Home » What is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt 2022 [Updated]

What is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt 2022 [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?

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, it is also produced via lactic acid fermentation.

First, thickened yogurt culture is used to initiate the fermentation process in full cream or full-fat milk. Fermenting milk for about 12 hours at room temperature. Skim the top layer to get the sour cream yogurt. This process is commonly known as the “Russian method.” Sour Cream tastes tart and tangy, yet rich and creamy

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

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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

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

Directions :

·       Blend the ingredients and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours, or overnight, 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:

·       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 – Sour cream probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus).

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 it contains probiotic bacteria, which prevent the growth of harmful or “bad” bacteria. Sour cream doesn’t have any probiotics.

Both yogurt and sour cream are rich in calcium, but yogurt has much more. A cup of these products contains 32 mg and 250 mg of calcium, respectively.

Can You Substitute Sour Cream for Yogurt?

No, you cannot. The texture of both is different, and they have different tastes. You can substitute yogurt for sour cream because both are cultured dairy products.

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.