17 Sour Cream Substitutes In Baking

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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Sour cream is an unsung hero that tenderizes the cake texture while adding a delightful tanginess to complement the sweetness of your treats. It is a magic flavor booster, no doubt, but let me tell you this: your baked goods can still shine on the table without sour cream.

bowl of sour cream

If you are short on this ingredient, the 17 sour cream alternatives below will save your baking day!

12 Dairy-Based Substitutes For Sour Cream In Baking

1. Greek Yogurt

Milk and Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a chameleon in the world of baking substitution for sour cream. I mean, it can blend well in any recipe with a similar tang, creamy thickness, and consistency. That’s not all; it’s also packed with more protein and is lower in fat and calories. 

You can use full-fat Greek yogurt at a 1:1 ratio to mimic the sour cream flavor better. When I swap it for sour cream, my baked goods turn out a bit fluffier, but I don’t think it’s a turn-off for someone. 

Here’s my secret tip for an even more mouthwatering treat: when folding the yogurt with other ingredients, I pour in some heavy cream. The result? A richer, creamier mouthfeel that makes each morsel an irresistible pleasure.

2. Plain Yogurt

What sets regular yogurt apart from its Greek cousin is its thinner consistency, which might not replicate that of sour cream. But I still crown it as my second favorite sub for its sharp tang that balances off the flavor profile and moisturizes my desserts. 

You can mimic that creamy texture by simply straining it through a cheesecloth several times, though using it out of the box is perfectly acceptable. I frequently substitute it for sour cream with the same amount in snickerdoodles, potato bread, challah, and carrot cakes. But it can work well in any recipe where extra moisture and tenderness are needed.

3. Labneh Or Skyr

Labneh and Skyr might sound like aliens to many American home bakers. But if you’re lucky enough to get some on hand, they make excellent alternatives to sour cream. They are both strained yogurt, yet Labneh, with a yogurt base, delivers a sharper tang than Skyr, which comes from skim milk.

Anyway, replacing them with sour cream still yields a comparable creamy texture and acidic note. Their acidity is potent enough to tenderize your batter, bringing out a soft, moist cake. I prefer using them in savory pastries where Labneh’s subtle salty hint and Skyr’s mild flavor can shine through.

4. Crème Fraîche

Pot de crème fraîche

A French cousin of sour cream, Crème Fraîche should be an excellent one-to-one alternative to sour cream that you can easily find at any grocery store. Boasting a milder tang, it is a godsend for those who are not that into the characteristic puckered-up flavor of sour cream. 

Its cheese-like texture makes a perfect addition to pound cakes, almond cakes, and cheesecakes, rounding out their richness. I sometimes even dollop this luscious cream on my sweets or pipe it in shortcakes. Note that Crème Fraîche is calorie-dense, so you’d better consider other sour cream replacements if you are counting your calories.

5. Crema Mexicana

Kiss goodbye to France, we now head to the culture-rich Mexico for another easy substitute—Crema Mexicana. If you find sour cream a bit too tart, this fresh cream will hit the spot with a subtle tanginess and a tropical freshness that brightens up your desserts. 

However, this Mexican-style sour cream is a bit thinner, so you might have to adjust other liquids to maintain the consistency. Swapping them at a 1:1 ratio is fine, though I sometimes drop in some fresh lemon juice in recipes where sour cream is the star, like sour cream lemon pound cakes, sour cream coffee cakes, and so on.

6. Buttermilk 


Buttermilk is, after all, milk, so its runny texture can’t replicate the creaminess of sour cream. But hear me out; its tanginess is exactly what we’re looking for from a stand-in. My go-to ratio is ¾ cup of this milk for every cup of sour cream, and my treats bake up nicely with a light, airy texture. 

Of course, buttermilk might not work its magic in frostings, but it shines in moist, tender baked goods like pancakes, pound cakes, muffins, and waffles. I also find it a great complement to caramel sauce, introducing a tangy twist.

7. Kefir

For those who don’t know, Kefir is a fermented drink with a comparable tartness to buttermilk. That’s why you can replace it with sour cream in many baking recipes, such as pancakes, scones, cupcakes, cakes with fruit fillings, and some savory breads. 

