Home » Ingredient Substitutes » Substitute For Sour Cream: 14 Excellent Options.

Substitute For Sour Cream: 14 Excellent Options.

You will find the best substitute for sour cream on our list below. You’ve most likely consumed it in one form or another over the years. And yes, you never truly realize how many recipes use it until you forget to buy sour cream at the store.

Read on to see what you can use in place of sour cream.

two containers with sour cream and large tablespoon filled with white sour cream

What is sour cream?

Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria.

It has a creamy texture, tangy flavor, and is often used as a condiment or ingredient in various dishes.

Sour cream is commonly used in both sweet and savory recipes. It is often served as a topping for dishes like baked potatoes, tacos, soups, and chili. It can also be incorporated into dips, dressings, and sauces to add creaminess and tanginess.

Surprisingly, sour cream is a newer ingredient only used in Western countries in the 1900s. It originated in Eastern Europe, specifically Russia, and was initially created by leaving the cream out until it soured. This is where the name sour cream originates.

Today, it is created by taking fresh cream and adding lactic acid bacteria to it, creating a sour taste. It’s very similar to the process of making yogurt. It contains vitamins like A, B2, B12, minerals, and calcium.

Best Sour Cream Substitutes

Below you’ll find a list of alternatives for those who have run out of sour cream or need a dairy-free substitute. Cooking tips are also listed for each option.

1. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is the next best sour cream substitute. It provides both a sour flavor and a consistency similar to sour cream. It’s also relatively easy to bake with and adds moisture to any sweet loaves you make, like banana bread.

Greek yogurt also works well with savory dishes – like a topping for chili, soup, or even tacos.

Greek yogurt is preferable to plain yogurt as it has a better thickness that mimics sour cream. It’s also easy to swap out full-fat Greek yogurt for low-fat yogurt recipes without sacrificing flavor, moisture, or taste.

It is an excellent source of protein and provides a lower fat content and calories than full-fat sour cream.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use Greek yogurt in a 1:1 ratio for recipes that generally require sour cream.
  • Use unflavored Greek yogurt to avoid any strange taste combinations for savory recipes.

2. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is another excellent sour cream replacement. While it may lack the tangy taste associated with sour cream, it provides a creaminess and dairy taste.

Many people use cottage cheese as a healthy alternative to sour cream because it has protein, essential nutrients, and low calories. It has a subtle flavor, so you can add it to most dishes without overwhelming the other ingredients or seasonings.

Cottage cheese best replaces sour cream in recipes like soups, sauces, or baked goods. Keep in mind that cottage cheese has added salt, so you may want to adjust the amount of salt in your recipe.

Cooking Tips:

  • Include a few tablespoons of lemon juice in your dish to create a similar flavor to cottage cheese.
  • Blend cottage cheese with a few tablespoons of milk for creamy recipes like sauces. You can use this mixture in a 1:1 ratio for sour cream.

3. Crème Fraiche

Crème Fraiche is another sour cream replacement you can easily use in many recipes. It’s richer and heavier than sour cream, so you’ll want to use this for more decadent dishes. Consuming this ingredient in moderation is key.

Crème Fraiche is typically available in most grocery stores and can be found in the same section in which sour cream generally is. If your local store is out of sour cream – you can grab a container of this instead.

The process of creating crème Fraiche is nearly identical to sour cream as it requires the use of heavy cream and a bacterial culture. It does have a thicker consistency and lacks the tangy taste sour cream provides. Crème Fraiche works well in sauces and soups to create dense and decadent final products.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use crème Fraiche in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for sour cream.
  • You can add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to crème Fraiche to create a more similar taste in your recipes.

4. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a great sour cream baking substitute. It provides a similar sour taste to any desserts it’s added to. Due to its thinner consistency, it’s ideal for use in baked goods, dips, or salad dressings.

Using buttermilk as a topping is not recommended as it will be too runny and make the food soggy.

Initially, buttermilk was created by letting milk stay out at room temperature until the cream separated. This process allowed the leftover liquid to ferment. It is made by heating milk and adding bacteria after the heating process.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use ¾ cup of buttermilk for every 1 cup of sour cream in recipes.
  • Buttermilk also works well for breakfast recipes – include it in muffins, pancakes, and other similar dishes.

5. Coconut Milk

If you’re swapping sour cream out for a dairy allergy or dietary restrictions, coconut milk is a fantastic sour cream alternative.

You’ll find coconut milk to have a slightly sweet and coconutty flavor, though this does not mean you can’t use it for savory dishes.

Full-fat coconut milk provides a thick consistency and decadence to any meal it’s included in. It comes specifically from mature coconuts with a brown exterior.

If you’re seeking a replacement for sour cream in baked goods, use the coconut milk as-is or add one tablespoon of lemon juice for that same tanginess.

