Forgot to buy sour cream for a recipe? We’ve got you covered! Find the best sour cream substitutes for baking, cooking, and topping so you don’t have to run back out to the store!

two loaded baked potatoes serve d on a white round plate.

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Sour cream is one of my favorite additions to so many dishes. Of course, it’s perfect simply dolloped on top of tacos, but there are tons of other uses for sour cream, too. For instance, I love sour cream swirled into banana bread, in savory dips, or added to boxed mix cakes to make them taste even better. For that reason, I always try to always keep a container of sour cream in my fridge.

To make sour cream, heavy cream is fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Then, the bacterial culture sours and thickens the cream, turning it deliciously tangy and thick with a texture similar to Greek yogurt. You can buy whole-fat or reduced-fat sour cream at the grocery store.

But, what do you do if you’ve run out of sour cream and need it for a recipe? Don’t worry! It’s surprisingly easy to make a swap with simple items you probably keep on hand. Or, you can also make it from scratch if you have the time. Here are my top 10 best sour cream substitutes you can use in a pinch.

10 Easy Sour Cream Substitutes

bowl of sour cream substitute topped with chives.

When you’re out of sour cream and you’re in the middle of making a pound cake, don’t stress. Try one of these simple sour cream substitutes and you’ll be on your way without needing a trip to the store.

1. Greek Yogurt

Thick and creamy plain Greek yogurt is the best 1:1 substitute for sour cream because it has so many of the qualities we’ve come to know and love about sour cream. Plus, it performs similarly in baking recipes. Sometimes I’ll deliberately swap Greek yogurt in for sour cream because it is lower in fat and higher in protein while still giving a wonderful richness to dishes.

2. DIY Sour Cream

Making your own sour cream is super easy, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Here’s a basic method for DIY sour cream: Whisk 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a small bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, stir in ¼ cup whole milk until well combined. Cover, and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 1 or 2 days. Once thick and tangy, refrigerate your homemade cream cheese until you’re ready to use it.

close up image of a bowl of loaded potato soup.

3. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk makes a great substitute for sour cream, especially if you are going dairy-free. Here’s how to swap in coconut milk for sour cream in dressings and dips: Skim the coconut cream off the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, and place it in a bowl. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. For baking recipes, you can use full-fat coconut milk: Whisk in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white or apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of coconut milk. 

4. Cream Cheese

For a similar tangy flavor profile, try using cream cheese in place of sour cream. To do so, simply let your cream cheese come to room temperature, and mix it with a little water to thin it. For every 1 cup of sour cream called for in a recipe, I’ll use 6 ounces of cream cheese thinned with a tablespoon of milk or water.

Homemade sour cream in glass jar with spoon close-up on rustic white wooden table.

5. Kefir

Kefir is a wonderful fermented dairy drink that is sold in flavored or unflavored varieties. Kefir works well as a sour cream substitute in batters, dressing, and dips because it’s on the thinner side. Try it in my Ranch dressing recipe! To more closely mimic the taste of sour cream, make sure to use unflavored kefir.

6. Crème Fraîche 

Crème fraîche, otherwise known as French sour cream, is a slightly mellower version of American sour cream. You can use it in a straight 1:1 swap for sour cream. It’s especially lovely swirled into soup.

sour cream pouring into a glass bowl.

7. Regular Yogurt

If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use regular plain yogurt in place of sour cream! Whole-fat yogurt will give richness, but you can also use low-fat. If your yogurt is very thin, you’ll want to strain some of the water out first: Line a fine-mesh sieve with a coffee filter or a paper towel, and place the yogurt inside. Let it sit for an hour or so before using it.

8. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is another helpful substitute for sour cream, and it’s easily found in almost every grocery store. To replace sour cream, mix 1 cup of small curd cottage cheese with ¼ cup of whole milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Then, let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before using it.

close up image of a forkful of loaded potato.

9. Mayonnaise

Though lacking the tang that makes sour cream stand out, mayonnaise works very well as a sour cream replacement in baking and dressings! You can use it as a 1:1 replacement for sour cream.

10. Buttermilk

I love using buttermilk as a sour cream substitute because it has a similar flavor. Just keep in mind that it is thinner than sour cream. As a result, it’s not great for dolloping on top of chili, because it’s too thin. However, it does work wonderfully in baking recipes and dips. To substitute buttermilk for sour cream, use ¾ cup buttermilk for every 1 cup of sour cream called for in a recipe.

More Cooking Tips

A bowl of homemade sour cream topped with chives.

DIY Sour Cream

Making your own sour cream is super easy, but you'll need to plan ahead. Here's a basic method for DIY sour cream!
No ratings yet
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Kasey Schwartz
Servings: 24 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Small bowl

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Instructions 

  • Whisk 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a small bowl.
    1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir in ¼ cup whole milk until well combined.
    1/4 cup whole milk
  • Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 or 2 days, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 35kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 13mg | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.01mg
Keyword: best sour cream substitutes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on Today.com, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.

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