If you are a fan of Mexican cuisine and everything that goes with it, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tortilla chips, then you must know what type of cream Mexican crema is.
It is not your typical cream in baked dishes like cakes or cookies because it doesn’t taste sweet. It is the cream for savory dishes, especially those with spiciness, like most from Mexican cuisine.
Instead of a sweet flavor, this specific cream possesses a more sour taste which pairs perfectly with hot and spicy food. So, if you are planning to make some tacos or tortilla chips, Mexican crema is a must.
However, if it happens that you don’t have any in your refrigerator or need help finding it at your local grocery store, below are a few substitutes for Mexican crema that will satisfy your spicy dish.
Let’s take a look.
The List Of 4 Best Substitutes For Mexican Crema
As promised, I tried my best to compile a list of the 5 best Mexican Crema substitutes that certainly won’t disappoint. Aside from that, I briefly described each substitute and explained how to use it instead of Mexican crema.
1. Crema Fresca
I often write about substitutes and I must admit that there are very few decent substitutes for Mexican crema. That is no surprise because it is not easy to mimic that unique combination of flavors and still be a cream.
But, crema fresca, originally known as “Crème fraîche” really comes close. Before I head to the main point, I will first tell you what crema fresca is.
Although many people think that this specific cream comes from Mexico, it actually originated in Normandy, France. A literal translation of the name of this cream is “fresh cream”.
This fresh cream from France has one main ingredient, soured cream, and 10-45% butterfat, which means that it has a high-fat content just like Mexican crema.
Since it is made from sour cream that is soured with bacterial culture, it has some amount of acidity as well. However, I must emphasize that it is not as acidic as Mexican cream, which is one of their main differences.
Fortunately, it is something that can be solved easily by just adding a little lime juice and making it more sour in taste.
Another difference lies in consistency. Crema fresca has a dense texture, contrary to the consistency of Mexican crema which is more liquid. But, you can solve that as well by just adding a bit of milk or buttermilk.
Finally, the real problem for some people that want to use crema fresca as a substitute is the fact that it is difficult to find it outside Europe.
If that is the case with you, and especially if you live in the US, the second substitute on the list will be an interesting one.
2. Sour Cream
So, as I already said previously, if you live in the US and want to find that one cream that will decently replace Mexican cream in some of your dishes, then sour cream might be a relatively good choice.
I am not going to lie to you by saying that this is the best alternative because it has some major differences in flavor and texture when compared with Mexican crema.
Let’s start with the flavor profile. The most apparent difference between these two popular creams is that sour cream has a higher acidity, making it sourer than Mexican cream.
So, if you do decide to use it in your recipe, make sure that there are no other highly-acidic ingredients because the dish won’t taste very nice.
Another difference is related to the fat content. Namely, most varieties of Mexican cream have a lower fat content that ranges between 18-25%. On the other hand, the fat content of most sour creams is normally above 20%.
Finally, the consistencies of the two creams also differ. Sour cream has a thicker consistency and it curdles fast. Unlike Mexican crema that dissolves into stews, sour cream tends to remain chunky.
Because of that, it is not suitable to use sour cream in all types of dishes that require Mexican crema. I would suggest you use it only to make toppings or dips.
3. Plain Yogurt
It is not a cream, but it has a creamy texture. Plain yogurt is always a good substitute for most types of creams and Mexican crema is no exception. Also, it can be found at almost every grocery store or supermarket.
Plain yogurt has a very simple flavor profile which is enriched with a slightly acidic taste and that makes it a decent alternative to Mexican crema.
The acidity of yogurt can lower the heat of hot and spicy dishes which will be used as a substitute.
However, its level of acidity is not that high, so it is a good idea to add some lime juice in order to achieve a sharper taste.
When it comes to texture and consistency, most plain yogurts have a creamier texture and a bit thinner consistency, so you should take that into consideration as well.
One more note. Avoid using flavored yogurts because they can contain various sweeteners and preservatives that can easily ruin the flavor profile of the dish.
4. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
Another yogurt is on the list of best substitutes for Mexican crema. This time it is the especially cultured dairy product that has more protein and fat, and less sugar than plain yogurt.
It is known as full-fat Greek yogurt and it can be a great alternative to our cream. Since it has a higher fat content than plain yogurt, its flavor profile is closer to that of Mexican crema in terms of richness.
When it comes to acidity, its level is similar to that of plain yogurt so it is not a bad idea to add some lime juice to adjust the level of sourness. Also, since it contains less sugar, you can add it too if you prefer.
Full-fat Greek yogurt is also thicker and close to the consistency of Mexican crema.
It is one of those specially cultured dairy products that you can find in almost any grocery store or supermarket, so you can always have it on hand when you need it.
One Tasty Homemade Mexican Crema Recipe
If you don’t live in Europe, don’t like the intense sourness of sour cream, and if yogurt is not your thing, you can always make your own creamy masterpiece.
When I am out of Mexican crema and want to make some tacos, enchiladas, or burritos, I always prefer to assemble a few ingredients to make my own homemade Mexican crema.
The process is simple and you only have to use a few basic ingredients to make it.
So, below is one simple, but very tasty recipe for Mexican crema that certainly won’t disappoint your hot and spicy dish. Let’s see what it has to offer.
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 h
Total Time: 12 h 10 min
• ½ cup of heavy cream
• Juice from 1 fresh lime
• 1 tbsp of buttermilk
• ½ tsp of kosher salt (or ordinary salt if you do not have kosher)
1. Mix the buttermilk with heavy cream in a small bowl.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, dry place overnight.
3. Add lime juice and salt to the mixture the next morning and stir it to incorporate the ingredients until the consistency becomes a little runny.
4. Add a little more lime juice or salt if you feel that you need to adjust the flavor.
5. If you don’t use it right away, store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Fun Fact: Do You Know The Difference Between Mexican Crema And Mexican Table Cream?
One of the most frequent misconceptions about Mexican crema is that many people tend to believe that it is the same as Mexican table cream. Although that is true to some extent, it is not entirely like that.
So, here I will briefly explain what Mexican table cream really is and how it is related to our Mexican crema.
Mexican table cream is actually one of the types of Mexican crema or Crema Mexicana and it is one of the most popular creams in Mexico.
Contrary to the other type of Mexican crema, known as Mexican sour cream, this type has a thinner consistency and can be easily poured from the container directly onto the dish.
Mexican sour cream is much thicker, due to the higher fat content, and it must be scooped out with a spoon.
As you can see, although every Mexican table cream is a Mexican crema, not all Mexican cremas are Mexican table creams and that is the main point.
As you could have seen, Mexican crema is a specific type of cream that has a unique combination of flavors that can not be mimicked easily.
However, in this article you were able to find out that there are 5 decent substitutes for Mexican crema that can serve your dish quite well.
And among them is homemade Mexican crema made according to the recipe presented above.