Side Dishes

Easy Homemade Sour Cream

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Sour cream is one of those dairy products that goes well in dips, baking, and a variety of other recipes. This easy homemade sour cream is awesome and is a great substitute for storebought.

Believe it or not, some countries don’t have easy access to sour cream as we do here in the United States. But there is a way to make your own sour cream at home.

This recipe for homemade sour cream is really simple to make requiring little effort. It will taste a bit different than store-bought sour cream and it won’t be quite as thick, but it is still pretty amazing! Especially if you don’t have access to it.

If I can do it, you can do it, let’s get started!

Assortment of glass bowls on a wooden table containing cream, butter, and vinegar.

Ingredients

This easy homemade sour cream recipe uses only three simple ingredients. Chances are you might already have these ingredients in your home. You will need the following:

Sour Cream Ingredients

  • Heavy whipping cream or raw cream – This provides the base for the sour cream,
  • Milk – preferably whole milk but other milk like 2% and 1% will work, if you have raw milk, even better.
  • White Vinegar – You may also use lemon juice as well. It is the main fermenting agent and is what causes the scientific reaction with your cream and milk which produces the sour flavor and thickens it up.
  • Buttermilk – Optional, for another way to make it.

Tools

For the tools you will need the following:

  • Mason jar – or you can use any other kind of glass jar or glass container with a lid.
  • Clean cloth – a tea cloth or dishcloth works well
  • Rubber band – the rubber band will be used to hold the cloth in place on top of our container. You can use any kind of substitute for the rubber band if you like.

NOTE: I want to point out that traditional sour cream is made with a culture. The kind I am showing is made via acidity. Thus it is a sour cream substitute or acidic sour cream, and not actual cultured sour cream. But it works great as a substitute and it will still have a tangy flavor.

How to make sour cream at home

First let’s take a clean jar and add our whipped cream, milk, and vinegar (or lemon juice).

Man pouring a small glass bowl of vinegar into a large jar of cream and milk.

Cover and shake

Next, let’s cover the jar with a lid and shake it up a bit to make sure it is all incorporated. Don’t shake it up too much! We don’t want it turning into butter. haha

Leave cream alone so it can sour

Now take the lid off and cover the top with a thin towel or a paper towel (kitchen towel). Use a rubber band or some string to keep it in place.

Next, just let the jar sit out at room temperature for 12-24 hours until it thickens up and the chemical reaction has done its thing.

Large jar with sour cream covered with a light brown dish towel attached with a rubber band.

Stir, Pour, and Use that Homemade Sour Cream

After it has rested for about 24 hours, you will notice that the top is thick, and at the bottom, it will look watery, which is normal for that separation to occur. Just take a spoon and stir it all together.

Medium glass bowl with homemade sour cream sitting on a brown wooden table.

Then pour it into a bowl to be used, or keep it in the jar you used. Now your easy homemade sour cream is ready to go. Use this on baked potatoes, tacos, in baking, your favorite dips, salad dressings, and other favorite recipes, however, you would normally use sour cream. Enjoy!

TIP: If you want thicker sour cream you will need to use a cultured dairy product, like actual sour cream or buttermilk.

How to make sour cream with buttermilk

You may also make sour cream with buttermilk. Instead of using regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar, use 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk with your 1 cup of heavy cream.

Then just proceed with steps 3 through 5.

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Homemade sour cream pin for Pinterest
(Pin it!)

How long does homemade sour cream last?

If stored in an airtight container in the fridge after it is made this sour cream will last about a week.

Can I make more sour cream with leftover sour cream?

Yes! This is a great way to extend the life of your sour cream. You can add actual sour cream to heavy whipping cream and turn it into more sour cream. Of course, this doesn’t work if you don’t have it to begin with.

But if you happened to only have a little bit of cultured storebought sour cream left and you did have some whipping cream or fresh cream, voila, instead of vinegar, lemon juice, or buttermilk use that bit of sour cream as a starter culture to sour and thicken the other cream.

Can I make sour cream with yogurt?

Yes, you can, if you have plain yogurt with live cultures in it, just add 2 to 3 tablespoons of that to your heavy cream and let it sit overnight to thicken and sour.

