17 Sour Cream Substitutes (+vegan & DF)

Whether you’re plopping it on a baked potato, baking it into dividend brownies or cakes, or it’s Taco Tuesday, finding a sour cream substitute that fits your personal preferences is a must.

wooden bowl of cashew sour cream

If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of making a tantalizing dish only to realize you’re out of sour cream, you’re not alone. Finding the perfect sour cream alternative can be a kitchen adventure all its own. Whether you’re looking for healthier options, need a quick substitute, or have dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance or a vegan lifestyle, there’s an array of ingredients that can take the place of traditional sour cream. From plant-based choices to dairy derivatives, this post explores the best substitutes for sour cream in various recipes, so you never have to pause your culinary creativity again.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a dairy product obtained by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which is introduced either naturally or through a commercial starter, metabolizes the lactose in the cream to produce lactic acid. This process not only thickens the cream but also gives it its characteristic tangy flavor. Rich in fats and used extensively in both sweet and savory dishes, sour cream is a versatile ingredient that adds creaminess, moisture, and a slight tang to a variety of recipes. Whether you’re using it as a topping for your favorite Mexican dish or incorporating it into a rich, creamy cake, sour cream is a kitchen staple that owes its unique texture and taste to the action of lactic acid bacteria.

Sour Cream Substitute Options


Buttermilk is the tangy milk-like liquid left behind after churning butter. It has a slight acidity that works well in place of sour cream, especially in baked goods and dressings.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Salad dressings, baked goods, and sauces.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup buttermilk

Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche is a French dairy product that’s similar to sour cream but less sour and with a higher fat content. It works excellently in soups, sauces, and even as a topping.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Soups, sauces, and as a topping.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup crème fraîche

Heavy Cream

Heavy Cream is the high-fat part of milk that rises to the top. It lacks the sour tang of sour cream but can be a useful substitute in recipes that require the creamy texture.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Cream-based soups and desserts.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup heavy cream

Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese is a cheese curd product with a mild flavor. It’s chunkier than sour cream, so you may need to blend it to achieve a similar texture.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Casseroles and baked goods.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup blended cottage cheese

bowl of cottage cheese as a sour cream substitute

Plain Yogurt

Plain Yogurt offers a consistency similar to sour cream and has the added benefit of probiotics. It can effectively replace sour cream in dips, dressings, and baked recipes.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Dips, salad dressings, and baked goods.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup plain yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is essentially a concentrated form of regular yogurt, made by straining out excess whey to leave a thicker, more protein-rich product. It carries a tangy flavor profile that’s less sweet than standard yogurt, making it a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. Its texture is smooth and creamy, and it works well as a healthier alternative to sour cream in recipes ranging from dips to salad dressings.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Dips, salad dressings, and marinades.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup Greek yogurt

Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese is a fresh, soft mild cheese made from milk and cream. Though it lacks the tangy kick of sour cream, its smooth, thick texture makes it a decent alternative.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Desserts, dips, and casseroles.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup cream cheese

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented liquid made from crushed apples. Known for its strong acidity and slightly fruity undertones, it is often used for its tangy flavor and preservative qualities. Apple cider vinegar is versatile, featuring in a variety of recipes like salad dressings, marinades, and even some baked goods. While it lacks the creamy consistency of sour cream, it can mimic the tangy flavor when used thoughtfully.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Salad dressings and marinades.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice adds the sour flavor but lacks the creamy texture. Best used in combination with creamy elements like yogurt or heavy cream.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Salad dressings and fish dishes.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup heavy cream + 1 tablespoon lemon juice

lemon juice being used as sour cream alternative

Milk Powder

Milk powder is essentially dehydrated milk, created by evaporating all the liquid from fresh milk. It is often used as a convenient, long-lasting alternative to fresh milk and can be reconstituted by adding water. Because of its concentrated dairy flavor, it can be used in a variety of recipes, from baked goods to soups. When mixed with water and a touch of vinegar or lemon juice, it can approximate the taste and somewhat the texture of sour cream.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Baked goods and soups.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup reconstituted milk powder + 1 tablespoon vinegar

DIY Sour Cream

Crafting your own sour cream in your kitchen is entirely possible. While it might not be the quickest or most straightforward method, it’s worth attempting if you’re a fan of homemade sourdough or simply enjoy the process of creating from scratch. 

