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DIY: Cultured Sour Cream


a spoon next to a bowl of homemade sour cream

Velvety, satisfying, and luxurious…if these words don’t describe your current sour cream situation, keep reading. Now, we don’t judge—store-bought tubs are certainly convenient, but what are you really getting in that container? More often than not, the answer is a host of fillers and stabilizers. This time, skip the additives and make your own sour cream at home. Better yet, try our cultured version, which is rich in probiotics instead of guar gum. This two-part recipe can be made with store-bought cultured buttermilk, or you can whip up your own. Either way, time and patience are essential; slow fermentation allows flavors to build and yields a luscious consistency.

Cultured Sour Cream

Makes 3½ cups


  • Whisk
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • 2 pint-size glass canning jars with lids, sterilized
  • 4-quart stockpot
  • Thermometer with stainless steel dial


  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup cultured buttermilk (see recipe below)

pouring milk into a mixing bowl

Whisk together cream, milk, and buttermilk in mixing bowl. Pour mixture into sterilized jars. Place jars in stockpot and fill pot with room-temperature water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the jars.

jars filled with sour cream in a water bath

Slowly heat milk mixture on stovetop over medium-low until it reaches between 75°F and 80°F (this should take about 15 minutes). Place lids loosely on jars and transfer stockpot to a room temperature, draft-free spot (the inside of a cold oven works well). Ripen for 12 hours or overnight.

jars of homemade sour cream

Remove jars from water bath, tighten lids, and ripen at room temperature for another 24 hours, or until sour cream is thick and smooth with a tangy flavor.

Serve immediately, or ripen for an additional 48 hours for an even thicker, more flavorful sour cream. Sour cream will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.

Cultured Buttermilk

Makes 4 cups


  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • 2 pint-size glass canning jars with lids, sterilized
  • Thermometer with a stainless steel dial


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Aroma B powdered mesophilic starter culture

Pour milk into mixing bowl and sprinkle starter culture over milk. Rest for 5 minutes, then thoroughly whisk in an up-and-down motion about 20 times. Pour milk mixture into sterilized pint jars, place lids loosely on jars, and set aside in a draft-free spot at room temperature to culture for 12 hours (the inside of a cold oven works well).

Tighten lids on jars and refrigerate. Cultured buttermilk will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Sour Cream Suggestions:

  • Stir into mac and cheese for extra zip and creaminess.
  • Strain through cheesecloth to thicken, then use as a filling for crêpes or pasta.
  • Dollop onto nachos for a next-level topping.
  • Sweeten with maple syrup and serve as a dip for fresh fruit.

Photography by Erin Harris

Erin Harris

Erin Harris is a classically trained chef who spent time living and working in Italy early in her career. After years of being an enthusiast of fine cheese, Erin studied and trained to become a Certified Cheese Professional through the ACS. Combining her passion for fine food and cheese, today Erin is a cheesemonger and a freelance recipe developer and consultant. In her free time, Erin can be found traveling in search of her next cultural adventure.

4 thoughts on “DIY: Cultured Sour Cream”

  1. Erin Harris says:

    It needs to say ‘bacterial culture’ on the ingredient list. If it says that, you can make sour cream with it!

  2. Lesley Orlowski says:

    Can store bought buttermilk be used in the sour cream recipe?

  3. Erin Harris says:

    It may form little fat globules in with the soured cream, but technically yes you can.

  4. Gina Bisaillon says:

    Can I use 18% cream instead? That’s what’s available here (for coffee) and I always have some in the fridge.

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