Learn how to make sour cream at home using just 3 ingredients and 2 minutes of active working time. The homemade version is super easy, no-cook, very economical and much better than the store-bought one.
About This Recipe
Sour cream (cultured cream) is nothing but preserved soured cream made by fermenting heavy cream. It is one of those ingredients that is used very regularly in my kitchen and the best thing that I have done is to perfect the recipe to make it at home.
The process to make it is just like making homemade yogurt or buttermilk where the lactic acid bacteria reacts with the cream and milk and produces more acid. This process gives a thick texture with a slightly sour flavor to the sour cream.
It is slightly tangy tart in taste and is often used as a baking ingredient to make the cakes and other bakes fluffier and richer or it is used to top savory dishes.
Although it comes together in just 2 minutes, it needs 24 hours to allow the lactic acid bacteria to thicken and ferment it. Keep this in consideration and make it in advance before you need it.
Made using just 3 ingredients and 2 minutes of active working time, homemade sour cream is much better than its store-bought version. Why you may ask?
- Homemade tastes much better than the store-bought one.
- It is made using high-quality ingredients
- It is much economical to make at home.
- The homemade version is free of any added preservatives or stabilizers.
- It can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator
Heavy Cream – Heavy cream with a fat content of 36% works best.
Fermenting Agent – You will need a fermenting agent to ferment the cream. Buttermilk or plain live yogurt works well.
To make the process simpler, I add milk and lemon juice (or vinegar) to the cream and let them do their magic. You can also use store-bought buttermilk (¼ cup in place of milk and lemon juice) but since we require it in so little quantity, I refrain from buying a box and then figuring out what to use the rest for.
Another way to make it is by using yogurt as the fermenting agent. Just add a tsp of plain live yogurt (in place of lemon juice) per 1 cup of heavy cream.
Flavoring – Once it is ready, you can either use it as is or flavor it with any flavoring of your choice. Garlic powder, taco seasoning, lemon pepper, etc can be added to it for a delicious taste.
How to make Sour Cream?
Add 1 cup heavy cream, ¼ cup whole milk, and 2 tsp lemon juice in a glass jar (jug). Close the lid and shake well until everything comes together. You can also stir the ingredients using a spoon.
Remove the lid and cover the mouth of the jar with kitchen paper and secure it with a rubber band. Using a breathable material to cover the jar will help to build the flavor. You can also use cheesecloth in place of kitchen paper.
Leave the jar on the counter for up to 8 hours or overnight to set. If it’s very hot where you live, reduce this time to 6 hours.
The cream might have separated a bit while resting. Just stir it well using a spoon and refrigerate for another 8 hours for it to thicken.
Refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks and use as desired.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you buy sour cream from the store, it comes with added thickener, and hence it can be a little thicker than the homemade version.
The homemade version might be a little thinner in consistency but is equally good and the recipes to which it is added come out perfect.
If you are a vegan, you can make it using raw cashew nuts. It’s not the real deal but tastes as good as the original one.
Just add 1 cup cashew nuts, ½ cup water, and 2 tbsp lemon juice to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy and your vegan version is ready. Easy, right!!
It contains just heavy cream, lemon juice, and milk hence it is absolutely gluten-free unless there is some contamination.
This Instant version is a great substitute if you are on a time crunch. To make this, you will need heavy whipping cream and lemon juice. Stir the two until combined and whisk until the cream is slightly stiffened.
While sour cream is prepared by adding bacteria (fermentation) to a mixture of cream and milk, yogurt is prepared by fermenting only milk.
Yes, you can use white distilled vinegar in place of lemon juice. It works absolutely fine.
Pro Tips by Neha
Don’t get tempted to use low fat cream. The sour cream will not turn out thick and creamy.
Once sour cream is ready, you can flavor it using various ingredients. Add some salt, pepper, onion powder, and chives to make a savory onion and chive topping, or add vanilla, orange zest, or lemon zest along with some sugar to top over your desserts.
Sour cream is a very versatile ingredient and can be used in multiple baking recipes and to make creamy savory dishes too.
It makes the baked good moist and gives them a nice texture. Since it contains acid it tenderizes the gluten yielding incredibly soft cakes. I use it to make pound cake, cookies, and chocolate cake.
It is also a great topping for baked potatoes and pizza. Stir it with a little onion and garlic powder for added flavor. I sometimes slather it over my Sicilian pizza and it tastes great too.
Thin it down with little water and use it as a dressing in potato salad or any other salad or make a creamy dip out of it.
Use it to thicken sups and stews and give them a creamier texture.
You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Make sure to use a non-reactive glass container (as it may react with the plastic) and keep the lid tightly closed.
I do not recommend freezing it as it may separate when thawed. However, if you have made a big batch and not been able to use it, freeze it in a freezer-safe box and use it only for baked goodies. Do not use for dips or sauces as the texture will not be the same.
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How to Make Sour Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream (8 oz/250 g, 36% fat content works best)
- ¼ cup whole milk (2 oz/60 ml)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- In a glass jar, stir together heavy cream, whole milk and lemon juice.
- Cover the jar with a kitchen paper and secure it with an elastic band. You can also cover it with cheesecloth.
- Leave it on the counter overnight (up to 8 hours) for it to set up.
- The cream might separate while resting. Give it a stir until it comes together and cover the jar with the lid tightly. Refrigate for another 8 hours for it to thicken. Then use as desired or store for up to 2 weeks.