Substitutes for Sour Cream

Use a Stand-In or Make Your Own

Sour Cream Substitute
Erin Huffstetler

You're in the middle of a throwing together a great recipe that calls for sour cream and you go to get it from the fridge. And it's not there. You might be fretting, but this doesn't have to be an epic fail; you can rescue that recipe. Or you might just want to eliminate dairy products from your diet. There are plenty of things that you can use in place of sour cream. Here are some options.

Dairy Substitutes for Sour Cream

  • Plain yogurt is the easiest substitute for sour cream. Just replace the sour cream called for in the recipe with an equal amount of plain yogurt. There shouldn't be any noticeable difference in flavor or texture when you make the swap out in baked goods, though you might find that dips or dressings made with yogurt taste a smidge tangier than usual. Use caution when making sauces with yogurt. Since it has less fat, it could curdle when simmered. Greek yogurt and whole milk yogurt are thicker than nonfat or fat-free yogurt, so they make the best substitutes, but any kind of plain yogurt will do in a pinch. You can even strain nonfat or fat-free yogurt through cheesecloth to make it thicker. Plain yogurt can even be used as a substitute for the sour cream on baked potatoes. Don't mention that you made the switch, and no one will even notice.
  • Buttermilk, with a little bit of added butter, can be substituted for sour cream in baked goods. Replace it measure for measure but add it to your recipe slowly. You might find that you don't need as much buttermilk since it's a wetter ingredient than sour cream. This substitute is too liquidy for non-baked uses, so stick to plain yogurt for those.

    Vegan and Non-Dairy Sour Cream

    • Vegan sour cream: If you're trying to avoid dairy products, there are commercial brands of vegan sour cream, such as Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, that you can use, or you can even make your own dairy-free sour cream. Experiment with a few recipes until you find the one you like best.
    • Vegan yogurt can be substituted for sour cream the same way dairy yogurt is substituted.

    Make Your Own Sour Cream

    Do you have cream and buttermilk in your fridge? If so, you have everything you need to make your own sour cream. It's really easy and tastes a million times better than the store-bought stuff. Spend two minutes measuring out ingredients today, and you'll have a fresh batch to enjoy tomorrow.