Sour cream has a relatively long shelf life in your refrigerator, but you may find that you just can't use up a big container before it goes bad. So, inevitably, there's going to come a time where you're standing in front of your fridge asking the empty kitchen: Can you freeze sour cream? The answer isn't a simple yes or no, so here's what you need to know.
Some dairy products freeze beautifully, like heavy cream, butter and some cheeses. Others, not so much. While you technically can freeze sour cream, the issue is what happens when during the thawing process. Sour cream, like cottage cheese and cream cheese, contains a large amount of liquid. When you freeze sour cream, that liquid crystalizes, which causes the sour cream to separate and turn grainy when it's defrosted.
If you're hoping to freeze leftover sour cream to use as a baked potato topping or as a condiment or dip later on, that's not a good idea. The creamy texture won't be the same. But if your plan is to use it as part of cooked dishes like soups or casseroles, that change in texture doesn't matter. You can also use it in things like pancakes or baked goods where it mixes with other liquids.
The best way to freeze sour cream
You can freeze sour cream in the original container, but if that container is mostly empty, it's better to put it in a smaller airtight container. You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray for smaller portions; once it's frozen, pop the cubes out and store them in a freezer bag.
Defrosting is easy. Let the frozen sour cream sit in the refrigerator until defrosted, or if it's going in a Crock-Pot or soup pot, you can add it still frozen.
If you're going to try this food preservation tactic, be sure to use fresh sour cream. Don't wait until the day it's set to expire.