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Sour Cream vs. Yogurt: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 9, 2023
Sour cream is a rich, tangy cream that is fermented with lactic acid bacteria, while yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by bacterial fermentation of milk.

Key Differences

Sour cream is a dairy product that is fermented to achieve its signature tanginess. The creamy texture and slight acidity of sour cream stem from the introduction of lactic acid bacteria into cream, which is typically of a higher fat content. On the other hand, yogurt is a similarly fermented product, but is often derived from milk instead of cream, and carries its own unique strains of bacteria which impart a distinctively different taste and texture.
The taste of sour cream can be described as mildly sour and it often has a thick consistency, making it a popular choice for adding richness to a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. In contrast, yogurt, while also tangy, often has a wider range of flavors and consistencies, available from very thick Greek-style yogurts to thinner, drinkable options, and can also be found in both sweet and savory culinary applications.
A noteworthy point regarding sour cream is its higher fat content, which can add a velvety smoothness to dishes like soups, sauces, and baked goods. Yogurt, with its diverse fat content options from non-fat to full-fat, provides more varied choices for dietary preferences and can also be utilized in cooking and baking, often being praised for its ability to add moisture to baked dishes.
In the context of health, sour cream, due to its higher fat content, might be considered less healthy than some yogurt options, particularly those that are low or non-fat. However, yogurt is widely available in a variety of fat contents, and often comes enriched with probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health.
In culinary use, sour cream is famed for its role in baking and as a topping for dishes like soups and baked potatoes, where it imparts a creamy, tangy richness. Yogurt, conversely, is not only consumed as is but also serves as a versatile ingredient in various cuisines, being utilized in everything from smoothies to marinades, and offering a tangy counterpoint in a myriad of dishes.

Comparison Chart



Fat Content

Typically higher
Available from non-fat to full-fat


Often thicker
Ranges from thin to thick (Greek yogurt)

Use in Cooking

Commonly used in baking and toppings
Used in a variety of culinary applications

Health Aspects

Might be higher in calories due to fat content
Often enriched with probiotics, varies in fat content

Sour Cream and Yogurt Definitions

Sour Cream

Sour cream is a dairy product obtained by fermenting cream with certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria.
She dolloped sour cream on top of the baked potato.


Yogurt is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk.
She enjoyed her morning yogurt with a sprinkling of granola.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is often used in baking and cooking because of its ability to add richness.
Adding sour cream to the cake batter ensured it was moist and rich.


It is versatile in the culinary world, used in both sweet and savory dishes.
She marinated the chicken in yogurt to ensure it stayed juicy during cooking.

Sour Cream

It is known for its signature tangy flavor and smooth, creamy texture.
The sour cream added a delightful tang to the soup.


It is valued for its smooth texture and slightly sour flavor.
The yogurt provided a tangy balance to the sweet honey.

Sour Cream

It is utilized in various cuisines, often accompanying savory dishes.
A swirl of sour cream topped the hearty bowl of chili.


Yogurt is known for its probiotic qualities, beneficial for digestive health.
He chose yogurt for a snack, considering its probiotic benefits.

Sour Cream

Sour cream can be made at home by fermenting cream with specific bacterial cultures.
She left the mixture out overnight to cultivate her homemade sour cream.


Yogurt comes in various forms, such as Greek yogurt, which is strained to achieve a thicker consistency.
The recipe called for Greek yogurt to achieve the desired creamy texture.


A custardlike food with a tart flavor, prepared from milk curdled by bacteria, especially Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and often sweetened or flavored.


A milk-based product stiffened by a bacterium-aided curdling process, and sometimes mixed with fruit or other flavoring.


Any similar product based on other substances (e.g. soy yogurt).


A custard-like food made from curdled milk


Is sour cream typically more fat-dense than yogurt?

Yes, sour cream is generally higher in fat compared to yogurt, which is available in various fat content levels.

Why is yogurt often touted as a healthy snack option?

Yogurt is often enriched with probiotics and can be found in low-fat or non-fat options, making it a healthy choice.

Is there a difference in bacterial cultures between yogurt and sour cream?

Yes, yogurt and sour cream often utilize different strains of bacteria, resulting in varied flavors and textures.

Which has more probiotic benefits, yogurt, or sour cream?

Typically, yogurt is more associated with probiotic benefits due to the specific bacterial cultures used.

Can sour cream and yogurt be used interchangeably in recipes?

They can often be substituted for one another, but it might slightly alter the taste and texture of the dish.

What bacteria are used to make sour cream?

Lactic acid bacteria are used to ferment the cream and create sour cream.

Can both sour cream and yogurt be made at home?

Yes, both can be made at home by fermenting cream or milk with specific bacterial cultures.

Can I use yogurt as a topping for soups or baked dishes like sour cream?

Yes, yogurt can be used as a topping, providing a slightly different but still tangy accent.

What is the basic ingredient of sour cream?

Sour cream is made from cream that has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

Is yogurt made the same way as sour cream?

Yogurt is also a fermented dairy product but is typically made from milk instead of cream.

Does yogurt have a place in cooking and baking?

Absolutely, yogurt is versatile and is used in many cooking and baking applications across various cuisines.

Are sour cream and yogurt available in flavored variants?

Yogurt is commonly found in various flavors, while sour cream is typically not flavored.

How long do sour cream and yogurt last in the refrigerator?

Both sour cream and yogurt generally last a few weeks in the refrigerator but always refer to the “use by” date.

Is sour cream used in various cuisines around the world?

Yes, sour cream is utilized in numerous cuisines, adding a creamy, tangy element to dishes.

Is Greek yogurt fundamentally different from regular yogurt?

Greek yogurt is essentially regular yogurt that has been strained to remove whey, resulting in a thicker texture.

How is yogurt incorporated into meals?

Yogurt can be enjoyed on its own, in smoothies, as a marinade, or in cooking and baking.

Can sour cream be used in desserts?

Absolutely, sour cream can be used in various desserts, offering a rich, tangy note.

Are there lactose-free options available for both sour cream and yogurt?

Yes, lactose-free options are available in some brands for both sour cream and yogurt.

How does the fermentation process differ between sour cream and yogurt?

While both involve bacterial fermentation, sour cream is fermented cream, while yogurt is fermented milk.

What types of dishes is sour cream used in?

Sour cream is used in a variety of dishes like soups, baked goods, and as toppings.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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