Creme vs. Cream: Difference Explained (Important Facts)

The words crème and cream sound very similar to each other. And the reason for that is that they are very similar to each other.

Difference Between Creme Vs. Cream

The only difference between “Creme” and “cream” is that “cream” is the English word and “crème” is the French word. This is why we use “crème” when we’re talking about French foods such as Creme Brule or Creme Caramel. But “cream” for English food like Cream Cake.

Difference Between Creme Vs. Cream

“Cream” (and Creme) Etymology? Where Do The Words Come From?

The word “cream” is today associated with a delicious milky treat. However, in the past, it was more likely to be used for medicinal purposes.

The word “Cream” comes from the Old French “Cresme”, meaning “Holy Oil”. This term comes from the Latin “Chrisma”, meaning ointment. Which came from the Proto-Indo-European “Ghrei” meaning “to rub”.

It seems that during Old French times, the English and the modern French took a slightly different approach.

Whilst the English got rid of the final “e” and replaced the “s” with an “a”, the French just got rid of the “s”.

Medicinal Cream Vs Food Cream- Why Do They Use The Same Word?

As we’ve just mentioned, there are two types of cream.

The phrase “put some cream on it”can be the answer to “how do I improve this cake?” and “What should I do about my sore thumb?”.

The reason why “cream” went from being a medical term, to also being a food term, is probably because the cream we put into an iced bun looks similar (but tastes very different) from the kind of cream we would put on the sore parts of our body.

7 Examples Of Dishes With “Creme” In The Name

Most foods with “crème” in their name come from France. Here are some “crème” foods you might be familiar with.

  1. Creme Caramel
    A pudding that’s like solid custard with caramel on top.

  2. Creme Fraiche
    A sour sauce that’s great for dipping

  3. Creme Brulee
    A pudding that’s burnt at the top, but soft underneath.

  4. Creme Chantilly
    A type of icing that’s great for cakes. But slightly bitter

  5. Creme Patisserie
    A kind of pastry that’s filled with cream

  6. Creme Anglaise
    The French word for custard.

  7. Chocolate Pots De Creme
    A French chocolate mousse

8 Examples Of Dishes With “Cream” In The Name

Most foods with “cream” in the name are from England. Here are some examples that you might be familiar with.

  1. Cream cake
    A cake with cream. It really is that simple.

  2. Cream cheese
    A kind of cheese that’s soft but strong

  3. Cookies and Cream
    Most commonly called “Oreos”. They’re cookies (or biscuits) with cream in the middle.

  4. Whipped cream
    A sold type of cream

  5. Ice Cream
    A cold and sweet food. Flavoured with chocolate, strawberry, or anything else.

  6. Clotted Cream
    A thicker type of cream. Great with scones

  7. Caledonian cream
    A dessert made with cream, marmalade, and sometimes whisky.

  8. Cream of Tomato Soup
    Tomato soup with cream.

Why Do We Say “Creme Caramel” And Not “Caramel Cream”? Because The French Are Fancy!

This might lead some of you to wonder why we say “crème caramel” instead of “Caramel Cream”. And the main reason is marketing.

The French are known for having very high standards when it comes to their food. If you go to France, you can expect nothing but the best, so long as you go to the right places.

Therefore, even if something was made in New York, or Romford, by pretending it’s French, people are more likely to like it. They think it’s from France just because it has a French name.

Crema Vs Creme: Is There A Difference Between The Two?

One word that sounds like “crème” but is completely different is “Crema”.

You pronounce it like “cremmer”. It should Rhyme with “Emma”.

This is not cream at all. It’s the stuff that you get on top of espresso or Americano. It’s a layer of light brown. Some people might think this is milk, but a slight stir from a spoon will show that it’s just a very thin layer of thicker coffee.

If you order an Americano, be sure to stir it before you complain that you asked for it black.

Phrases That Have “Crème” And “Cream” In Them

As well as foods, there are also plenty of phrases that have “cream” and “crème” in them. Here are some that you might or might not be familiar with.

  • The cream of the crop
    The best

  • The crème de la crème
    The best.

  • Like the cat who’s stolen the cream
    Looking proud

  • Tarte a la crème
    Constant objection

  • Cream faced
    White or pale in the face

  • You got creamed
    You got badly beaten

  • Cream coloured courser
    A swift horse.

Cream Cheese Vs Creme Fraiche: What’s The Difference Between The Two?

Two foods that sound like they could be the same thing are “cream cheese” and “crème fraiche”. But, they are not the same thing.

Yes, they are both tangy, creamy and great for dipping.

The difference, however, is that cream cheese is a cheese with similarities to cream, crème Fraiche is a cream with similarities to cheese.

Cream cheese is denser and crème fraiche is lighter. Having said that, the two do tend to serve the same purpose. But, perhaps crème Fraiche is better for those who don’t like strong flavours.

It’s an error to think that crème Fraiche and cream cheese are the same.


And now you understand the difference between “cream” and “crème”. The main difference is of course that one of them is English and the other is French. They even come from the same root word- the Old French “Cresme”.

Originally, “cream” was only talking about the stuff you rub on yourself when you’re sore. But, today, when we think of “cream”, we think of the food.

Usually, when food has “cream” in the title, it’s thought of as English, perhaps even working class. But when we hear “crème”, we think of upmarket and fancy French food.

Next time you’re unsure if something is cream or crème, just ask yourself whether what you’re eating is French or English.