Sour Cream Substitute

This sour cream substitute is very easy to make and will get you out of any pickles. Sometimes you live in places where sour cream is not a staple — like Vanuatu — and you need some for recipes or as a topping for your favorite foods.

Well, here is the solution. This sour cream substitute looks like sour cream and tastes like sour cream. You will be very pleased at how well this works.

There are some important pointers for this. You must use a heavy whipping cream or it will not work. You will also find that Meyer lemons are not acid enough for this to work like it should. A very few people have expressed their frustration saying that they have whipped and whipped this and it did not thicken. As I say in the video, if it gets too thick you might have to add some more cream and if it is not thickening enough you might have to use a little more lemon.

If you can make this work, which I hope you can — I use it all the time over here — you will be absolutely pleased with this sour cream substitute.

Here is what you are going to need for this awesome and instant sour cream substitute:

1 cup of heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt or more to taste

Place the cream in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and whisk vigorously, until the cream is thickened. Mix in the salt and you are done! Use the sour cream immediately or store in the fridge, in a covered container, for up to two days.

If you want the sour cream to be thinner, add a little more cream. If you are having trouble getting it to thicken, add more lemon juice.

Print the Instant Sour Cream Recipe Here


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  • Mary Ann,
    Thank you so much for this recipe. I had no idea that it would be this easy. I do really enjoy your website and all your videos. You explain things so well. You are a good teacher.

  • I absolutely love you and your videos.Thank you so much! what I have learned in 1 week just blows me away!

  • OMG… this is amazing.

    Can’t really find sour cream here in Japan, and if you do, it’s about two spoonfuls for 4-5 bucks. This is a godsend.

    Of course it’s not a ‘real’ sour cream, but the texture and taste are pretty much spot on, especially once you practice it a few times. I’d say the cheapness, freshness, and convenience far outweigh any lacking authenticity.

    And, it’s just fun. I was laughing maniacally as this magically happened before my eyes. It’s like mad science. <3

  • Hi Aaron!
    I know exactly what you mean! I always have fun making this. In fact I am in the process of uploading a Watercress salad video and I make some for the dressing. You can tell I am just enjoying it!
    Thank you so much for your message. You are absolutely right, when you can not get authentic sour cream this is a great substitute! I hope you have a fantastic weekend!
    Mary Ann

  • Hi! Thank you so much for this recipe! Extremely grateful!
    We don’t get heavy cream around here so I was wondering if I could use a substitute for heavy cream, that is 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup melted butter. This substitute won’t whip. So could I use this heavy cream substitute to make sour cream expecting a decent result? Or do you think it won’t work?

    Thanks a lot.

  • Hi Tiana!
    I really have no idea if this will work. You might have to give it a try and let us know. Do you have whipping cream? Because that will work as well. YOu might have to add a little more juice and whip a little longer but it should be fine. Thanks for stopping by!
    Mary Ann

  • Hi! Thanks for your reply!
    I managed to get hold of ‘thick cream’ which quite a few websites say is the same thing as heavy cream. The consistency of this thick cream is much thicker than heavy cream, but I’m going to use it anyway.


  • Buenas tardes & Eureka!!

    I did it! This is an awesome recipe! Today is my daughter’s 13th birthday and as she was leaving for school, she requested a “Lemony” Cake. So, I found A Lemony Bundt Cake recipe (& boy is it lemony; it calls for the segments from 4 lemons) only to utter dismay, it requires sour cream. I had NOOO sour cream. I have yogurt but not the same. I remembered viewing your video recipe (because I was amazed), from earlier this week and searched for it, again. Now I’m praying it will hold up in this cake recipe. Not one site mentions using this “quick-fix” for baking.:/ So wish me luck!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!

  • Hi Nasiruddin!
    You should be perfectly fine. I use this ‘sour cream’ in my cakes all the time and have zero problems. Please let me know! Happy Birthday to your daughter by the way! Thank you very much for the message!
    Mary Ann

  • Hi Mary Ann,
    I made the Lemony Bundt Cake with my DIY sour cream and it came out BEAUTIFULLY!!! Thanks again for the tip.

    Oh BTW–My daughter said “Thank yoouuu” for the birthday wishes.

  • This look great. I’m all out of sour cream and have some heavy Mexican crema in the fridge. My questions is: is the SALT absolutely necessary? I’m on a VERY low sodium diet and would like to leave it out or use no more than 1/8 tsp. Would that be OK?

