Help! My cream has split

In our slow cooking community we see members posting their concern over split cream in their slow cooked dishes.

What is splitting?

A lot of people will refer to dairy products that have split as being curdled. If you milk/cream etc ‘curdles’ during storage that’s a problem and you should throw it out, don’t use it.

However if it separates during cooking it’s more likely to be split and that is really only a change of appearance and texture. It’s still perfectly fine to eat 🙂

Why does it occur?

Sauces made with milk/cream can split for several reasons…
– low fat content: dairy products with higher fat content are less likely to split
– high heat: exposing dairy products to high heat, eg close to boiling, increases likelyhood of splitting
– high acidity: adding dairy products to recipes with higher acidic content can also cause this splitting to occur

How can I prevent it?

–  Choose higher fat versions of your cream/milk etc rather than the low fat varieties
– If possible add the cream/milk at the end of your cooking time rather than the beginning.  You can even take it off the heat
before you add.
– When adding cream early try whisking a tsp or so or cornflour into the cream first before adding it to your dish
– Choose ‘cooking cream’ or ‘Creme fraiche’  or double cream which are less likely to split.
(In Australia I use Bulla brand COOKING cream.  UK members report the crème fraiche is a similar product for them)
– Allowing dairy products to reduce slightly in temperature before adding them, eg not straight from the fridge, can also help
– Adding cream to a water based recipe can cause this splitting due to the combination of cream (oil) and stock (water).  Stirring regularly helps to avoid this.


What do I do once it’s happened?

Remember … it’s ok to eat.  While a dish with split cream may not look as nice it’s certainly NOT a reason to throw it out!
Sometimes, if the nature of the dish allows it, you could try giving it a really good stir/mix 🙂
You could also stir through a little cornflour/water slurry.
Don’t be discouraged!  Next time just try the preventative measures and if all else fails … eat this one with your eyes shut and you’ll never know the difference *wink*


14 thoughts on “Help! My cream has split”

  1. I was just about to throw out a rice pudding but thanks to your advice I now know it is safe to eat! Thank you ?

  2. I was making a tandoori chicken recipe and this happened .
    I realized it was because I used low fat sour cream as a substitute . I am thinking I will still let the thighs slow cook for for the remaining time and see what happens maybe in the end just diacarding the curds … I did want a nice sauce though it’s sort of a shame because I marinated the boneless thighs all night :- /

  3. This is exactly the information I needed before I used my slow cooker for a dish for the first time. Very helpful and detailed.

  4. I was making a pasta sauce using whipping cream when this happened to me. I called a friend who said to take a few tablespoons of the boiling water from the pasta pot and add it to the sauce and whisk like crazy. It was like magic – it all came together. Hope this helps someone.

  5. Did recipe today with consists of reducing wine by half then add creme fraiche but every time it curdles into thick blobs what I am doing wrong splot a good dish

  6. My God I am glad I found your post I was about to throw out my whole dinner worried that it had gone bad ? thank you thank you thank you for posting

  7. With adding cornflour to cream how much would you recommend for 600mls? I’m using a lactose free cream and want to make a potato bake

  8. I made a taco casserole and it called for a sour cream mixture. The instructions were to let the sour cream come to room temperature, and the first time I made it, was my fault because the sour cream did sit out way longer than an hour. But the second go round I did everything to the “T”, and the sour cream still looked curdled. Or split or whatever. But when I taste it, it tasted fine. So it’s okay to eat….?

  9. I mistakenly added double cream at the beginning of a chicken, honey and mustard recipe, is there a chance it will split and is it okay to eat? Should I stir it regularly? It is on slow for 4 hours. Thanks in advance for your help

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