For savory dishes, use lemon juice (or vinegar) plus a sprinkle of salt. Use a 1:1 ratio for coconut milk.

Cooking Tips:

  • Coconut milk naturally separates in the can. You will want to use only the fatty section that floats to the top as a substitute.
  • For baked goods, refrigerated coconut milk works best. You’ll still want to use the section on top of the liquid.
  • If you want a thinner alternative, go for light coconut milk.

6. Vegan Sour Cream

Vegan sour cream is another substitution for sour cream that is great for those avoiding dairy. With veganism becoming more apparent in recent years, it’s easier to find alternatives like this at your local grocery store.

The benefit of vegan sour cream is that it mimics standard sour cream quite well in flavor and consistency.

You may notice a slightly different taste, as most are made from coconut cream, almond milk, or tofu though it’s still a great replacement.

It’s also a great alternative as it has no restrictions on what can be done with it. This is one of the most versatile options for a sour cream substitute.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use vegan sour cream as regular sour cream – for toppings, desserts, baking needs, soups, etc.
  • For a swap, use a 1:1 ratio in recipes.

7. Cashews

Cashews are commonly used in vegan cooking as a thickening agent or a base for soups, sauces, and even a topping. They can also create rich, thick dips in a pinch and don’t require much preparation.

In other words, they are a great sour cream substitute. They’re excellent for creating creaminess in dishes due to their high-fat content.

To use cashews as a replacement, you’ll need to make homemade cashew sour cream. Add cashews, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt to a blender until a creamy consistency and minimal lumps are achieved.

You can add more lime juice during this process if you’re seeking a thinner cashew sour cream. The final product is a tangy and rich version of a dairy-free sour cream. Cashew sour cream is not ideal for baked goods, although you can use it for other recipes.

Cooking Tips:

  • Cashews work best when soaked for 30 minutes to one hour before using in any recipe.
  • If you don’t have lime juice, lemon juice is also a good option.
  • Use a 1:1 ratio for cashew sour cream as an alternative to standard sour cream.

8. Kefir

You likely have seen kefir in the store recently with its growing popularity. This drink is created from fermenting cow milk, sheep’s milk, and even goat milk depending on the variety purchased.

Many people compare it to drinking thinner yogurt. It has a slightly sour taste similar to buttermilk.

The consistency of kefir, as noted above, is much thinner than sour cream. Because of this, it is not a perfect swap, as it will not work with all recipes.

The taste of kefir is creamy, similar to sour cream. Though, the flavor is much more robust and tangy.

Kefir works well for sweet recipes like muffins, pancakes, baked goods, and sauces. As kefir is thinner, it cannot be used as a topping for soups. Though, you can use it in soups to add creaminess.

Opt for the unflavored and unsweetened variety when purchasing kefir, as it allows more recipe options. You can likely find a bottle of kefir in your nearby grocery store.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing sour cream with kefir.
  • Make sure to shake kefir in the bottle well before using it in recipes.

9. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is an excellent swap as it contains a similar flavor. As a swap, cream cheese offers a more subtle taste that is slightly sour. On the other hand, sour cream has a strong flavor with a bolder sour taste. Both have a creamy consistency and add creaminess to dishes you include them in.

These food items (cream cheese and sour cream) are both created from dairy products.

Milk and cream are combined to make cream cheese, while only cream is used for sour cream. This difference in ingredients is what provides both consistency and taste variation.

In recipes, the taste difference will be noticeable. However, you can add milk and lemon juice to cream cheese to provide a similar consistency and sour flavor. This is an easy way to add versatility to this option.

Cream cheese works well for dips, sauces, baked goods, and even as a dollop on top of soups. This swap works best when thinned for recipes.

Cooking Tips:

  • Once thinned, use in a 1:1 ratio to replace sour cream.
  • You will want to let cream cheese warm up to room temperature before use, as it will be easier to work with.

10. Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone cheese, like sour cream, is made from cream. You’ll notice a taste similar to sour cream when using mascarpone as a swap. However, there is a difference in sourness as mascarpone has a milder flavor.

You’ll also notice mascarpone has a sweet taste to it. Besides differences in flavor, there are also differences concerning consistency. Mascarpone has a much richer texture that is also creamier than sour cream. This cheese is similar to a dessert mousse you’d find at a restaurant.

Many people refer to mascarpone cheese as Italian cream cheese. It is another replacement that is created from cow’s milk. This cheese is spreadable and can be used in savory and sweet recipes.

It works well in baked goods to provide a more decadent taste. Add mascarpone to pasta dishes, soups, and rice dishes for a richer consistency.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio as a replacement.
  • As with cream cheese, you can add a few drops of lemon juice to create a tanginess similar to sour cream.

