Sour Cream Substitute: Answered

Sour cream is a multipurpose ingredient made with fermented milk. Although it is widely accessible, there are sour cream substitutes that you can use if you want to change things up.

This particular cream was popularized in Eastern and Central Europe, where it was used as a topping. As Europeans migrated to the West, it gained popularity and was incorporated into various dishes. Today, it’s used in baking and cooking. However, its thick consistency and rich flavor still make it an excellent finishing touch as a topping.

Before you hurry out to the store, consider the sour cream substitutes you probably have on hand. This article will cover several sour cream substitute options you can find at your grocery store or in your pantry.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is formed by mixing lactic acid-producing bacteria with the high-fat layer on top of whole milk. The bacteria consumes the sugar in the cream to produce lactic acid. This lactic acid causes the cream to become sour, tangy, and acidic. And this is what gives sour cream its distinct texture and flavor. 

Historically, sour cream has been a favorite ingredient in European cuisine, used in casseroles and baked dishes. It’s also popular in traditional Mexican cuisine as a topping for burritos and nachos. Today, sour cream makes a great addition to various recipes, thanks to its delightful thick creaminess and acidity. 

Using sour cream rather than milk to make cakes and bread will produce soft, fluffy, and moist baked goods. In addition, sour cream is a good source of calcium and Vitamin A. 

Substitutes for Sour Cream

It can be frustrating when you want to prepare a dish that calls for sour cream but discover you have none left. That’s when substitutes for sour cream come in handy. Several sour cream substitutes are available, even if you only want to use them as a topping.

1. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is the perfect sour cream substitute because it has fewer calories and fat than sour cream. What’s more, it’s higher in protein. So, if you want to cut back on calories, this is a good alternative. 

Despite their differences, Greek yogurt is packed with just as much flavor as sour cream. But Greek yogurt comes in at a low lactose concentration. Therefore, it is less likely to induce side effects if you have a lactose sensitivity.

Its light and fluffy texture make it an ideal substitute for dips, salad dressing, and baked potato toppings. Greek yogurt is also great for baking. 

2. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese comes loaded with nutrients and makes an excellent sour cream substitute due to its creamy texture. 

But at a glance, cottage cheese has more calories and fat content than sour cream. Also, if you’re lactose-intolerant, it’s likely to upset your stomach.

To recreate the tangy flavor of sour cream, we recommend adding a dash of lemon juice. It’s a fantastic substitute for sour cream in salads, dips, and oven-baked dishes.

3. Cream Cheese 

We’re big fans of cream cheese. Cream cheese, made by fermenting milk and cream, is a go-to substitute for sour cream. But we recommend you add a little milk to thin it out when using it as a substitute.

While cream cheese and sour cream are tart, cream cheese is significantly saltier and thicker. Because of its consistency and density, it is less suitable for baking cakes than sour cream. It also has higher fat content than sour cream. 

However, it is a good alternative for thickening soups and sauces because it doesn’t curdle quickly. Use a combination of half and a half and cream cheese for an all-around sour cream substitute.

4. Buttermilk

Buttermilk makes it a fantastic substitute for sour cream. It’s the liquid by-product of butter production. Making buttermilk involves leaving the liquid for an extended time until it has formed a thick cream consistency.

Unlike sour cream, buttermilk has a distinctively tangy flavor but is a bit thinner. Buttermilk’s thin consistency isn’t ideal for all types of baking. However, its flavor and acidity can create perfectly browned and tasty biscuits and cookies.

5. Crème Fraîche

Crème fraiche is technically a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese. While crème fraîche has a texture similar to sour cream, it is thicker and less tart. Because it contains more calories and fat than sour cream, it may not be a good option for those on a diet. 

It also curdles less and delivers a more complex depth of flavor, making it an excellent alternative for sauces. It’s advisable to substitute a cup of sour cream with ½ a cup of crème fraiche.

6. Mayonnaise

On the surface, mayonnaise may seem odd, but it is a good substitute for sour cream due to its tanginess. Made by whisking egg yolk and oil to form an emulsion. Mustard and vinegar are also added to the mixture. Believe it or not, this rich and fatty substitute is perfect for adding moisture to baked goods.

You can use it at a ratio of 1:1 when replacing sour cream. The downside of mayonnaise is that it might alter the flavor of your dish slightly. While the mustard and vinegar in mayonnaise offer a degree of tanginess, it’s not as tangy as sour cream. As such, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to add some zing.

Because mayonnaise consists of egg yolk, it is possible to contract salmonella if mayonnaise is used after its expiration date. Therefore, when using it as a substitute, you must ensure your mayonnaise is as fresh as possible.


Sour cream is a common pantry item. However, some people may need a substitute for different reasons. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives, as detailed above. Any one of these can be used as an effective replacement when you need a sour cream substitute.