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Is Sour Cream Gluten Free? The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Dairy Without Wheat

Sour cream is a dairy favorite for many, adding a tangy creaminess to everything from baked potatoes to chili. But is sour cream gluten free? And what are some good substitutes if you need to avoid gluten? This ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know about enjoying sour cream without wheat!

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a cultured dairy product made by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid bacteria. The bacteria sours and thickens the cream, resulting in a rich, tangy flavor.

Sour cream has a smooth, spoonable consistency and white color. Its taste can range from mild to very tangy depending on the culture used. It has a fat content of about 18-20%.

Popular brands of sour cream include Daisy, Breakstone’s, and Knudsen. Sour cream is most commonly used as a topping or ingredient in:

  • Baked potatoes
  • Chilli
  • Tacos
  • Nachos
  • Dips
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Baked goods like cakes, cookies, and scones

It can also be used in marinades, dips, as a base for creamy dressings, and even whisked into drinks.

Is Sour Cream Gluten Free?

The good news is yes, sour cream is naturally gluten free!

Sour cream contains just two basic ingredients:

  • Cream – the fatty portion skimmed from milk. Cream contains no gluten.
  • Lactic acid cultures – bacteria added to ferment and thicken the cream. These cultures do not contain gluten.

As long as no other ingredients are added, sour cream will be gluten free. Even flavored sour creams are safe, as flavors like chives are naturally gluten free.

Checking Labels for Gluten in Sour Cream

While pure sour cream contains no gluten, some commercial brands may add thickening agents or preservatives that do contain gluten. It’s important to always check the label for gluten-containing additives like:

  • Wheat starch
  • Wheat flour
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrin
  • Modified food starch
  • Caramel color
  • Stabilizers like gums

As long as the ingredients list shows only cream and bacterial cultures, you can enjoy that sour cream gluten free!

Reputable dairy brands like Daisy and Knudsen do not add any gluten ingredients to their sour creams. But generic, store brand or specialty flavored sour creams could contain gluten. When in doubt, opt for a brand you trust or contact the manufacturer.

Sour Cream Substitutes for a Gluten Free Diet

If you need to completely avoid gluten, look for sour creams labeled “gluten free” or opt for a gluten free substitute, such as:

Greek Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt makes an ideal 1:1 substitute for sour cream. It has a thick, creamy texture and tangy taste just like sour cream. Choose a whole milk yogurt for the best results.

Coconut Cream

For a non-dairy option, use coconut cream. Refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight, then skim the solid cream from the top. Whip for an airy texture.

Cashew Cream

Blend raw cashews with water, lemon juice, and salt for a nutty sour cream. Soak the cashews first to achieve a smoother consistency.


Puree firm silken tofu with lemon juice and vinegar for a vegan sour cream replacement. Add salt and herbs like chives for flavor.


Labneh is a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese made by straining Greek yogurt. It has the same rich texture as sour cream.

With so many options, people following a gluten free diet don’t have to miss out on sour cream!

Is Sour Cream Dairy Free or Vegan?

Since it’s made from cream, sour cream is not vegan or dairy free by nature. Vegans and people with dairy allergies will need to use a non-dairy substitute like coconut cream or cashew cream.

There are some vegan, dairy free sour cream alternatives on the market made from oils, nuts, soy, or other ingredients. But always check labels since some “dairy free” sour creams still contain casein (milk protein).

Popular vegan sour cream brands include:

  • Tofutti Sour Supreme
  • Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Sour Cream
  • GoVeggie Sour Cream Alternative

While delicious, these dairy free sour creams won’t have quite the same rich taste and creamy consistency as true sour cream. But they work great in recipes like dips where other strong flavors mask the difference.

Read also: Is Oreo Gluten Free? Everything You Need to Know

Nutrition Facts for Sour Cream

Here are the nutrition facts for a 2 tablespoon (30g) serving of regular, full fat sour cream:

  • Calories: 58
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbs: <1g
  • Protein: <1g

As a fermented dairy food, sour cream contains beneficial probiotics. It’s a good source of bone-building calcium and vitamin B12.

