You’ve started to make a recipe and reach into the fridge for an ingredient and — uh oh! — it’s not there. If it’s sour cream that you’re missing, we’ve got good news: There are plenty of swaps you can use as a sour cream substitute. And you probably already have something in your fridge that’ll still add all the creamy-tangy flavor you love. Here are our 15 favorite ideas for a sour cream substitute. We’ve even included vegan, low-fat and dairy-free options, so there’s something here for everyone.
1. Greek yogurt
If you’re looking for a low-fat and high-protein option, Greek yogurt is a great sour cream substitute. It has a similar tangy taste and creamy texture that works well in dips, dressings and baked goods. Just use plain Greek yogurt, and adjust the amount of salt or acidity in your recipe to suit your needs. You can also mix your favorite herbs or spices to give it extra flavor.
Pros: Lower in fat than sour cream, high in protein, easy to find
Cons: Not as thick or creamy as sour cream, can be a bit watery, lacks flavor options compared to sour cream
Avocado is a great dairy-free sour cream substitute for those who are vegan or plant-based— or just love avocado. This fruit has a creamy texture and nutty, earthy flavor that goes especially well with Mexican-style dishes. To use avocado instead of sour cream, mash it up and mix in a tablespoon of lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste. Tip: The flesh closest to the skin has the most nutrients, so to get as much of those good-for-you bits as possible, instead of scooping out the insides, peel and pit the avocado, then cut each half lengthwise again and gently lift away the skin.
Pros: Dairy-free, vegan-friendly, high in healthy fats and fiber
Cons: Not as tangy or flavorful as sour cream, needs to be mixed with other ingredients for proper flavor
Buttermilk is a tangy addition to your favorite dishes, just like sour cream! It’s also an excellent sour cream substitute in baking recipes. To substitute buttermilk for sour cream, mix an equal amount of buttermilk and yogurt.
Pros: Adds tanginess without the need for dairy
Cons: Doesn’t have the same creaminess as sour cream
4. Ricotta cheese
Adding a dollop of ricotta cheese to your dish is an easy way to add extra protein and calcium without sacrificing the creamy texture of sour cream. To use ricotta as a sour cream substitute, mix it with lemon juice or white wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar works, too) for an added kick of acidity and season with salt and pepper. Although it can be used in many dishes, ricotta cheese works best in lasagnas, enchiladas and other Italian-style recipes.
Pros: High in protein and calcium, creamy texture similar to sour cream
Cons: Not as tangy or flavorful as sour cream, can be a bit grainy depending on the brand
Kefir is a fermented dairy product similar to yogurt. Its slightly sour taste and creamy texture make it an excellent choice for recipes that require sour cream. To use it as a substitute, mix the kefir with whole milk or yogurt as needed to achieve the desired consistency..
Pros: Creamy texture, slightly tart flavor
Cons: Higher in fat and calories than other substitutes
Mayonnaise doesn’t have the same creamy texture, but it does add a nice tangy flavor. To use this common condiment as a sour cream substitute, just mix together equal parts mayo and plain yogurt. This mixture can be used in salad dressings, dips or sauces.
Pros: Great for adding tanginess, easy to make
Cons: Not as creamy as sour cream
7. Cream cheese
Cream cheese adds richness and creaminess to any dish. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor makes it a go-to choice for desserts, dips and spreads. Mix cream cheese with some yogurt or milk until you reach the desired consistency to use cream cheese as a sour cream substitute. You can also add herbs or spices to give it extra flavor.
Pros: Creamy texture, mild and slightly sweet flavor
Cons: Higher in fat and calories than other substitutes
8. Cashew cream
Cashew cream is another vegan sour cream subtitute that’s just a delicious as the real thing. It’s made with blended raw cashews and water. This option is delicious as a topping for tacos, burritos or baked potatoes — but it’s also an easy addition to creamy, dairy-free sauces and dressings. While you can buy cashew cream at the store, it’s also easy to make at home. Just cover 1 cup raw cashews with hot water, and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain, then blend on high with 1 cup water until smooth and creamy.
