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.
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.
Sour cream is an updated version of a sour alcoholic milk drink (Kumis) which the Mongols consumed. As they traveled across Europe, more people were exposed to the drink and started getting creative over the years, producing sour cream in the early 20th century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Below are some frequently asked questions that can aid you in your cooking endeavors with sour cream and its alternatives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Both are versatile, provide the same taste and sourness, and match the consistency. 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 at your nearest store – even as a topping for baked potatoes.
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.