11. Heavy Whipped Cream

Heavy whipped cream is an easy option with a consistency similar to sour cream. This replacement is created by whipping heavy cream (no flavoring or sugar needed) with a small amount of citric acid. The citric acid is what provides a tangy flavor like what you would find when consuming sour cream.

As you’re using unflavored whipped cream, it works well in both savory and sweet dishes. You can use this in nearly all sour cream recipes, from baked goods to soup thickeners.

You likely have an open container of heavy whipping cream at home. If not, it’s easy to find at nearby stores making this a convenient option.

Heavy whipping cream can also be used as-is if you are short on time. However, this will only work as a swap in soups and sauces to provide a creamy texture.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use heavy whipped cream in a 1:1 ratio as a swap.
  • To create a tangy taste, add one tablespoon of lemon juice to heavy whipping cream before whipping it.

12. Silken Tofu

Silken tofu can be used as a dairy-free substitute for sour cream in various recipes.

You can use the tofu sour cream as a topping for tacos, baked potatoes, or chili. It can also be used in dressings, dips, or creamy sauces. It provides a creamy texture and a tangy flavor similar to traditional sour cream.

Cooking Tips:

Drain any excess liquid from the silken tofu and transfer it to a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the tofu. Blend or process the mixture until smooth and creamy.

13. Vegan Plan Yogurt

When using vegan yogurt as a sour cream substitute, it’s important to choose a plain and unsweetened variety to match the tangy flavor of sour cream.

Additionally, the consistency of vegan yogurt may vary depending on the brand, so you can adjust the thickness by straining the yogurt through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve if needed.

Cooking Tips:

Experiment with different quantities and adjust the seasonings to taste. This will help you achieve the desired flavor and creaminess in your recipes while enjoying a dairy-free alternative.

14. Mexican Crema

Mexican creama has a similar creamy texture and tangy flavor that complements Mexican and Latin American dishes.

You can use Mexican creama as a topping for tacos and enchiladas, dressings and dips, creamy sauces, baked goods and desserts.

Cooking Tips:

Remember that Mexican cream may have a slightly different consistency and flavor than sour cream. Adjust the quantity based on your taste preferences and the desired creaminess of the recipe.

frequently asked questions

Can I substitute milk for sour cream?

Yes, milk can substitute sour cream in recipes like sauces or soups. Again, you’ll want to add two tablespoons of lemon juice to provide the tangy taste sour cream offers. You can use this alternative for both savory and sweet desserts, though you may find sweet desserts less moist with this method, particularly sweet loaves.

What can you use instead of sour cream or mayonnaise?

While it depends on your recipe, a few good substitutes are Greek yogurt or vegan sour cream. Both work well to provide a tangy taste and similar consistency.

What replaces sour cream in banana bread?

You can use buttermilk to replace sour cream in banana bread. It provides a similar flavor and adds richness to the banana bread. Another great option is cream cheese – it can be mixed directly into the batter for a decadent loaf.

Is sour cream or mayo healthier?

From a calorie perspective, sour cream is healthier. Two tablespoons of sour cream contain 52 calories, while one tablespoon of mayo has approximately double the amount.


A handy substitute for sour cream will allow you to create the same creamy dishes without sacrificing the texture and the flavor. Homemade sour cream and vegan sour cream offer the best switches for your culinary needs.

In a pinch, you can use Greek yogurt as a backup option if you don’t have time to create sour cream or can’t find vegan sour cream.

The above list will help you cook confidently even when you notice you are out of sour cream, are seeking a healthier alternative, or are looking for a dairy-free option.

Related Articles

two containers with sour cream and spoon filled with sour cream

Sour cream substitute

Natalia-Flavorful Home
Here's a simple recipe for a homemade sour cream substitute. This homemade sour cream substitute provides a tangy and creamy flavor similar to traditional sour cream but made with plant-based ingredients.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course condiment
Cuisine American


  • 1 cup yogurt plain unsweetened plant-based yogurt (such as soy, almond, or coconut yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice  or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste (optional)


  • In a bowl, combine the plain unsweetened plant-based yogurt and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Stir well to thoroughly mix the ingredients.
  • Taste the mixture and add salt if desired. This step is optional and can be adjusted based on your preference.
  • Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together and the mixture to slightly thicken.
  • After the resting period, give it a final stir and taste. Adjust the salt or lemon juice/vinegar if needed.
  • Your homemade sour cream substitute is now ready to be used in various recipes. You can use it as a topping for tacos, baked potatoes, or chili, or incorporate it into dips, dressings, or creamy sauces.


Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well for a few days.


Calories: 76kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 56mgPotassium: 198mgFiber: 0.03gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 122IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 149mgIron: 0.1mg
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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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