What can I substitute for sour cream?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for sour cream?” with an in-depth analysis of sour cream, its ingredients, how it is formed, and what are their substitutes along with their nutritional components.

What can I substitute for sour cream?

Sour cream can be substituted with Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. These substitutes may be necessary because of the allergic reaction that can be caused by the cow’s milk.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is formed basically from fermented cream along with certain types of acid such as lactic acid and bacteria. Bacterial culture is used naturally or intentionally to make the cream thick and sour.

Reason for using substitutes 

Following are some of the reasons to use substitutes for milk cream:

Milk allergy 

Cow’s milk can cause allergic reactions in 2 to 3 per cent of children who are under the age of three. Some of these children recover from this allergy as they grow out of it, while some people avoid milk their whole life. 

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is a form of sugar that enables the breakdown of the lactose component of dairy products. A person who is deficient in lactase enzymes is not capable of digesting milk products. So, for them, alternate products or substitutes are recommended.

Health Reasons

Many people avoid dairy products due to several health issues that include hormonal and skin health while some are concerned due to the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in dairy cows.

Low-fat diet

Sour cream which is used regularly is high in fat. Some people also avoid eating sour cream during the journey of weight loss to avoid high consumption of fat.

Substitutes of sour cream

Greek Yogurt

Greek yoghurt is a very good alternative to sour cream. Greek yoghurt is more concentrated than regular yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is strained to remove water content then it becomes a thicker, sour yoghurt that resembles sour cream.

On a nutritional level, Greek yoghurt has fewer calories and lower fat content with a high content of protein as compared to full-fat sour cream.

Greek yoghurt is also used in toppings, dressing, and dips. Further, it is also used in baking items or another recipe as an alternative to regular sour cream.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese has a good history. Its name was planned when people used the leftover butter-making in the production of soft cheese in their small apartments called cottages.

Cottage cheese is considered a curd product. Curd is the solid leftover portion of milk during cheese making. Whey is a liquid part that is removed to gain the consistency of cheese.

Its texture is soft to touch with a creamy texture. Furthermore, It is presented in different size ranges from small to large depending upon the variety of curd sizes and fat percentages.

Content of fat and calories are less while protein content is more as compared to sour cream.

To use cottage cheese in place of sour cream, cottage cheese is mixed with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of milk to make a good batter.


Buttermilk is a liquid form of butter that is a leftover liquid that is left during the formation of butter from cultured cream.

In this process, milk is kept for a long time on a rest phase to separate the milk and cream. As the cream is accumulated on top of milk which is then separated to make butter.

During the rest period, bacteria such as lactic acid which is naturally occurring fermented sugars in milk which result in buttermilk formation which is a tangy liquid.

This traditional method is still known mostly in Pakistan and India. This is not more preferred in western countries.

Commercial buttermilk is then pasteurized in presence of bacteria which is added to the buttermilk after the heating process, this method is just like the sour cream formation method.

Non-dairy alternatives

Some non-dairy products are good substitutes for sour cream which include soy products, cashews, and coconut milk.

Coconut milk

Coconut is a good alternative to sour cream which is a non-dairy product. Coconut milk is not to be confused with coconut water, coconut milk is extracted from the flesh of a coconut.

It is becoming more popular in North America, while it is a staple ingredient in South America and Southeast Asian countries.

Coconut milk is free of lactose and vegan, it is also a good substitute for those who are allergic to milk and have dietary restrictions.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for sour cream?” with an in-depth analysis of sour cream, its ingredients, how it is formed, and what are their substitutes along with their nutritional components.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.