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

How to Make Sour Cream (Bold Baking Basics)

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Hi Bold Bakers!

Dairy is a really important ingredient when it comes to baking. It serves many purposes like replacing eggs, makes richer cakes and because it contains acid it tenderizes the gluten so it yields incredibly soft cakes. That’s why it’s important for me to show you How to Make Sour Cream.

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.

Squeeze your lemon into the heavy cream first, and stir it well. Then add the whole milk and leave it covered on the countertop 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!

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In the morning, put it in the fridge and make sure to use it within two weeks. 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.

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.

Leave out at room temp in your kitchen. Label it. After 24 hours stir (show separated) and store in the fridge.  Keep for 2 weeks in fridge.

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Make basic ingredients yourself and get more Bold Baking Basics.

4.9 from 13 reviews
How to Make Sour Cream
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 cup (8oz / 240g) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice ( or white vinegar)
  • ¼ cup (2oz / 60g) milk
  1. In a jar, mix the cream and lemon juice (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 week 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 use to the consistency and like it better since it blends in recipes so well.



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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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  1. Myra Barg on June 20, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    How much fat content of whipping cream and howmuch fat in milk to make sour cream. How about those milk in the can will it work with whipping cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 21, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Myra,

      I’m not sure if milk in a can will work. I have never used that before. Use full fat milk and cream with a fat % around 30plus.


  2. Bushra on June 20, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Hi m from india n here in india v get 25% n 30% milk fat cream so do u suggest me to use this to make sour cream n also should i use milk or no coz the fat content is low in the cream…Thanks alot

    • Gemma Stafford on June 20, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Bushra,

      Use whatever milk has the highest fat content. That will work best.

      Gemma 🙂

  3. Hannah on June 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I tried this but after 24 hrs it was just warm milk either a little foam on top. No sour taste, no thickness to it. What did I do wrong?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 19, 2018 at 3:23 am

      Hi Hannah,
      What did you use? you say milk, was it milk or cream?
      I need a little more information,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Hannah on June 19, 2018 at 5:48 am

        I used whole milk and heavy whipping cream.

        • Gemma Stafford on June 20, 2018 at 1:23 am

          Hi Hannah,
          I have no idea what went wrong for you. Go back to the recipe and instructions and see if you can spot the reason. You can also add a touch more vinegar, less than a teaspoon to see if that will affect it. ( Something not right, but I do not know what! Heavy whipping cream is usually fresh, not UHT, or ultra pasteurized, the latter will struggle to culture,
          Gemma 🙂

  4. Jayne on June 16, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I’m sdorry to be negative, but you are a chef and should understand that this is not sour cream but curdled cream. Sour cream is made with a lower fat cream and a culture. The culture can be purchased or you can use buttermilk.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 17, 2018 at 3:07 am

      Hi Jayne,
      Well! There are horses for courses. Yes, you can culture creams in different ways, but this is as valid as any other. My objective here is to give people something that is not intimidating, which they can do at home, with ingredients they may already have.
      Buttermilk is another one of those things! When we buy it in the store nowadays we do not get the buttermilk from the butter-making process, but a cultured one. This is also a different thing, but easier to find, and easier to replicate at home too.
      I hear you though, there is more than one way,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Judith on June 17, 2018 at 10:14 am

        Okay, now I’m confused. I don’t know if I said this already but my ultimate goal is to make cultured butter.

        I assume I would use cultured cream to make cultured butter. Am I right? I make butter regularly so I do have access to real buttermilk.

        How do I culture the cream? I will try both ways as I am curious but what is the actual way to make real cultured butter?

        Thank you both!

