Add French Chic to Your Holiday Meals! 🎉 Join the French Holiday Challenge Today >>>

Creme Fraiche versus Sour Cream

by | May 21, 2021 | Uncategorized

People often think that sour cream and crème fraîche are the same. But there are differences in taste and texture which will determine how you use them in your cooking.

It’s worth noting that 92% of all French people have crème fraîche in their kitchens. So it’s safe to say this is a staple of French cooking! That’s why it’s one of the ingredients on my French Pantry Checklist.

What is crème fraîche?

Creme fraiche is a dairy product made from heavy cream and a starter culture containing several types of bacteria.

How is crème fraîche made?

The French use either raw crème fraîche made from raw milk or pasteurized crème fraîche made from pasteurized milk. Raw crème fraîche has more flavor and aroma but is very fragile: it has to be used quickly and kept in optimal conditions to be consumed safely.

Pasteurized creme fraiche is made by adding lactic ferments to pasteurized cream, and then aging it. The aging process makes it thicker and richer in flavor.

Sour cream has additives to thicken and stabilize it since it only has around 20% butterfat. It needs only 18% butterfat to be considered sour cream by the FDA.

Crème fraîche, however, doesn’t: no thickening additives are necessary due to the higher butterfat content.

Crème fraîche in France is usually sold with 30% or 40% butterfat. That sounds like a lot of fat, but surprisingly it has fewer calories than butter or oil due to its water content.

Can you replace crème fraîche with sour cream?

People often confuse the two and think that sour cream can substitute for crème fraîche in a recipe.

Sour cream is more acidic and you need to take that into consideration as it may alter the taste of your recipe. Also, it will curdle when heated, so you don’t want to use it in hot soups unless you add it at the last minute. Sour cream also has a more liquid texture than creme fraiche.

Creme fraiche has a higher fat content and a milder, creamier flavor. It won’t curdle or add acidity to a recipe. It’s also richer in flavor and less tangy than sour cream. I’ve noticed that the 40% fat creme fraiche in France has a slight lemony note to it.

When to use crème fraîche versus sour cream?

Crème fraîche is used in the following dishes:

  • heated sauces
  • hot soups
  • desserts
  • baking

Sour cream is best in:

  • cold dishes like dips
  • salad dressings
  • chilled soups
  • baking
Blinis with sour cream

Crème Fraîche Recipes:

An easy way to enhance a weeknight dish is with a crème fraîche and chicken recipe using a French Dijon mustard to make a delicious sauce.

The Potage Crecy carrot soup is one of my favorite crème fraîche recipes that can be served either hot or cold.

Conclusion: Crème fraîche versus sour cream

Creme fraiche has a higher fat content and no additives. It’s more stable than sour cream which has a lower fat content and may curdle when heated at length.

The tanginess of sour cream is perfect for cold sauces or dips. It’s also best used as a condiment in  Mexican cuisine or served with  Russian dishes like blinis.

Creme fraiche is mild and won’t add acidity to your recipes. It’s perfect for cooked sauces and hot soups or scrambled eggs. It’s also delicious when sweetened and added to raw fruit dishes like a mixed fruit salad.

Where to buy crème fraîche starter culture online:

If you’d like to try making your own creme fraiche at home, here are 2 starter cultures I recommend which you can find on Amazon:

  1. Cultures for Health Crème Fraîche Starter Culture
  2. Creme Fraiche C33 – 5 Packets Starter Culture

Make soups with crème fraîche quickly and easily

To make fresh soup whenever you want, without the need to plan and wait, here’s a handy gadget from Philips:

Philips Soup and Smoothie Maker on Amazon.com

It has 6 soup programs for cold, chunky, or pureed soups and can be used to make smoothies or as a countertop blender.

There is also an optimized heating profile, so you can use it for milk and crème fraîche based soups.

I also like that this Philips Soup and Smoothie Maker comes with a recipe book and tips!

photos courtesy of Unsplash.com

Some of the links to products are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. If you do make a purchase through my affiliate link, I want to thank you for supporting this blog!

Recent Post

Chilled Soup Recipes: Potage Crécy Carrot Soup

What to eat when it's too hot to cook? Unusually hot summer weather makes cooking - and even...

Thomas Jefferson: Founding Father & French Foodie

Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson, a man of varied talents and interests, was also passionate...

Bouquet Garni 101: How To Use These Traditional French Herbs

French women will regularly pick up several different types of herbs when food shopping, either in...

French Pastry Meets Japanese Technique for Easter

Paris-Tokyo: A Sweet Love Affair: French pastry chefs and master chocolate makers get busy around...

What’s in season at French markets in March?

This month was chosen as the first month of the year on the Roman calendar, as a sign of renewal...