Sour cream, which is often used as a topping in Mexican-American cuisine like nachos and tacos, lends acidity and richness to practically any recipe, regardless of whether it is sweet or savory. But what if you never seem to have it on hand when you need it, or if you don’t want to use sour cream for some other reason? In that case, what are your options?
Finding a suitable alternative to sour cream for each of your recipes makes complete and utter sense. Whatever your motivation may be, you will discover that there are many options available to you that are just as flexible as sour cream itself.
What Is Sour Cream?
Cream that has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria is referred to as sour cream or soured cream. Sour cream is a kind of dairy product that is produced when ordinary cream is fermented. The addition of microorganisms results in a thicker consistency and a more tart flavor in the cream.
When you buy sour cream at the store, it may include a variety of preservatives as well as gelatin, flavors, salt, and other filling agents, however when you make sour cream at home, you simply need heavy cream and bacterial culture.
According to regulations established by the FDA, goods marketed as sour cream must have a milkfat content of at least 18%. There is no question that this is a product that has a large amount of fat; however, there are additional choices that include less fat or none at all. On the other hand, as a result of the reduction in fat, they may not be the greatest substitutes for baking or cooking.
Because of its thick, creamy consistency and tangy flavor, sour cream is a common foodstuff found in the kitchens of almost every country in the globe.
As a condiment, spread, uncooked dip, or component for frosting, it may be used with or without heat, depending on the use. Sour cream may be used in a variety of ways to improve the consistency and taste of your favorite meals, such as thickening soups and sauces, garnishing baked potatoes, and preparing baked goods.
If a recipe calls for sour cream but you don’t feel like making a trip to the shop, you may always make do with something else. Because of its creamy consistency and sour taste, Greek yogurt is an excellent alternative to sour cream in most recipes.
In place of sour cream in any recipe, Greek yogurt may be used in the same proportions. Steer clear of low-fat and fat-free variants since they include flavor-altering stabilizers and thickeners. Regular versions of the food will always taste better. In any kind of dish, you will need the butterfat that comes with the version that has the entire amount of calories.
If you use unheated Greek yogurt in baked potatoes, salad dressings, and dips, you may not need to make any significant alterations to the recipe depending on how sour you want the flavor to be.
In order to prevent curdling when using it as a thickening in sauces, soups, or curries, you will want to put it in at the very end of the cooking process. Although baked items made with Greek yogurt have a texture that is airy and moist, the final product may be less tender than those made with sour cream.
A dairy product with a French influence, crème fraiche is prepared by fermenting heavy cream with a bacterial culture. The flavor is milder compared to that of sour cream. Due to the fact that it has a thick consistency, it is a good substitute for both sour cream and heavy cream.
This is due to the fact that it has a high percentage of fat in it, which is often between 30 and 45% milk fat (whereas heavy cream has at least 36% milkfat or even more).
Because of its high fat content, crème fraiche does not curdle when heated to high temperatures, making it a great ingredient for cooking. Sour cream, on the other hand, becomes unusable in this context. As a result, it is an excellent ingredient for preparing velvety and thick soups and sauces.
Additionally, it may be used both warm and cold, which adds to its versatility. When you are finished roasting chicken or beef, add one tablespoon of crème fraiche to the fluids that are left in the pan to make a flavorful and easy gravy. Alternately, you may combine the zest of two lemons with a half cup of it and toss some spaghetti with the resulting sauce.
The news is especially favorable for those who have a need for sweets and for those who like baking. You may use it to fill tart shells, then top them with berries and a little of icing sugar. Alternatively, you can serve a dab of the cream with a chocolate mousse or rich cake. On steamy summer days, crème fraiche is the ideal finishing touch for a fruit salad made with fresh ingredients.
It is quite simple to use cottage cheese in place of sour cream in any recipe. In addition, compared to sour cream, cottage cheese contains a much lower total amount of calories and fat. The only thing that needs to be done to the cheese is to combine it in a ratio of one to one until it becomes soft. Either a blender or a food processor will do the trick here.
If you want the cheese to taste more like traditional sour cream, add some white vinegar to it; however, lemon juice will also work. You may adjust the level of tartness to suit either your own taste or the requirements of the dish you want to produce. Are you ready to dollop some of this over your tacos, nachos, or chili? It also has a wonderful flavor when used in dips and on baked potatoes.
Try combining together one cup of cottage cheese with one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, two tablespoons of milk, and then using this mixture in slow cooking. Because it does not curdle, this combination is an excellent choice to use in lieu of sour cream whether you are preparing stroganoff or casseroles.
Although it tastes sour, buttermilk has a higher liquid content than sour cream does. In recipes for baked goods, you will need to include some butter in order to get the desired consistency. Blend together one-third of a cup of soft butter and three-quarters of a cup of buttermilk to make one cup of sour cream.
One further alternative would be to reduce the amount of buttermilk called for in the recipe so that the baked items do not get too soggy. In most cases, substituting buttermilk for sour cream might be challenging, particularly when it comes to cooking dishes that call for a thick consistency. It’s possible that this situation lends itself to some trial and error. For instance, a wonderful option for dips is to combine together one cup of cottage cheese with one-fourth of a cup of buttermilk.
The texture of Greek yogurt is more comparable to that of sour cream than that of conventional full-fat yogurt; nonetheless, standard yogurt may be be used in its stead. To extract some of the water from it, just strain it through a coffee filter or a sieve coated with cheesecloth until some of the water is released.
Plain yogurt is a delicious and nutritious alternative to cheesecake as well as mayonnaise. It is a nutritional powerhouse and far lower in both calories and fat than other options. You might try incorporating some into your go-to salad or spreading some on some sandwiches with it. And if you are in the mood for something a little more inventive, you may make a wholesome “tzatziki” dip in the manner of Greek cuisine by combining it with shredded cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and fresh dill.
Other Dairy Substitutes
- Ricotta cheese
- Full-fat milk
- Powdered sour cream
Those who avoid dairy for any reason, including vegetarianism, lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or any other cause, may find that a sour cream alternative that does not include dairy is the best choice for them. You may believe that it is difficult to locate a non-dairy replacement that has a taste profile that is comparable to that of sour cream and is adaptable enough to be used in a wide range of dishes.
However, this is quite distant from the reality since the dairy-free segment is developing rapidly and there are always brand-new goods being introduced. There are a variety of plant-based items that may be used in lieu of sour creams, including vegan sour cream, plant-based yogurt, and vegan cream cheese.
You may also make your own homemade vegan sour cream by blending raw cashews, then adding cider vinegar, salt, and lemon juice to the mixture once it has been pureed. To make a sour cream made from soy, you may combine together some tofu, lemon juice, oat milk, and salt in a blender.
Other non-dairy alternatives include:
- Coconut milk
- Macadamia nuts
- Blanched almonds