When it comes to dipping pierogies, latkes, chips and all the best Mexican dinners or enriching baked goods and sweet fillings, there’s simply nothing that gets the job done like sour cream. That being said, it’s likely that some day you will unexpectedly run out, or have a dinner guest who’s lactose intolerant, meaning that a sour cream substitute must be found ASAP. Since we should never have to go without that rich and tangy flavor regardless of any dietary restrictions, here are the best substitutes for sour cream in any recipe.
If dairy isn’t an issue but you’d still like a healthier sour cream alternative, Greek yogurt may be your best bet. It’s similarly thick and tangy, with an added protein boost. For an easy tradeoff, simply swap out sour cream for an equal amount of Greek yogurt.
Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese can serve as a higher-protein alternative to sour cream. However, since the flavor is more mild, 1 cup of cottage cheese should be blended with 4 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to replace the sour cream component in any recipe.
Especially in the case of baking, it’s very possible that you could be fresh out of sour cream but have some buttermilk in stock. While the flavor is closer to sour cream than some other substitutes, it is a liquid, so the texture is much thinner. In a pinch, buttermilk can still get you the same result as sour cream when used in baked goods or dressings. Adjust the consistency by using less liquid or more flour as needed.
When you look up the definition of crème fraîche, it’s literally described as a soured cream, so it makes sense that it works as a sour cream alternative. Though it’s a bit thicker and more mild than sour cream, it can still be used as a one-to-one replacement — just keep in mind that the flavor will be less tangy.
If dairy is what’s holding you back from using sour cream, canned coconut milk is a great non-dairy starting point to whip up a substitution. The full-fat variety is generally topped with a thick, creamy layer (that’s still vegan) which you can skim off and blend with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to mimic that tangy flavor.
Anyone who’s dairy-free, or regularly cooks for someone who’s dairy-free, knows how surprisingly versatile cashews are when it comes to vegan recipes. Plant-based sour cream is no exception. All you have to do is soak cashews until they become soft enough to blend smoothly with vinegar or lemon juice.
There are several soy-based sour cream substitutes on the market, but you can also make your own using the same general recipe as you would with coconut milk or cashews. Start with some silken tofu and blend with an acid like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for an equally creamy and tangy sour cream alternative.