The Best Substitutes for Sour Cream

Here are the best swaps for sour cream depending on how you’re using it.

July 15, 2020
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baked potato with chives

Photo by: macroart / Getty Images

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By Amanda Neal for Food Network Kitchen

Creamy, tangy sour cream is an incredibly versatile ingredient that’s used in many dishes and cuisines. Whether you cannot (or don’t want to) eat it or simply find yourself without any sour cream on-hand, don’t worry! There’s an assortment of dairy and non-dairy alternatives for sour cream that can be used interchangeably for baked goods, dips, dressings and more.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a fermented dairy product that’s made by combining cream and lactic acid bacteria, which thickens the cream and causes it to become acidic and tangy. Full-fat sour cream is the most common option in grocery stores, but there are other light options made using a combination of cultured cream and skim milk. Sour cream will typically last about 3 weeks after the sell-by date if refrigerated in a sealed container.

What Are the Best Substitutes for Sour Cream

Best Sour Cream Substitute for Baked Goods

Plain Greek Yogurt — Plain Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream because it has a similar tang and creamy consistency. Even better, Greek yogurt typically has less fat and more protein than full-fat sour cream. Substitute equal parts yogurt to sour cream in baked goods like scones, quick breads, cakes and doughnuts, for very similar results.

Best Sour Cream Substitute for Soups and Sauces

Creme Fraiche — Literally translating to "fresh cream," creme fraiche can be used as a substitute for sour cream because it’s made similarly with bacteria cultures, giving it that thick and creamy mouthfeel. Creme fraiche has a milder, almost cheese-like flavor, so you may want to add a splash of lemon juice or white wine vinegar when using it in place of sour cream. Try adding creme fraiche to soups and sauces, such as beef stroganoff, as the higher fat content helps keep the cream from separating. You can also use this substitution interchangeably in baked goods, but keep in mind that the subtle flavor may yield a different taste in your final dish.

Best Non-Dairy Sour Cream Substitutes

Coconut CreamCoconut cream (the layer of cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk) can be used as a non-dairy sour cream substitute, making it ideal for individuals with allergies and diet restrictions. You can even buy cans of pure coconut cream, no coconut milk included, so you don’t have to do the straining or skimming. To use, blend 1 cup coconut cream with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, then mix into cakes and cookies or use as a flavorful garnish.

Cashews You didn’t read that wrong: Cashews — specifically cashew cream — make a great substitute for sour cream. Cashews are very mild in flavor and also have a higher fat content, making them a great non-dairy alternative. To make cashew cream, soak 1 cup of whole cashews in 2 cups warm water at least 4 hours, until soft. Drain well, then blend until smooth, adding a couple tablespoons of fresh water to help puree. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and you have a great alternative to sour cream for creamy dips and salad dressings. Note: Because this is vegan and dairy-free, this substitute is best in swaps where the sour cream isn’t baked or cooked, because the results will vary drastically.

Sour Cream Recipes to Try:

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