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How to Make Homemade Mexican Crema

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 1 min read

Mexican crema is a staple condiment used in many Mexican recipes that adds instant flavor and is easy to make.



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What Is Mexican Crema?

Mexican crema (also known as crema Mexican) is a naturally sour, slightly thick cream that tastes like a combination of American sour cream and French crème fraîche.

How to Use Mexican Crema

Typically used as a garnish or condiment after cooking, Mexican crema adds a rich and tangy bite to soups, vegetables, and tacos.

  • Add flavor to hot dishes. Mexican crema can add a tangy flavor to hot dishes. Crema has a high-fat content, so it won’t curdle when stirred into hot dishes like frijoles de la olla or pozole.
  • Tame spice. Use crema to tame the heat in spicier Mexican dishes, like stuffed poblanos.
  • Add freshness to heavy foods. Drizzle crema over nachos, quesadillas, or tostadas for a cool, mellow streak.
  • Add a creamy element. Crema is a perfect creamy complement to pickled red onions, tangy, citrusy slaw, and the battered crunch of Baja-style fish tacos.
  • Make a spicy crema dip. Add a teaspoon of puréed chipotle (or a similar chile), hot sauce, or avocado for a flavorful crema dip.
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Substitutes for Mexican Crema

  • Crème fraîche: The best substitute for Mexican crema is crème fraîche, thinned with a bit of lime juice or water. As a cultured cream, crème fraîche brings similar levels of complex tanginess to a dish.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream has a slightly lower fat content than Mexican crema and a similar level of acidity.
  • Plain yogurt: Plain yogurt may have less of a complex flavor profile, but it still brings the same cooling effect as Mexican crema.

Mexican Crema Recipe

1/2 cup
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
12 hr 5 min
Cook Time
12 hr


  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • Fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (kosher salt works best)
  1. Combine the heavy cream and buttermilk in a medium-size bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature. Place the mixture in a warm, dry spot overnight.
  2. The following morning, add lime juice and salt to the newly thickened cream and buttermilk mixture. Stir to incorporate. The consistency should be slightly runny.
  3. Taste, and adjust with more lime juice or salt as needed. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to five days.

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