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20 Ingredients to Substitute for Sour Cream

Here are 20 ingredients to substitute for sour cream in all your favorite dishes, with dairy-free and homemade options, too!

Out of sour cream? No need to worry!

There are several easy ways to substitute for sour cream with ingredients you probably have on hand, plus dairy free and vegan options, too.

If you’re not familiar with this ingredient, sour cream is a cooking staple, popular in Europe and North America and used across several types of cuisines for sauces, dipping, as a topping, and even in baking.

This pasteurized cream with added cultures has a signature thickness and tangy-sour flavor you’ve probably tasted on baked potatoes, with chilis and soups, or in baked dishes like chocolate cake.

Sour cream in bowl with green garnish next to wooden spoon and kitchen towel.

Common Sour Cream Substitutes

Try these 11, common sour cream substitutes when you run out of cream or don’t have enough for a recipe.

NOTE: Sour cream is not cream that is going bad. You should never use regular cream that has a sour smell or is curdled. This can make you sick!

1. Plain Greek Yogurt

Large mound of plain Greek yogurt in curved white serving dish on table.

Plain yogurts are the closest substitute to sour cream in cooking, baking, sauces and dips.

Plain Greek yogurt is a healthy sour cream substitute that has a very similar texture and tanginess. You can use yogurt as a 1:1 substitute in most recipes.

NOTE: Yogurt has less fat than sour cream, so use caution when cooking in a sauce as it may curdle. Add the yogurt towards the end of cooking time and then remove it from heat.

2. Regular Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt in blue bowl with brown speckles next to metal spoon.

Regular plain yogurt is very similar to Greek yogurt as a substitute. It is slightly less thick and usually has more calcium and fewer calories but more sugar.

If using plain yogurt in a dip, be sure to drain or strain out any excess liquid!

3. Crème Fraîche

Creme Fraiche in clay mug next to wooden spoon and kitchen towel.

Crème Fraîche is a French cream, very similar to sour cream. It is soured with bacteria in the same way as sour cream but is a little less tangy in flavor.

Use Crème Fraîche as a 1:1 substitute and add a splash of lemon to up the flavor profile.

4. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese in wooden bowl with green garnish and wooden spoon on burlap cloth.

Cottage Cheese is a great, healthy alternative in a pinch. It’s a lower fat, higher protein substitute that you might already have in your refrigerator.

To use as a 1:1 substitute, strain any excess liquid and blend to a smooth consistency with a dash of buttermilk or milk and lemon juice if desired.

5. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese piled high in white bowl next to bread and garnish.

You can use cream cheese as 1:1 substitute when thinned with milk. Blend until the desired consistency and a little lemon juice for tang.

To replace sour cream with cream cheese in a dip, add 6 ounces (3/4 cup) cream cheese plus 3 tablespoons milk and a dash of lemon and blend in blender until smooth.

6. Mascarpone Cheese

Large ball of mascarpone cheese sits on top of cheese cloth in bowl.

Mascarpone cheese is every similar to cream cheese. You can think of it as an Italian version. However, it has a looser more velvety texture and is a little less “bright” in taste.

You can use the same instructions above for cream cheese to substitute sour cream with mascarpone.

7. Plain Kefir

Woman pours plain kefir from white bottle into tall clear drinking glass.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink with the consistency of thin yogurt. It is very good for gut and digestive health. While it has some of the same nutritional properties as sour cream, it is a lot thinner.

You can use it as 1:1 substitute in baking if it’s a small amount and not integral to the recipe.

8. Buttermilk

Buttermilk in several assorted clear glass jars and jugs on wooden table.

Buttermilk is also a much thinner dairy product that can be used as a sour cream substitute in a pinch. The flavor profile is similar, though the consistency and fat content is much different.

Use the same instructions above for Kefir to substitute buttermilk for sour cream in a baking recipe.

9. Milk

Cow's milk is poured from the jug into a clear glass pitcher.

Pretty much everyone has milk in their fridge. You can use milk to substitute in a baking recipe where sour cream is used for moisture and not fat content.

Use it as a 1:1 substitute in baking just like kefir and buttermilk.

10. Milk Powder

The word "milk" written into the dust of powdered milk on counter.

If you happen to have milk powder in your food storage, you can use it as a sour cream substitute for sauces and soups.

Mix together 1 cup powdered milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes to thicken up.

11. Heavy Whipping Cream

Heavy whipping cream in large metal mixing bowl with red hand mixer.

