Here's What You Can Substitute For Sour Cream

Sour cream is a cooking staple that can be relatively easily replaced in recipes. For the most part, you can create alternatives with common ingredients found in your kitchen, such as milk, butter, lemon juice, and vinegar.

The best substitute for sour cream is heavy whipping cream mixed with lemon juice. This is essentially homemade sour cream. You just need to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream.

Another easy substitute for sour cream is milk and lemon juice, and evaporated milk will work as well. This replacement will work in baking and sauces. To substitute a cup of sour cream, use 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (via Tastessence).

Yogurt is another option. Plain or Greek yogurt can be used. Replace the amount of sour cream called for in the recipe with the same amount of yogurt. If you're using it in baking, good news — that's it, you're finished. Dips or dressings using this substitute may taste more tangy than usual. One caveat is sauces, where using yogurt could cause curdling from the heat. If you have to use it in a sauce, the thicker the yogurt (such as Greek yogurt), the better, as more fat will make it less likely to curdle in cooking (via The Spruce Eats).

Another possibility is buttermilk. Use the buttermilk in equal measure to the sour cream in baking. However, add it slowly as buttermilk is a thinner ingredient, and you may need to use less than called for to prevent your mixture from becoming watery. 

Other sour cream substitution options

The buttermilk substitute works best in baking. Outside of baking, it is better to use one of the other recommendations.

Cottage cheese can also be used in a pinch. The taste is similar, and the addition of a bit of lemon juice will make it almost indistinguishable. It will even work in tacos. If you want a closer texture as well, add two tablespoons of milk and one teaspoon of lemon juice to 1/2 cup of cottage cheese and mix until you have the right consistency (via Healthline).

Cream cheese can also be used in place of sour cream. Mix 3/4 cup of cream cheese with 3 tablespoons of milk and blend to get a pretty decent sour cream replacement with a similar texture (via HuffPost).

Some may need a substitute for dietary purposes, such as vegans, or people that are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk and can't eat dairy. In that instance, you will need a non-dairy substitute. If you know in advance, the best replacement is vegan sour cream, which you can buy in the grocery store.

Alternatively, vegan yogurt can be used in much the same way as regular or Greek yogurt. Simply replace the sour cream in the recipe with an equal amount of vegan yogurt (via The Spruce Eats).

The great thing about sour cream substitutes is that they generally require things you already have, and there are enough options that you can usually find something that will work with your recipe.