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The Top Sour Cream Substitutes

If you're like many home cooks, you'll love the versatility of sour cream.

By Cookist

Perfectly tangy yet creamy and rich, sour cream makes a perfect addition to mashed potatoes, soups, as a taco topping, or even used in your favorite desserts like brownies or cheesecake. But sour cream isn't one of those ingredients we always have on hand. If you have a recipe that calls for sour cream but don't have any in your fridge, it's no big deal. There are plenty of sour cream substitutes you can use. Most of the substitutions on this list are dairy options, but you'll find a few that are dairy-free. So without further ado, here are our top sour cream substitutions.

What is Sour Cream?


Sour cream is made by fermenting cream with various types of bacteria that produce lactic acid. This process gives sour cream its characteristic sour flavor and thicker texture. Creme fraiche is a type of sour cream that has a less sour taste and is fattier than regular sour cream.

1) Greek Yogurt


If you have a carton of Greek yogurt on hand, it's the perfect substitute for sour cream. Greek yogurt has a similar tangy flavor and thick texture, and it can be used as a one-to-one swap in virtually any recipe that calls for sour cream. The best part is that Greek yogurt is highly nutritious and protein-rich, so it's a delicious and healthy substitute. If you only have regular yogurt, be sure to strain it through a coffee filter to remove some of the excess liquid.

2) Buttermilk

If you're looking for a sour cream substitute in a soup, dressing, or dip recipe, buttermilk will do the job. It has a similar creamy, tangy flavor, but because it's a liquid, buttermilk isn't the best option to use as a topping in place of sour cream. To substitute it in dressings or dips, use ¾ cup buttermilk for every cup of sour cream.

3) Creme Fraiche


Creme fraiche is sour cream's French cousin. It's a little bit less sour and has a much richer, creamier texture thanks to its higher fat content. You can use creme fraiche the same way you would sour cream – it's ideal for dolloping on tacos, stews, and chilies.

4) DIY Sour Cream

Here's a hot tip for you: you can easily make sour cream at home. Stir 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into 1 cup of heavy cream. Leave it for 10 minutes, then add in ¼ cup of whole milk. Cover the top of the container and let the mixture sit for 1 to 2 days at room temperature, then refrigerate. This method takes a bit of time, but the results are worth it!

5) Mexican Crema


Crema is an essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine. It's used the same way as sour cream, although it's a little thinner and slightly less tangy. It's great as drizzled over spicy foods and added to desserts like brownies.

6) Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is an amazing sour cream sub. That said, because it's much thicker, you'll need to thin out the cream cheese. To substitute 1 cup of sour cream, mix 6 ounces of cream cheese mixed with 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, milk, or water. Leave the cream cheese come up to room temperature before you mix it.

7) Cottage Cheese


In need of a low-fat, high-protein sour cream substitute? Cottage cheese is the answer. It's far lower in calories and is a great option if you're looking for a healthy sour cream substitute. For every cup of sour cream in your recipe, swap 1 cup of cottage cheese mixed with ¼ cup milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice – this will give the cottage cheese the right flavor and texture.

8) Kefir

Like sour cream, kefir is a fermented dairy product. It's a tasty drink that's a little like buttermilk and a little like yogurt, and it's often enjoyed on its own or as an addition to smoothies. If you're looking for a sour cream substitute in recipes like dressings, dips, and batters, kefir is an excellent option. Just make sure to pick up plain, unsweetened kefir.

9) Coconut Milk


If you need a dairy-free sour cream substitute, look no further than coconut milk. Use full-fat canned coconut milk. Scoop the coconut cream off the top of the milk. Whisk the cream with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, then use it for dips, dressings, or drizzled over the tops of your tacos. If you pop the coconut milk in the fridge for at least an hour, it will thicken up and can be used as a sour cream substitute in baking recipes. Stir 1 cup of coconut milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and you can swap it for 1 cup of sour cream.

10) Mayonnaise 

Virtually everyone has mayo on hand and it's a killer substitute for sour cream. With a similar thickness, you can swap mayo for sour cream at a one-to-one ratio. If you're baking and looking for a sour cream substitute, strongly consider using mayonnaise. It adds a lot of moisture to everything from cakes to cookies, muffins, and more, which will make your baked treats ultra-soft and delicious. You can also mix mayo with a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar for dressing and dips.

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