Whipped heavy cream makes a great sour cream substitute with minimal effort. You just need to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream.

Add it to your stand mixer and whip it up to your desired consistency.

Dairy Free Sour Cream Substitutes

If you need a dairy free sour cream substitute, there are many great options available in most grocery stores, including several vegan options that work great for those with dietary restrictions.

12. Mayonnaise

Homemade mayonnaise in wooden bowl next to recipe ingredients like egg, oil and salt.

Mayo may seem like an unlikely sour cream substitute, but it works very well in sauces, pasta salad and casseroles. You can even use it in baking.

It’s great for adding a layer of flavor and thickness to a dish. It does have a looser texture, but mix it together with equal parts yogurt and heavy cream to achieve a more similar consistency if desired.

Substitute 1 cup sour cream with 1 cup light mayo in your desired dish.

13. Coconut Cream

Coconut cream in coconut shells next to large green leaf and shaved coconut.

Coconut cream is a great dairy-free sour cream substitute and is the basis for many vegan sour cream products.

You can buy cans of pure coconut cream or skim the cream off the top of a can of coconut milk.

Coconut cream has a slightly sweet flavor profile that can be managed with a dash of lemon.

Use it as a 1:1 substitute in baking and sauces.

14. Cashew Nuts

Cashew cream in clear glass bowl next to whole and chopped cashew nuts and oil.

Ever heard of cashew cream? It’s a great sour cream replacement for sauces. It’s a dairy-free alternative with lots of protein and healthy fats.

To make cashew cream, blend 1 cup raw cashews with 2/3 cups water for 90 seconds in a high powered blender.

15. Vegan Sour Cream

Vegan sour cream in clear glass prep bowl on torn burlap fabric.

You can find great vegan sour creams in many major grocery stores and in most specialty and health food stores. Here are some great options to try:

16. Vegan Yogurt

Vegan yogurt in two clear glass jars with coconut and cocoa garnish.

Here are some great, vegan yogurt options that work well as a sour cream stand in.

17. Vegan Cream Cheese

Vegan cream cheese sour cream substitute in wooden bowl next to large metal spoon.

Try a vegan cream cheese blended with a little dairy-free milk and lemon as a sour cream substitute.

And, here’s an easy, dairy free sour cream recipe you can make in a pinch!

Homemade vegan sunflower sour cream garnished with sunflower seeds with orange spoon.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1 garlic glove (minced) or a dash of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder


ADD all the ingredients to your blender and BLEND for for 1-2 minutes on high speed, scrapping down the sides as needed.

NOTE: If using as a sour cream substitute in sweet dishes do not add the garlic or onion powder.

Make Your Own

Homemade sour cream substitute in clear glass mason jar with twine bow.

You can also make you own homemade sour cream in a few easy steps:


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


ADD your heavy cream and buttermilk to a clean mason jar and TIGHTEN the lid. SHAKE the mixture vigorously for about 30 seconds.

Let the mixture SIT at room temperature for 24 hours or up to 2 days. (This allows the lactic acid bacteria time to ferment, which will thicken and sour the mixture. The high acid content keeps it from going bad).

You can use your homemade sour cream for up to a week, stored in the refrigerator.

Ingredients to make homemade sour cream with various wooden spoons and prep bowls.

Here’s a recipe to use if you don’t like the thought of fermentation:


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flavor-free gelatin
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or low-fat yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons buttermilk powder


ADD the milk and buttermilk powder to a medium saucepan and SPRINKLE the gelatin on top. COOK over low heat until fully incorporated.

REMOVE from heat and MIX in your yogurt then TRANSFER to a mixing bowl. Let CHILL in your refrigerator for at least an hour until desired consistency.

You can store this in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipes with Sour Cream

Here are some simple and tasty dishes you can use to try out your homemade sour cream recipe or any of the easy ingredient substitutions.

Homemade Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream White Sauce

Pan of creamy chicken enchiladas with tomato and green onion garnish on table with bowls of toppings nearby.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Two bowls of creamy chicken noodle soup on green plates with crackers and spoon nearby.

Creamy Mushroom Swiss Chicken Bake

Mushroom swiss chicken in a large white casserole baking dish next to plates.

Spaghetti with Chili Sauce (aka Cincinnati Chili)

Fork and spoon in green bowl of Cincinatti chili topped with cheese and sour cream.

Hawaiian Haystacks Sauce

Hawaiian haystacks with sauce over rice with mandarin oranges, olives, peas and tomatoes.