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Quick Spicy Crema

This quick spicy crema comes together in just two minutes (or even less!) and get’s all its heat from some delicious hot sauce. Serve it over tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burrito bowls, use it as a dip, or enjoy it as a salad dressing.

A hand dipping a yellow tortilla chip into a thick crema dip with a slight orange tinge.

Why you’ll love it

  • It’s ready in under two minutes!
  • No peeling or chopping is required. Just press your garlic, measure the rest of the ingredients, and mix together.
  • No blender or food processor either, so less washing up.
  • You only need seven ingredients.
  • It’s deliciously spicy, tangy, and garlicky.
  • It will elevate any dish you add it to.
  • It can be eaten straight away.
  • As a bonus, if you don’t eat it straight away and chill it instead, it will thicken up even more and the flavors will be even more intense.

Ingredients and substitutions

There are just seven easy-to-find ingredients. Check out the image below to make sure you have the right ones, and scroll down below it to see what substitutions you can make if you’re short on any ingredient.

Labelled ingredients including smoked paprika, hot sauce, honey, lemon juice, sour cream, garlic and salt.

Smoked paprika: This ingredient can’t be substituted and I advise you use nice smoky paprika that you like. If you can get it, pimentón de la Vera is ideal as it’s very high quality and super tasty, you can use either the spicy version or the sweet version as they’re both smoked.

Hot sauce: You can use any vinegar-based hot sauce, I recommend Tabasco (original flavor), Frank’s Red Hot, or Cholula.

Honey: If you don’t have any honey you can use substitute it with any other liquid sweetener you have to hand (e.g. maple syrup, agave nectar, corn syrup), although it may change the flavor slightly.

Lemon juice: I prefer lemon juice in this dish but if you don’t have any you can use lime juice instead. Do use freshly squeezed juice though, not concentrate.

Sour cream: I like to use sour cream in this recipe as it’s so easily available but for true crema you should use Mexican crema (which has a higher fat content) or make it yourself. Creme fraiche can also be used. To lower the fat and calorie content you can use reduced-fat sour cream or substitute some of the sour cream (about half) with thick sugar-free Greek yogurt, although this will make it less creamy.

Garlic: I love garlic in this crema but if you’re not a fan you can leave it out. If you don’t have any fresh garlic to hand you can try using half a teaspoon of ground garlic instead.

Salt: A little salt is definitely necessary to balance the flavors here, use reduced-sodium salt if you’re watching your sodium intake.

How to make it

This spicy crema is so easy to make I’m sure you won’t have any difficulties. Just in case you still have any doubts, I’ve provided some process photos below.

  1. Measure out the sour cream. Crush the garlic into the same bowl and add all the other ingredients.
  2. Using a fork or small whisk, mix in the ingredients. Make sure to use the fork or whisk to smash any paprika clumps against the side of the bowl.
Four numbered images in order showing sour cream in a jar with spices on top, then being mixed in, then mixed in, then in a jar with herbs on tob.
  1. You should be left with a lovely pale orange crema.
  2. Serve immediately or leave covered in the refrigerator to chill.

Equipment notes

What you’ll need:

  • A garlic crusher.
  • A small or medium-sized bowl (a soup or cereal bowl is a great size for this).

If you don’t have a garlic crusher you can mince the garlic, sprinkle the salt on top, and use the back of a spoon or a mortar and pestle to mush it up more.

Note that you don’t need to peel the garlic when using a garlic crusher, just place the clove in the crusher, and crush it (you’ll need to use a little more force than with peeled cloves).

After crushing, open the press and scoop out the garlic skin (it should just come out in one piece), and crush the next clove. When you’ve finished crushing, use a knife to get all the crushed garlic off the crusher.

Top down view of a glass jar of thick creamy pale orange sauce with chili flakes sprinkled over.

Expert tips

  • To reduce washing up, you can even make this crema right in the sour cream container.
  • If possible use real Spanish Pimentón de la Vera for the smoked paprika. Pimentón de la Vera is high-quality, always smoked (all versions including spicy, sweet, and sour), and has a great strong flavor and vibrant color.
  • To dress up your crema if entertaining, you can sprinkle some extra paprika/chili flakes/lemon zest/chopped cilantro on top or a combination of all four!
  • This crema will thicken up the longer it sits in the fridge. If you’d like it a little thinner (for drizzling over salads for example) simply whisk in a small amount of water – try adding no more than a tablespoon at a time until it’s at the desired consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How spicy is this crema?

It’s solid medium level with about one and a half teaspoons of hot sauce. Increasing the hot sauce to two teaspoons will make it medium-hot spicy.

Can I add even more hot sauce?

I don’t recommend adding more than two teaspoons as the sauce will overpower all the other flavors. if you’ve already added two and would like it even spicier, I’d suggest adding in ground cayenne pepper a quarter teaspoon at a time instead.

How can I store leftovers?

In a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to seven days.

Can I freeze this?

I don’t recommend freezing this crema as it will change the texture and it will separate a bit. You could only freeze it if you were going to add it to other sauces, for example, enchilada sauce.

Pair it with…

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Yield: 1 cup

Quick Spicy Crema

A jar of thick cream with chili flakes and lemon zest on top.

This delicious spicy tangy garlicky crema can be paired with so many dishes and comes together in no time.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes


  • 1 cup sour cream (240ml)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  1. Measure the sour cream into a small or medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Crush the garlic and add.
  3. Add all the other ingredients.
  4. Mix with a fork or small whisk until combined - make sure to crush any lumps of paprika against the side of the bowl.
  5. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until needed. Enjoy!


I use sour cream as it's easy to get but if you can find it I recommend using real thick Mexican crema.

Creme fraiche can also be used, or to lighten the calories, use light sour cream or substitute half of the cream with thick unsweetened Greek yogurt.

Use any vinegar-based hot sauce - I like Tabasco original flavor but Frank's Red Hot and Cholula are also great here.

If you don't have honey you can use another liquid sweetener like maple syrup or agave. nectar.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

4 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving Calories 123Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 34mgSodium 151mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 0gSugar 4gProtein 2g

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