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Dairy-free sour cream is a thick, rich, and tangy replacement for regular sour cream. Whether you’re plant-based or just want to cut down on milk products, enjoy this condiment with burritos, tacos, chilis, and more!
Table of Contents
🥛 What is sour cream?
Sour cream is made from bacteria that produce lactic acid. Once added to dairy-based cream, a process called fermentation happens.
The end result is a thick, creamy, and zesty sauce with a wide variety of uses from dips and sauces to garnishes, and so much more.
🌱 Is sour cream vegan?
Since the primary ingredient in sour cream is cream, it is not traditionally vegan-friendly. Fortunately, there are so many ways to make a dairy-free sour cream.
In this recipe, we use a simple combination of cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, and vinegar. Seriously, it’s that easy. You’ll soon have a foolproof substitute for sour cream that takes almost no effort to make!
Most food historians believe sour cream originated somewhere in Eastern Europe — likely Russia. Smetana, which is Russian sour cream, is thought to have stemmed from an alcoholic Mongolian drink called kumis.
Similar to kefir, kumis is a fermented milk beverage (originally made from horse milk). Much like other alcoholic drinks, the fermented characteristics were likely discovered after this raw milk sat at room temperature and bacteria turned it sour.
We don’t know about you, but we find the history of fermented foods to be fascinating. The relationship between bacteria and humans is so interconnected!
🍦 Sour cream vs crème fraîche
If you’ve heard of creme fraiche before, you probably know it gets mixed up with sour cream up all the time.
Crème Fraîche is a French ingredient that is also made from fermenting cream. The resulting flavor and texture are similar to sour cream. The biggest difference is that crème fraîche is typically richer, thicker, and slightly less tangy.
🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
Cashews — Make sure to use raw cashews for the most neutral flavor. It’s best to soak them in room temperature water for about 6 hours, especially if you don’t have a high-speed blender. If you’re short on time, soak them for about 1 hour in boiled water.
Acid — We’ve tested this recipe in different ways, and our favorite acid combination is part lemon juice and part apple cider vinegar. You can also use white vinegar or even a dash of sauerkraut brine.
Salt — To enhance and give the cashews a more savory flavor. We love the taste of sea salt for this recipe.
Water — To blend the cashews. If you’re looking for an even creamier consistency, try replacing it with your favorite plant-based milk.
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Step 1 — Add cashews, water, lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar), and salt, to a high-speed blender. Mix on high until smooth, adding more water as needed.
Step 2 — Taste and adjust the salt to your liking, then transfer the mixture to a glass container or jar to chill in your fridge for a few hours.
Step 3 — Once chilled, serve your vegan sour cream with burritos, chilis, soups, taco bowls, and more. Happy eating!
If you have questions about this dairy-free sour cream, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!
🌮 How to use sour cream
There are unlimited ways to use this vegan sour cream — the sky is the limit! Here are some of our favorites:
Pasta — Brings a smooth creaminess to different kinds of pasta like spaghetti, penne, or fettuccine.
Potatoes — Serve a dollop on top of breakfast potatoes for the perfect meal.
Chili — Try adding a dollop to your favorite vegan chili to cool down the spice.
The great thing about this recipe is how long it lasts, making it the perfect condiment for meals all week. Follow these storage tips to keep your jar fresh:
Fridge — Dairy-free sour cream lasts in the fridge for up to a week. Our suggestion is to keep it in glass as it preserves the flavors best.
Freezer — If you can’t eat it within a week, freeze it for up to 3 months. A glass container or anything else that’s freezer safe all work.
Thaw — To use it again, let the jar thaw in your fridge overnight and you’ll be good to go.
Note: Homemade vegan sour cream thickens in the fridge as it sits. For a thinner texture, mix in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Different nuts — If you don’t have access to cashews, try different nuts or seeds like blanched almonds and sunflower seeds.
Different acid — We prefer a combination of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar for a more “fermented” flavor, but you can use any combination of lemon juice, white vinegar, ACV, or even sauerkraut brine.
Nut free — If you have a nut allergy or don’t like them, try silken tofu instead.
Spicy — For all the spice lovers out there, add 1-2 teaspoons of sambal oelek, adobo, or Valentina hot sauce.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Soak the cashews — For the smoothest consistency, soak the cashews! It will make a world of difference, especially if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
Quick-soak — If you forget to soak the cashews like we always do, you can also quick-soak them. Cover the cashews with boiling water, and leave them for 45-60 minutes.
Chill it — Let the sour cream chill in your fridge for an additional 1-2 hours. This way, it will thicken up perfectly.
There are different ways to make dairy-free sour cream. Many options include nuts, vegan yogurt, or tofu. Each carries its own benefits, but we find the best consistency comes from cashews.
Dairy-free sour cream has many benefits compared to its dairy-based counterpart. For one, it doesn’t contain saturated fat. It also provides a daily dose of fiber, plant protein, and healthy monounsaturated fats.
Yes, this dairy-free sour cream recipe is gluten-free. Most dairy-based and non-dairy sour creams should be gluten-free. But if you’re unsure, check the ingredients.
🍴 More sauce recipes
If you enjoyed this vegan sour cream recipe, test out some of our other decadent sauces and spreads:
- Vegan Mexican crema — A thinner variation used in Mexican cuisine.
- Vegan cream cheese — Smooth, creamy, and delicious cream cheese made from tofu!
- Vegan Caesar dressing — A rich, tangy, and zesty salad dressing perfect for your favorite greens.
- Vegan tzatziki — A cool, creamy, and refreshing tzatziki sauce made with vegan yogurt.
- Vegan condensed milk — Perfect for sweetening all of your favorite baked goods!
Easy Dairy-Free Sour Cream
- 1 ½ cups cashews, soaked overnight ($2.58)
- ¾ – 1 cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or both* ($0.36)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste ($0.01)
- Add cashews, ¾ cup water, lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar), and salt, to a high-speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Add the rest of the water if needed.
- Taste and adjust salt to your liking, then transfer to a glass container or jar to chill in your fridge for a few hours.
- Once chilled, serve with burritos, chilis, soups, taco bowls, and more. Happy eating!
- Soak the cashews — For the smoothest consistency, soak the cashews! It will make a world of difference, especially if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
- Quick-soak — If you forget to soak the cashews like we always do, you can also quick-soak them. Cover the cashews with boiling water, and leave them for 45-60 minutes.
- High-speed blender — Besides soaking the cashews, use a high-speed blender to ensure you achieve a creamy, velvety-smooth texture.
- Chill it — Let the sour cream chill in your fridge for an additional 1-2 hours. This way, it will thicken up perfectly.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe to recipe. All prices are in USD.