Sour cream is a common ingredient in both cooking and baking, but if you’re dairy-free, lactose-intolerant, or just looking for a substitution, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Fortunately, there are several sour cream substitutes you can try, with great results.
Here are 10 great substitutes for sour cream.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an excellent alternative to sour cream because it’s creamy and quite tart. It’s made from straining the whey out of yogurt, which is why it’s so much thicker and richer than regular yogurt.
Can I Use Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, absolutely. Greek yogurt and sour cream are very similar, and it’s often said that you can exchange one for the other and it wouldn’t make a difference. This boils down to how well Greek yogurt and sour cream can be incorporated into recipes. Greek yogurt has a mild enough flavor that it can be added to both sweet and savory recipes. The same goes for sour cream, although it is more often used in savory recipes. Greek yogurt is lower in calories and fat than sour cream. When used as a substitute, it can help to reduce the calorie and fat content of your recipe.
Greek yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, which provide many health benefits for your gut health and immune system. It promotes the growth of good bacteria to help keep your bowel movements regular, as well as relieve many common stomach issues such as bloating, ulcers, and indigestion. Greek yogurt contains essential vitamins and minerals including b-vitamins, calcium, and potassium, which support strong bones and teeth, as well as a healthy metabolism.
Best for: baking, dips, sauces, cooking, smoothies, baked goods, dressings
How to Substitute Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt in a 1:1 ratio
Be sure to use full-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt for this, as some types of Greek yogurt are sweetened and flavored, which can affect the overall recipe.
2. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a curd product that is made from the leftover solid parts of milk. It is soft and creamy with a mild flavor, so it’s typically used as a sour cream substitute in both sweet and savory dishes.
Can I Use Cottage Cheese Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, you can. Cottage cheese can be used as a sour cream substitute for a wide range of recipes. The curd sizes range from small to extra-large so it can affect the overall texture of your recipe. If you prefer a smoother texture, simply blend the cottage cheese until you reach the desired curd size.
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of calcium, which can promote bone health as well as delay the onset of osteoporosis. It also helps regulate blood pressure and may help prevent the development of certain cancers. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein, which is helpful in weight management and general weight loss. Studies show that a higher protein intake can reduce risk of obesity and other metabolic conditions, which is why high satiety foods such as cottage cheese are often recommended as a replacement for refined sugars and highly processed carb sources.
Best for: baked goods, dips, fillings, sauces, soups, stews
How to Substitute Cottage Cheese for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of cottage cheese in a 1:1 ratio
Make sure to use full-fat, unsweetened and unflavored cottage cheese. Unlike other sour cream substitutes, cottage cheese contains a higher amount of sodium and this may impact your recipe in some way. Consider reducing the salt content in your recipe to compensate for the sodium in cottage cheese.
3. Crème Fraiche
Crème fraiche or fresh cream is a dairy product that is similar to sour cream, but with a thicker consistency. It’s a form of soured cream and is said to be a superior version of sour cream.
Can I Use Crème Fraiche Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, definitely. Crème fraiche can be used as a sour cream substitute in most recipes, however it’s important to note that it is less tart than sour cream, so it is best used in recipes that do not require such a strong, tart component. You could just as easily add in a bit of lemon juice to bring in some more acidity, which is what most people do when using crème fraiche instead of sour cream.
Adequate calcium intake is recommended for preserving bone mineral mass, minimizing frailty in the elderly, and preventing a rapid drop in estrogen levels after menopause. Dairy products such as crème fraiche are considered good sources of calcium along with green leafy vegetables and fruits. Since it is a high calorie food, it is best consumed in moderation.
How to Substitute Crème Fraiche for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche in a 1:1 ratio.
To add more acidity and intensify the sourness of the crème fraiche, add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice for every 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche.
Buttermilk is another dairy product that is typically used in baking as a leavening agent for muffins, breads, cakes, and biscuits. It is also used in fried food batters, soup bases, marinades, pancakes, and waffles.
