Sour cream is a tasty addition to potatoes, chips, salads, but it packs a punch when it comes to fat and calories. Two tablespoons of sour cream — or a generous dollop — contain 61 1/2 calories, about 6 g of fat, 1 g carbohydrate and less than 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 has about 17 calories, about 2 1/2 g carbohydrate and 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 nonfat Quark have about 9 calories, 1/2 g carbohydrate and 2 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 24 calories, 1 g fat, 1 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 10 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, and 2 g protein.
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 31 calories, 1/2 g fat, 5 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 with 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 spicy baba ghanouj.
References and ResourcesAnswer Fitness: Quark, the Perfect Sour Cream Subsitute
Fitness and Freebies: Healthy Food Substitutions
HealFeel: 10 Heart Healthy, Cholesterol Lowering Food Substitutes
FitDay Free Calorie Counter and Diet Journal
FatSecret: Cottage Cheese (Nonfat)
Serious Eats: Taste Test - Greek Yogurt
ResourcesPrevention: Avocado Lovers, Dig In!
Great Party Recipes: Black Bean Dip Recipe
Great Party Recipes: Baba Ghanouj Recipe
Soya: Soy Protein Health Claim