Sour Cream Substitutes to Keep Your Favorite Recipes Nice and Tangy

Add the perfect amount of tang your dish needs (without going to the store) by using one of our Test Kitchen's sour cream substitutes.

Sour cream is a magical (and seriously underrated, in my opinion) dairy staple. The creamy fermented dairy product provides the perfect amount of tang when dolloped on comforting dishes such as baked potatoes or nachos. Its thick, tangy goodness also provides moisture and richness to classic baked goods such as chocolate cake and cheesecake. But what happens if you don't have enough to complete your recipe or the store is out of stock? Not to worry, there's a sour cream substitute here to help. Use one of our Test Kitchen's ingredient substitutions to achieve the delicious tang your recipe needs.

stirring sour cream and eggs into cheesecake batter
Jason Donnelly

Dairy-Based Sour Cream Substitutes

Per 1 cup sour cream, substitute one of the following:

  • Crème fraîche: Literally meaning "fresh cream" in French, crème fraîche is similar to sour cream in that it has bacterial cultures in the mix, but the result is thicker (and has a higher fat count). It can be used as an equal substitute for sour cream.
  • Buttermilk: While not the same texture as sour cream, buttermilk can still provide that irresistible tang to dishes. If you're using buttermilk as a sour cream substitute in a baked recipe, swap ¾ cup for every cup of sour cream. Depending on the recipe, you might also want to decrease the amount of other liquids in the recipe or add additional flour.
  • Plain yogurt: Equal parts plain yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream. Not only does it have a similar texture and tangy flavor, it also has more protein. Go for regular or Greek yogurt here, though Greek is thicker and is a closer swap to sour cream for when used as a topping or dip.
Creamy Cashew and Onion Dip
Blaine Moats

Nondairy Sour Cream Substitutes

If you're lactose intolerant or following a plant-based diet, try one of the following dairy-free sour cream substitutes:

  • Cashews: Those that frequent dairy-free recipes will know that you can make a delicious sour cream substitute. Simply soak raw cashews in water until soft, then blend them with some lemon juice or vinegar to achieve a tangy, dairy-free sour cream. Try our creamy cashew dip or cashew cream pasta.
  • Vegan sour cream: There are several nondairy sour creams on the market these days made from coconut, soy, and other plant-based ingredients. Use vegan sour cream as an equal substitute in your recipes or topping for dishes.

Use up the rest of your carton of sour cream or one of these easy substitutes to make your mashed potatoes stand out. Or bake a tangy sour cream pound cake to serve after dinner.

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