Can you microwave sour cream?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can you microwave sour cream?” and will discuss how to properly microwave sour cream?

Can you microwave sour cream?

Yes, you can microwave sour cream. Depending on the kind of sour cream and the intended use, you may microwave it to varying degrees of success. There are two things you should avoid while microwaving sour cream: overheating and underheating. To begin, take care that your sour cream does not curdle or separate. Microwaving your sour cream correctly is also important to prevent contaminants from leaking into it.

The free water content (moisture content) of a product is one of the crucial determinants of how a food product will heat in a microwave oven. Water comprises 50 to 90% of most foods. High water contents generally translate into greater microwave absorption, and decreased penetration depth. Generally, when the moisture content is high, products will heat more efficiently due to the larger dielectric loss factor. However, products of lower moisture content may also heat well due to lower specific heat capacity and because as moisture content decreases, wave penetration depth will increase. Because sour cream is a high moisture food, it may occur that it is overheated on the surface and under heated in the inner layers (1). 

Microwaved sour cream may be eaten, but is it safe?

Safety might vary greatly depending on how the sour cream is handled and kept. Dairy products are classified as perishable food items that must be refrigerated or frozen within two hours under the USDA temperature danger zone criteria.

Sour cream is a perishable item that should not be left out at room temperature for more than four hours, according to USDA guidelines. It doesn’t take long for hazardous germs to proliferate in sour cream that has been left out in temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you microwave sour cream within your dish, it should be safe to eat and heat. After two hours of remaining at room temperature, the risk of sour cream developing hazardous rotten bacteria increases to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After four hours at room temperature, sour cream should be thrown out (2).

It is possible to develop food illness even if the sour cream seems to be OK. Even if the best before date on the container has passed, sour cream can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The sour cream should be thrown out as soon as it shows evidence of mold or bad aromas.

Although it is claimed that by reheating the food, there is a reduction in the microbial contamination to safe levels, it is difficult to predict the safety of a dish just by reheating it in the microwave oven, once it has been spoiled. Most studies examining the effectiveness of microwave heating in eliminating pathogens have concluded that although large decreases (up to 7-8 log cycles) in bacterial populations may be observed, complete elimination of pathogens is more difficult to achieve by microwave heating (1).

Is it possible to reheat sour cream-coated food?

The sour cream in leftover bowls and burritos is so thick that it is practically hard to separate the layers. Sour cream may be heated when it is combined with refrigerated food. Fortunately, you can cook sour cream-based dishes again. Microwaving sour cream-filled leftovers might result in a soggy disaster.

As a last resort, scavenge anything you can. Soak the meal in sour cream before reheating it in the microwave.

How do you microwave sour cream?

Sour cream is a key component in several dishes, including dipping sauces, marinated chicken breasts, and gravy sauces. You should never microwave sour cream in its original container. If you microwave sour cream in a plastic container, you might be inadvertently releasing dangerous chemicals into your food.

Chemical compounds that are incorporated within polymeric packaging materials to improve functionality, may interact with food components during reheating and migrate into the food. Once these compounds reach a specified limit,  food quality and safety may be jeopardized. Possible chemical migrants include plasticizers, antioxidants, thermal stabilizers, slip compounds, and monomers. Therefore, polymeric packaging is to be avoided in the microwave (3). 

To cook in the microwave, use a glass or ceramic bowl that can withstand the heat. One or two teaspoons should be heated up at a time for optimal effects. If you use a lot of sour cream, it might rapidly curdle or separate if it becomes too hot.

Sour cream should be nuked at a medium power setting for 15 seconds for every spoonful. Every five seconds, take a break and stir to disperse the heat. The microwave heating is uneven and the penetration of the waves decreases by increasing the moisture and the salt content in the food. Sour cream contains moisture and salt and must be continuously homogenized by microwave reheating (1). 

If you’re using sour cream that has been cooked in the microwave, be aware that the results might vary greatly. When it comes to sour cream, full-fat and reduced-fat types heat more consistently than non-fat options. That is, because products of lower moisture content may also heat well due to lower specific heat capacity and because as moisture content decreases, wave penetration depth will increase (1).

Attention must be paid to the heat levels to prevent overheating and curdling of low-fat or non-fat sour creams.

When microwaving sour cream, here are some things to consider

Sour cream might be tough to remove from your leftovers since it tends to mix with other ingredients. Microwaving sour cream is a convenient way to reheat foods that have already been prepared. When microwaving sour cream, the most important thing to watch out for is curdling and separation. To reduce the risk of coagulation, start with low power and heat gently.

A few things you need to know before microwaving sour cream for your next meal prep:

·         If you can’t get the sour cream out of the meal, simply put some on the side for a creamy, cool garnish.

·         When reheating, cover the container with a paper towel or microwave cover.

·         When heating a big quantity of sour cream, divide it into smaller chunks and heat each portion separately.

·         In the microwave, do not use the original plastic container. Instead, cook food in a microwave-safe container.

·         If you’ve already warmed sour cream, don’t do it again.

·         Reheating meals in the microwave should be done at a low or medium power level.

·         Reheating sour cream-based dishes might be a bit of a challenge. It all depends on how much stuff is in there; a soggy mess might be the consequence.

Adding sour cream might make it harder to reheat dishes since it isn’t heat-resistant. Avoid curdling or coagulation by heating your leftovers in the microwave in a different way for each meal type.

Other FAQs about Sour Cream  that you may be interested in.

What can I substitute for sour cream?

Does sour cream go bad?

Can you eat expired sour cream?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can you microwave sour cream?” and discussed how to properly microwave sour cream?


  1. Heddleson, Ronald A., and Stephanie Doores. Factors affecting microwave heating of foods and microwave induced destruction of foodborne pathogens–a review. J Food Prot, 1994, 57, 1025-1037.
  2. Leftovers and Food Safety. USDA. 2020.
  3. Bhunia, Kanishka, et al. Migration of chemical compounds from packaging polymers during microwave, conventional heat treatment, and storage. Comprehen Rev food Sci food Safe, 2013, 12, 523-545.

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