        • Gemma Stafford on June 18, 2018 at 3:16 am

          Hi Judith,
          There are a number of ways to culture cream for butter, and there are a number of recipe online for this.
          You can buy cultures for this purpose, but you can also use a good organic natural yogurt for this purpose. I like a recipe from the Kitchn, google this, they give a great explanation of the process.
          Cultured butters were widely made before refrigeration, it was a way to preserve the butter. We still get this in Ireland, a farmers butter if you will.
          Do check these out online, read a few of the posts to get a clear idea of the process.
          Let me know how you get on,
          Gemma 🙂

          • Judith on June 18, 2018 at 6:43 am

            Thank you so much Gemma!!!

  5. Kim on June 12, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Tried this with non-UHT heavy cream, 2% milk and lemon juice. Didn’t work at all.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 13, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Kim,

      I don’t recommend trying it with UHT cream as it will not sour. Fresh cream is best.


  6. Judith on June 11, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Hi, I am excited to make my own sour cream to eventually make cultured butter.

    I would like to make a litre of sour cream how many lemons or I even like the idea of apple cider vinegar, but how much for making sour cream with a whole litre of fresh cream?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 12, 2018 at 3:35 am

      Hi Judith,
      There are 40ozs or so in a liter of liquid cream.
      You would use 1 – 2 teaspoons per 8ozs of cream. If you are using cider vinegar use a good quality organic one for best results, and it will be great.
      If you have unprocessed/unpasteurized cream it will need less vinegar, acid to culture it. You should try a small sample first to check the thickness.
      Pasteurized cream will take a bit more vinegar, and ultra pasteurized even more! It is hard to be specific.
      I hope this is of help.
      Gemma 🙂

  7. Elyssa on June 8, 2018 at 2:43 am

    Hi Gemma, I noticed that you said this recipe serves 2 cups of sour cream but you only used one cup of cream. Does the cream double in amount when it is in the culturing process?
    I wish to make a cheesecake and it calls for 2 cups of sour cream.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 9, 2018 at 3:27 am

      Hi there,
      This is a great question Elyssa. This is about volume, the way cups measure an ingredient changes from liquids to solids. There is a certain amount of bulking up. The weight will not change but the volume will.Cup measurements are based on an informal system of measurement, prior to home weighing scales. People would share recipes based on their kitchen cups, it did not matter the weight of the ingredients, or the size of the cup, as long as the same cup was used to measure all of the ingredients, in any one kitchen. It a measure of volume. Once the balance is right, then all will be well. Different ingredients have different equivalent weights too, so rice will be different to sugar, cocoa to flour, and different flours will have a different weight too. Think Rocks and Feathers! So, the rule is simple, fill your cups in the same way, scoop/level/compress, however you choose, and the balance in the recipe will be good. It is not a good idea to mix cup measurements with another method, it is unnecessary, and will not be good for your recipes. You have to trust this system, if not, get a digital scales, it will be the most accurate of all!
      Gemma 🙂

  8. April on June 6, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Hello! I loved this recipe. I wanted to know the nutritional value of this recipe. Thank you!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on June 6, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Hi April,
      there is no general answer to this. hat matters is what is in the cream you are using, and this should only be dairy cream. The fat level should be about 35% of the volume. It will be mostly saturated fats. Check the label on the cream, this will not change when it is soured. There are about 50 calories in a tablespoon of cream.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Saira on June 2, 2018 at 1:28 am

    What if u add yogurt

    • Gemma Stafford on June 2, 2018 at 2:37 am

      Hi Saira,
      I am not sure when you would add it. If you add good natural local yogurt to milk like this ( you get yogurt, not sour cream, it is a different thing.
      However, if you need an acid/cultured milk in a recipe then it is a good shortcut. As in soda bread for instance.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Saira on June 2, 2018 at 3:14 am

        To make the sour cream

        • Gemma Stafford on June 2, 2018 at 4:13 am

          Hi Saira,
          It will not be sour cream if you make it with yogurt, but it will be useful for some recipes,
          Gemma 🙂

  10. Vicky on May 19, 2018 at 1:38 am

    Hi. Going to try this recipe. Although I do have a question….can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar???

    • Gemma Stafford on May 19, 2018 at 4:05 am

      Yes you can Vicky, that will work well.

