I love to cook and I especially love making rich, creamy meals for my family and friends. The only problem is, one of my good friends is married to a vegan and a family member is allergic to dairy. This means I have to be creative and find substitutes for sour cream when I'm whipping up my creamy signature dishes at dinner parties.

And beyond that, there are many times I want to avoid sour cream for reasons other than dietary restrictions. Sometimes I want to avoid the calories and fat. Still other times I'm searching for a different flavor or I need to find a sour cream substitute at the last minute because I forgot to pick up a carton at the grocery store.

I used to fret about such things, but not anymore. Over the years I've discovered a number of wonderful sour cream substitutes. Read on to learn how to make desserts, meals, dips, and sauces without sour cream for yourself. They're simple, delicious, and in many cases, use items you're likely to have on hand in your kitchen.

Dairy Based Sour Cream Substitutes

Sour cream substitute on toast.

1. Cottage Cheese

One cup of cottage cheese has 10 grams of fat, as opposed to sour cream, which has 45 grams of fat per cup. It's a striking difference. This is part of what makes cottage cheese such an appealing sour cream substitute. The only problem is the texture.

Cottage cheese is made of cheese curds, solid nodules of milk leftover from the process of making cheese. Sour cream, on the other hand, is essentially made of fermented cream. And as the name implies, it's creamy.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to manipulate cottage cheese into obtaining a silky texture. Take one cup of cottage cheese, 4 ½ teaspoons of milk or half and half and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and mix them in your blender to the desired thickness and consistency.

2. Creme Fraiche

Creme Fraiche and grapes.

Let's get one thing out of the way. Creme Fraiche is not a low-fat substitute for sour cream. Creme Fraiche has 100 grams of fat per cup as opposed to 45 grams in sour cream. So why would you want to entertain making the substitution? The flavor is different. Sour cream, as implied by the name, has a sour flavor. Creme fraiche is not nearly as tangy, and it's thicker and creamier than sour cream. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to fresh fruit and thick, creamy bisques.

3. Greek Yogurt

Sour cream substitute with cheese and chives.

Greek yogurt is thicker and tangier than regular yogurt. And it only has 11 grams of fat per cup. The taste and consistency are so similar to sour cream you might even notice the difference.

Non-Dairy Sour Cream Substitutes

A block of tofu.

1. Tofu

The soybean is incredibly versatile. Tofu is rendered from soy milk curds. The process is similar to the making of cottage cheese. Unlike cottage cheese, however, tofu is compressed into blocks of varying firmness.

Tofu does share another similarity to cottage cheese, however. It can also be used to make a thick, creamy substitute for sour cream. Simply blend 1 carton silken tofu, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The result is a creamy, delicious substitute for sour cream with only 12 grams of fat per cup.

2. Cashews

A bowl of cashews

Anyone who's tried cashew milk will tell you this delicious nut makes an amazing substitute for dairy. Cashew milk is very similar in taste to dairy milk. This makes it a perfect substitute for sour cream. The only downside is that unlike other substitutes, it does take a little bit of advance planning to prepare because you'll have to soak a cup of cashews overnight to soften them.

In the morning, strain the nuts and mix them in the blender with a quarter teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix for 3 to 4 minutes to your desired consistency.

This sour cream substitute has 57 grams of fat.

3. Coconut Cream

Coconut and coconut cream.

Canned coconut cream can be used as a dairy-free sour cream substitute. Be aware, however, that there are 83 grams of fat in each cup. It's easy to make - simply add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a cup of coconut cream and mix well.

Be aware that coconut cream has a sweet taste that might not be right for every situation. You might not want to use it, for instance, to top a baked potato. Like creme fraiche, however, its delicious with fruit or bisques.

Whether you just want to save yourself a trip to the grocery store or you want to skip the dairy these easy, amazing sour cream substitutes will make sure you're not missing out on anything. Especially not the taste.

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