How to Make Sour Cream

How to Make Sour Cream

By Erin Huffstetler | 06/27/2020 | No Comments

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If you’ve never made your own sour cream, you need to put it on to the top of your to-do list. Homemade sour cream tastes so much better than the store-bought kind, and it’s ridiculously easy to make. Just pour two ingredients into a jar, and you’re done. It’s truly that simple.

Of course, you don’t have to tell anyone that when you place a jar of made-from-scratch sour cream on the table on taco night.

Jar of Homemade Sour Cream

Homemade Sour Cream Recipe

This recipe makes approximately 1-1/4 cup of sour cream. If you’d like to make a bigger batch, just double the recipe, and use a quart jar, instead of a pint.


  • 1 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or sour cream)

Be sure to use cultured buttermilk and pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) cream. You need the beneficial bacteria in these products for the recipe to work properly.

What You Do:

Start of a Batch of Sour Cream

Pour the heavy cream and buttermilk into a pint jar. Then, screw on the lid, and give the jar a good shake.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. This will give the the cream time to sour.

Once your sour cream has thickened, store it in the refrigerator, and use it within two weeks.

Your sour cream won’t be quite as thick as what you’re used to getting from the store. That’s because the store-bought kind is artificially thickened with gelatin, pectin, carrageenan, or some other thickening agent. But try one spoonful of the real stuff, and you’ll never settle for anything less.

Why This Works

Buttermilk (and sour cream) contain lactic acid bacteria. When you add one of them to heavy cream, it ferments the cream, causing it to sour and thicken.

While leaving a dairy product out on the counter for a day may seem to go against everything you’ve learned about food safety, it’s perfectly safe to do in this case. As the lactic acid consumes the sugar in the cream, it creates a high-acid, low-oxygen environment, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, but prevents other microorganisms from growing.

Spoonful of Sour Cream

How to Make Low-Fat Sour Cream

To cut the fat in this recipe, simply replace some of the cream that’s called for with whole milk, half and half or light cream. Your sour cream won’t turn out quite as thick, but it’ll still taste great.

How to Make Sour Cream

How to Make Sour Cream

Here’s how to make your own sour cream with two ingredients and less than two minutes of hands-on time.

  • Author: Erin Huffstetler,
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1-1/4 cup 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Ferment
  • Cuisine: Global


  • 1 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or sour cream)


Pour the ingredients into a pint jar. Then, put the lid on the jar, and give it a good shake.

Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours. This will allow the lactic acid in the buttermilk (or sour cream) to sour and thicken the cream.

Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

To make low-fat sour cream, use whole milk, half and half or light cream in place of some (but not all) of the cream. This will make your sour cream a bit thinner.


Homemade sour cream isn’t quite as thick as store-bought, since it doesn’t contain artificial thickeners.

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