Used as a condiment as well as in cooking and baking, sour cream is a dairy product named not for its taste but for the process of bacterial fermentation, called “souring,” that produces lactic acid. There are many alternatives to regular sour cream including vegan and raw versions. If commercial options are not available in your area, try making your own sour cream substitute, tailoring the flavor and texture to your taste.

Fresh Dairy Substitutes

A sour cream alternative that features a lower fat content and provides more calcium is plain yogurt, which can be substituted in equal measures. Regular or low-fat cottage cheese is also an acceptable substitute for sour cream. Blend the desired quantity with 1 tbsp. of lemon juice or vinegar per cup, and use in equal quantities as you would sour cream. Buttermilk may also be substituted, with 7/8 cup of buttermilk for each cup of sour cream.

Canned and Dried Dairy Substitutes

Sour cream substitutes may be derived from pantry staples including dried and evaporated milk. For each cup of sour cream, substitute a mixture of 1 cup evaporated milk mixed with 1 tbsp. vinegar. Allow the substitute mixture to sit approximately five minutes in order to achieve a thicker consistency. When powdered milk is the substitution base, mix 1 1/8 cup of the powdered milk with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tbsp. vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit, refrigerated, for a few hours until it reaches the desired consistency.

Vegan Sour Cream Substitutes

Commercially-made vegan substitutes for sour cream are available at health food stores and many supermarkets. With a little experimentation and research you can also find an easy to make recipe for an at-home version that suits your taste. Basic ingredients include tofu, oil, vinegar and seasonings. Though the result will have its own unique taste, it will suit individuals with special dietary preferences and needs.

Raw Substitutes for Sour Cream

Imagine a sour cream where the main ingredient is cashews, sunflower seeds or coconut meat. From these uncooked starters, raw food enthusiasts can create their own versions of tasty sour cream. Though the process is not complicated, it does typically involve soaking nuts for a number of hours. There are many versions of raw “sour cream” available online, in books and in specialty magazines.