How to Make Sour Cream

Sour Cream

Making sour cream at home is easy, you will need only cream and a starter culture. While making sour cream takes only a few minutes of prep time, allow a full 24 hours for the sour cream to culture and cool prior to serving.

Choosing a Cream

The first step to making sour cream is choosing an appropriate cream for the project.

  • Whipping cream (whole cream) will yield the thickest sour cream.
  • Half-and-half can be used, but the sour cream will have a thinner consistency. Dry milk powder can be added to improve the consistency, if desired.
  • Raw cream can be used but will yield a thinner consistency than if pasteurized whipping cream is used.
  • Avoid ultra-pasteurized (UP) or ultra-high temperature (UHT) cream, as it yields inconsistent results when used for culturing.

Choosing a Starter Culture

There are a few options for starter cultures:

Making Sour Cream

  1. Once you’ve chosen the cream and starter culture, mix the cream and starter culture together.
  2. Cover the container with a coffee filter or cloth, secured with a rubber band.
  3. Place the mixture in a warm spot, 70°-80°F, for 12 to 18 hours or until thickened.
  4. Once the mixture has set, cover the jar with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to halt the culturing process and cool the sour cream.

Add a small amount of dry milk powder for a thicker sour cream. Alternatively, heat the cream to 180°F and hold at that temperature for 30 minutes.  Cool completely prior to adding the starter culture.

Ready for Recipes Using Sour Cream?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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