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Any recipe calling for sour cream.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup homemade sour cream


Mayonnaise is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk, and either vinegar or lemon juice, often flavored with various herbs and spices. The egg yolk serves as the emulsifier, allowing the oil and acidic components to blend smoothly without separating. The result is a creamy, tangy condiment that has a variety of culinary applications. Mayonnaise is commonly used as a spread for sandwiches, as a base for dressings and sauces, and as an ingredient in various dishes like potato salad and coleslaw. Mayo lacks the tanginess but offers a creamy texture similar to sour cream.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Because of its makeup, mayo adds a lot of moisture to recipes. So it’s best for dips and cold pasta salads. 

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup mayonnaise


Kefir is a fermented milk drink with a sour taste and thinner consistency than sour cream.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Smoothies, salad dressings, and marinades.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup kefir

Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream is a vegan substitute made by blending soaked cashews with water. It offers a thick and creamy texture.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Vegan recipes, pasta sauces, and dips.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup cashew cream

wooden bowl of cashew sour cream

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is derived from the flesh of mature coconuts. It is made by simmering shredded coconut flesh in water and then straining out the liquid. The thick, creamy substance that rises to the top is coconut cream. This is different from coconut milk, which is a more diluted form and includes a greater proportion of water. Coconut Cream provides a non-dairy, lactose-free alternative to sour cream, with a slight coconut flavor.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Vegan dishes, curries, and desserts.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup coconut cream


Tofu is a soy-based, vegan option that can be blended to mimic the texture of sour cream, though it lacks the tanginess.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Vegan dips, desserts, and casseroles.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup blended silken tofu


Avocado offers a creamy texture but has its own distinct, mild flavor. It’s a healthy fat substitute for sour cream.

Best Recipes to Use as a Sub:
Dips, Mexican cuisine, and as a topping.

Substitution Ratio:
1 cup sour cream = 1 cup mashed avocado

How to Make DIY Sour Cream

Homemade Sour Cream


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoonlemon juice or white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk


  1. Prepare the Cream Mixture: In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of either lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.
  2. Rest: Allow the cream mixture to sit undisturbed for approximately 10 minutes. This allows the acid to begin thickening the cream.
  3. Add Whole Milk: After the resting period, mix in 1/4 cup of whole milk into the cream mixture. Stir until well combined.
  4. Ferment: Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, ensuring it’s tightly sealed.
  5. Room Temperature Rest: Allow the covered mixture to sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours for fermentation.
  6. Chill: Once the fermentation period is over, transfer the mixture to the refrigerator. Allow it to chill thoroughly before using it in your recipes or as a garnish.
  7. Enjoy: Your homemade sour cream is now ready to be enjoyed! Store in a jar in the fridge.

Note: The sour cream should thicken as it chills. Always remember to give it a good stir before using.

Vegan Sour Cream Substitutes

Navigating vegan sour cream alternatives doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you’re looking to replace sour cream in your recipes. Here are some animal product-free alternatives that you can use:

  • Coconut Cream: A dairy-free option made from the flesh of mature coconuts. It offers a rich texture similar to sour cream, although it has a unique coconut flavor.
  • Cashew Cream: Made by blending soaked cashews with water, this substitute offers a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Tofu: When blended, silken tofu can mimic the creaminess of sour cream. It’s best to add some lemon juice or vinegar for a tangy flavor.
  • Avocado: While not an exact match in flavor, mashed avocado can replace the creaminess in recipes. Adding a bit of lemon juice will bring in the tartness that you get from sour cream.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: While not creamy, it can be used in recipes to bring the tartness that you would get from sour cream.
  • Lemon Juice: Like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice offers the acidity but not the creaminess of sour cream. It’s often mixed with other vegan creamy options to get closer to the original flavor.
  • DIY Sour Cream: You can make your own vegan sour cream at home using ingredients like cashews or tofu, mixed with lemon juice and a dash of apple cider vinegar.

Remember to check labels for any hidden animal-derived additives, especially if you’re strictly following a vegan diet.

Sour Cream Options for The Lactose-Intolerant

If you’re lactose-intolerant, the traditional dairy-based sour cream is clearly off the menu, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the creaminess and tang it offers in recipes. Here are some lactose-free alternatives:

  • Coconut Cream: Offers a rich, creamy texture and a slightly sweet note, making it a good choice for both savory and sweet dishes.
  • Cashew Cream: A blend of soaked cashews and water, this substitute provides a rich, velvety texture without the lactose.
  • Tofu: Silken or soft tofu can be blended to mimic the texture of sour cream and is completely lactose-free.
  • Avocado: Mashed avocado can replace sour cream in recipes where a creamy texture is needed. Though it won’t replicate the tang of sour cream, it is lactose-free.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice: These can serve as lactose-free souring agents in recipes that call for sour cream, although they lack the creamy texture.

