7 Sour Cream Alternatives that Don't Sacrifice Tanginess or Creaminess

It's taco night and you have all of the fixings ready: salsa, guacamole, jalapeño peppers, cheese. You're all set. But when you look in the refrigerator to reach for the last condiment, sour cream, it's nowhere to be found. What do you do? Luckily, there are plenty of sour cream substitutes, even some dairy-free ones if you have an allergy or follow a vegan diet.

Sour cream is a perfect topping in tacos, soups and baked potatoes for a variety of reasons. For one, it's naturally cooling, and will offset the kick from a jalapeño pepper or large dollop of salsa. This makes sour cream perfect for spicy foods like tacos or tortilla soup. It's also cooling when it comes to temperature, providing the perfect relief from an overly hot bite. Along with these practical factors, sour cream adds a tangy, delectable flavor that improves any dish.

However, sometimes we start a recipe without making sure that we have all of the ingredients or toppings necessary. When this happens, the last thing you want to do is take a break from cooking to run to the store, especially if you have guests or are verging on hangry. When this happens, the good news is that there are a number of common household ingredients that will replace sour cream without changing the overall product too much.

One of the main ingredients in sour cream is, you guessed, cream. Combine that with lactic acid bacteria and the result is a thick and tangy product that's a kitchen staple. Not only is sour cream a delicious, creamy condiment for tacos, nachos, and baked potatoes, you can also use it in baking recipes to add moisture and in creamy salad dressings. Let's dive in and check out some ways to substitute sour cream.

7 Genius Sour Cream Substitutes

1. Plain Yogurt or Greek Yogurt

A quick store bought Greek yogurt snack
Getty Images/Grandbrothers

You really won't notice much of a difference with this sour cream substitute. Yogurt is thick and tangy and a great alternative. Greek yogurt tends to be on the thicker side, but is lower in fat and calories and rich in protein. Try a dollop or two next time you're in a pinch. You'll be happy to save a trip to the grocery store!

2. Cottage Cheese

Homemade Low Fat Cottage Cheese
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Cottage cheese has a different texture than sour cream due to the cheese curds, however, the taste is quite similar. To make a sour cream substitute with cottage cheese, place one cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 cup of whole milk, and about two teaspoons of lemon juice in a blender until smooth. The curds will be nice and smooth and the taste will mimic sour cream.

3. Buttermilk

With its sour smell and tangy flavor, buttermilk is pretty similar to sour cream. The only difference is, buttermilk is a liquid. It's best to use buttermilk as a sour cream substitute in things like cakes, quick bread, and salad dressings.

4. Crème Fraîche

You might have spotted crème fraîche in the dairy aisle at the grocery store. It's a bit pricier than sour cream but still very similar. Crème fraîche has a thicker texture and tastes less tangy than sour cream. It can be used entirely in place of sour cream.  However, if you're worried about calories, skip crème fraîche. With its high fat content and calories, it might not be the best option.

5. Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk
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One of my favorite non-dairy substitutes is coconut milk. You can't beat the subtle coconut flavor and rich texture. Make your own dairy-free sour cream by blending the cream on top of the coconut milk (use full-fat coconut milk), a splash of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.

6. Cashew Cream

It might seem a bit odd, but surprisingly, soaked cashews blend into a creamy, vegan sour cream substitute. Soak cashews for at least an hour or overnight, drain out the water, and blend with a little white vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt. You can add fresh water to the mixture if it seems too thick.

7. Silken Tofu

cubes of tofu
Getty Images/SilviaJansen

One cup of firm silken tofu blended with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt makes a vegan alternative similar in flavor to sour cream.

This post was originally published on March 17, 2020.

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