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Homemade Mexican crema. This Mexican sour cream is easy to make at home

Updated on January 19, 2012

drizzle crema over your next Mexican meal

photo credit:
photo credit:

Mexican crema...delicious homemade sour cream

Authentic Mexican food is very unlikely to be covered in a thick and gloopy layer of suspiciously orange melted cheese. Cheese is actually used pretty sparingly in true Mexican cooking, and is more often a crumbled hard cheese than a soft a melted cheese.

Now don't get me wrong, I like a little melted cheese as much as the next guy, but for a true taste of Mexico, try substituting the melted cheese for this easy and delicious homemade crema (Mexican sour cream). This crema is often drizzled over dishes, and is a delicious accompaniment to the complex chile heat of a good Mexican dish.

Making your own sour cream is a cinch, and all you need is time to produce something that is infinitely better than store bought sour cream.

You can use either half and half or heavy cream for this. If you use the heavy cream it will be VERY thick!

Homemade sour cream

500 ml (about 1 pint) of half and half, or heavy cream

¼ cup of cultured sour cream or butter milk.

You will mix these two ingredients together well, in a very clean bowl, with a very clean spoon, and cover and allow to sit on the counter at room temperature. Sour cream is formed by the natural acidification casued by the endogenous bacteria in the cultured buttermilk or sour cream.

Let the cream sit on the counter for between 12 and 24 hours. It is done when it has thickened, and has a slightly sour tang. Store in the fridge until ready to use. This product does not contain any preservatives, and thus should be consumed within a couple of days of making. It tastes so good that this is rarely a problem!

You must use a sour cream or buttermilk with a living bacterial culture. Most of the commercially available sour creams will not have a living starter, but many butter milks will. The product information should tell you whether or not a living culture is contained within. You can interchange either the butter milk or the sour cream for the same eventual effect.

Drizzle this cream over the top of Mexican dishes, or serve on the side with fajitas, burritos, tacos…whatever!

This makes a very nice change from melted cheese, and truly is authentic Mexican!

Or try making yogurt - a very similar method is used

thick homemade sour cream

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    • toptenhome profile image

      Brandon Hart 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, USA

      I love crema. There is nothing like it. Thanks for the great option.

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 

      6 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      This is the most amazing thing in the world. I love crema more than anything. having a good crema makes food a million times better.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yogurt is made with thermophilic bacteria, those which thrive at higher temperatures (about 110 F); whereas cultured buttermilk as well as sour cream are from mesophilic bacteria, those which develop at room temperature. I make all these from raw unpasteurized non-homogenized milk. Much cheaper and better than commercial, and I can get full-fat buttermilk this way. I don't know why stores sell only 2% buttermilk. Anyway, mine is nearly as thick as yogurt and very tasty. The cream portion of the cultured buttermilk is what I use to top mexican fare, as well as fruit.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I didn't know this recipe I always make sour cream by adding a squeeze of lemon to fresh cream. Its quicker, but I don't know how it compares tastewise..

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      8 years ago

      Awesome - thanks for letting me know of your success with it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have Greek live cultures came from Perú and I make it my own yogurt, I place the live cultures and milk into a Pirex bowl, after 24 hrs I strain using a colander and a teaspoon inside and from the bottom of the colander, I use to eat in empty stomach for better effects in my liver, kidneys, and all my body system, the flavor is very sour. As well I use as a mascara over my face and neck until dry after rinse with warm water, and then cool water. Like they said I use homogenized milk without hormones. This yogurt is the best because prevent cancer. God Bless You.

    • Julie McM profile image

      Julie McM 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Made the crema yesterday. Let it sit out overnight and in the morning had light, tangy crema. Worked perfectly. Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The difference between creme fraiche, sour cream, cream cheese, and yogurt is firstly the starter used, and secondly the amount of milkfat in the milk/cream you use. If you start with a sour culture then you shouldn't get creme fraiche. The product can be further altered by straining it (that is how you get "greek" yogurt from yogurt, and also how many cheeses are made to have the appropriate texture). It also affects the flavor somewhat because the whey has a different flavor component than the milk solids.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      So what we're basically making is creme fraiche, right?

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      If you go further south in Mexico, like Chiapas, you'll find next to no cheese. I know, I looked. Anyway, is this recipe the white sauce on the chilaquiles in Mexico City?

    • profile image

      John Hanna 

      11 years ago

      I visited Mexico and had melted cheese just about everywhere I went. Much more than any place I have been to here in the US. Mexico City, Jalapa, Oaxaca and everywhere in between. I do not know what you are talking about because melted cheese was the food. I wish I could show you the pictures. In fact in a small town outside of Jalapa they specialize in mozzarella like cheese and Oaxaca is also known for there similar cheese.

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      12 years ago

      Melted cheese is not really a Mexican thing...more of an Amer.Mex thing. Now I've got no problem with melted cheese in the right context, but the crema and queso fresco is a lot cleaner tasting, and is authentic Mexican.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      12 years ago from Seattle

      This cream sounds great. There's a Mexican restaurant here in Seattle that uses the kind of cheese you are talking about--some of the best enchiladas I've ever had.


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