Remember to check the labels when buying any alternative products to make sure they are truly lactose-free, especially if you have a severe intolerance.

wooden bowl of cashew sour cream
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17 Sour Cream Substitutes

Find a sour cream substitute fast! A list of 13 and info on which to use for different recipes. Including vegan and dairy-free options!
Prep Time2 mins
Course: substitutes
Cuisine: American, greek, Italian, Mexican
Keyword: sour cream alternatives, sour cream substitutes, substitutes for sour cream
Servings: 1 serving


Sour Cream Substitute Options

  • Buttermilk
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Heavy Cream
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cream Cheese
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Milk Powder
  • Coconut Cream
  • DIY Sour Cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Kefir
  • Cashew Cream
  • Tofu
  • Avocado


  • Choose sour cream substitute.
  • swap out ingredient.
  • Cook and enjoy!

Savory Recipes with Sour Cream

20-Minute Sour Cream Pasta

This quick and delicious dish is perfect for those nights when you’re short on time but still want something mouthwatering. Using sour cream as a base for the sauce, this pasta dish achieves a creamy texture and a tangy flavor that pairs beautifully with a variety of ingredients like vegetables, seafood, or chicken. Ready in just 20 minutes, it’s a versatile recipe that’s sure to become a regular in your meal rotation.

Sour Cream Beef Noodle Casserole

A filling and satisfying meal that combines ground beef, pasta, and a velvety tomato sauce enriched with sour cream. The sour cream adds a level of creaminess and tanginess that elevates the dish, making it more than just another pasta casserole. Baked to perfection with a layer of melted cheese on top, this casserole is a one-dish wonder that’s perfect for weeknight dinners or potluck gatherings.

Sour Cream Beef Stroganoff

This hearty dish is a symphony of flavors and textures, featuring tender strips of beef cooked in a rich, creamy sauce. The sour cream is the star ingredient here, adding tangy depth to balance the savory meat and mushrooms. Often served over egg noodles or rice, sour cream beef stroganoff is comfort food at its finest, making it ideal for a cozy dinner on a chilly evening.

Sweet Recipes with Sour Cream

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

This indulgent dessert brings together the richness of cocoa and the creaminess of sour cream to create a moist, decadent cake. The sour cream not only enhances the chocolate flavor but also contributes to a tender crumb. Often layered and frosted with chocolate ganache or buttercream, this cake is a go-to for any chocolate lover and is perfect for occasions that call for something extra special.


Sour Cream Cheesecake

A lovely treat that’s sure to please, sour cream cheesecake elevates the classic cheesecake with an added tangy richness. The sour cream blends seamlessly with cream cheese to create a creamy, velvety texture that is both luxurious and satisfying. Topped with fruit compote or a sour cream glaze, this dessert is the epitome of elegance and indulgence.

Lemon Sour Cream Cake

For those who love a balance of tart and sweet, lemon sour cream cake is an ideal choice. The zesty undertones of lemon are perfectly complemented by the richness of sour cream, resulting in a cake that’s moist and bursting with flavor. Typically finished with a lemon glaze or frosting, this cake is an excellent option for spring gatherings or anytime you’re in the mood for a citrusy treat.

Sour Cream Substitutes FAQs

What can be used instead of sour cream?

A variety of dairy and non-dairy alternatives can be used in place of sour cream. Options range from Greek yogurt and crème fraîche to plant-based choices like coconut cream and tofu.

What is a substitute for 1 cup of sour cream?

You can use 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, or even cottage cheese as a direct 1:1 substitute for 1 cup of sour cream in most recipes.

Can you substitute milk for sour cream?

Milk alone won’t provide the same thickness or acidity as sour cream, but you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk. This won’t replicate the thickness but can mimic the acidity.

Can you replace cream with sour cream in cooking?

Yes, sour cream can often be used as a substitute for cream or half and half in recipes to add a tangy flavor; however, because it has less fat and is more acidic, it may alter the texture and taste of the dish.

What is most similar to sour cream?

Crème fraîche is the most similar to sour cream in terms of flavor, consistency, and acidity. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio for most recipes that call for sour cream.

Can you substitute sour cream for 2% milk?

Substituting sour cream for 2% milk will result in a much thicker and tangier outcome. If the recipe calls for 2% milk, using sour cream will greatly change the texture and could affect the dish’s success. It’s advisable to dilute the sour cream with water to approximate the consistency of 2% milk.

Have questions or suggestions about these sour cream substitute options? Leave them in the comments below.

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