Sour cream is a common ingredient in toppings and recipes, but what do you do if you don't have any on hand and don't want to run to the store to buy a whole container? Or, what if you are looking for a dairy free alternative that will work for your recipe?
There are many substitutes for sour cream depending on what you are eating or making.
You can use a wide variety of dairy products, lowfat alternatives, non-dairy or vegan substitutions, or you can make your own homemade version of sour cream. The best substitute to use will depend on what kind of food you are eating and making.
What is sour cream and what are its benefits?
Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by fermenting cream with certain types of lactic acid bacteria. This causes the cream to thicken and develop a sour taste.
It is often used in sauces, dips, and dressings. You will sometimes find sour cream in homemade baked goods like coffee cake, cheesecake, or even pancakes. It is also a popular topping on baked potatoes, chili, and tacos.
Sour cream is high in fat and calories, but it also provides many important nutrients. It is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
Best Substitutes for Sour Cream (Dairy-Based)
When it comes to replacing sour cream in recipes, there are a few different options that you can use.
Each of these substitutes will work well in different recipes, so it is important to experiment to see which one you like best.
If you are looking for a sour cream substitute, yogurt is your best bet. It is thick and creamy, has a similar consistency and similar texture to sour cream, and it has a slightly tart flavor that is also very close in taste. It basically tastes like the real thing.
If using yogurt as a replacement, you have many options.
- Full fat Greek yogurt is especially thick and creamy. This makes it easy to use in place of sour cream in any kind of recipe. It is by far the best sour cream substitute. Whole milk yogurt works great as a topping for something like a baked potato or in creamy dips.
- Nonfat Greek Yogurt is another perfect substitute that offers the flavor of sour cream without the fat. It is an excellent alternative to sour cream and an easy way to make a healthier substitution and the easiest way to reduce fat content in your recipe.
- Flavored yogurt can also be used instead of plain yogurt. Since yogurt is often flavored with fruit and has additional sugar when compared to regular yogurt, this substitution would work best folded into pancake batter or some other kind of sweet baked good.
One cup of yogurt is equal to one cup of sour cream.
2. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream does not offer the same tart flavor that sour cream does, but it can still be a great substitute in recipes. It is best to use heavy cream when you are looking for a creamy, rich texture.
If you want to use regular cream as a sour cream substitute, it is best to use it in recipes like soups and stews.
One cup of heavy whipping cream is equal to one cup of sour cream.
If you have the time, fresh cream can be transformed into sour cream. To do this, simply combine 1 cup of sour cream with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. Once this mixture is whisked together, allow it to sit for roughly ten minutes, then whisk in 4 tablespoons of milk. The dish must be covered with something that will allow it to breathe (cheesecloth works great) and allowed to sit at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Buttermilk is a great sour cream substitute for several reasons. It is thick and creamy, and it has a slightly tart flavor that is similar to sour cream.
Buttermilk is also low in calories and it is a good source of calcium.
You can use buttermilk to replace sour cream in any recipe where it is mixed into a batter, but it is especially good for baking recipes that call for baking soda or baking powder. Adding buttermilk to a recipe will help to activate the baking soda or baking powder, and it will help your dish to rise properly.
If you are using buttermilk as a substitute for sour cream, be sure to use the same amount that the recipe calls for.
Keep in mind that buttermilk is a liquid and has a much thinner consistency than sour cream.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great option for recipes that call for a small amount of sour cream.
The consistency differs from a smooth and creamy sour cream, however, its mild flavor can make it a great alternative in savory dishes.
You can use full-fat cottage cheese if you prefer the way it tastes. Or, you can use low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese to reduce the calories in your dish.
If you are using cottage cheese as a substitute for sour cream in egg dishes like frittata, be sure to add it towards the end of the cooking process so that it does not overcook.
Mayonnaise is another common substitute for sour cream. It is thick and creamy, and it has a mild flavor that will not overpower the dish that you are making.
You can use regular mayonnaise or you can use light mayonnaise if you are looking for a lower-fat option.
Mayonnaise is best used in recipes that are not heated. Chicken salad, for example, tastes great with mayonnaise.
You can also use milk as a sour cream substitute. Milk is not as thick or creamy as sour cream and does not have the same tart flavor. It can, however, be used as a replacement when small amounts are required.
Milk will work best as a substitute in recipes like baked goods.
7. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a thick and creamy ingredient that is perfect for replacing sour cream in certain types of recipes. It has a mild flavor that will not overpower the dish that you are making. However, it offers a tart flavor that is similar to sour cream.
If you are using cream cheese as a substitute for sour cream, be sure to add a little bit of milk or water to thin it out so that it is the same consistency as sour cream.
8. Crème Fraîche
Another great substitute for sour cream can be creme fraiche. It has a flavor that is very similar to sour cream, but it is thicker and creamier. Crème fraîche can be used in any recipe that calls for sour cream.
Best Sour Cream Alternative Ideas (Dairy-Free and Vegan)
There are many vegan and dairy-free alternatives to sour cream that you can use in your recipes.
1. Vegan Sour Cream
Vegan sour cream is made from soy milk, vinegar, and a thickener like cornstarch or potato starch. It has a thick, creamy texture and a tangy flavor that is similar to regular sour cream. The taste and consistency is similar to traditional sour cream.
Avocado is a great substitute for sour cream because it is thick and has a creamy consistency. It has a mild flavor that will not overpower the dish that you are making. It works best as a topping for things like chili or baked potatoes. It can be blended and mixed into a recipe, however, it is only recommended to do this if it will not be heated.
On top of that, avocado offers a wide variety of health benefits.
3. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is another vegan alternative to sour cream that is becoming increasingly popular. This non-dairy substitute is thick and creamy, and it has a mild flavor that will complement most recipes.
4. Silken Tofu
If you follow a vegan diet, tofu is most likely an ingredient you are already very familiar with. This protein-packed soy-based product can easily be blended into a creamy mixture that can resemble the smooth consistency of sour cream. It is known for taking on the flavors of whatever it is mixed with, so this alternative will work best in recipes where sour cream is mixed into a recipe. Because it is not super similar, this is only recommended as a substitute when small quantities are needed.
5. Vegan Yogurt
Another dairy-free option is to use vegan yogurt. Found in the same section as regular plain yogurt at the grocery store, it makes an easy substitute for sour cream.
If you are looking for a dairy-free alternative to sour cream, be sure to check the labels on vegan sour cream and coconut milk to make sure that they are truly dairy-free. Some products may contain traces of milk or other dairy products.
How to Make Homemade Sour Cream
If you want to make your own sour cream, there are two easy methods that you can try. One is dairy-based and the other is vegan. There is also a method to use heavy cream, as described above.
Dairy-Based Homemade Sour Cream
This method uses buttermilk as the base. Combine 1 cup of buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, then stir until it thickens.
Refrigerate until you're ready to use it.
Vegan Homemade Sour Cream
This version of sour cream uses cultured cashews. Soak 1 cup of cashews in water for 2 hours. Then, drain the cashews and blend them with 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let the mixture sit for 12 hours, then drain off any excess liquid and blend again.
Do you have any other tried and true substitution recommendations? Please let me know in the comments!