Video Tutorial

Watch this short video tutorial to see those steps in action. 🙂

How to make Sour Cream - Easy Homemade Sour Cream Recipe

Here are a few other recipes you may like:

Homemade Chocolate Cake

Fall Off The Bone Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Thin Crispy Potato Chips

Creamsicle Float

Ground Beef Tacos

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4.77 from 13 votes

Easy Homemade Sour Cream Recipe

Sour cream is one of those things that goes well in dips, baking and a variety of other recipes. Believe it or now there are some countries that don't have easy access to sour cream like we do here in the United States. This recipe for homemade sour cream is really easy to make. It will taste a bit different then the kind you buy at the store and it won't be quite as thick, but it is still pretty amazing! If I can do it, you can do it, let's get started!
Prep Time5 minutes
Resting Time1 day
Total Time1 day 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy, ingredient, sour cream
Servings: 2 Cups
Calories: 45kcal

Equipment

  • Jar (mason jar works great)
  • Thin towel or paper towel
  • Rubber band or twine
  • spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (240 ml)
  • 1/4 cup of milk, whole milk preferably, or use buttermilk (60 ml)
  • 2 tsp. of white vinegar or lemon juice (don't use if using buttermilk) (10 ml)

Instructions

  • First let's take a clean jar and add our whipped cream, milk, and vinegar (or lemon juice).
  • Or if you are using buttermilk, just add the buttermilk and heavy whipping cream to the clean jar.
  • Next let's cover the jar with a lid and shake it up a bit to make sure it is all incorporated. Don't shake it up too much! We don't want it turning into butter. haha
  • Next we take the lid off and cover the top with a thin towel or a paper towel (kitchen towel). Use a rubber bad or some string to keep it in place. Now just let the jar sit out at room temperature for about 24 hours until it thickens up.
  • After it has rested for about 24 hours, you will notice that the top is thick, and at the bottom it will look watery, that is normal for that separation to occur. Just take a spoon and stir it all together. Then pour it into a bowl to be used, or keep it in the jar you used. Use this on baked potatoes, in baking, however you would normally use sour cream. Enjoy!
    ***When covered it will last about a week in the fridge.

Notes

list of nutritional facts for homemade sour cream
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

Nutrition

Calories: 45kcal

Do you like this sour cream substitute recipe? Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it. 🙂 If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.

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58 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hello,
    My problem is that my sour cream turns very thick like butter. I use raw milk, straight from the cows. I strain the milk and separate the cream. Then I followed the recipe. It looks fine on the counter, however once i put it in the fridge it’s hard like butter. Ideas?

    • Hi Daniela, you could try using less of the vinegar or lemon juice, or if you used vinegar, try lemon juice instead. It will probably take a little experimentation. I always use heavy whipping cream from the store, I have never tried it with fresh cream like you are trying. Or if you already have some store bought sour cream, mix a few tablespoons of that in with 1 cup of your fresh cream.

  2. 3 stars
    Hi, Matt! After 24hrs my sour cream is not sour and has the consistency of heavy cream. Should I just leave it out longer? Have I done something wrong?

    • Hello Mae, did you use vinegar or lemon juice? Try mixing in a bit more. And leave it longer. Remember this is not going to be as thick as sour cream you buy from the store. But it should be thicker than heavy cream. What cream did you use? Did you start with heavy cream?

  3. Preiss "Price"

    Looking forward to making some of you recipes.
    Can you please tell me why the whole milk. If I want thicker Greek style couldn’t I just leave it out or sub with whole yogurt containing live cultures, omitting the addition of acid?
    Thanks for your time.

    • Hi If you already have something with live cultures then yes use that. The whole reason for this homemade sour cream is for people who don’t have access to that stuff. If you want thicker Greek style, don’t add the milk. Just make sure your yogurt is acidic otherwise it won’t do anything to the cream.

  4. I’m curious, does doing it this way make it a probiotic also?

  5. 4 stars
    I wasn’t able to fully follow the instructions, due to not having 24 hours to fully prepare this. It still tastes fine though. Thank you for sharing.

  6. 5 stars
    This was super quick and easy to make. I made it with heavy cream and lemon juice. My picky son ate it with his tacos and said it was good. I like making my own so I can make as much or as little as I want. Thanks for the recipe!!

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