Sour cream is a highly loved fermented condiment that can be used in a variety of ways.
While often used as a topping for the likes of delicious warming soup and tasty baked potatoes, it is also used within recipes such as baking.
It is known for its tangier taste, despite it being made with full fat cream. It includes lactic acid bacteria which is what makes it have a sharp edge to the overall flavor.
Despite its popularity, it does not mean everyone likes sour cream. Because it is a dairy product, vegans and those who are lactose intolerant will not be able to consume it.
Also, you might need it in a recipe and not have it to hand.
When this is the case, a sour cream substitute is the best option. In this article we take a look at 14 sour cream substitutes and how you can use them.
So, let’s go!
Most people have mayonnaise (see also ‘16 Amazing Mayonnaise Substitutes‘) in their refrigerator, and it makes a great sour cream substitute.
Not only do they both have a similar consistency and color, but it will add a great amount of moisture to baked goods due to its high fat content.
This means that when you are choosing a mayo to use, always go with full fat, rather than reduced fat.
A reduced fat mayonnaise will not have the same outcome, despite how well it mixes in with other ingredients.
It will however work wonders as a topping, despite it being light or fat. Just add in a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (see also ‘9 Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes‘) to not only thin out the liquid, but to give it a tangy taste too.
Nobody will ever know the difference!
If you have some cream going spare, then you will be pleased to know that you can use it as a cream substitute.
While it probably will not do the job as is if you are using it for a topping (it will be too sweet), you can use it straight up in baking.
To prepare the cream to use as a condiment, add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to some heavy cream and mix it all in. If you need to add more, then go for it.
The best type of cream to use will be whipping cream, rather than a thin, watery cream. Avoid the latter if you want to make a delicious creamy and tangy sour cream substitute.
3. Homemade Soy (Tofu) Cream
Soy cream is basically what you would use in place of a regular dairy cream. While you can buy this from the grocery store, you may find that it is just too sweet to use as a sour cream substitute.
Instead, it will be much easier and better to make your own, as you will not need to add any sugar. Here is how you can make your own using very little ingredients:
All you need to do is blend silken tofu in a blender and add in either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to give it a tart taste.
The regular soy cream will use ingredients like sugar and vanilla extract to make it sweeter.
If you would prefer to go this route, emit the lemon and vinegar, and add in a splash of soy milk instead.
Milk is so commonly used, that there is no doubt you will have some available to use – well, unless you are lactose intolerant or vegan. Having said that, you can also use a plant-based milk alternative too (see also ‘6 Milk Alternatives‘).
To create a runny sour cream alternative, add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of milk. It will not have the same consistency, but it will have the creamy and tangy taste that you are after.
If you are choosing to go down the plant-based milk route, then do be aware that some of these types of milk can impact the overall flavor.
Choose one that will not be too nutty tasting, such as cashew.
5. Milk Powder
If you have milk powder hidden away in your cupboard or pantry, then this can also be used as a sour cream substitute in the same way milk can.
The only difference is that it takes a little bit extra of your time to make it.
Here is how to do it:
Using ⅔ of a cup of the powdered milk, mix it with a ¾ of a cup of water. Then add in either a teaspoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice for that tangy kick. This will make a cup worth of sour cream.
Aagin, this will not have the thick consistency that you are looking for, but will work great in baked goods such as cookies and cakes.
If you have ever tried buttermilk on its own before, you will know that it has a creamy yet acidic flavor which is very similar to that of sour cream.
This makes it a great substitute to sour cream in place of using it as a dip or a dressing for salad.
However, just like our other runny liquid salad cream substitutes, it is not suitable to pour over the likes of baked potatoes or a chili.
It will simply soak into the food, or run off the sides of the plate, rather than staying on top of the cooked food and enhancing the flavor.
To use, when a recipe calls for a cup of sour cream, use three quarters worth. You can also pour into a pot to use as a dip.
7. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a kitchen staple that is often used in the likes of curries. It is also a great vegan alternative to use in many recipes, whether cooking or baking.
However, to use it as a salad cream substitute, you will need to do a bit of simple work.
Put the coconut cream into a bowl and add in either apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice to give it a kick.
Because coconut milk is thicker than dairy milk or plant-based milk, it can be used as a thick and creamy dip or dressing.
If you want to use it in baking, then choose a full fat version to help the bakes become moist, and stay like that.
Just add in a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to every cup of coconut milk. You can also use apple cider vinegar too.
Swap out the sour cream for coconut milk in equal parts.
8. Greek Yogurt
If you have greek yogurt in the refrigerator, then you will be happy to know that it makes a great replacement for sour cream. This is because it has a tanginess to it, as well as a creamy and thick texture.
It can work for a lot of recipes too thanks to its consistency and flavor, meaning you can use it in both baked goods and cooking, as well as a topping.
If you have plain or regular yogurt only, then you may have to do some extra work to make it suitable as a sour cream substitute.
Non-greek style yogurt tends to be thinner, so you will need to sieve it first to remove any excess water.
Secondly, while it may be tart, you also might want to add some fresh lemon juice.
