Whatever the emergency, these sour cream substitutes will come in handy one day.
Bookmark them now so you don’t have to rush out to the store later.
Best Substitutes for Sour Cream
I get asked a lot: Can you freeze sour cream?
The answer is yes, technically. So if you want to buy extra and freeze it for later, go ahead.
But if you want the best recipes with the freshest ingredients, you’ll need these sour cream substitutes.
You really just need a thicker dairy product (or vegan alternative) and an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.
Here are 10 of your very best options when your tub of sour cream is empty!
1. DIY Sour Cream
Let’s start with an obvious choice: When you run out of sour cream, just make your own!
It’s not as quick and easy as grabbing a tub from the fridge. But if you use sour cream a lot, it’s easy to make in a big batch for later.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Whisk 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.
- Leave that for about 10 minutes.
- Whisk in 1/4 cup of whole milk.
- Cover and leave it at room temperature for 1-2 days.
After that, just pop it in the fridge and use exactly how you would use normal sour cream.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of homemade sour cream.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is the ultimate ready-made sour cream substitute.
There’s no mixing or measuring required. Just swap it in equal amounts, and you’re all set.
Be sure to get full-fat, plain Greek yogurt. That has thickness and plenty of rich yet tangy flavor.
Plus, it’s lower in calories and packed with nutrition.
It works in baking, dips, sauces, and more.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.
Mayo is another great 1:1 replacement, and you likely have a jar of it in your refrigerator as we speak.
It has a similar moisture content, taste, and consistency, so it’ll work in everything from salads and sauces to dips and even desserts.
That’s right, mayo will work just like sour cream in cakes and cookies, making them super tender and rich.
Of course, that option is best reserved for recipes with bold flavors, like chocolate cake.
And like Greek yogurt, you don’t need to play around with it.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of mayonnaise.
4. Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche translates to ‘fresh cream,’ which may not sound like a good substitute for sour cream, but it is!
It’s kind of like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream.
So it has that thick, ultra-smooth texture you’d expect from sour cream, but the flavor is closer to cream cheese.
I find it more tangy than sour. But you really can’t beat the texture.
It has a much higher fat content than sour cream, which might not be ideal if you’re keeping calories low.
Still, it’ll work well in a bunch of recipes, from savory to sweet.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of crème fraîche.
Buttermilk is a near replica of sour cream in the taste department. But it doesn’t have the same consistency.
Buttermilk is runnier than sour cream, which will make your batter thinner than expected.
This isn’t ideal for cakes or cookies – unless you remove some other liquids from the recipe.
The same goes for savory dishes like pasta. Either reduce the other liquids (stock, water, etc.) or use half the amount and add more as needed.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of sour cream with 2-3 tablespoons of buttermilk.
Note: Whisk it with 1-2 tablespoons of soft butter, cream cheese, or Greek yogurt to thicken it slightly and make it extra rich.
6. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese delivers a similar taste to sour cream, but it’s much thicker.
That said, it’s something most of us have on hand. And if you use low-fat cream. cheese (not the kind in a block), it will be softer than usual.
But if you want the rich flavor, it’s best to loosen it up with a splash of milk or buttermilk.
I touched upon this above, and buttermilk will bring extra tang that cream cheese lacks.
When it’s smooth, use it in sweet and savory recipes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of sour cream with 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese + 1 tablespoon of buttermilk.
7. Plain Kefir
Kefir is a type of fermented milk.
It’s sour like sour cream, smooth and pourable like buttermilk, and loaded with probiotics like yogurt.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
You’ll find it in cartons in the milk section, and it’s almost always sold smooth and creamy.
Sometimes it’s flavored, so be sure to get plain. Otherwise, your pasta sauce will have an odd sweetness to it.
Use it in the same way you’d use buttermilk as a substitute for sour cream.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of sour cream with 2-3 tablespoons of kefir.
8. Full-Fat Coconut Cream
Full-fat coconut cream is another excellent alternative. But I should stress “full-fat coconut cream” because the light milk just won’t work.
Canned coconut cream is your best bet. The stuff in cartons – even the full-fat kind – is too thin.
But the cans are very thick and creamy – just like sour cream.
Needless to say, coconut milk isn’t sour. Instead, it’s sweet and nutty, which means you’ll need to add some acidic before use.
To get that patented sour cream zing, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then fill it with coconut cream to 1 cup.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of coconut cream + 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
9. Silken Tofu
If you want to keep your bakes vegan-friendly, it’s silken tofu to the rescue!
Packed with protein, it’s a great low-calorie option. Plus, it blends into a very smooth cream that’s quite neutral in flavor.
Of course, you’ll need a hit of acidity to make it a good sour cream swap.
I add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the blender with about a cup of silken tofu. Then, when it’s smooth, you can use it in sweet and savory recipes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of silken tofu + 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
10. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is lower in fat and is an excellent alternative to sour cream.
But if you’ve ever bought it, you’ll know it requires a few extra steps to get that classic tang and thick consistency.
There are a couple of types of cottage cheese to look out for, too: dry curds and regular cottage cheese.
- Dry curds are just how they sound – little whey curds without a lot of liquid.
- Regular cottage cheese is probably what you’re used to. It comes in tubs and has liquid in the mix.
To use dry curds, you’ll need to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of curds. Then blend it with about 1/4 cup of cream or plain yogurt.
As for the stuff already in liquid, you should get away with just 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with 1 cup of cottage cheese.
That should be thin enough without adding cream or milk. However, it depends on the brand.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese + 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
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