Sour cream is a dairy product made from cream fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Alternatives may include plain yogurt or cottage cheese, and dairy-free alternatives can include soya cream or soaked, blended cashews.

Some people may want to substitute sour cream for an alternative. This could be due to:

  • taste preferences
  • health reasons
  • wanting a low fat alternative
  • wanting a dairy-free alternative
  • following a vegan diet

There are plenty of tasty and healthy alternatives to sour cream. This article will look at a range of substitutes to suit different preferences or dietary requirements.

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People may want to substitute sour cream for an alternative dairy product. This may be due to personal preference. For example, they may not enjoy the taste of sour cream but want a similar texture.

People may also need an alternative if sour cream is not available but a recipe requires it.

Plain yogurt

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest making simple swaps for healthier meals. For example, they suggest plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.

Yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and potassium. Some yogurt products may also contain live, probiotic bacteria, which may help promote gut health.

Generally, Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, though yogurt products such as Siggi’s Icelandic style yogurt are also high in protein.

Many yogurt products are also low in fat, and some are plant-based.

Learn more about yogurt here.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is made from curdled milk and has a mild flavor. It is a good source of protein and calcium, and it is low in fat.

A 100-gram (g) serving of cottage cheese made with whole milk contains 9 g of protein but just 10 g of fat. Low fat versions are also available.

Blending cottage cheese with lemon juice and milk can make a quick sour cream substitute that does not compromise the tangy taste of the original.

Creme fraiche

Creme fraiche means fresh cream. It is a thick cream with live cultures, which makes it very similar to sour cream.

Creme fraiche is high in fat, containing 11 g per 28-g serving, but it may suit recipes that require a thick sour cream consistency.

People needing to substitute sour cream because it is not available may find creme fraiche to be a great alternative.


Buttermilk is a type of cultured milk product made from the liquid that remains after churning butter.

A 1-cup serving of buttermilk provides:

calcium284 milligrams (mg)
phosphorus218 mg
potassium370 mg
sodium363 mg

The sodium content in buttermilk means that it may not suit people who need to restrict their salt intake.

Buttermilk may also provide a thinner consistency than sour cream.


Kefir is fermented milk. It contains live bacterial cultures. It can be made from cow’s milk, non-dairy milk, or milk from other animals.

Although kefir has a thinner consistency, it may make a good sour cream substitute due to its slightly sour taste.

Its consistency also means that it could be a great substitute for sour cream for use in baking.

Kefir may offer the following health benefits due to its probiotic properties:

It can also relieve constipation and help a person maintain a moderate weight.

Learn more about the health benefits of kefir here.

If a person has lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, they may want a non-dairy substitute for sour cream.

People may also be avoiding dairy products for health reasons, such as the potential link between acne and dairy intake.

Learn more about how to replace dairy products here.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is the liquid from coconut flesh. It can make a good vegan sour cream alternative if a person mixes it with lime or lemon juice.

A 100-g serving of coconut milk provides:

protein0.21 g
calcium188 mg
potassium19 mg


People can create a sour cream substitute by blending water-soaked cashews with the following ingredients:

  • lemon juice
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt

A person can alter these quantities depending on the taste or consistency they want to achieve.

A 100-g serving of raw cashews provides:

protein18.22 g
calcium37 mg
iron6.68 mg
magnesium292 mg
phosphorus593 mg
potassium660 mg

Soya cream

Soya cream is a dairy-free equivalent to cream made from soy.

There is conflicting evidence regarding the health benefits of soy. However, soy products may provide a range of health benefits, including:

  • lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • potentially reducing menopause symptoms
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing the risk of some cancers
  • improving bone health
  • improving blood vessel health
  • improving brain health

A person can use soya cream as it is. Alternatively, they could whip it to better match the consistency of sour cream. They could also add some lemon juice for extra flavor.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 100-g serving of sour cream contains 19.35 g of total fats. This amount can vary among brands and if a person prefers low fat options.

Low fat substitutes for sour cream may suit people who want to reduce their calorie intake or lower their intake of fats. Saturated fats can increase low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Learn more about the different types of fats here.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics state that a person can mix the following ingredients to make a low fat sour cream alternative:

  • half a cup of plain, low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons (tsp) of taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp of lime juice

This could be a great topping for tacos.

People can also mix a light or low fat mayonnaise with lime juice as an alternative to sour cream.

People following a vegan diet can choose a sour cream substitute that does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

People may choose to follow a vegan diet for a variety of reasons, such as health, environmental, and animal welfare reasons.

Learn more about vegan diets here.

Vegan chive cream

If a person wants an alternative to sour cream as a topping for soup or other savory dishes, the Vegetarian Society suggest a vegan chive cream in their celeriac and watercress soup recipe.

To make this topping, a person will need 4 tsp of soya cream and four chives, cut into small pieces. They can top a soup or other dish with the soya cream, then sprinkle over the chives.

Vegan mayonnaise

Alternatively, a person may want to use vegan mayonnaise as an alternative to sour cream. This could be great as an alternative in dishes where the thickness of the sour cream is especially important, such as dips.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa New Zealand suggest that people blend the following ingredients together until they reach a smooth consistency:

  • 2.25 cups of olive oil, rice bran, canola, or soy
  • 1 cup of soy milk
  • 2 tsp of mustard, or add more or less to taste
  • 4 tsp of lime or lemon, or add more or less to taste
  • 1 or 1.5 tsp of salt, or add more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of agave

The mayonnaise should keep for a week in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.

People can also add any other flavors, such as garlic or chili, to the mix.

People may want a sour cream substitute for taste preferences, health reasons, convenience, or dietary requirements.

There are many dairy, non-dairy, and low fat alternatives to sour cream, including:

  • plain yogurt
  • cottage cheese
  • blended cashews
  • soya cream
  • mayonnaise

Adding apple cider vinegar, lime, or lemon juice to many of the bases above can provide a quick and easy alternative to sour cream.