9 Great Sour Cream Substitutes
So many of our favorite foods are topped with a dollop of good ol’ sour cream! Pierogi, tacos, nachos… And sour cream is the primary ingredient in some of our favorite dips and dressings. Sour cream is so popular, we think because it combines two very important factors that Americans love – tangy and creamy!
And what’s not to love about it? Sour cream is a cultured dairy product obtained by fermenting regular cream (or lower fat milks in the case of light sour cream) with lactic acid bacteria, which thickens the cream and also naturally sours it, giving it that signature tangy flavor we all know and love.
Sour cream comes in a variety of brands, all of which differ slightly. Sour cream can be quite thick, or also very thin depending on the fat content, and it can also come flavored or plain. But otherwise, sour cream is pretty predictable!
Although it’s not hard to find, you may find you get started on a recipe and think Shoot! I forgot to pick up sour cream! Or perhaps you are making a recipe that uses sour cream, but you’re cooking for someone who can’t consume dairy or is vegan.
Well, have no fear! We’ve compiled an extensive list of sour cream substitutes that you can use at a pinch, or who knows, some of these might end up becoming a favorite. Here we go.
1. Vegan Sour Cream
There are so many dairy-free sour cream options on the market, and guess what? They work just like regular sour cream!!
Try a well-known brand like Tofutti, or walk down to your local vegan grocer and see what they recommend. Either way, if you can’t find sour cream, vegan sour cream is a great replacement!
2. Mascarpone Cheese
It’s important to note that sour cream is not technically a cheese but instead a cultured dairy product, so cheese might not seem like the most natural substitute. But Mascarpone cheese is actually an excellent alternative to full-fat sour cream because, like sour cream, it is silky smooth, spreadable, and soft white.
Mascarpone is made from pure heavy cream as it is almost always unsalted, so you may need to add a little extra tang (a splash of lemon juice will do the trick!) and a few pinches of salt, especially in any savory recipes.
3. Goat’s Cheese
Goat’s cheese (Chevré) is known for having a very specific flavor profile so it may not make a perfect substitute for sour cream, but if you need sour cream to make a filling or are using it to melt on top of something, then Chevré is a good bet!
The texture of goat’s cheese is thick and creamy, and will likely be much thicker than any sour cream, so you may want to water it down or use it in combination with ricotta or another cheese from this list, as it can be overpowering.
Sour cream is often used to serve on top of already cooked or raw dishes, but it is also often used in fillings for savory dishes like crepes, ravioli, or Mexican foods such as burritos or enchiladas. In these cases, you can use a very soft cheese like ricotta to achieve the same texture and flavor profile as sour cream.
Keep in mind that ricotta isn’t fully smooth, so you will want to consider this if you’re using it as an alternative to sour cream. If the texture is an issue, use mascarpone instead!
5. Mayonnaise (or Vegan Mayonnaise)
Like sour cream, mayonnaise is creamy, spreadable, not too thick, and has a bit of tang to it. If your recipe requires sour cream, but a dairy allergy is holding you back, mayo will make a great substitute as it is made with eggs and oil, and often contains no dairy (check the label!).
Mayonnaise is also very high in fat so it will act similar to sour cream in many recipes, including in things like chip dip, spinach dip or flavored sandwich spreads.
6. Blended Soft or Silken Tofu
Simply blend a brick of soft tofu with a few tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar and salt, and you have made an awesome vegan version of sour cream!
You can use this interchangeably with all sour cream recipes, and if you want an extra thick version, use silken tofu and slowly add canola or olive oil to the blender until it reaches the desired thickness.
Tofu does have a bit of a distinct flavor, but with the addition of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, this recipe will taste great and please all your dairy-free friends!
7. Cream Cheese (or Vegan Cream Cheese)
Cream cheese is basically like the cheese version of sour cream. If sour cream is cultured cream, then cream cheese is cultured cheese! Cream cheese is spreadable, mild in flavor, slightly tangy, and pure white so it is a great substitute for sour cream!
The super creamy texture and mouth-feel of cream cheese or vegan cream cheese works well for all your sour cream needs! If dairy-free is your thing, don’t miss out… try a store-bought vegan cream cheese (often soy-based) and see what you’ve been missing all this time!
8. Yogurt (or Vegan Yogurt)
Depending on the type, yogurt may be tangier or less tangy than traditional sour cream. Either way, look for plain, unsweetened yogurt and try it out as a replacement for sour cream. Greek yogurt works great as it is thickest, and has a similar fat content to sour cream.
It is basically made the same, just cultured with different bacteria. If you’re looking for vegan yogurt, it is important to find one that is unsweetened and has a plain flavor – look for brands that use coconut milk or cream, as they are neutral in flavor.
9. Créme Fraiche or Buttermilk
Similar to sour cream or yogurt, créme fraiche is similar in its smooth texture and thickness. Créme fraiche is also quite tangy as it is made from pure cream that is fermented for a short amount of time. It is often hung to strain through cheesecloth, making it very thick so you may need to water it down slightly to match the texture of your sour cream. If you’re looking for a thinner version, try buttermilk!
Sour cream is a staple in many kitchens for adding a luxurious touch to any, otherwise boring, dish. Simply add a spoonful to any soup or pasta sauce, or stir it together with cheese and cooked spinach for a killer dip, or in its most simple form, serve it plain on top of basically anything!
Anyway you look at it, sour cream is a delicious addition to your repertoire, but don’t be afraid to switch it up and try any one of these alternatives. Yogurt, for example, is lower in fat and has probiotics. Mayonnaise, on the other hand, is fattier but will make your recipes richer and creamier. But don’t blindly trust us… try any of these substitutes for yourself and put sour cream to the test!