How to Make Creme Fraiche | Katte Malai

Creme Fraiche Recipe

If there is a secret to French Cooking, it is to be found in crème fraîche. Never be without it.  I make my own regularly at home for those times when we eat more desserts – winter for baked dishes, summer for fresh fruit. It is a wonderful alternative to either cream (adding a little amount of soureness) and more flavoursome than sour cream.

Crème Fraîche is a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as sour cream. Originally a French product, today it is produced by a process similar to that of sour cream, with the exception that no ingredients are added.  Crème Fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to normal heavy cream, and allowing it to stand for several hours at room temperature as the bacterial cultures act on the cream. It has several advantages in the kitchen. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche can be mixed with air to form whipped cream, and it can be cooked without curdling.

Never substitute sour cream for crème fraîche in any recipe; sour cream has a butterfat content of 10 to 18 percent, which is not enough to stop it from curdling when added to hot foods. Thickened cream has 30 to 37 percent, and can be substituted for crème fraîche, but it lacks the sour taste.

In the North of India a similar product is made, called Khatte Malai. Often made with buffalo milk, the cow’s milk version is milder in taste. And the best ghee is made from cultured cream such as crème fraîche.

Try these recipes using  Crème Fraîche:  Sweet Potatoes with Crème Fraîche and Crème Fraîche  Icecream.

You might also like to browse all our Creme Fraiche recipes here, and our How To recipes too. Our French recipes are here. Or check out our easy Late Summer recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can find more of these recipes in our Retro Recipes series.

Creme Fraiche Recipe

Crème Fraîche / Khatte Malai

200g whipping cream or heavy cream. Use organic if you can.
2 Tblspn plain yoghurt, buttermilk or sour cream

Pour the cream into a jar. Add the yoghurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Mix well and set into a pilot-heated oven for 8 hours, or overnight. It can be done in water maintained at about 45 – 50C. Next morning, stir and refrigerate. Once cold, it will thicken.

When down to the last 2 or 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, add another 200g of whipping cream, stir, keep warm for 8 hours and then refrigerate. The last few tablespoons of crème fraîche thus become a starter for more.


recipe notes and alternatives
The higher the butterfat content of the cream, the better and thicker the resulting crème fraîche. Experiment until you find the right cream. Aim for around 50%.

The cream and yoghurt mixture must be maintained at around 40 – 45 or 50C for 8 hours. This really quite a low temperature. It can be done in a pilot light-lit oven, or in water maintained at that temperature. I used to use an old crockpot on low, with the lid off, to maintain water at this temperature. it is the best use of an old crockpot that I have ever found. The older crockpots cooked at a much lower temperature.

You can also make crème fraîche by bringing cream to the boil (300ml), cooling it until it reached approx 45C, adding 4Tblspn buttermilk, and then placing in a pre-warmed thermos. It is a little easier than using the crockpot and also gives great results.

I have heard of people who don’t keep the crème fraîche at 40C, but just leave the mixture at room temperature for 12 hours. I have not tried that, but it may work in Summer here. They use a ratio of 4:1 cream to yoghurt.

Crème fraîche can be frozen in 3 tablespoon amounts, and then you always have a starter.

Never substitute sour cream for crème fraîche in any recipe; sour cream has a butterfat content of 10 to 18 percent, which is not enough to stop it from curdling when added to hot foods. Thickened cream has 30 to 37 percent, and can be substituted for crème fraîche, but it lacks the sour taste.

 How to use Crème Fraîche

  • Over fruit salad. Use a pear, a nachi pear, an apple, an orange and some passion fruit. Roughly chop them. Pour over creme fraiche. Add some mint leaves.  If it is for breakfast, add some muesli too.
  • Mixed with yoghurt for a delicious topping to fruit, cereal, soups.
  • Swirl into soups.
  • In Potato Gratin – peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer in baking dish with salt and pepper. You can add thinly sliced onion, garlic and /or grated hard cheese in between the layers. Pour over enough creme fraiche to come about 1/2 the way up the dish. Top with grated parmesan. Bake for 45 mins or more (depends on the size of the dish) until potatoes are cooked and the top is brown.

14 thoughts on “How to Make Creme Fraiche | Katte Malai”

  1. the best ghee is made from cultured cream – like your creme fraiche.

    communication , someone once told me, is not just about being interesting. it’s about being interested.

    how true.

    bee, you always have the most amazing information. Thanks, I am going to experiment next time I need to make ghee.

    Listening. Yes. if we spoke only half as much and listened about four times as much, what a difference.

  2. Thanks for this recipe. I’ve been wanting to lay my hands on something I know will work – now that you’ve posted this I can finally try those truffles I have been wanting to make.

    Oooh, yummy, I can’t wait to see the results.

  3. You got your table and chairs. Yay!

    A very introspective post…

    I have! They are so gorgeous and I have my coffee there each morning while I am on holidays.

  4. I almost forgot how fresh homemade creme fraiche tastes. Thanks for reminding, VY.

    My pleasure. I hadn’t used it for a long time either.

  5. I always wondered how creme fraiche was made so thanks for this post! I’m becoming a huge fan of the stuff.

    Hi Hillary, that makes two of us then. I used it in a Mint Paneer dish this afternoon, and it was delish.

  6. Homemade creme faiche is so great – it is so much better than the store bought stuff…

    i’m so bad at listening but have been getting better consciously.

    Stick with it, arundathi. It gets easier. Sometimes i set aside days where I don’t talk about myself and totally focus on the other person. It can be hard, but it makes us realise how much we talk about ourselves.

    Mmmm yes, creme fraiche is wonderful. Easy to make.

  7. Anyone have a decent paneer recipe?

    Sure, there are many, Zen. Try googling “home made paneer”.

  8. Hi, I make my own yoghurt and then make Labne. I refrigerate yodhurt overnight after I make it and then turn it out onto unbleached calico. I sometimes add to the yoghurt some Harissa or garlic/cummin and hang this calico batch overnight in the kitchen. Whey can be used to flavour soups etc. Next morning I refrigerate Labne, then put some extra virgin olive oil on hands, roll this into balls and pack in olive oil. It is very nice, spicy. I have just finished making Labne and flavouring this with fresh rosemary.

    I am impressed! I am going to try your labne balls – thanks for the inspiration, susie.

  9. Must try this. Also about Labne, we used to have it when I worked in UAE and made lots of different dips with it. I then found you could buy it in the Adelaide market. Really found this website when looking up a recipe for roasted pumpkin risotto, then realised your in Adelaide so I easily relate to your writings about the city. Great site.

Welcome! I hope you are enjoying what you see here. Thank you so much for your comment and your thoughts.

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