Lisa White’s Blog

Bachelor of Science (with Honours)
Advanced Diplomas in each of Naturopathy, Nutrition, and Herbal Medicine.
Lisa is the author of The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly series and the Producer and Presenter of the web-series The Alternative Chef Kitchen.





There’s something about the creamy tangy taste of a good dollop of sour cream on a baked potato or a bowl of nachos that is incredibly enticing.

But if dairy is off the menu for you, all is not lost.  There are other foods you can use to re-create that creamy tangy sour cream taste. For this exercise (creating a dairy free sour cream alternative) we’re looking for two main types of foods: firstly, foods which provide a creamy texture, and secondly foods which provide a tangy taste. So let’s dive in.

Getting the creamy taste from dairy alternatives

The kinds of foods which are going to help give the creamy taste to our sour cream alternative are generally going to have a high fat content or a silky texture when you eat them. So our most obvious non-dairy options include:

– nuts (such as cashew or macadamia)

– seeds (such as sunflower )

– fruit such as avocado

– Silken tofu

Soy based products, such as silken tofu have a smooth creamy taste, but are usually much lower in fat than dairy products, but I’ve added them to the list  because silken tofu has the silky texture we’re looking for here.

Also, just another word about the list above. I’ve given some specific examples of foods in those categories that could work. For example, cashews and macadamia nuts are both a creamy colour, and they both have soft flavours which aren’t too overpowering in their own right (compare the taste of cashews with walnuts for example). The same consideration is made with seeds. For example,  sesame seeds are delicious  but they have a really distinctive taste. Likewise pepitas are great but they also have a strong taste, so in this case, sunflower seeds make a good option.

Ok so how about the tang?

Getting the tangy taste for your sour cream alternative

In “real” dairy based sour cream the tang usually comes from the bacteria which are added to the cream fermenting the sugars so it gives a sour taste. Because those same sugars aren’t in our creamy dairy alternatives, the same process won’t work. So another way you can mimic the tangy flavour of sour cream is to add something with a tangy taste to your cream alternative e.g:

– apple cider vinegar

– lemon or lime juice

– verjuice (a juice derived from grapes that is tangy and a little lemony in flavour so it’s a good option for people who can’t tolerate citrus)

Creating a creamy puree

Ok so we’ve got our tang and we’ve got our “creamy” base, but how do we make it “look” like sour cream? We need to create a creamy puree.

While that’s pretty easy to manage with avocado or silken tofu which are both soft and mash relatively easily (especially with a stick blender or bench top food processor), sunflower seeds and cashews need a little more work, but you can still create a creamy puree with them.

There are two secrets to creating a creamy puree with nuts and sunflower seeds.

Firstly, you need to soak the nuts or seeds in some water so they swell and soften up. This makes them much easier to puree (especially if you don’t have a fancy high speed blender). Basically, all you need to do is add the nuts or seeds to a bowl, cover them with water (we use filtered water) and then leave them to stand for a period of time. (The soaking time differs based on the size of the nut or seed and if you’ve never done this before, we’ve got a soaking guide on our website. ).

Once they’ve soaked for the specified time, then rinse them off and they’re ready to add to your food processor  high speed blender (if you have one).

To help the pureeing begin, you’ll need to add a little liquid to the mix. How much you add will depend on how thick you’d like the resulting puree to be.  Ideally you want to add the smallest amount of liquid as possible. If  you add too much you’ll end up with a runny product which won’t look like sour cream at all.

Which liquid works best?

You could use water  but I prefer to use a milk alternative (I use rice milk because I find it has the most subtle flavour of all the dairy milk alternatives, but you could use which ever option suits your diet and the alternative which has a flavour you like. I’d recommend against using coconut milk in this case because the very strong coconut flavour is hard to hide and it’ll be a little out of place in nachos or a baked potato. In pumpkin soup on the other hand, I find that tastes lovely and often use coconut yoghurt instead of sour cream, but choose whatever is delicious to your tastebuds and is on your  “can eat” list).

So how do these sour cream alternatives taste?

Obviously these alternatives aren’t going to taste  exactly like dairy based sour cream because they aren’t made with dairy. However, when it comes to a creamy tangy taste that suits a free-from diet, they taste pretty good, and are a great alternative.

  • cashew “sour cream” is a good option for people who can’t tolerate dairy or soy (but can tolerate nuts)
  • sunflower seed “sour cream” is a good option for people who can’t tolerate nuts, dairy or soy (but can tolerate seeds)
  • tofu “sour cream” is a good option for people who can’t tolerate dairy, tree nuts or seeds but can tolerate soy.

So what about the avocado option?

Well, we’ve had a little fun with that one and you can see how that turned out in our Sour Cream Episode


If you’d like to try making a sour cream alternative, you can find each of these recipes in our book The Little Book of Allergy Friendly Tasty Toppings: 18 dairy and meat free options with gluten, soy, egg and nut free options (released September 2017), click HERE

Until next time …… Lisa.

For other books available at The Alternative Chef Kitchen click HERE