How to make sour cream

How to Make Sour Cream

Sour cream is one of those ingredients that I have been using for most of my life.  It wasn’t until recently that I even thought about its name.  Sour. Cream.  After I thought about that, I wondered how hard it would be to learn how to make sour cream from scratch, and was delighted to learn that it is not hard at all! 

If you have a couple of minutes, and 24 hours to wait, you can make homemade sour cream in your own kitchen.  It’s so easy, the novice chef wouldn’t even sweat over it. 

How to make sour cream from Homemade for Elle

How to make sour cream: 

  • 1 cup of heavy cream 
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine heavy cream and buttermilk in a glass bowl or mason jar and give it a good stir.  Cover with a piece of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel, and secure it with a rubber band. 

Allow to sit in a warm environment, ideally 80-85 degrees, for 24 hours.  When it’s ready, it’ll smell slightly tart and will have thickened.  While it isn’t as thick as commercial sour cream, it should be thick enough to cling to a spoon and ribbon as you tilt the spoon over. 

Once you have your desired thickness, you should store sour cream in the refrigerator.  It should last 3-5 days refrigerated.  

I have also seen some recipes that replace the buttermilk with a mixture of milk and vinegar (thereby creating your own buttermilk) with varying degrees of success.  If you want to use this method, I would use 1/4 cup of milk with 1 tsp of vinegar, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before adding in the heavy cream.

How to make sour cream from scratch

Now that you have learned how to make sour cream, here are some great ways to use it! 

Have you ever made your own sour cream before?  What is your favorite recipe or use for sour cream?How to make sour cream

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7 Responses to How to Make Sour Cream

  1. Donna says:


    Not to be disagreeable in any way, but this chef had to chime in. 🙂 What you’re actually making is wonderful creme fraiche, not sour cream. Sour cream is soured cream/milk with a heavy fat content and an acidic component in addition to active cultures and creme fraiche is very similar, but utilizing only the active culture of buttermilk and even more fat. You can also use plain yogurt to make creme fraiche as well. I make it very often just as you’ve demonstrated here and absolutely love it. Of course, they’re often easily substituted for one another. Sour cream will break more easily when heated at a high temperature. Creme fraiche can keep for weeks, too. Even if it may get a little funky on top, remove that and it’s still very tasty and safe beneath. Here’s a side by side comparison to see:

    Happy Cooking!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you so much for the information! I appreciate learning the difference between sour cream and crème fraiche. 🙂

    • Heather says:

      When you said plain yogurt could be used to make kreme fresh, did you mean, just using the yogurt, or using the yogurt in place of the buttermilk??

  2. Sharon says:

    With all the reading I have done on this and I have done a lot, it will last much longer than 3 days. It will last up to 2-3 weeks. Did you also know that this WILL NOT curdle on high heat as real sour cream will do; this what I really like about it! It is also know as Creme Fraiche (krem fresh). You can add a little salt if you like; you can also add sugar & flavoring for topping on a desserts. In the winter time I use an old desk lamp to produce enough heat to make this (I sit my jar under the lamp and push the shade (metal) of the lamp as close as I can to the jar).

    • Andrea says:

      Thank you Sharon for those tips! I learned a lot reading your comment, and now I am definitely adding sugar to my next batch for a sweet treat topping.

  3. Patricia says:

    Will this recipe work with buttermilk powder?

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