Can I Use Buttermilk Instead of Sour Cream?
Definitely! Like sour cream, buttermilk is creamy and tart, making it an excellent sour cream alternative for most recipes.
Buttermilk is a great source of probiotics and can help promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome can improve digestion, promote bowel movement regularity, and promote a stronger immune system. Buttermilk can help relieve many common stomach ailments such as bloating, acid reflux, and indigestion.
Best for: baking, cooking, desserts, pancakes, waffles, sweet treats, savory recipes
How to Substitute Buttermilk for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of buttermilk in a 1:1 ratio.
Make sure to use plain, unsweetened buttermilk for this, as flavored buttermilk can affect the overall recipe. In case you don’t have any store-bought buttermilk on hand, you can also make your own buttermilk at home with a few key ingredients.
5. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is lactose-free and vegan, making it an excellent plant-based sour cream substitute for those who are interested in a non-dairy option that’s readily available in most stores. As an added bonus, coconut milk is shelf-stable and won’t spoil easily when stored sealed.
Can I Use Coconut Milk Instead of Sour Cream?
Coconut milk can be used as a non-dairy alternative to sour cream due to its high-fat content and creamy texture. Though it is less tart than sour cream, you can simply add some lemon juice or vinegar to mimic the taste of sour cream.
Coconut milk contains antioxidants and other compounds that have been linked to several health benefits. Studies show that coconut milk can reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, reduce free radical damage, protect against chronic diseases and many more. Coconut milk also contains small amounts of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which increase metabolism and promote weight management.
Best for: cooking, baking, stews, sweet treats, pancakes, waffles, smoothies, dips
How to Substitute Coconut Milk for Sour Cream
Combine 1 cup of coconut milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix well. Use this mixture to replace sour cream in a 1:1 ratio.
It’s important to use coconut milk and not coconut cream or coconut water. Coconut milk contains just the right amount of fat, and it has the right consistency for use as a sour cream substitute. Coconut cream, while also a good option, is simply too rich and not tart enough to replace sour cream in most recipes.
Mayonnaise is a creamy and tart emulsion made from combining oil, an egg yolk, and an acid. It is typically used as a sauce or dressing in hamburgers, sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Can I Use Mayonnaise Instead of Sour Cream?
Mayonnaise would make a great sour cream substitute for many of your recipes, especially those that require a thicker sauce. Since mayo contains oil, it does help add moisture and fat to your recipe, which is why it’s great for baking and also for making dips. Depending on the type of mayonnaise that you use, you may need to add in a bit more acidity to your recipe to more closely resemble the flavor of sour cream.
There are many types of mayonnaise on the market offering various nutritional profiles and flavors. With that said, some are definitely healthier than others. For instance, avocado oil mayonnaise contains more vitamins and minerals compared to regular white mayonnaise so definitely consider healthy variants of mayonnaise when using it as a substitute for sour cream.
Best for: baking, dips, sauces
How to Substitute Mayonnaise for Sour Cream
Combine 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise with 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well. Use this mixture to replace 1 tablespoon of sour cream in your recipe.
Add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice if you need more of a sour flavor in your recipe. You can also make your own homemade mayonnaise at home as a way to control the overall tartness of the recipe without having to add more lemon juice later on.
Yes, definitely! Yogurt can be used as a sour cream substitute in most recipes because they are both creamy and slightly acidic. Unlike Greek yogurt which is higher in protein and calories, yogurt has a lighter texture and can be used in lighter batters, sauces, dressings, and soups.
Can I Use Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, you can. In fact, similarity in texture and flavor means that it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Yogurt is thinner than sour cream, so you may need to add a thickener to achieve the same consistency in your recipe. Just keep in mind that the yogurt will add a bit of tanginess to the recipe, so there’s no need to add more acidity.
