skip to content
Home » What is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt 2023 [Updated]

What is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt 2023 [Updated]

As sour cream and yogurt are used widely in several recipes and appear to be the same, this question is frequently asked – sour cream Vs yogurt – what is the difference? Both come with a short expiration date and are fermented dairy products. So, what are the grounds for the difference between the two? Let’s check out.

Before diving deep into the comparison, let’s quickly check out what these products are all about!

What is Plain Yogurt?

Plain yogurt is a fermented milk product. Greek yogurt can be used as a starter culture to make other fermented products such as sour cream, buttermilk, and kefir.

The process of making green yogurt typically includes heating milk to near boiling point (90 degrees C). This temperature kills all the existing bacteria in the milk and allows only “lactobacillus bulgaricus” and “Streptococcus thermophilus.” These are the two lactic acid-producing bacteria to survive.

Milk is then cooled to 45 degrees C (do not use a fridge as low temperatures kill them). The best place for yogurt making is in your kitchen at room temperature.

The mixture is then left to sit for several hours until it becomes thickened. This thickened yogurt is called “yogurt.”

One variation of the process involves using a yogurt maker, which keeps the mixture at 45 degrees C and produces a fine-grained, smooth texture product in about 3 hours. Another variation consists in adding powdered milk to thicken instead of waiting.

Greek yogurt has a unique tart yet pleasant flavor and is often eaten with breakfast or lunch, sometimes for dinner. It is also used in desserts, from Indian sweets to American-style cakes, mousse and pudding, salads, and even savory dishes such as sauces ( marinades ).

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a fermented dairy product. Just as yogurt is the result of fermentation as it is also produced via lactic acid fermentation.

Once the cream is mixed with lactic acid culture and left for fermentation, the bacteria not only thicken but also sours it. If you don’t have a handle cream, you can evaporate milk. Add one cup of white vinegar or lemon juice to this .

Sour Cream tastes tart and tangy, yet rich and creamy. Smetana is one of the variations of sour cream that is popularly known as Russian Sour Cream. Milk fat is separated and preserved to make this. Buffalo milk is preferred over cow’s milk as it has more fat content.

You can make your version of sour cream at home using whole milk Greek yogurt and full-fat milk.

Some of the amazing deals on Amazon for Sour Cream are:

Related Posts:

Kefir Vs Yogurt – What makes them different?
Regular Yogurt Vs Greek Yogurt – Which one should I buy?
Frozen Yogurt Vs Ice-cream – Which is better
Yogurt Vs Curd – Which is better?
Greek Yogurt Vs Turkish Yogurt – How to distinguish between them?
Grass Fed Whole Milk Yogurt Vs Coconut Yogurt – Which is healthier?
Difference in nutrition between Yogurt and Milk

How to Make Sour Cream?

Once you have decided to make your sour cream, here are some recipes to get started:

The Essential Recipe Ingredients:

·       2 cups heavy whipping cream (Buy here)

·       1 cup buttermilk or probiotic yogurt (or commercial plain live-culture yogurt) (Buy Here)

Directions :

·       Blend the ingredients and let them stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours, or overnight, until thickened.

·       Strain through a cheesecloth or sieve and discard the solids. (Buy here)

·       Refrigerate until cold and serve with your choice of food items.

Quick Tips:

·       If you find it too hard to strain the ingredients using a cheesecloth or sieve, then you may use an ordinary coffee filter instead for straining.

·       The time frame in this recipe can be reduced to as low as 4 hours for a prepared starter culture yogurt.

·       One cup of sour cream is equivalent to 3 cups of yogurt (the ratio is 1:4). If using plain yogurt, then you do not need buttermilk.

Homemade Sour Cream Using Commercial Yogurt

This method uses cultured yogurt as a starter and requires less time (8 hours).


·       1 cup yogurt

·       2 cups heavy cream


·       Stir the sponge container of your culture starter yogurt well with a spoon. 

·       Combine this thickened yogurt with heavy cream in a jar or bowl and cover.

·       Let stand at room temperature for 8 hours until thickened (in summer, culture for 12 hours).

·       Refrigerate until cold and serve with your choice of food items or as directed in recipes.

Instant Sour Cream

This method is quicker as the starter comes pre-made; this will take you about 3 hours to complete. The quality of the product is also quite reasonable when compared side by side with the homemade version.


