Crema vs Sour Cream – Differences, Uses & Benefits

Crema and sour cream have a lot in common. They both taste so much alike but are still different from one another. But a crema vs sour cream comparison is necessary because they have notable differences.

Sour cream has about 20% fat, tastes a bit more acidic, and is pretty thick. Crema, on the other hand, has about 30% more fat, is not as sour, and is much thinner than sour cream.

In this article, I will explain sour cream and crema, their uses, differences, and nutritional benefits.

What is crema?

Crema, commonly called “Mexican crema,” is a slightly acidic sauce that tastes like a mix of sour cream and French crème. While crema is typically thicker and richer than sour cream, it is not as thick and rich as French crème.

Crema is often used as a garnish on Mexican foods like tacos and enchiladas, as well as in soups. So, if you want to give any Mexican dish the perfect finishing touch adding some crema will do the trick.

What is sour cream?

Sour cream also called soured cream, is a dairy product made by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which can be added on purpose or naturally, makes the cream sour and thick.

Sour cream is versatile and can be added to biscuits and other baked goods, to make deviled eggs, pasta, and potato salads.

It also makes a healthy dip for vegetable platters, garnish for soup, sandwich spread, scrambled eggs, and pancakes.

Differences: crema vs sour cream

To start with, crema and sour cream have different ingredients. Crema is typically made without thickeners and stabilizers, while sour cream typically contains both elements.

Furthermore, crema is sweeter and saltier than sour cream. It also tastes richer and has a more buttery flavor than sour cream. Sour cream, on the other hand, has a sour taste and tastes like Greek yogurt because of how acidic it is.

Also, compared to sour cream’s 20% fat level, crema has a greater fat content of approximately 30% butterfat.

Crema vs sour cream: which is better?

Crema is thicker and creamier than sour cream, which makes it a better option. However, it all boils down to personal preferences, as sour cream is a very healthy alternative.

What can you substitute for crema?

Crème fraîche is a suitable creama substitute. You can use it just as it is or mix it with a bit of lime juice to make it thinner and more like crema.

What can you substitute for sour cream?

Many require a substitute due to food allergies, personal preferences, or the requirement for a speedy substitution in a recipe. 

Luckily, sour cream can be easily replaced with several other dairy and non-dairy options.

  • Dairy options: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, crème fraîche, and buttermilk.
  • Non-diary options: Coconut milk, cashews, and soy.

Crema vs sour cream: how do you know when to use them?

A higher fat level means crema will not curdle when used in cooking, making it perfect for acidic foods.

Also, crema makes tasty and spicy Mexican food, especially if you need a dairy product to cool down the heat of chili peppers. You can use crema on tacos, flautas, and quesadillas.

Sour cream, on the other hand, pairs better with dishes well on baked potatoes and is a key ingredient in ranch dressing and traditional cheesecake recipes where it adds a lot of acidities.

In addition, sour cream is a better option to make dishes that do not need to be heated and do not contain a lot of acids.

What are the benefits of crema?

As a cultured dairy product, crema has some health benefits. However, relatively small because it is typically used as a condiment. Here are some of its benefits:

  • Crema is an excellent source of calcium which can strengthen your bones and teeth if they are in poor health.
  • Crema contains a reasonable level of vitamin A.
  • It contains healthy bacteria, which are responsible for its fermentation.
  • Also, consuming a sizeable amount of cream can boost your gut flora if you have poor gut health.

Benefits of sour cream

Sour cream is rich in vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients that are good for your health. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Sour cream is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which help build strong bones and teeth.
  • It has a lot of vitamin B12, which helps your body with red blood cells, and is also a vital part of the brain’s work.
  • Sour cream has a lot of vitamins A and E, which are essential for eye health.


Can you substitute crema for sour cream?

Yes, you can replace sour cream with crema in most recipes.

How long does crema last?

Crema can last for about two weeks if stored correctly in the fridge.

Can you freeze sour cream?

Yes. You can freeze extra fresh sour cream.

What is the shelf life of sour cream?

Sour cream (opened or unopened) can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks after the sell-by date.

Conclusion: sour cream vs crema

Sour cream and crema are both dairy products with different culinary uses. However, the flavor of sour cream is somewhat more acidic, has a 20% fat content, and is relatively thick.

Crema, on the other hand, is considerably thinner, less acidic, and contains a larger fat content of about 30%, which makes it overall a healthier option.

Thank you for reading.

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