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How to make Sour Cream recipe - All you need is 3 ingredients and a jar, that's it!

How to Make Sour Cream (Bold Baking Basics)

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Learn How to Make Sour Cream at home with this sour cream recipe and then use it to make your baking even better — or enjoy on its own.


Hi Bold Bakers!

One of my oldest and most used Bold Baking Basic recipes is Sour Cream! Knowing how to make sour cream is key for both your sweet and savory cooking and baking.

From topping tacos and chili to adding onto your scones and rich chocolate cakes, I use sour cream all the time. I always have some of my easy Homemade Sour Cream in the fridge, so using this simple method means that you too can have your own fresh sour cream on hand. Let me tell you, too: Bold Bakers have been asking me about Homemade Sour Cream for quite some time. Whether it’s because it’s unavailable in your region, or maybe you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get it, here it is! And it’s so simple. You will be happy to know you just need 3 ingredients and a jar, that’s it.

How to Make Sour Cream

Before I tried this recipe, I actually had no idea how sour cream was made. Well, it turns out the name say’s it all because it’s literally preserved soured cream. Unlike other homemade dairy products, this method for sour cream requires no cooking at all and very little effort. To make my homemade sour cream all you need is a nice clean jar, milk, cream, and fresh lemon juice. Oh, and a little bit of time, because you have to leave it covered on the counter top overnight. Make sure to use a breathable cloth (no lids or plastic wrap), as your sour cream will have a more fragrant flavor with exposure to the air. And that’s it!

After combining all of the ingredients they will do the work for you. The acid in the lemon reacts with the cream, similar to making my Homemade Buttermilk. After a night on the counter, I give the mix a good stir, and BAM, Homemade Sour Cream. The final sour cream is thick, rich, and tangy. There is no difference between this sour cream and the store bought stuff, making it an amazing recipe to have on hand!

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Why is My Sour Cream Thin?

The consistency of your Homemade Sour Cream might be slightly looser than something store-bought, but it will provide all the same flavor and moisture to your baking. The reason for this is because there are no artificial thickeners that are always added commercial brands of sour cream.

How to Store Sour Cream

Because there is nothing in the sour cream to preserve it, you will want to store it in an airtight container in your fridge. That said, it will last for a good 2 weeks! This rarely lasts that long for me so sometimes I even double down and make a larger batch.

How to Use Sour Cream in Baking

Dairy is a really important ingredient when it comes to baking. It serves many purposes like replacing eggs, making richer cakes, and because it contains acid it tenderizes the gluten so it yields incredibly soft cakes too. This Sour Cream recipe can be used in the place of buttermilk, or even yogurt. One of my favorite ways to use it in my baking is in my Chocolate Bundt Cake. In this case, my sour cream makes all the difference, adding a very distinct richness and moist texture.

[ If you like making your own ingredients at home you’ll love my recipe for How to Make Yogurt! ]

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4.4 from 110 votes
How to make Sour Cream recipe - All you need is 3 ingredients and a jar, that's it!
How to Make Sour Cream

Learn How to Make Sour Cream at home and then use it to make your baking even better or enjoy it on its own.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 cups
Author: DIY Natural
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (8oz / 240g) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice (or white vinegar)
  • ¼ cup (2oz / 60g) milk
Instructions
  1. In a jar, mix the cream and lemon juice (or vinegar) together, then pour in the milk. Screw a lid on tightly and shake well.

  2. Remove the lid and put a clean piece of kitchen paper over the jar and secure it with a rubber band.
  3. Leave it on the counter overnight (up to 24 hours) for it to set up.
  4. After 24 hours it should be quite firm. Give it a stir and cover it with a jar lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or so if it lasts that long!
  5. Note: Because there are no artificial thickeners, your homemade sour cream may be thinner than commercial brands you may be used to. Have no fear, it’s fine. I’ve gotten used to the consistency and like it better since it blends in recipes so well.

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412 Comments

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  1. Kristine on September 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    What milk did you use? Can I use full cream or fresh milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 4, 2019 at 2:14 am

      Hi Kristine,
      The cream which I use for most of my recipes is fresh dairy cream. This needs to be at least 35% fat content to whip well. This is from cows milk. It is a liquid product found in the chill cabinet in your store. It will spoil in a few days, even when refrigerated. It has no additives, it is just natural cream skimmed from milk. this is the one you use for sour cream. Milk will not thicken unless you use something to thicken it, such as carrageenan, but that is not the idea here.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

    • Kristine on September 16, 2019 at 1:21 am

      Can i use whipping cream (35.1% fat) as substitute for heavy cream? Then full cream milk (3.5% fat)

      • Gemma Stafford on September 17, 2019 at 8:34 am

        Yes Kristine you can use whipping cream.

        Best,
        Gemma.

  2. Z on September 3, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Hi Gemma. Can I use whipping cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 5, 2019 at 2:41 am

      Hi there,
      The cream which I use for most of my recipes is fresh dairy cream. This needs to be at least 35% fat content to whip well. This is from cows milk. It is a liquid product found in the chill cabinet in your store. It will spoil in a few days, even when refrigerated. It has no additives, it is just natural cream skimmed from milk. This is the one I use here on BBB for all of my recipes which have cream.
      In some places, where there is no dairy industry, there are manufactured products, usually made with milk powders and fats. These are good for some applications, but they are not fresh cream- I think these creams will struggle to sour in this traditional way.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Meredith on August 30, 2019 at 12:19 am

    I don’t have heavy cream here in Ethiopia. Can I just use whole milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 30, 2019 at 10:04 am

      Yes, you can use whole milk as a substitute to heavy cream but expect a slight difference in the result.

      • meredith ward on September 1, 2019 at 10:53 am

        I did it with just milk and it didn’t work. You must need heavy cream. It was worth a try though!

        • Gemma Stafford on September 3, 2019 at 3:16 am

          Hi Meredith,
          yes, it is meant to be cream for sure. Some manufactured sour cream is really light cream, or even milk, which has been thickened with carrageenan.
          It is an education to take a look at packs in the store, read the contents on the labels, this will help to understand the process of manufactured foods. Greek yogurt, for instance, is strained yogurt, a lot of the water content is strained away, leaving only a thick natural yogurt. Other manufactured ones are Greek Style, not strained but thickened – they behave differently in recipes, though work well off the spoon to eat.
          I hope this helps,
          Gemma 🙂

  4. Barbara on August 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Gemma, may I ask the purpose of adding the 2 ounces of milk to the cream and lemon juice? Does it help it in some way? I ask because of people saying their’s was thin. I made mine with just the cream and lemon juice, but I’m wondering if I should add the milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 30, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      Barbara, this sour cream will not thicken like the ones you have in the store. Some do have emulsifiers that help with that. You are grand with just cream and lemon juice. Gemma 😊

  5. David Grey on August 18, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Can I use all-purpose cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 19, 2019 at 11:57 am

      Yes David absolutely you can use all purpose cream for this recipe.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  6. Aniva on July 31, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Hi Gemma! What percentage of fat in heavy cream? I live in Nepal and it’s hard to find cream with high fat context. Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 1, 2019 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Aniva,

      So here in the US its around 35% or higher then that. If it’s for sour cream then you don’t need a really high fat content cream.

      Best,
      Gemma.

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