However, it’s high in saturated fat, so enjoy it in moderation if watching your cholesterol. Sour cream is lower in lactose than milk, but still not suitable for the lactose intolerant.

Opt for low fat or fat free varieties to cut down on calories and fat while still getting the tangy flavor. Or use a non-dairy substitute like coconut cream for a vegan option with less saturated fat.

How to Tell if Sour Cream Has Gone Bad

Since sour cream is a perishable dairy product, it’s important to store it properly and know when it may have spoiled.

Here are tips for telling if your sour cream is still safe to eat:

  • Check the expiration date – this will give you an idea of when it reaches peak freshness.
  • Look for mold – mold spots, fuzzy patches or sliminess means it’s spoiled.
  • Smell for off odors – sour cream slowly loses its tangy aroma and develops a rancid smell when off.
  • Note separation – why separation alone doesn’t mean it’s gone bad, but it’s a clue to check closely.
  • Check the consistency – spoiled sour cream becomes very runny or takes on a gel-like texture.

As a general rule, unopened sour cream stays fresh 1-2 weeks past the sell by date. Once opened, it will keep for 7-10 days in the fridge.

For maximum freshness, store sour cream tightly sealed in the fridge at 40°F or below. Keep the corners of the container clean to prevent mold.

How to Use Sour Cream in Gluten Free Cooking and Baking

Sour cream is useful in both savory cooking and gluten free baking. Here are some tips for incorporating that tangy flavor into your recipes:

  • Add dollops of sour cream as a topping for baked potatoes, chili, tacos, nachos, etc.
  • Mix into dips like onion, French onion, ranch, or spinach artichoke dip.
  • Use as the base for creamy salad dressings, in place of mayo.
  • Whisk a spoonful into pan sauces, gravies, or soups before serving.
  • Fold into scrambled eggs or omelets.
  • Mix with herbs, lemon, and garlic to use as a quick veggie dip.
  • Add to the batter of cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. Sour cream keeps them moist.
  • Use as a filling for crepes, blintzes, and stuffings.
  • Dollop on top of pancakes, waffles, and French toast.
  • Mix with cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla for a chocolate frosting.

Sour cream adds moisture, tenderness, and tang to all kinds of gluten free goodies!

7 FAQs About Sour Cream and Gluten

Still, have questions about sour cream and gluten? Here are answers to 7 frequently asked questions:

1. Is sour cream just old heavy cream?

No, sour cream is not the same as spoiled cream. Heavy cream on its own will just go rancid.

Sour cream is made by adding lactic acid cultures to fresh cream and fermenting it, which gives it that distinctive sour flavor.

2. Why is my sour cream runny?

A few reasons your sour cream may be runny include:

  • It’s gone bad from aging past the expiration date
  • It froze or overheated during storage or transport
  • The container wasn’t sealed airtight, allowing moisture loss

3. Can you freeze sour cream?

Yes, freezing prolongs the shelf life of sour cream. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Freezing may cause some separation, but it will blend back to creamy.

4. Can I substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream?

Definitely! Plain non-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt makes an ideal substitute in a 1:1 ratio. The thick, tangy consistency works great.

5. Is sour cream AIP, paleo, or keto?

Sour cream is keto and paleo diet approved, since it contains only cultured cream. But it’s not part of the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet due to containing dairy.

6. Can you use sour cream that smells funny?

No, souring odors mean the sour cream has spoiled and should be discarded. Rancid dairy products can make you sick.

7. Why does sour cream make cakes tender?

The fat, moisture, and acidity in sour cream help cakes stay tender and rise properly. The tangy flavor also complements the sweet cake batter.

Read also: Gluten Free Alternatives: A Complete Guide to Going Gluten-Free in 2023


Sour cream is a versatile dairy ingredient that can be enjoyed on a gluten free diet as long as you read labels carefully. Opt for brands that contain just cultured cream or use substitutes like Greek yogurt or coconut cream.

Add sour cream to sauces, dips, baked goods, and more to enjoy that cool tangy flavor without the gluten. With proper storage and label reading, sour cream can be a delicious addition to any gluten free kitchen.

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