Pros: Dairy-free, vegan-friendly, easy to prepare
Cons: Not as tangy or flavorful as sour cream
9. Mexican crema
Mexican crema is a tangy, slightly sour cream substitute made from cultured cream. It’s an easy switch for south-of-the-border dishes like nachos or chilaquiles that require the added flavor of sour cream. Just mix equal parts crema and yogurt together and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes before using.
Pros: Mild flavor and creamy texture, similar to sour cream
Cons: Can be hard to find in some stores; more expensive than other substitutes
10. Mashed white beans
Mashed white beans might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when considering a sour cream alternative, but their creamy texture makes them a surprisingly suitable option. Plus, they’re high in protein and fiber, making them a nutritious choice. To use mashed white beans as a sour cream substitute, simply blend cooked white beans with water or milk until you achieve a smooth consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and any additional spices or herbs as desired. This alternative works well in savory dishes like dips, sauces and soups.
Pros: High in protein and fiber; vegan, dairy-free, and low-fat
Cons: Can have a slightly beany flavor
Labneh, a Middle Eastern strained yogurt cheese, is another delicious alternative to sour cream. Its thick, creamy texture and tangy flavor resemble sour cream, making it an excellent substitute in many recipes. Labneh can be used in place of sour cream in various dishes, from dips and spreads to dressings and marinades. It’s easy to find in Middle Eastern markets or specialty grocery stores, or you can make your own by straining regular yogurt through cheesecloth until it reaches the desired consistency.
Pros: Tangy flavor and creamy texture; low in fat, relatively easy to make
Cons: Can be hard to find outside of Middle Eastern markets or specialty stores
12. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a great sour cream substitute for when you’re in a pinch. Its texture and flavor are similar to sour cream’s, but it has fewer calories and fat than its dairy counterpart. Cottage cheese can be used in sweet and savory dishes — whip it up in a blender with sugar or your favorite spices to customize the flavor. Use it in dips, sauces, and baked goods for a creamy and satisfying alternative to sour cream.
Pros: Low in fat and calories; customizable flavor
Cons: Not as thick or rich as regular sour cream
13. Crème fraîche
Crème fraîche has a thicker consistency and slightly sweeter flavor than sour cream, making it a helpful addition to sauces, dips, and baked goods. You can buy it in the dairy section at most grocery stores or make your own with heavy cream and buttermilk.
Pros: Thicker texture than sour cream; suitable for vegan recipes
Cons: Contains more fat than some other options on this list
14. Coconut milk
Coconut milk is another dairy-free alternative to sour cream, and it works well in savory dishesand desserts. Use full-fat coconut milk for the most creamy texture, and substitute one cup of coconut milk for every cup of sour cream called for in a recipe. Coconut milk adds a subtle sweetness to whatever you’re making, so you may want to adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Pros: Dairy-free, adds subtle sweetness
Cons: It can have a slight coconut flavor
15. Soft or silken tofu
Tofu is a versatile and healthy option for a sour cream substitute. To use it as an alternative, simply blend silken or soft tofu with dairy-free milk until you get a creamy and smooth consistency. Adding spices or herbs will help enhance the flavor — try blending in garlic powder, sea salt, onion powder, dill, cumin, nutritional yeast, or chili powder. Use your tofu sour cream in savory recipes like dips and sauces.
Pros: Healthy, vegan, dairy-free
Cons: Bland flavor, spices needed
Just like the real thing
As you can see, plenty of delicious and surprising alternatives to sour cream can elevate your dishes in new and exciting ways. Whether you’re trying to cut down on calories, avoid dairy or simply experiment with new flavors and textures, these substitutes are definitely worth trying. So say goodbye to sour cream and hello to a world of culinary possibilities!