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Sour cream: it’s more than just a condiment. But what does sour cream taste like, really? In this post, we’re answering that age-old question and exploring the unique flavor of this dairy product.

What Does Sour Cream Taste Like

Sour cream is a food that doesn’t require you to guess its flavor – the name says it all!

Its signature sour taste is so popular that you can buy snacks with a “sour cream” flavor.

But what does sour cream actually taste like? It’s not comparable to other sour foods like vinegar or unripe mangoes, so let’s take a deep dive into the crowd’s favorite dip!

What Is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a type of dairy cream that is either cultured or acidified to achieve its signature “sourness.” The most popular sour cream and what you’ll likely see in stores is cultured sour cream.

sour cream

Cultured sour cream vs. acidified sour cream

Cultured sour cream achieves its sour taste and thick consistency by fermenting with a culture of lactic acid bacteria, hence the name.

On the other hand, can you guess what acidified sour cream is?

Instead of bacteria, acidified sour cream is made by adding an acid such as vinegar to the cream!

Reduced-fat sour cream vs. non-fat sour cream

You might also be curious about reduced-fat and non-fat sour cream.

The former is made from half-and-half with at least 25% less milk fat, while non-fat sour cream contains no more than 0.5 grams of milk fat.

Sour cream vs creme fraiche

Another creamy dairy product that’s often compared to sour cream is creme fraiche. However, sour cream is tangier, and creme fraiche is thicker.

Creme fraiche won’t curdle when heated, and because it’s creamier with a milder in flavor, it’s best enjoyed in desserts compared to sour cream used in savory dishes.

What Does Sour Cream Taste Like?

So what does sour cream taste like? Sour cream tastes exactly like its name: sour. It’s a bit similar to the tangy taste of creme fraiche and Greek yogurt, but sour cream also has a savory note.

The tart and slightly savory flavor of sour cream go perfectly with its creamy texture. This acidity is also perfect for keeping baked goods moist.

Personally, I love sour cream as a condiment for spicy foods because it “cools off” the hot flavor. 

Does Sour Cream Taste Like Yogurt?

An easy way to describe sour cream other than saying it’s sour is to compare it to yogurt.

In particular, Greek yogurt has a tang similar to sour cream, but the two creamy dairy products should not taste exactly alike.

Yogurt is essentially fermented milk and not fermented cream like sour cream.

Does Sour Cream Taste Like Cream Cheese?

Sour cream does not taste like cream cheese, even though cream cheese has a slight tang. Sour cream tastes tangier than cream cheese, and cream cheese has a mild sweetness.

The texture of the two is also different, so you’ll need to make adjustments if using cream cheese as a sour cream alternative.

Does Sour Cream Taste Like Buttermilk?

Sour cream is similar to the taste of buttermilk because they’re both tangy. However, buttermilk has a watery consistency with a milky and buttery taste.

What Is Sour Cream Made Of?

Sour cream is made of cream and a culture of bacteria that produces lactic acid. This thickens the pasteurized cream and adds a tangy flavor to the sour cream.

However, I also learned that you could achieve a sour taste and creamy texture by adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to the cream.

This method is popularly used for homemade soured cream. You only need cream, whole milk, distilled white vinegar, or lemon juice! 

Now that you know what sour cream is made of, you’re probably curious about the dos and don’ts of preparing this tangy and creamy dairy product.

For example, can you microwave sour cream? Find out if heat will change sour cream’s delicious taste and indulgent consistency!

The Different Types of Sour Cream

Cultured sour cream

The most common type of sour cream that you’ll probably find in stores is cultured sour cream. It’s made from probiotic cultures, cream, whole milk, skim milk, and enzymes.

Light sour cream

You can enjoy sour cream with fewer calories by choosing light instead of full-fat sour cream. This type of sour cream has 50% less fat and is made from cultured cream and skim milk.

Fat-free sour cream

Besides light sour cream, there is also a fat-free sour cream for those strict with their calorie intake. It uses food additives to maintain the sour cream’s thick consistency without fat content.

Sour cream powder

Are you looking for an option to store sour cream for longer? Try a sour cream powder that only needs to be mixed with water!

Dairy-free sour cream

Vegans can also enjoy the tangy and creamy sour cream with a plant-based alternative. This dairy-free sour cream substitute uses coconut milk and almond milk.

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Why You Should Try Sour Cream

  • Nutritious: The low-carb sour cream suits a keto diet, and the probiotics in cultured sour cream support gut health and digestion. And if you’re mindful of calories, there are also reduced-fat and non-fat sour cream products!
  • Versatile: The tangy, slightly savory, rich sour cream makes it versatile for a wide variety of dishes. A dollop of sour cream instantly improves dips, snacks, and finger foods.
  • Baking Secret: Did you know that sour cream is the secret to rich, moist, tender baked goods? This handy ingredient adds moisture to the batter, provides fat for mouth-pleasing richness, and tenderizes gluten strands for a perfectly tender product!

