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Substitute for Mexican Crema: Tasty Alternatives to Try

Mexican crema is a savory white cream and a go-to sauce in Mexican dishes. You’ll find it drizzled on tacos, tortilla chips, or chili. If you’re searching for a substitute for Mexican crema, you’ve come to the right place.

Today’s guide will discuss Mexican crema and its alternatives. You’ll also learn how to use these substitutes in any recipe.

Mexican crema dip in the white bowl, sliced lime and parsley next to it

What Is Mexican Crema?

Mexican crema is a white cream with a slightly sour taste and silky texture. It has a rich texture like sour cream or heavy cream but has a thinner consistency.

Traditional Mexican crema consists of heavy cream, lime juice, and salt. Unlike sour cream, this condiment is thinner and has less fat content. The lime juice acts as an acidic compound and gives the cream its sharp taste.

What Does Mexican Cream Taste Like?

its flavor is a cross between American sour cream and French crème fraîche.

Mexican crema’s tart taste and rich creaminess pair well with savory Mexican dishes. There are many ways you can use this cream in the kitchen.

For one, Mexican crema is best known for adding balance to spicy and umami dishes.

It also adds a hint of freshness to Mexican food, like tostadas and quesadillas.

Its flavors blend perfectly well with pickled, tangy, and fried dishes.

Best Substitute for Mexican Crema

Mexican crema is available in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores. But you may not always find it. Fortunately, Mexican crema is easy to replace, and there are many substitutes you can use.

Here’s a list of the best alternatives to replace Mexican crema.

1. Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche, or “crema fresca,” is the best Mexican crema substitute. Unlike most creams, crème fraîche is typically known for its ultra-rich and creamy texture. It has a mild flavor, high-fat content, and low acidity.

Its most significant difference from Mexican crema is its consistency. Crema Fresca is thick, while Mexican crema is more liquid-like. Despite this, you can still use it as a substitute in most recipes.

What’s lacking from crema fresca is its acidity. To augment this, we recommend mixing lemon juice with the cream before use. Keep adding lime juice until you replicate Mexican crema’s flavors. 

2. Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt is also another excellent Mexican crema substitute. Compared to the other alternatives, yogurt has the most simple flavor. Its creaminess and slightly acidic taste can bring down the heat of spicy dishes.

When using it as an alternative to Mexican crema, remember only to use plain yogurt. Flavored yogurt has preservatives and other flavoring agents that might alter your recipe.

You can also add lime to give the plain or light yogurt a sharper taste.

3. Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has a worthy shot at being a Mexican crema substitute. Although similar to plain yogurt, Greek yogurt has its differences. It has lesser sugar, more protein, and a thicker texture.

You’ll have to adjust Greek yogurt’s flavor to replace Mexican crema. We recommend adding a dash of mustard, salt, lime juice, and sugar. This gives the yogurt the acidity it needs to duplicate the flavors of Mexican crema.

bowl filled with sour cream.

4. Sour cream

Sour cream is also a perfect alternative to Mexican crema. But take note that sour cream behaves differently. Since it has a thicker consistency and higher fat content, it curdles fast.

Mexican crema dissolves into stews, but sour cream will remain in chunks. Due to this, we recommend only adding sour cream as toppings or dips. If you’re going to use sour cream as an alternative to Mexican crema, take note of its acidity.

Unlike the other options on this list, sour cream is more acidic than Mexican crema, so there’s no need to add lime. If you want to tone it down, we recommend adding buttermilk to sour cream.

5. Make Your Own

You can always make homemade Mexican crema if you’re out of options. You’ll need heavy cream, lime juice, and salt. If you want to make it creamier, we recommend adding buttermilk.

Mix all the creams in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap. Let the mixture sit overnight before adding the lime juice and salt. Stir the cream until you reach a thin and runny texture.

The best thing about making your own Mexican crema is adjusting the flavors. If you want to enhance the taste, feel free to add more salt or lime juice. Homemade Mexican crema can last up to five days in the fridge.

Recipes with Mexican Crema

Mexican crema is a staple condiment in Mexican cuisine. You can use it similarly as you would use sour cream: as toppings, dips, or sauces in many dishes.

One of this cream’s best uses is balancing out heavy and fatty foods. Mexican crema is a popular topping for tacos, nachos, or quesadillas.

It’s also an excellent sauce to bring down the heat of chilis. You can use Mexican crema in stuffed poblanos, pozole, and other spicy dishes.

And when it comes to dips, Mexican crema takes the top spot. The cream is often mixed with other spices like chipotle powder, avocado, onions, or hot sauce. The best foods to pair it with are nachos, tortilla chips, or even potato chips.

Tostadas topped with mexican crema.
What Is The Difference Between Sour Cream And Mexican Crema?

There is a significant difference between sour cream and Mexican crema. The main one has to do with their curdling tendencies. Since sour cream is heavier, it curdles faster compared to the latter.

What Is Mexican Crema Made Of?

Mexican crema is a mixture of heavy cream, lime juice, and salt. Other recipes call for buttermilk, though this is optional. This traditional cream should taste sour, tangy, and savory.

Is Mexican Crema Healthy?

Since Mexican crema only has three ingredients. This cream is famous in keto diets as it’s a low-carb food.


Mexican crema is a type of cream commonly used in Mexican dishes. At first glance, it looks like sour cream but is actually made of heavy cream, lime juice, and salt. Mexican crema tastes sour, tangy, and savory, with a liquid consistency.

The best substitute for Mexican crema is crème fraîche. Although thicker in texture, you only need to add lime juice and salt to make this a perfect alternative. Mexican crema is best for toning down spicy foods and flavoring savory dishes.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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