Substitute Sour Cream for Milk

Substitute Sour Cream for Milk

Milk remains one of the most common and significant ingredients in baking and cooking recipes. And it comes in different types to suit both the requirement of the recipe and the consumer. But like everything else in the pantry, you run out of milk sometimes. Or, you may choose to take it out of the list for various other reasons. And in most cases, your next best option is sour cream.

Substitute Sour Cream for Milk

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But sour cream and milk differ in many ways. And the only way to successfully make the switch is to understand their individual properties and effects in baking recipes. Once you know this, you’ll be able to substitute sour cream for milk in pancakes, mac and cheese, pasta, and many other baked goods. And you’ll even be able to replace milk with sour cream in cooking recipes like scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and soups.

Sour Cream Vs. Milk

When cooking, you have three options for animal milk: whole milk, buttermilk, and evaporated milk. The regular and low-fat options for all these types offer the highest creaminess to recipes. Whole milk is your typical everyday milk made from cow’s milk. Evaporated milk is whole milk but with less water, making it thicker. And buttermilk is the fermented sour milk left after the cream has been scooped off regular milk.

Sour cream, however, is different, even though it’s also derived from milk. It’s thicker and creamier, being a combination of cream skimmed off whole milk with lactic acid bacteria. Sour cream is also less fluid than most milk, with a thicker consistency. And apart from buttermilk, which shares its tangy sour flavor, most milk types are sweeter than sour cream.

Sour Cream Nutrition Facts

Sour Cream Nutrition Facts

Milk in Recipes

Milk is a popular addition to cooking, non-cooking, and baking recipes all over the globe.  It’s a common addition to low-temperature and cold soups, to which it adds a creamy taste. Milk is also used for non-cooking dishes like fruit salads. And some meat or fish recipes suggest you soak it in milk overnight first to infuse it into the flavor. You can also combine milk with grains, cereals, and oats or make a batch of whipped cream. Plus, it’s the base ingredient in many smoothie recipes and desserts.

Milk is a common ingredient in baking. It helps add moisture and a creamy flavor to baked goods. Milk also serves as a solvent for most other dry ingredients, and its moisture addition lets the baked good come out softer. It also allows the dry ingredients to combine with dough so the shape and structure can come out stronger. Plus, when you make crumbly baked goods like cookies or biscuits, you can soften them before eating by dipping them in a glass of milk.

Among the tons of recipes and dishes that include milk, you’ll find the following examples;

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pudding
  • Cold soups
  • Sauces
  • Biscuits
  • Lattes
  • Roast pork
  • Pies
  • Smoothies and milkshakes
  • Homemade cheese
  • Fish recipes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Homemade yogurt
  • Dressings
  • Braised chicken
  • Cupcakes
  • Hot cocoa
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Pancakes
  • Boiled corn on the cob
  • Whipped cream
  • Ice cream

Substituting Milk with Sour Cream

You can always substitute sour cream for milk in most recipes and even gain an extra dose of creaminess in it. You can swap them at equal ratios for pan sauces, especially if the recipe originally calls for buttermilk. In such cases, the tang difference won’t be as noticeable, and you’ll still get the same level of richness. Sour cream can also replace milk in pancakes and pasta recipes like linguine and mac and cheese. Its tangy flavor contributes to the slight savory taste of the dish, giving it even more deliciousness.

You can also swap sour cream with milk in baking recipes, and this is where it’s most commonly done. Sour cream is excellent at tenderizing baked goods and adds moisture to recipes like muffins, quick bread, and cupcakes. And when using sour cream to replace milk, make sure it isn’t fat-free, so the batter doesn’t come apart.

But the consistency difference between sour cream and milk will be glaring in the recipe and the flavor profile of the baked goods. And though you can replace milk with sour cream in equal quantities for baking, follow these tips to make sure the results are perfect;

  • For every cup of sour cream, reduce the baking powder quantity by one teaspoon. Then, increase that of baking soda quantity by one teaspoon. Ensure to make these adjustments while you’re mixing the dry ingredients.
  • Cut the quantity of butter or shortening by half the amount of sour cream. That is, for every cup of sour cream, use a half cup of shortening or butter. The sour cream will contribute to the remaining fat content.
  • Mix the sour cream with the wet ingredients before you add it to the batter. The dough will come out somewhat thicker than usual when you do, but don’t panic; it’s expected.
  • Recipes that have milk swapped with sour cream will bake at the same duration. But cakes, muffins, and cupcakes may take an extra minute or two.
  • If you want your baked goods to come out sweeter than you imagine it would with sour cream, add half a teaspoon of vanilla to the recipe. But note that sour cream blends its tangy flavor perfectly with most baked goods, so this may not be necessary.

Other Milk Substitutes

Apart from sour cream, you can also consider other options to replace milk. While some of these substitutes are dairy-based, others aren’t. And some aren’t even derived from animal milk at all.



Yogurt shares a similar thickness and tartness with sour cream, so it works in many baking recipes. It’s a good option if you want sour cream as a substitute but doesn’t have any. It’s also great for cold soups, sauces, desserts, dressings, and for making sour whipped cream. And if you want a healthier yogurt option, thin a cup of Greek yogurt with water to make a milk substitute.

Plant Milk

Pacific Foods Organic Oat Original Plant-Based Milk, Organic Oat - Original, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 12)


You can use plant-based milk varieties to replace animal milk in your cooking and baking recipes. These options are ideal for mac and cheese and work well in cookies, pancakes, and many other baking recipes. When using, consider unsweetened versions of soy, oat, and nut milk to replace regular milk.

Half and Half

Land O` Lakes Mini Moos Half amp; Half, .5oz, 192 Per Carton


Half and half isn’t just great for baking but make an excellent addition to gravy, soups, and sauces. With this option, you get both creaminess and thickness. But as a milk substitute, you may want to thin it out a bit. So, mix three parts half and half with one part water to make a cup of milk substitute.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you substitute sour cream for milk in scrambled eggs?

Yes, you can. You can add equal amounts of sour cream for milk into the whisked eggs and stir it in before you fry.

What can I use to replace milk for mashed potatoes?

Apart from sour cream, you can also consider other options for mashed potatoes if you don’t have milk. These include yogurt, melted butter, soy milk, and nut milk (cashew, almond, coconut, etc.). You can also use any cream you can find, be it half and half, heavy or light.

What can I substitute for milk when making cornbread?

If you want your cornbread to stay moist and in shape, you can use water and butter in place of milk. Pour in an extra cup of water to the batter, work it in, and support it with a tablespoon of melted butter. This combo ensures the fat content in the batter stays consistent. Note that the butter and water quantity must always follow this measurement every time you adjust.


If you ever run out of milk, sour cream makes an excellent substitute for it in many recipes. It even offers more creaminess and texture to your baked goods, plus an extra dose of density. So next time you’re whipping up a batch of delicious baked goods, bear in mind that sour cream is a convenient option in place of milk.