. As the name suggests, coconut cream is made with coconut milk. This can impart a strong coconut flavor to some recipes, so it may alter the taste of the dish.

When choosing a coconut cream, opt for a full-fat variety since crème fraîche is so high in fat. Some options are also sweetened, which can affect the outcome of the recipe because crème fraîche has a sour, tangy flavor profile and is low in or free of sugar.

Coconut cream offers some micronutrients. Meanwhile, the majority of fat in coconut cream comes from saturated fat.

A Word From Verywell

Crème fraîche is not a staple in many kitchens, but once you have started cooking with it, you may come to really appreciate its rich, creamy flavor. However, there may be times where a substitute is necessary. 

If you need an alternative for crème fraîche, other dairy products will likely work best. Sour cream is an affordable and accessible alternative, and it’s likely the best option because it is similar in taste and texture. Other alternatives can include store-bought non-dairy products like vegan sour cream, vegan Greek yogurt, and coconut cream. Whether you have allergies or simply do not have crème fraîche in your fridge, you may have success with these alternatives.

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3 Sources
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  1. USDA, FoodData Central. Creme fraiche.

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Cream, sour, cultured.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Coconut cream.