      Happy Baking,

  11. Robin Juelich Shima on May 12, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    I just made up a batch for the very first time because I needed it for a recipe I want to try and I don’t have any fresh sour cream. I used white vinegar as I don’t have a lemon on hand and I used half and half as I don’t have any milk on hand. I stirred the concoction up and it’s sitting on my kitchen counter. It already seems VERY thick and I may be able to use it on my avocado tacos tonight. Thank you so much for your recipe, it saved me a trip to the grocery store!

    • Gemma Stafford on May 15, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Hi Robin,

      I’m thrilled to hear that!!! I love success stories.

      Keep up the great work,

  12. Myra Barg on May 1, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    I’m from the Philippines what we have here is whipping cream will that work?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 2, 2018 at 3:12 am

      Hi there Myra,
      good to have you with us.
      The cream which I use for most of my recipes is fresh dairy cream. 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.
      In some places, where there is no dairy industry, there are manufactured products, such as Nestle All purpose whipping cream, usually made with milk powders and fats. I think this may be what you get in the Philippines.This is not fresh cream.
      I think you can try an experiment with this, but just use a small amount, add vinegar rather than lemon juice for best results, and let us know how you get on. I do not use this here in the US.
      Gemma 🙂

      • Myra Barg on May 2, 2018 at 9:34 am

        Thank you for answering my question. Our groceries here does not sell any powdered whip cream what even Nestle what I bought was whip cream from France so is it ok to use?

        • Gemma Stafford on May 3, 2018 at 3:33 am

          Hi Myra,
          Yes, I believe that will be good. Ultra pasteurized/ultra heat treated milk or cream struggles to sour. Trying a little amount will tell you, nothing better than experience to teach us.
          Gemma 🙂

  13. Jennifer on May 1, 2018 at 8:58 am

    What a great recipe! I needed some sour cream and had a bunch of heavy cream so I tried out this recipe. So easy to make and it tasted better than the store version. Thanks for another simple, homemade recipe, Gemma!

    • Gemma Stafford on May 2, 2018 at 4:38 am

      Hi Jennifer,
      Thank you, I am happy this recipe suited you, good to have this kind review,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. Jstwatkins on April 28, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Gemma! I’m new to your website and loving it so far! Thank you so much for posting this recipe. As I type this, my sour cream is sitting out! Have you ever added salt to your recipe? If so, how much and would you add it with the ingredients as you put it together or after the 24 hours? This is my first time making it so it may not even need salt, but was just curious if you ever have?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 30, 2018 at 4:17 am

      Hi there,
      good to have you with us. I do not usually add salt to this recipe, but there is no reason not to, I do not think it will interfere with the culturing process. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
      Gemma 🙂

  15. Lindsay on April 24, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Totally excited to try this! We don’t have sour cream in Ecuador, and I”m been craving it lately!
    I have a jar on my counter now … I’ll check back in, in 24 hour and let you know how it goes!

    • Gemma Stafford on April 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      That’s great Lindsay. let me know how you get on.

      Gemma 🙂

  16. Sarah on April 23, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Can you use buttermilk instead of the milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 23, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Hum, you know Sarah I’m not 100% sure about that. I don’t see why not but because of it’s naturally lumpy texture it might not set quite like it should.


  17. Debora on April 17, 2018 at 4:15 am

    Could you use skim milk for the milk in this recipe? I love ALL Your recipes I am so glad I found you!!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on April 17, 2018 at 7:49 am

      Hi Debora,
      first of all thank you for your kind words.
      The give away word here is CREAM, it is not milk, it is the fat/cream of the dairy milk.
      Full fat milk will be about 3.5% fat content.
      The cream for this recipe will be at least 35% fat, a big difference!
      Skim milk has no discernible fat, so it is not the same thing,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Debora on April 17, 2018 at 7:52 am

        So for the 1/4 milk it would be also the heavy cream?