Yogurt is one of the most popular sources of probiotics, which can help with digestion, immunity, regularity, and other positive health outcomes. Yogurt is also a good source of calcium for essential development and maintenance of healthy bones.
Best for: baking, cooking, desserts, sauces, dips, dressings, smoothies, stews
How to Substitute Yogurt for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. This won’t be as thick as store-bought sour cream, but it will still work in most recipes.
For best results, use only plain unsweetened yogurt with no added flavorings or sweeteners. Bear in mind that regular yogurt isn’t as thick as sour cream so you may want to drain some of the excess liquid in the yogurt before mixing it in with the rest of the recipe.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product that is traditionally made from cow’s milk. However, it can also be made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or coconut milk.
Can I Use Kefir Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, kefir can definitely be used as a sour cream substitute. Kefir has a runny consistency, so its primary contribution is its flavor rather than its texture. It is best used in wet batters like pancakes, salad dressings, or dips. The end result won’t be as thick as store-bought sour cream, but kefir will still work in most recipes.
Kefir is rich in probiotics, which helps promote a good balance of gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to a wide range of health benefits, such as better digestion, stronger immunity, and reduced inflammation.
Best for: pancakes, waffles, salad dressings, dips, baking, dishes served cold or at room temperature, sauces
How to Substitute Kefir for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of kefir in a 1:1 ratio.
Make sure to use plain, unsweetened kefir to achieve a flavor that is similar to sour cream. You may need to add a bit of water or milk to thin it out, depending on the consistency of your recipe. You can also add some honey to offset the tartness of the kefir to more closely match the tartness of sour cream.
9. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a soft fresh cheese made from milk and cream with a subtle sweetness and smooth texture that makes it easy to spread on bread and bagels.
Can I Use Cream Cheese Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, absolutely. Cream cheese would make a fantastic alternative to sour cream. Although it would appear as though cream cheese is too thick, you can easily thin it out by adding a little bit of milk or water. Cream cheese also melts down well and does not curdle, so you can cook it for a prolonged period without affecting the texture of your recipe. Cream cheese can be used in heavier sauces and soups, but not for whipping.
Cream cheese may be a source of vitamins and minerals however, there are mixed results on whether it is considered a true health food or not. This is because the composition of cheeses varies greatly, resulting in different cardiovascular health effects. Dairy products, which may include cream cheese, can provide more than half of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Additionally, fermented dairy products such as cheese are excellent sources of fat-soluble vitamins.
Best for: dips, sauces, frostings, salad dressings
How to Substitute Cream Cheese for Sour Cream
Substitute 1 tablespoon of sour cream with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese in a 1:1 ratio.
In case the cream cheese is extremely thick, you can add 1 tablespoon of milk or 1 tablespoon of water per 1 tablespoon of cream cheese to thin it out.
10. Tofu and Lemon Juice
Tofu is a popular food that is made from soaked soybeans and is considered a healthy source of protein. It’s vegan-friendly and gluten-free, making it a great option for those with dietary restrictions.
Can I Use Tofu Instead of Sour Cream?
Yes, tofu can be used in place of sour cream. Tofu has a similar texture to sour cream, so it will work well in most recipes. It has a similar texture to sour cream, and it can be flavored to taste just like sour cream as well thanks to the addition of lemon juice.
Tofu is made from soybeans and is a good source of manganese, copper, and calcium. It is low in fat and low in cholesterol-free, making it a healthy option for weight loss and weight management. Studies have shown that the phytoestrogens in soybeans may help to lower cholesterol levels, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce risk of certain cancers, and more. However, there are some concerns regarding phytoestrogens and their potential to cause adverse health effects as well.
Best for: dips, sauces, stews
How to Substitute Tofu for Sour Cream
Combine 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise with 1/8 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix well. Use this mixture to replace 1 tablespoon of sour cream in your recipe.
Make sure to use extra firm tofu for this. First, drain the tofu of any excess liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Blend the tofu until smooth and creamy.