Do keep in mind that the yogurt needs to be plain, as fruity (or even vanilla) yogurt will not have the same flavor outcome.
9. Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is basically a cream that is sour, so it comes as no surprise that it makes a good substitute for sour cream.
While it is on the thicker side compared to regular sour cream, and the taste is not as tangy as you might expect, it does a good job.
It can be used in a 1:1 ratio when it comes to swapping the ingredients with each other during a recipe, making it a super easy ingredient to work with.
Because it is so thick, it also makes a creamy and delicious dip. Just do not expect it to be as sour as sour cream.
It is also great as a topping too, as the thick texture keeps it on top of the food just like a condiment would be like.
So if you do not have sour cream, but you do have either milk or Crème fraîche, always choose the latter.
10. Cottage Cheese
If you want a sour cream alternative that packs a punch when it comes to protein, then cottage cheese is a great alternative. It also tends to be low in calories too, despite it being cheese.
Cottage cheese has a slightly tangy flavor, but it is also creamy too.
To use, place a cup of cottage cheese into a blender along with a quarter cup of milk and a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.
Blend until you have a smooth consistency. This easy recipe will leave you with a condiment that is so similar to sour cream that people might not be able to tell the difference.
Make sure to go for a higher fat content of cottage cheese if you can. It will be thicker in texture and work a treat for something like this.
A watery cottage cheese mixture will not be able to be used as a condiment, and will not suit baking either.
11. Cream Cheese
If you love eating your bagels with cream cheese to start your day, then you will be happy to know that you can also use it to make sour cream.
However, you will need to add a few other ingredients because it is too thick as is.
To begin, put 6 ounces of room temperature cream cheese into a bowl and use two tablespoons worth of either water, buttermilk, or milk and mix.
This can be swapped for every cup of sour cream that is needed.
12. Homemade Cashew Cream
When it comes to using cashews as a non-dairy alternative for something like sour cream, it makes sense.
Not only are they creamy, but the taste can be subtle too. Other nuts can create a powerful nutty flavor.
To make your own cashew cream with a sour cream twist, soak the cashews overnight in water, or until they become very soft.
Blend them in a blender to create a creamy paste, and add in either fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Now you can use it as either a condiment or to add to bakes and cooking recipes as a like-for-like swap.
Kefir is a dairy-based drink that is full of live cultures to help the digestive system. When it is not flavored, it is usually sour, with people referring to it as similar to both yogurt and buttermilk.
Nothing is needed to change it because it can be used in a recipe as is. However, because the texture is thin (but thicker than milk) it cannot be used as a topping very successfully.
Even so, enjoy adding it to bakes, using it in a recipe, or even as a delicious dip. It is good for the gut, too!
14. Mexican Crema
If you enjoy cooking Mexican food, then you might have some Mexican Crema to hand. It is often used in Mexican recipes, and is the same kind of staple food that coconut milk usually is.
While it does not have the same tang or thickness compared to sour cream, it can still be used as a straight up and same measurement swap as salad cream. This makes it an easy alternative.
While it might not be as thick, it can be placed on top of tacos and baked potatoes, and added to baked goods to make them extra delicious.
Also, it looks very similar too, so nobody has to know that it is not actually salad cream.
On the face of it, you might not think there are many, if any, substitutes when it comes to sour cream.
However, if you are stuck in a rut after finding out that you do not have any sour cream left, or that there is a recipe that calls for sour cream and you don’t like the taste, then you will be surprised to hear that there are many alternatives out there.
From using kitchen staples such as powdered milk and coconut milk, to being more adventurous with the likes of Mexican crema and tofu, there really is something for everyone.
Hopefully the above list has helped you to find a suitable sour cream substitute that not only suits the dish, but also your well being.
Check out the rest of our substitute range to see what else you can find an alternative for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Okay To Skip The Sour Cream In A Recipe?
If you do not have any sour cream to hand, then it is tempting to skip this step altogether. But unless you want it to not turn out correctly, then you might as well find a sour cream substitution.
Don’t worry though because there are plenty. You can use the likes of yogurt, milk powder, mayonnaise, and even cream cheese.
Take a look and see what you have already in your kitchen.
What Does Sour Cream Actually Do In A Baking Recipe?
Using something like sour cream helps the bake to be extra moist, compared to using milk. This is especially helpful with something like cakes made from sponge.
However, if you need to use a substitution, you will find that most will keep your bakes very moist and delicious. It is just about finding the right one to suit the recipe.
What Can You Substitute For Sour Cream?
If you are in need of a sour cream substitute, then have no fear, there are plenty of options.
You can use things like buttermilk, cottage cheese, greek yogurt (or plain yogurt), cream cheese, coconut milk, powdered milk, milk, etc.
Why Does Using Sour Cream Make A Sponge Cake Moist?
Using something with a high fat content has the ability to help a cake stay moist.
This is because the fat will make the strands of gluten a lot shorter, which in turns helps the bakes to stay tender, soft, and moist.
There is nothing worse than a dry sponge, so when using sour cream, or when finding a substitute, look for something with a higher fat content.
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