  • Hi Maralyn!
    No. The salt is not necessary for this to work. It is there just for taste. So go ahead and make it without any salt if you would like. Thank you for stopping by!
    Mary Ann

  • Hi Mary Ann. If this substitute sour cream is used as topping for new york cheesecake recipe, will it have the same texture as the original sour cream? Because according to recipe we have to bake the sour cream layer on the cheesecake for another 10 minutes. So will it do fine? I try yo substitute it with yogurt before and it taste bad. Thank you.

  • Hi there. Is this sour cream substitute will works on New York cheesecake recipe? The recipe need the sour cream to be spread on top of the cake and bake around 10 minutes after we baked it. So will I get the same texture like the original sour cream?

  • Hi Sapik!
    I am not sure. The truth is I use this substitute for baking everything but I have never made it as a topping for cheesecake. All I can say is give it a try and see. Sorry! I don’t want to say yes to you if I don’t know! If you do try it out maybe you can let us know? That would be great! Thank you for stopping by!
    Mary Ann

  • Heyy! I used thick cream and almost two lemons! Its still not thickening! What do i do?

  • Hi Rabee!

    I have no idea why this did not work for you. Sorry! I make this all the time and have never needed to add two lemons. Thank you for giving it a try.

    Mary Ann

  • I dont have any fresh lemons on hand but have lemon juice in the bottle, do you think this would work?

  • Thank you for this recipe! You saved our dinner tonight.

    And now I’m going to explore the rest of your recipes. I’m so pleased to discover your website.

  • Company coming….thought I had sour cream but didn’t ….absolutely no time to run to the store and get some….. knew yogurt as a substitute but it separates in heat. And, then, there you were with this “quick fix”. This was magical ! Thanks so much !

  • I used 1 C. Heavy whipping cream and added 1 tsp. lemon juice, I could see that it wanted to start thickening, but then it just instantly would break down and lose all its lift. Added another 1 tsp., same, and again. Added a total of 4 tsp. and it never did thicken up good. But it will do for what I need it for.(It gets thickened with flour in my recipe, so all is well). Beats having to travel 10 miles to town just for sour cream. I do wish it had more of that wonderful sour taste that store bought has. I will try again in future, maybe freeze my bowl rather then just chill it. And thank you for saving the day.

  • Hi Kathy!
    I am sorry this did not work so well for you! I have found that this works best with certain heavy creams — the higher the fat % the better it works. It is a simple substitute that sometimes is not so simple! Thanks for letting me know how it worked for you.
    Mary Ann

  • I’m making a white chili and have everything but the sour cream. I’m gonna try this today as I do have heavy cream and lemon. Thanks for the save ??

  • Hey! Thank you for sharing the recipe. It is quick and easy. I just made it with leftover cream, lemon and salt as instructed. And it turned out perfectly.The taste and consistency is just awesome. Thank you!

  • Hi! Unfortunately this simply did not work for me. I’m wondering if it has something to do with using ultra pasteurized organic cream? It didn’t matter how much fresh lemon juice or how long I wisked it.

  • Hello again…I believe I may have found my answer as to why my cream doesn’t work. My supposedly 100% organic heavy cream contains gellan gum. ” It is widely used as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer” Do you think this could be the reason? Thanks again!

  • I have been living in Vanuatu for 17 years now and yes there are many days you go into Au Bon and guess what no got, today was my day again. Thanks for the tip it was perfect and we had sour cream with our home made nachos. Thank you

  • This just saved our dinner, forgot to get to the shop before it closed
    Im the most useless in the kitchen too and am beyond impressed how easy this was

    I had to use bottle lemon juice, added like a tsp vinegar as it was a bit lemoney, salt and bam done

    Thankyou so much!!

  • Cannot easily find sour cream in Laos so this was just what I needed. The first time I made it I added the salt but it was too salty for my taste. The next time I left our the salt and it was perfect. Used it to make an Amish Salad and it was a big hit. Thank you.

  • I do not like cream, so I do my sour cream with plain yogurt, lemon juice and salt, sprinkle with green onion and has the same use and efect.

  • Thank you!!! It worked perfectly! I’m using it as a topping for homemade black bean soup. We are feeling the effects of a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and I wasn’t rushing out to buy sour cream! And you add a little lemon zest and cumin to the sour cream , and who will know?! What a great idea! I am book marking your site. Everyone’s comments impressed me. Thanks again!

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