Sour cream substitute

If you consume cheese or butter or margarine or cream or sour cream more than four times a week, this one is for you.

Sour cream, tasty as it is, is a shocker for the heart, blood vessels and body weight. Even the low fat and non-dairy versions of sour cream are poor nutritional choices. They are crammed with excess saturated fat and kilojoules yet lack two important nutrients: calcium and protein. What makes a good substitute?

Still using sour cream? Is it time you swapped?

If you enjoy the flavour of sour cream but want a much healthier substitute that doesn’t sacrifice flavour what is best to have? A simple swap to plain yoghurt and buttermilk is the answer.

And you don’t have to go to a low fat yoghurt to get a healthier advantage. A swap away from sour cream to regular (full-fat) yoghurt not only gives you more protein and calcium than sour cream but also slashes the total fat, saturated fat and calories (kilojoules) intake. Regular yoghurt has more body and feels richer in the mouth than low fat yoghurt. It is my top choice.

Experiment with different brands and varieties of natural, plain (often called Greek-style) yoghurts to find the smoothness and tartness that suits you.

At first glance, with a name like buttermilk, you’d think this swap would be full of butterfat but buttermilk is really quite low in fat. Buttermilk is is less than 2% fat but sour cream is more than 35% fat. Buttermilk is a great source of calcium and protein. Because it is thinner and pours rather than dollops, buttermilk is less versatile than yoghurt as a sour cream replacement.

Serving suggestions:

1. Add a dollop of natural yoghurt or Greek-style plain yoghurt instead of sour cream to potatoes and Mexican meals.

2. Swirl a spoon of yoghurt instead of sour cream into soups when serving.

3. Replace sour cream with yoghurt in dips and sauces.

4. Try buttermilk in soups and baked goods such as scones.

Replacing sour cream is effortless and easy. Stop buying sour cream and start buying natural or plain yoghurt, Greek-style yoghurt or buttermilk. Make the swap at your next shop.

Convert the family

Sometimes you need to be quiet and not draw attention to the change. Other times you need to be creative or disguise the change to avoid automatic rejection of new flavours and foods. Be discrete or be bold. Add a dollop of thick natural yoghurt to meals that used to have sour cream. Serve the yoghurt in a side bowl and don’t tell them it’s not sour cream. Tell them it's a new recipe. Throw away the evidence (the yoghurt tub) before the family looks in the fridge.

For those of you with a head for numbers, how do these swaps compare? Choose what is best for your body. You know what my suggestions are.

Nutrient profiles per 100 g*. Check out the bar charts below if you prefer visuals to tables.


Protein (g)

Calcium (mg)

Kilojoules (calories)

Total fat (saturated fat) (g)

Plain, natural or Greek-style yoghurt



409 (98)

6 (4)

Low fat plain, natural or Greek-style yoghurt
270 (64)
0.3 (0.2)




198 (47)

0.9 (0.6)

Low fat sour cream



825 (197)

19 (13)

Sour cream
1415 (338)
36 (23)

Dairy-free sour ‘cream’


not declared

1252 (299)

31 (25)


*These numbers are averaged and approximate. Check food labels to explore subtle variations in nutrient content between brands.  

And just in case you were thinking I have a spelling error here, I want to explain something to you. In Australia, yoghurt is spelled with the extra ‘h’. In the USA, it’s spelled without the ‘h’ as yogurt. In the UK, it can go either way. In other parts of the world, it’s spelled yogourt. 

Join me over at Facebook to tell me that you have made the swap away from sour cream and what you swapped to. If you have any other suggestions, please add them to my facebook page for others to enjoy.

Thank you Trudy! A sign of appreciation

Now Only

this=that (adult's edition) "seconds"

Now Only

this=that child size "seconds or better"

sour cream vs yoghurt nutrition

For me, natural yoghurt is an easy sensible choice and replacement for sour cream. For even fewer kilojoules and fat, choose a low fat natural yoghurt.

These charts show the nutrient profiles.

Natural yoghurt is in green.

Sour cream is in red.