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The best dairy-free substitutes for sour cream


Traditional dairy-based sour cream serves a number of purposes. It’s a classic topping for baked potatoes, a key ingredient in a stroganoff and makes a delicious foundation for dips.
Dairy-based sour cream is lightly fermented, which gives it a mildly tart flavor. While you can purchase lactic acid bacteria to ferment a plant-based beverage, it can be hard to find. A simpler way to make a non-dairy sour cream alternative is to mimic the fermented taste without the actual fermentation.

Substituting non-dairy alternatives for sour cream

When you’re making dairy-free sour cream substitutes, there are two main things to consider: consistency and taste.

Achieving the consistency of sour cream using a plant-based beverage is pretty easy to do. The challenge arises when achieving the same taste as dairy-based sour cream. The main reason is lactic acid.

Commercial dairy and dairy-free sour creams contain lactic acid. In theory, you can purchase lactic acid bacteria to recreate this process at home. But a home-use version isn’t easy to find or use. Instead, we recommend you use a food that is high in lactic acid and helps recreate the flavor of sour cream.

Foods high in lactic acid include silken tofu, miso, apple cider vinegar and honey. As we explore how oat, coconut, cashew, almond and soy beverages can be used to make sour cream alternatives, we’ll get more specific about which ingredients work well together and what kinds of recipes they work best in.

Soy milk-based alternatives

Soy milk is your best option for making a sour cream alternative that tastes like dairy-based sour cream. The biggest benefit of using soy milk is that, when mixed with soybean-based food items, the flavor profile doesn’t change.

One option is to thicken 1 cup of soy milk with 1/4 cup of extra firm silken tofu. Or, for extra savory dishes, combine 1 cup of soy milk with 1-2 tablespoons of white miso. Miso is fermented, so it provides the exact subtle tang found in dairy-based sour cream. 

This mixture is so much like sour cream that you can add chives or an envelope of onion soup mix to it for an excellent dip. 

While you can use soy milk-based sour cream (without the miso) in a sweet dish in a pinch, it’s much better in a savory dish. Its texture is remarkably like traditional sour cream, and it remains stable when heated.

Try adding a few dollops of this mixture to our Spicy Miso Mushroom Noodle Bowl, and watch it thicken into something super hearty. 

Oat-based alternatives

Oat milk is one of the creamiest plant-based beverages, but it’s much thinner than sour cream. To thicken oat milk, blend in 1/4 cup of silken tofu for every 1 cup of oat milk. Tofu labeled as firm or regular won’t have enough water content to achieve the right texture.

The combination of oak milk and tofu has good heat stability, and the tofu will add a subtle sourness. In a dip or as a topping, tofu alone won’t add enough flavor to the oat milk. But this simple mixture is enough for some recipes. 

Coconut-based alternatives

The flavor of coconut is a welcome addition in most sweet recipes, as well as in a fair number of savory ones. Coconut-based sour cream alternatives work best in cool or cold mixtures. This is because coconut can become granular when heated, such as when you add it to coffee. You can minimize that granularity when adding a coconut-based alternative to hot dishes by cooking the dish on low heat and stirring frequently.

There are two ways to use coconut for a non-dairy sour cream substitute. First, you can mix one cup of coconut milk with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of extra firm silken tofu. Alternatively, refrigerate a 13.5 oz can of full-fat coconut cream overnight and then skim the thickened cream off the top. What you’ll get from the top of the can is about the same consistency as sour cream. Just add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to mimic the flavor of sour cream.

Cashew milk-based alternatives

Cashew milk works well in both savory and sweet dishes. To make it the right consistency, blend in 1/4 cup of drained silken tofu with 1 cup of cashew milk. Then, add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to give it some tang. Like coconut milk, cashew milk can sometimes get a little granular when heated, but that won’t be an issue in most recipes. 

Generally speaking, if a recipe calls for a lot of sour cream, a cashew milk-based sour cream works better in a savory recipe than a sweet one. If it calls for just a bit, it’s fine in desserts too.

Almond milk-based alternatives

Almond-based sour cream works well for dips, spreads, sauces, dressings and soups. This is due to the distinctive nutty flavor of the almond milk, which can overwhelm more basic recipes.

To create an almond-based alternative, we recommend thickening 1 cup of almond milk with 1/4 cup silken tofu. Drain the silken tofu before blending it in a blender with the almond milk. To add a bit of tang, a tablespoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar will do the trick.

Tips for dairy-free sour cream substitutions

When you’re using a dairy-free sour cream alternative, think through what the sour cream was meant to achieve in the dish. Does it seem to be more about texture or taste? Is it the main ingredient or does it play a supporting role? 

If the main purpose of the sour cream seems to be providing a creamy texture, choose which dairy-free sour cream substitute to use based on flavor: 

  • For savory recipes, consider soy milk with miso. 
  • For sweet recipes, use almond milk with extra firm silken tofu. 
  • Coconut and oat milk work well in savory or sweet recipes, depending on what you add to them. 

If the mixture you make is the same consistency as sour cream, the substitution is one-to-one. But maybe you’re slipping a non-dairy sour cream into an existing recipe. If so, think about the recipe’s intended liquid content and hold back some of that liquid from the recipe until you see what consistency your sour cream mixture has created.

Whatever you do, don’t assume your plant-based mixture will behave exactly like dairy-based sour cream. 

Try dairy-free sour cream in a recipe

Below we’ve included some of our favorite recipes that include sour cream. Try using one of the alternatives above to make the sour cream dairy-free!

Gourmet Beef Stroganoff

This classic Beef Stroganoff recipe features tender beef, mushrooms and a creamy sauce made with Pacific Foods Organic Beef Broth. Infused with smoked paprika and dijon mustard, the recipe adds sour cream to balance the flavors and add richness to the dish.

See the full recipe: Gourmet Beef Stroganoff

Buffalo Chicken Party Dip

Elevate your party with this delicious Buffalo Chicken Party Dip, blending spicy buffalo sauce, tender chicken and Pacific Foods Organic Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup into an irresistible base.

See the full recipe: Buffalo Chicken Party Dip

Multi-Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Pulling rich flavor from Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth, this soup is a hearty, one-pot wonder that can easily accommodate a simple switch to dairy-free sour cream.

See the full recipe: Multi-Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Life-Changing Leftover Mashed Potato Soup

Revitalize your leftovers with a creamy, savory mashed potato soup. With Pacific Foods Orgainc Low-Sodium Chicken Broth as a base, this recipe features melted cheddar, bacon, green onions and of course, sour cream (which can be made dairy dairy-free).

See the full recipe: Life-Changing Leftover Mashed Potato Soup

Exercise your culinary creativity with dairy-free sour cream alternatives.

Whether you’re fully embracing a dairy-free lifestyle or just trying to cut down, give the recipes in this article a try. The more you experiment with dairy-free sour cream substitutes, the more you’ll learn. 

Pacific Foods has spent decades refining our products so you can start every cooking adventure with the finest ingredients at your fingertips. You can find our plant-based beverages in your local grocery store.