Its acidity can easily join hands with baking powder or baking soda in the batter to lift the cake structure. Remember to take its watery consistency into account, though. Like with buttermilk, I recommend you swap only ¾ cup of Kefir for 1 cup of sour cream.

8. Cottage Cheese

Calling all health-conscious bakers out there! Cottage cheese is a protein-rich yet low-fat and low-calorie replacement for sour cream. Its delicate tang and appetizing buttery hint will awaken all your taste buds in anticipation. 

While its creaminess is similar to sour cream, it’s not as sharp. To address this, I usually have to stir 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and ¼ cup of milk in 1 cup of cottage cheese to substitute for 1 cup of sour cream. This cheese can have its moment in frostings, dips for pastries, and some fruity cupcakes.

9. Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese

A creamy richness, a mild tang, and a subtle sweetness perfectly describe cream cheese. What could be better to stand in for sour cream? Cookies, bars, cheesecakes, fruity cakes, and frostings—I just toss it in any recipe that calls for sour cream. 

But here’s the catch: This cheese is slightly thicker with a more intense flavor, so you need to thin it out beforehand. I mix 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or milk into each cup of cheese to replace 1 cup of sour cream. 

10. Mascarpone


Mascarpone boasts a rich sweetness and a hint of acidity, giving your baked goods a luxurious mouthfeel. While it’s significantly less tang than sour cream, its creamy texture still makes it a great substitute. 

Swapping mascarpone for sour cream is as simple as with cream cheese: 1 cup of mascarpone plus 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or milk for 1 cup of sour cream. Its richness is a good fit in dense cakes, pastries, and frostings.

11. Ricotta

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta might be the least comparable substitute for sour cream on my list because of its pronounced sweetness. It’s a cherry on top for those with a sweet tooth! When tasting it, I spot almost no sour hint, but its consistency hits the right spot for a sour cream alternative. 

You can use ¾ cup of ricotta for every cup of sour cream, but remember to cut back on sugar to balance the sweetness. This cheese can blend well in pancakes, waffles, and muffins, adding extra richness and moisture to the batter.

12. Homemade Sour Cream

Happen to have some heavy cream and lemons in the fridge? Making sour cream from scratch has never been easier! 

All you need to do is mix 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Let it sit out for about 10 minutes, then stir in another 2 tablespoons of milk. Close the bowl tightly with cheesecloth and place it somewhere cool and dark for 1 or 2 days. And there you have it—easy DIY sour cream.

The flavor might lack the classic fermented tang; I get a vinegary or lemony tartness instead, but it’s not a huge deal for me.

5 Dairy-Free Replacements For Sour Cream In Baking

13. Mayonnaise

Think mayonnaise only makes a good salad dressing? Think again! Mayo, with its creamy texture and mild tanginess, can replace sour cream in a pinch. 

This dairy-free alternative can be used as a one-to-one replacement in baking recipes, but I prefer adding some lemon juice to highlight its tangy taste. Since it contains oil and eggs, mayo brings a lot of moisture to muffins or cakes.

14. Coconut Milk

coconut cream

Here comes a fantastic vegan alternative to sour cream. But we don’t actually use full-fat coconut milk. Instead, you will need to refrigerate the milk and carefully scoop off the condensed top layer, which is the coconut cream. That’s how we can get a creamy texture comparable to sour cream, my friends!

What about the tart flavor? This is when lemon or white vinegar steps in to save the baking game. Some drops will get the job done!

15. Vegan Sour Cream

Sometimes, you can get a sour cream substitute as easily as swinging by a grocery store and picking up a plant-based version. Honestly, I barely spot any flavor or texture difference between dairy sour cream and its vegan variant. So, just be confident with your one-to-one substitution!

16. Cashew Sour Cream

Cashew sour cream is actually a type of vegan sour cream but with a delightful nutty note. It also lacks the classic tang, so we need to make it up with some apple cider vinegar or lemon. Anyway, the creamy consistency is just on point for your baked goods. You can swap them with the same amount.

17. Soy-Based Sour Cream

Another vegan sour cream, soy-based, achieves a creamy and smooth texture similar to dairy sour cream, making it an excellent one-to-one alternative. 

But its tangy flavor is not as sharp as the original version, so lemon or vinegar can be your savior here! Cake or muffin recipes where moisture and tenderness are welcomed can benefit from this replacement.

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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