·       2 cups heavy cream

·       1 cup sour cream


·       Combine the ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours until thickened.

·       Strain through a cheesecloth or sieve and discard the solids.

·       Refrigerate until cold and serve with your choice of food items.

Quick tips:

·       This method uses cultured yogurt as the starter. By varying the ingredients (e.g., sugar, spices), you can produce sour cream as a dip and spread it.

·       Commercial sour cream has added starch, gelatin, and carrageenan, not present in homemade versions. These additives help stabilize the yogurt during processing and offer shelf stability once packaged.

What is the Main Difference Between Yogurt and Sour Cream?

I think that the main difference between yogurt and sour cream is in their consistency. Sour cream is thicker than yogurt because it contains more fat. Yogurt contains a little less fat, making it lighter than sour cream. The thickness of both depends on how long they are whipped. A thick yogurt melts quickly into sauces, while sour cream is firmer.

Other Differences Between Sour Cream and Yogurt Are:

1.       Sour cream contains more milk solids, while yogurt has more milk fat. It means that sour cream is higher in calories than yogurt.

2.       Yogurt contains acidophilus, a probiotic (beneficial bacteria) which may promote health. On the other hand, sour cream contains probiotic bacteria as Lactococcus lactis subsp lactic or Lactococcus.

3.       Sour cream is usually seasoned with salt, vinegar, or other additives, while yogurt can be naturally sweetened or flavored.

Both are used in similar ways in cooking: sour cream is eaten with fried and baked potatoes, meat dishes, often as a topping to baked goods, while yogurt is used in sauces, marinades, and desserts.

Which is Healthier, Yogurt or Sour Cream?

Yogurt is healthier than sour cream because of its low fat content. Per 100 grams of serving of Yogurt comes with a fat content of 0.4 grams while with the same serving, yogurt comes with 0.4grams of fat. Concluding on calories, yogurt has only 59 grams of calories per serving. However, sour cream comes with a higher calorie levels of 193.

Can You Substitute Sour Cream for Yogurt?

Yes! Yogurt and sour cream are considered as the great substitute for each other. The relative difference is on the creamines and the fat content. While both comes with a slight tart flavor, if you want to cut your calories from a dip or salad dressing, consider replacing sour cream with yogurt. Greek yogurt is indeed an excellent substitute for sour cream. The major reason for this is the consistency. Greek yogurt almost as thick as a sour cream is.

How Do You Use Sour Cream in Cooking?

Sour cream can be used to thicken sauces or dips. It is spread on bread (like biscuits) and cakes, or it is baked into them as well. Yogurt uses are more diverse than sour cream. Even though they both go well with potatoes, yogurt is also used as sour cream in marinades and salads; you can make them both into dips. It is also a main ingredient in the Indian dish raita.

Why Does Sour Cream Smell like Vomit?

Sour cream contains lactic acid, which gives it its unique taste, as well as giving your tongue a slight “tingle.” When the acid combines with oxygen, it releases a by-product called propanoic acid. This substance is what makes sour cream smell like vomit.

Does Plain Yogurt Taste Like Sour Cream?

No, they are different. The yogurt taste is lighter than sour cream, and it doesn’t have the same tangy aroma.

When Did Sour Cream Originate?

Sour cream originated in India or Persia (modern-day Iran) and was brought to Europe by European settlers. It was first used as a food item by German immigrants who would use it to preserve the milk. It took many years for sour cream to catch on in mainstream America.

How Should I Store Yogurt and Sour cream?

Just like other dairy products, you must keep them refrigerated because, at room temperature, they will spoil quickly. You can freeze regular (non-Greek) yogurt, but Greek yogurt does not freeze well. Sour cream will freeze just fine and thaw as needed. It keeps for longer than yogurt because it contains less water, which means that bacteria don’t grow as fast in sour cream.

When is Yogurt or Sour Cream Bad?

Yogurt and sour cream will go bad if they are not appropriately stored in the refrigerator. They can turn sour or develop an off-flavor because of the bacteria.

Yogurt Expert Sonia Uvezian was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. A renowned expert in Middle Eastern and Caucasian cooking and winner of a James Beard Award, she is the author of six other highly acclaimed cookbooks, such as Recipes and Remembrances From An Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, Cooking from the Caucasus along with The Book of Yogurt.