How to Thicken Runny Sour Cream

By David Grimes

Although sour cream is normally quite thick, in some cases it's runny because of too much liquid. This is not a problem for soups, smoothies, marinades or salad dressings, when the thinner texture is actually a benefit. When a thicker texture is what you want, strain it through cheesecloth or coffee filters, or add gelatin or other thickeners.


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Strain It


Step 1

Fold cheesecloth in several layers and arrange it so that it covers the entire inside of the fine mesh strainer. Or flatten a coffee filter so it sits flat against the mesh strainer. Use as many paper filters as necessary to cover the strainer in a single layer, with minimal overlap.


Step 2

Spoon the sour cream into the strainer, ensuring that it only touches parts covered by cheesecloth or a filter. Fill the strainer to the brim.


Step 3

Place the mesh strainer so it sits on the rim of a bowl, with the mesh hanging into the bowl.


Step 4

Cover the bowl and sour cream-filled strainer with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for three to 24 hours. The longer it rests, the thicker the sour cream will be.


Step 5

Transfer the strained sour cream into a food storage container, cover it with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. Discard the liquid that has collected at the bottom of the bowl.

Add Gelatin


Step 6

Pour the runny sour cream into a pot and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin powder for every 2 to 4 cups of sour cream. The more gelatin you use, the thicker the sour cream will become. However, too much gelatin can produce a gummy consistency.


Step 7

Stir thoroughly to combine the gelatin and sour cream.


Step 8

Heat the sour cream and gelatin mix over low heat until the temperature reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.


Step 9

Let the sour cream cool before transferring it to a sealed, food-safe storage container and keeping it in the refrigerator.