A Little Crème Fraîche Helps Prevent Curdled Chicken Casserole

Creamy chicken casseroles might have a vintage vibe, but comfort food is always in style, especially when you're looking for a convenient one-dish way to get dinner on the table. Whether you're making an old family favorite or trying out a new flavor concept to shake things up a bit, a lumpy, curdled texture is never what you want on the plate. When the recipe calls for sour cream as the main dairy ingredient, you should know that milk proteins start clumping together at higher heat, causing that unwanted curd-like appearance in your casserole.

The easy solution to prevent those lumps is to substitute a bit of crème fraîche for the sour cream in your recipe. Crème fraîche sounds fancy, but it's simply cultured heavy cream — a cousin of yogurt and buttermilk. Its higher fat content means it also contains less milk protein as a percentage of volume, so it can cook at higher temperatures without curdling.

Casseroles from scratch with perfect texture

Many older casserole recipes lean on a can or two of creamed soup to create the rich, white sauce that surrounds the ingredients. Those soups typically contain modified starches to keep the lumps out, along with other processed ingredients. One downfall is that those starches are typically corn or wheat-based, so if you have food allergies, they could be problematic. If you prefer to make your recipe from scratch instead, you'll be happy to understand the basics of how crème fraîche can improve your casserole.

You can substitute all or part of the sour cream in your chicken casserole with crème fraîche to keep the curds away. As a bonus, the cultured dairy product has a delicious tanginess that helps balance the richness of creamy casseroles. If you have trouble finding crème fraîche locally, it's simple to make, and our recipe guarantees you an endless supply as long as you plan ahead a bit. You can even use the extra to enhance your other dairy-enriched recipes, like creamed soups or mashed potatoes.