I would love to elaborate more on how sour cream is used in cakes.

It’s a fascinating topic, and I’m sure you’ll be amazed at how sour cream benefits cakes!

How Healthy Is Sour Cream?

The healthiest thing about sour cream is the probiotics; the same reason that gives sour cream its signature creaminess and tanginess!

The probiotics or lactic acid-producing bacteria in sour cream have numerous health benefits, such as improved digestion and regulation of immune response.

However, regular sour cream is also high in fat and calories, so it’s best enjoyed in moderation and as a part of a healthy diet.

You can also try the lighter varieties with fewer calories.

Or if you’re lactose-intolerant, vegan sour cream is as rich and tangy.

Where to Find Sour Cream

  • Local groceries and supermarkets: Sour cream is fairly common in groceries and supermarkets. I recommend comparing different brands to find a sour cream that’s not full of additives.
  • Online stores: You can also order sour cream from Amazon or Walmart online. These online stores even have different sour cream options like reduced, non-fat, and vegan sour cream products!
sour cream taste

5 Best Substitutes For Sour Cream

Greek yogurt

The tanginess and creaminess of Greek yogurt make it the top choice as a sour cream substitute. It also has a lower fat and calorie content than regular sour cream!

Creme fraiche

Creme fraiche is a delicious sour cream alternative, especially for desserts. It can also be your thickener for sauces and soups because it won’t curdle like sour cream.

Cream cheese

You can thin cream cheese with milk and use it as a replacement for sour cream. Or, if you’re only using it as a dip or garnish, try this fluffier whipped cream cheese with a nice texture that spreads easier.


Buttermilk is an excellent substitute if you run out of sour cream and need it as a dressing! You could replace a cup of sour cream with ¾ cup of buttermilk.

For convenience in storage, here’s a buttermilk powder that you can mix with water before usage.

Cottage cheese

Are you looking for a low-calorie alternative to sour cream? You can substitute it with cottage cheese, which also has more protein and less fat.

Does Sour Cream Go Bad?

As expected, sour cream can go bad since it’s a dairy product. How to tell if sour cream has gone bad?

The obvious signs of a spoiled sour cream are changes in color, texture, smell, and taste. Even though sour cream is sour, it shouldn’t taste and smell rancid.

You might also notice curdling, where the sour cream has a liquid on the surface.

If it’s no longer white, has irregular clumps, developed molds, or changed from creamy to watery, it’s a good idea to throw out the sour cream.

How To Store Sour Cream

The USDA recommends storing sour cream in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last between one to three weeks. 

However, you don’t want to freeze sour cream because it will change the texture and quality of the product.

Is sour cream okay if left out overnight? Consuming sour cream left out overnight is not recommended because it typically spoils at room temperature within 2 to 4 hours.

Recipes That Have Sour Cream In It

Did our talk about sour cream make you crave the tangy and creamy dairy product?

Try a classic sour cream and onion chips, or use sour cream in baked goods like this coffee cake! It can also just be a condiment atop dishes.

Or try this copycat Chilis Spicy Shrimp Tacos from the archives.

But because measurements are important in recipes, let me guide you in knowing how much sour cream you’ll need.

If you bought a pint, here’s how many ounces are in a pint of sour cream.

What To Eat Sour Cream With


The creamy sour cream is the perfect dip for crispy chips. Its acidic tang cuts through the salty chips for an addictive finger-licking snack.

Use it by itself or mix sour cream in dips like garlic mayo!


A dollop of sour cream on your chili makes a massive difference because it balances the hot dish with its cool and sour flavor. It also gives the chili a creamier texture.

Vegetable salad

Sour cream is a delicious dressing for fresh vegetable salads! The thick texture and sour taste go well with tomatoes, lettuce, or radish.

FAQ About Sour Cream

Does sour cream have a strong taste?

While sour cream tastes tart, it’s a relatively mild flavor that won’t completely alter the recipe’s flavor.

Is sour cream supposed to taste sour?

Yes, sour cream is supposed to taste sour and tangy. However, sour cream has gone bad if it has a rancid smell and taste.

What do you use sour cream for?

Sour cream has many uses, from a creamy condiment, dipping sauce, salad dressing, topping on your favorite soup, or even as a baking ingredient for moist cakes.


So what does sour cream taste like?

Sour cream tastes tangy and slightly savory. However, this tart flavor is relatively mild, as sour cream does not overpower other ingredients when used in recipes.

You can also use sour cream for baking and achieve a delicious, moist texture on cakes!

sour cream flavor

For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few suggestions for you:

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