Sour cream is a tasty addition to potatoes, chips, salads and more, but it packs a punch when it comes to fat and calories. Two tablespoons of sour cream – or a generous dollop – contains 60 calories, about 5 g of fat, 2 g carbohydrate and 1 g protein. Luckily, there are many alternatives to sour cream that don't sacrifice flavor for nutrition. Some are substitutes for the flavor and texture of sour cream while others are condiment alternatives to using sour cream on potatoes, nachos and other foods.
Plain Nonfat Yogurt
Plain nonfat yogurt makes a good substitute for sour cream when used in baking or with other ingredients with flavors that it can absorb. Its own flavor is slightly tangy but less so than that of sour cream. A 2-tbsp. serving typically has about 15 calories, about 2 1/2 g carbohydrate and 1 1/2 g protein (all measurements have been rounded to the nearest 1/2 g).
Quark is a European cheese that can either be soft and solid or thick and creamy. The thick and creamy kind is closer to the flavor and consistency of sour cream than lowfat yogurt. Quark is traditionally whole-milk based, but lowfat and nonfat milk versions are available from companies like Appel Farms. Two tablespoons of regular Quark have about 25 calories, 3 g carbohydrate and 3 g protein.
Cottage Cheese, Milk and Lemon
This sour cream substitute calls for ingredients you may already have on hand. Blend 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese with 1 tbsp. skim milk and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. A 2-tbsp. serving contains about 26 calories, 1 g carbohydrate and 3 1/2 g protein.
Puree silken tofu in a blender or food processor to make a vegetarian and vegan-friendly sour cream substitute that is also full of protein. The equivalent to 2 tbsp. of sour cream is about 1 1/2 oz. of tofu. A serving that size contains about 19 calories, 1 g fat, 1/2 g carbohydrate and 2 g protein.
Greek yogurt is a thick, very tangy yogurt made from sheep's milk. Commercially, it can refer to any extra-thick yogurt. A 2-tbsp. serving of plain Greek yogurt contains about 24 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, and 3 g protein. Choose a nonfat or low fat version if you want to cut those calories further.
Plain soy yogurt is another yogurt substitute for sour cream, but unlike milk-based yogurt, soy protein can help reduce harmful LDL cholesterol. Two tablespoons contain about 20 calories, 1/2 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate and 1 g protein.
Avocados are naturally good for you because they contain vitamin E, antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. When pureed with other ingredients like onions, chili peppers and lime juice, they make a smooth and spicy guacamole that can be served with the same foods you'd normally dress with sour cream such as nachos and salads. Its healthfulness depends on the recipe, but two tablespoons of plain avocado contain about 29 calories, 3 g fat, 1 1/2 g carbohydrate and 1/2 g protein.
Hummus is a creamy spread made from pureed chickpeas and tahini, or sesame seed paste. It's popular in Greek and Middle Eastern diets and it can have many uses, including as a dip for vegetables and crackers, a filling for sandwiches and a topping for soups. Like guacamole, the healthfulness of hummus depends on the recipe. For reference, 2 tbsp. chickpeas plus 1/2 tbsp. tahini contains about 95 calories, 6 g fat and 8 g carbohydrate. That may not sound all that healthy but that little serving also packs more than 3 g of protein.
Pureed black beans can be added to soups and stews to thicken them or combined with chopped onions, garlic and tomatoes to make a simple party dip. Two tablespoons of black beans contain 39 calories, 2 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate and 1 1/2 g protein.
Baba ghanouj (pronounced baba ganoosh) is another Middle Eastern favorite that doubles as a chip and vegetable dip or a pita sandwich filling. It's made with tahini like hummus but it's based on eggplant instead of chickpeas. A 2-tbsp. serving of eggplant plus 1/2 tbsp. tahini contains about 53 calories, 4 1/2 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate and 2 g protein. Add onions, cilantro and garlic to make a tastier baba ghanouj.
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: Sour Cream
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: Plain Nonfat Yogurt
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: Quark Soft Cheese
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: Silken Tofu
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: Plain Greek Yogurt
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: SILK Plain Soy Yogurt
- Prevention: Avocado Lovers, Dig In!
Megan Robb has been writing professionally since 2007. She loves art and literature, as well as volunteering for her local animal shelter. Megan's work has been featured on Cracked.com, "The Bushwick Review," GlobalGolf.com and Divot.com, as well as her own blog, Megan Robb: Writer Extraordinaire. She currently lives in Raleigh, N.C.