Is Sour Cream Vegan?

Going by the dairy-laden name alone, you wouldn’t assume sour cream was a vegan product, but given the stark difference between sour cream and actual cream, you wouldn’t be the first to think, hang on… could this stuff be vegan after all?

Is Sour Cream Vegan?

Stranger things than sour cream being vegan have certainly happened, and it wouldn’t be the first time the name of a food has been a little deceiving.

Take mince pies, for example; they contain no actual meat, yet the filling is known as mincemeat. So, what’s really going on here?

Is sour cream a cruelty-free vegan treat that we can all enjoy without feeling guilty, or is it just another product that contributes to the horrific treatment and eventual murder of billions of animals a year?

Let’s find out!

What Exactly Is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is 100% one of those mysterious foods that doesn’t give too much away when seen, smelled, or tasted, so you’d be forgiven for not knowing exactly what it is.

Mildly tangy on the tongue, with a cooling effect that often sees it juxtaposed with spicy ingredients in Mexican and South American foods, sour cream is created by fermenting cow’s milk with bacterial lactic acid… hence the aforementioned tang.

So, is sour cream vegan?

No, not at all, as even though it doesn’t look much like other standard dairy products such as milk or cheese, it is entirely derived from cow’s milk, which – surprise, surprise – is meant for calves, not humans.

Vegans, stay clear of this creamy treat, but don’t worry; just because sour cream made the traditional way isn’t vegan, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a modern reimagining!

Can You Get Vegan Sour Cream?

There are a number of vegan sour creams on the market, and most of them are indistinguishable from the real deal in terms of taste, texture, and appearance, so even if you’re not completely vegan, there’s no reason not to make the switch.

If you’re looking for easy access to some vegan sour cream, you can pick up a squeezy Only Plant bottle from Amazon, but should you be after the best of the best, I’d highly recommend saving yourself for some crème fraîche from the Swedish company, Oatly.

It. Is. To. Die. For!

What Is Vegan Sour Cream Made Of?

There are a number of vegan sour cream recipes online that simulate the food’s signature tang with things like lemon juice, and the creaminess with non-dairy yogurt and blended cashews.

But, if you want something closer to the genuine article, it’s worth studying up on what the pros use.

For instance, Oatly uses the following to make their best-in-class crème fraîche (which is a type of sour cream):

  • Water
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Additional hydrogenated oils (coconut & rapeseed)
  • Oats
  • Potato starch
  • E407 stabilizer
  • E472e emulsifier
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Malic acid
  • Lactic acid

Is Lactic Acid Vegan?

Did you notice that lactic acid made it onto that ingredient list?

That’s because, although it’s used in dairy and meat production, it can still technically be vegan, as it’s the natural byproduct of plant fermentation.

So, if you’re hoping to make your own vegan sour cream and you want to get as close to the traditional stuff as possible, I’d recommend using some legit lactic acid!

What Are Some Vegan Alternatives To Sour Cream?

What Are Some Vegan Alternatives To Sour Cream?

Vegan mock sour cream is amazing, but you don’t need to fork out for specialty products to replace this cooling dairy product in your next meal, as the following alternatives are capable of playing much the same culinary role.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the ingredient that makes all your favorite Indian, Southeast Asian, South American, and Caribbean meals pop, and with a bit of forethought, it can be a truly spectacular sour cream alternative.

The trick is to chill the can before opening it in order to bulk out the creamy cap that forms atop the liquid.

Scoop this thick layer out, mix it with some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt to imbue it with that satisfying tangy kick.


This one sounds positively nuts, but trust me, it’ll go down a treat next time you want a faintly sweet, creamy vegan alternative to sour cream.

To transform cashews into mock sour cream, you’ll need to soak them overnight in some vinegar and lemon juice with a few flakes of sea salt thrown in for good measure.

Come morning, they’ll have softened nicely, ready to go in a food processor.

If you’re working with a low power blender, you’ll probably be left with a slightly grainy texture, but a top-of-the-range food processor will make short work of soaked cashews.

Silken Tofu

If you do have a high speed blender, you’ll also be able to give the silken tofu sour cream substitute a go.

Throw it in the mix with some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, and, for a little sweetness, half a teaspoon of sugar.

Not only will this look, taste, and feel like the real deal, it will be chock full of protein, far more than you’d get from actual sour cream, so if you’re trying to build some muscle or just feel like you need more of this fantastic micronutrient in your diet, silken tofu is a great choice.

Soy Yogurt

It’s quite a complex process, but if you have some soy yogurt in the fridge, you can combine it with a plant-based milk, soy milk powder, cornstarch, water, salt, and lemon juice to make a pretty amazing sour cream substitute.

Final Thoughts

Sour cream made the old fashioned way may not be vegan, but, as we’re currently experiencing the vegan revolution (hooray!), it doesn’t mean you have to go without.

Pick up one of the many vegan substitutes available online or in a grocery store near you.

Or, if you’re feeling creative, why not try to whip up your own vegan mock version using some of the awesome ingredients listed above?

You’ll be blown away by how close you can get to the real thing!

Jenna Priestly
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