        • Gemma Stafford on April 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

          Ah, now I see! No, full fat milk for this, skim will work too, but there is little point in this.
          Full fat milk is just 3.5% fat content, when you are also using cream it is really not significant.
          Gemma 🙂

          • Debora on April 17, 2018 at 11:19 am

            Thank you

  18. Tony on April 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    You didn’t mention the type of milk. Percentage wise, I wonder what half/half would taste like.

    • Gemma Stafford on April 16, 2018 at 4:14 am

      Hi Tony,
      This is sour cream, so a heavy cream, which is 35% plus fat content will work best for this.
      1/2 and 1/2 will be thin, great for things like cream cheese, but not so much for this. The fat content here will be about 18% or so.
      Full fat milk is only 3.5% fat content, so that will not do it for you.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Shimmi on April 2, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Thank you our angel Gemma. You always save us.. gonna make this..

    • Gemma Stafford on April 3, 2018 at 3:32 am

      That is great, I am delighted to hear this, do let us know how you get on with it,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. McC_T65 on March 29, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    I love this recipe! I have made it twice now and would like some advice. I’d like it to taste more sour. What can I do?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 30, 2018 at 3:01 am

      Hi there,
      Use vinegar, this will give a more sour flavor, and you can use a touch more too. You should get a thicker cream too with more vinegar,
      Gemma 🙂

  21. Julie on March 27, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Anyone know of a non UHT cream? I guess I’ve only ever looked at the heavy whipping cream. Is there a heavy cream that’s not UHT? 🙁 What would you suggest using if you don’t have access to non UHT cream?

  22. Shelly Mackun on March 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Would the sour cream be thicker if you didn’t mix it after it separates?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 27, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Shelly,

      yes it probably would. I remember mine wasn’t as thick as store bought. Hope it wasn’t too thin.

      Gemma 🙂

  23. Prashant j thakkar on March 26, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Great explanation and worth trying

    • Gemma Stafford on March 27, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks so much 🙂


  24. Sarah on March 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Will this work with canned coconut milk for non dairy households? Thx!!!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 27, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      I don’t think so Sarah because it has to sour somewhat and I don’t think non dairy milk will do that.

      Gemma 🙂

  25. caroll eversole on March 26, 2018 at 10:25 am

    i made he cream cheese a couple weeks ago. it turned out good, but i could taste the lemon juice. kinda turned me off. i admit i have a super taster. is there any way to make it or this sour cream without the flavor of the sour additive.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 29, 2018 at 4:40 am

      Hi Caroll,
      You will need something to culture the cream, and usually this is either vinegar/citric acid/lemon juice.
      There are cultures available for this, and it is wort checking out your health food store for these.
      I have no real solution for you, I am sorry,
      Gemma 🙂

  26. Aminath on March 25, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Could you please post on how to make heavy cream at home? Thank you, love your baking tips 😀

    • Gemma Stafford on March 27, 2018 at 8:56 pm


      I would if I could but thats up to mother nature.


  27. Colleen on March 20, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    What does the milk do? Why not just use cream, especially since the end result is apparently not that thick?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 21, 2018 at 3:36 am

      Hi Colleen,
      You could use all cream, especially if your cream is less than 35% fat content. That would work well for you.
      This sour cream is a little lighter than store bought because there are no thickening agents in it. Carrigeenan is often used to set dairy up. Take a look at the packs in yout store, it is revealing!
      Gemma 🙂

  28. sweta on March 19, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Hi Gemma,

    Thank you very much for your sour cream recipe. It’s definitely a keeper as it is really daunting to find sour cream in this part of the world I am from. I just wanted to know if you will have the same result with UHT cream.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2018 at 8:55 am

      Hi there,
      That is great! I am happy that this recipe will suit you.
      I would not use UHT cream for this recipe if you do not need to. UHT cream will not give you a great result, it has already been ultra heat treated, and it will not culture so well.
      Thank you for this question,
      Gemma 🙂

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