Sour Cream Substitute

What to Use Instead of Sour Cream

Sour Cream Substitute
Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Looking for a good sour cream substitute because you don't have any on hand, or because you want to eliminate the dairy products from a recipe? 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 may 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 added butter, can be substituted for sour cream in baked goods. Replace it measure for measure, but add it to your recipe slowly. You may find that you don't need as much, 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.

Making 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.

More Dairy Substitutions

Many dairy products can be modified to substitute for each other, and in some cases, there are non-dairy or vegan alternatives, as well. Here's what to use when you run out of these ingredients:

View All Ingredient Substitutions