How to Use Crème Fraîche—The French Way



Perhaps you’ve bought some crème fraîche for a recipe, and you have extra that you’re wondering how to use. Or perhaps you tasted something made with crème fraîche and you said, “wow!,” and now you want to know how to bring it into your cooking. Here are some ideas on what to do with this fabulous French ingredient.

What Is Crème Fraîche?

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery’s website describes the process: “After milking the cows, separate and set the fresh cream aside. Let the natural lactic bacteria take over, creating a thick, smooth, tart result known as crème fraîche.”

Basically, this French-style cultured cream is a bit like sour cream, it’s more deeply flavored, richly textured and delightfully tangy. It also has a subtle nutty flavor that sour cream just does not have.

How to Use Crème Fraîche

It’s so easy to bring it to your cooking. A few ideas:

Use crème fraîche to finish a pan sauce. It will add richness and depth of flavor, but unlike sour cream, it will not curdle over high heat nor when mixed with wine reductions. Stir 1/4 to 1/2 cup crème fraîche into the sauce at the very end. Heat through.

Use to garnish a soup. Here, it’s been drizzled over potato soup. Photo by Laura Padgett via Flickr.

Stir some sugar or honey into the crème fraîche. Sweetened crème fraîche is the classic French go-with to tart tatin, but its creaminess and tang contrasts the sweetness of just about any fruit dessert beautifully. Photo by jamieanne via Flickr.

The French sometimes use crème fraîche as a sauce for pizza (instead of red sauce). Note that I have had moderate success with this—sometimes the crème fraîche melts too much. If you do go this route, thicken it with a little flour or an egg. (See my recipe for Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart.)


And finally, use crème fraîche as a white pasta sauce. For example, the quintessential quick French recipe for “Pasta with Lardons” calls on lardons (French style bacon), one egg yolk, crème fraîche, grated parmesan and gruyère, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  I cannot find an equivalent recipe in English, so I’m just going to have to develop one myself. Stay tuned. This is 20-minute French cooking at its “bonne femme moderne” best.

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2 comments to How to Use Crème Fraîche—The French Way

  • Renée Hall


    I’ve been to Alsace and had the bacon and onion tarte. Please tell me where I can get your recipe . It looks just like the one from there.

    Thank you ,

    Renée Hall

  • Wini

    Hi Renée. I do have a Tarte Flambe (Alsatian bacon-and-onion tart) in my cookbook; however, I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the recipe you seek. Mine uses a yeast pizza crust; the true tart uses a crust with no leavening. Sadly, I could never make an unleavened dough work the way I wanted to. I think the reason is that the “real” thing has to cook at extremely high temperatures (my oven only goes up to 450). That’s why I finally went for a yeast bread. So while my recipe might not be the exact one you’re looking for, it will work.

    It’s here, by the way:

    It’s the final version that went into my book. Enjoy.

    PS: Honestly, I also think Trader Joe’s does an amazing version of Tart Flambee. It’s shockingly good for a prepared product. I wrote about it here:

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