Kitchen Basics – Homemade Crème Fraîche

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Homemade crème fraîche is the sophisticated French cousin of sour cream.  Its texture is smoother and the flavor more subtle, not quite so sour, but still a bit sharp. It is simple to make and requires only two ingredients, so it is no wonder it is a staple in most French kitchens and a must have for pastry chefs. Fresh heavy cream is blended with just a splash of buttermilk and then left to sit, it does all the work on its own, and the result is luscious. I like to finish sweet desserts with the cultured cream; a thin layer on my butterscotch pot de crème, a dollop on top of a berry pie or stirred into chocolate ganache. It can be used in place of sour cream or most places you might use heavy cream.

Homemade Crème Fraîche

3 cups Heavy Cream

3 tablespoons buttermilk

To make the crème fraîche you will need a Quick-Read Thermometer.

Heating cream and milk for crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Heat the cream and buttermilk in a saucepan over low heat until it reads about 85°F on your thermometer. (This can also be done in the microwave, but be careful to heat slowly, you don’t want it to go above 85°F. )

Homemade crème fraîche recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Pour the mixture into a nonreactive bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen (a warm, but not raging, radiator is perfect) for about 8 hours, or until it is nice and thick. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool thoroughly for several hours.

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The crème fraîche will be nice and thick and ready to use.

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

If it is thicker than you would like…

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

you can simply stir it and the texture will loosen up, or you can “lighten” it with a bit more cream. I don’t usually sweeten the crème fraîche, but you can certainly stir in a bit of sugar or honey to taste.

Homemade crème fraîche | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François


Try it with my Butterscotch Pot de Crème recipe.

26 thoughts to “Kitchen Basics – Homemade Crème Fraîche”

    1. Hi Katherine,

      I used organic cream, but I have done this recipe with heavy cream that I am certain had gum stabilizers and it worked just fine. Use the cream that you would normally want to bake with or whip.

      Thanks, Zoë

    2. I have found heavy whipping cream that is NOT ultrapasturized in Whole foods tastes better than the grocery store ultra pasturized heavy whipping cream.

  1. Zoe
    I don’t drink buttermilk so when a recipe calls for buttermilk I simply make a solution of regular milk and lemon and let it set for 30 minutes. That way I don’t have to throw away an almost full quart of buttermilk a week later. Any reason why I couldn’t do that with this recipe?
    I am in California, but was raised in the midwest. I had to laugh when you said put it on the “radiator.” The only radiator Californians know is in their cars.

    1. Hi Dick,

      I’ve been meaning to try the exact same thing, since I often make my own “buttermilk” just as you described. If you get to it first, please let me know if you get a good result. My only concern is that the creme fraiche is relying on the cultures in the buttermilk, much like yogurt, and if this is the case, the lemon trick won’t work.

      Funny about the radiators. I’ll have to think of a CA equivalent, although the ambient temperature may be just warm enough without the aid of heaters.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Nan and BAM,

      It should last several days in the refrigerator. You can make a half batch, if you don’t think you’ll go through it fast enough. I never have that issue. 😉

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. Hello Zoe, Your crème fraîche is gorgeous. Living here in Hong Kong, sometimes it is difficult to get the ingredients you need for a particular dish and crème fraîche is one of them. Thanks for the recipe. How many days will this last in the refrigerator, as it is fresh? Take Care, BAM

  3. Hi Zoe,
    I have been wondering how to make creme fraiche myself with ingredients I can find locally; and your recipe came to my inbox. Perfect timing! Your homemade creme fraiche looks sooo fabulous!
    Now, am wondering whether I can replace the buttermilk with buttermilk powder? (I can’t find fresh buttermilk here, in Indonesia) Or, if I can use the lemon/vinegar milk mixture?

    Thanks for the help!


  4. Zoe, i tried to make my own crème fraîche in the past but the end result was inferior compared to store-bought. i would like to try your recipe as soon as possible. Just one question: does your recipe work with ultra-pasteurized cream that’s widely available, or do you use raw cream?

      1. It was not as tangy. Maybe i did not wait long enough. it is a little scary to leave dairy out.

        1. Hi Zinnur,

          If the cream has the cultures in it, you can leave it out for hours and hours. It is the same process of making yogurt. The longer you let it sit, the more the flavor develops.

          Thanks, Zoë

  5. Hi Zoe,
    This is a little off-topic, but I wrote to you about a year ago. I finally made it to San Gimignano this past summer and loved it. Thanks to you I found both bakeries and the ice-cream shop. I can’t stop thinking about the cookies, which I had for breakfast every day of our stay. Do you think you could develop a recipe for the ricciarelli? I’d love to make them at home!
    p.s. I’m making the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Panna Cotta this weekend!

    1. Hi Jes,

      How cool! I long to be back there and have those cookies for breakfast. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been meaning to make the cookies, I’ll have to get on that.

      Cheers, Zoë

  6. I have made your Butterscotch Pot de Creme and it was so amazing! I would like to try this too. I am also wondering if the buttermilk powder would work since I have it on hand. Do you have any experience working with it?

    1. Hi Tanya,

      I haven’t tried it, but I have a feeling it will work just fine. I would start with a small batch, just in case. But, if it doesn’t work, you can still use that cream for another recipe, so nothing lost.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Hi!

    I love creme fraiche so was glad to find your recipe and have tried it a couple of times but the end result isn’t as thick as yours, or store bought creme fraiche. I’m not sure my house is warm enough as I don’t have a radiator for it to sit over. However, after heating could I put it in my yogurt maker and then put it in the fridge after that? Looking forward to your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *