How To Make Sour Cream With Mayonnaise

It’s not new knowledge that sour cream can be made using a variety of cream, but I bet it would be if I told you that sour cream can be made using Mayonnaise. 

What’s the truth however? Can sour cream actually be made using mayonnaise? 

Let’s find out in this article.

What Is Sour Cream Made Of

Sour cream is basically a dairy product made by fermenting cream (or a combination of cream and milk) by lactic acid bacteria introduced deliberately or naturally. 

The process of making sour cream starts with fresh cream, whatever type it is. 

Lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Streptococcus lactis and Leuconostoc cremoris are introduced into a bowl or jar of cream either naturally or via culture like buttermilk, yogurt or a sour cream starter, and then the mixture is covered and let to sit for a while. 

The bacteria in the mixture begin to consume the milk sugar (lactose) in the cream and convert it into lactic acid which causes a decrease in the pH of the cream, and therefore tanginess. Such decrease also makes the medium inhospitable to bacteria.

In addition to tanginess, the change in pH also causes the milk proteins, particularly casein, to coagulate which results in the thick texture that we’re used to seeing in sour cream.

So in making sour cream, it is plainly evident that the most important ingredient you need is cream: whatever type it is (half and half, double cream, raw or pasteurized regular cream etc.

Can You Use Mayonnaise To Make Sour Cream?

While it may seem logical to try and make sour cream out of mayonnaise (because both are creamy, tangy and often used in similar recipes), it’s not the best idea because they both have pretty distinct compositions. 

Mayonnaise is made from yolks, oil and acid, whereas sour cream is made by fermenting sour cream.

Therefore, relying on mayonnaise to transform into sour cream is as good as futile! It wont work! 

You can however, if you’re in a pinch and need a substitute for sour cream, create a quick alternative using mayonnaise and a few other ingredients.

Bear in mind, however, that the mixture won’t be an exact replica of sour cream, but it can work in recipes where sour cream is used as a base (like dressing) or as a component of sauces. 

The texture and flavor may not also and always be perfect, so it is always best to use actual sour cream when possible.

Below is a quick sour cream substitute that uses mayonnaise. 

Quick Mayonnaise-Based Sour Cream Substitute Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Pinch of salt


  • Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for some minutes before using as a sour cream substitute in your favorite recipes.

Can You Mix Mayo And Sour Cream?

Yes, you can definitely mix mayo and sour cream together to create a creamy, rich and tangy base that’s perfect for spreading or used as a salad dressing. 

When it comes to combining the two, you can experiment with different proportions to suit your taste preferences, but a common starting point is to use equal parts mayo and sour cream. 

Feel free to add seasonings or other ingredients such as garlic, lemon zest and ground black pepper to customize the flavor even further.

Below is a quick recipe that combines both mayonnaise and sour cream. 

Mayo Sour Cream Dressing Recipe


  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  • Grab a small mixing bowl and combine everything inside. Store the resulting base in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks (in an airtight container).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Any Sour Cream?

If you don’t have any sour cream on hand, there are several alternatives that you can use depending on the recipe you’re working on as well as your dietary preferences. 

Here are some of the most popular sour cream alternatives you should try. 

Plain Greek yogurt: This is the most common substitute for sour cream, as it has a similar consistency and tangy flavor. Use it in equal amounts as you would sour cream. 

Crème fraîche: Crème fraîche is thicker, more creamier and richer than sour cream although a lot less tangier, but it can still work as a decent substitute in just about any recipe. Substitute equal amounts of crème fraîche for sour cream. 

Buttermilk or plain yogurt: You can also use buttermilk or plain yogurt to achieve a similar tangy flavor but not consistency as these options are thinner than sour cream, so you may need to adjust the amount in your recipe accordingly, or use a thickener instead. Typically, you substitute equal parts regular yogurt for sour cream, although it’s best to pass it through a fine-mesh sieve lined with coffee filter to remove some of the liquid before using it, especially in applications where thickness matters. For buttermilk, use ¾ cup for every 1 cup of sour cream. 

Cottage cheese: Mix 1 cup of cottage cheese with a small amount of milk and lemon juice until smooth and use it as a healthier substitute for sour cream (it contains more protein!). Because it may not be as tangy, we’re adding lemon juice to provide that.

Vegan options: For a dairy-free alternative, try using a vegan sour cream or blend silken tofu with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for a similar tangy flavor and creamy texture.

Is Mayonnaise Similar To Sour Cream?

Mayonnaise and sour cream are only similar to some extent: they are both thick and creamy condiments, but aside from that, they differ a lot in terms of their flavor as well as compositions. 

Mayonnaise is typicall made from oil, yolks and acids like vinegar or lemon juice. Sour cream, on the other hand, is made from fermented cream and has a tangy flavor due to the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process.

While they both contribute a creamy texture to recipes, mayonnaise is not an ideal substitute for sour cream in most cases due to the difference in flavor. 

You might achieve some degree of success when you’re replacing sour cream for Mayo as salad dressing or when you need a creamy base, though the final taste will still be different.

Can You Make Sour Cream With The Following Ingredients?

Cottage Cheese: You can’t actually make real sour cream with cottage cheese, and the latter isn’t even a direct substitute, but you can attempt a mock sour cream by blending cottage cheese (whatever type you have: larger curd, small curd, regular or low fat) until smooth and adding a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to enhance the tanginess. This mixture can be used in recipes that call for sour cream whether cooked or not cooked.

Evaporated Milk: There is no way to start with an evaporated milk in a jar and end up with sour cream. It, alone, just doesn’t have what it takes to make sour cream as it lacks the necessary acidity and creaminess. However, you could still mix it with an acidic ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice and thicken it with a stabilizer such as gelatin, but the result may not have the same consistency and tanginess as sour cream.

Half and Half: You can make a homemade sour cream substitute using half and half by adding vinegar or lemon juice to it. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken and achieve a tangy flavor similar to sour cream. The texture may be slightly thinner than traditional sour cream, but you can add milk powder to help improve the consistency

Vinegar: Vinegar is an essential ingredient in making sour cream, as it helps to increase the metabolic activity of the culture to make sure things happen fast and nicely. If you dont have vinegar, you can always use lemon juice in its place. 

Cream Cheese: Cream cheese would not give you sour cream from fermentation, but it can serve as a decent substitute for it, although it is much thicker and has a different taste compared to sour cream. To use it as a substitute, soften cream cheese at room temperature and thin it out using milk or cream and then add vinegar or lemon juice for tanginess.

Greek Yogurt: Again, you can’t get cream cheese from Greek yogurt, but you use it as a culture as well as make something that tastes just like it. We’ve already discussed how to substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream above. 

Buttermilk: Buttermilk itself won’t give you sour cream unless you pair it up with another type of cream I.e. heavy cream. What happens is that the probiotic culture in the buttermilk would help kick start the transformation of the cream into sour cream much faster. If you intend to make a substitute however, buttermilk could work, as it has a a tangy flavor similar to sour cream, but it’s thinner consistency might prove a hindrance in some recipes. Check above to find out how to substitute buttermilk for sour cream. 

When it comes to making sour cream, the foolproof ingredients are cream and acid. You can use any type of cream you like such as double, heavy, light, half and half or even a cream and milk combination. Just that the consistency would differ based on the different fat contents. 

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