Heavy Cream vs Sour Cream – Which Is Better?

If you are someone who consistently craves a creamy and delicious taste in a cheesecake, or if you just love to give a rich finishing to the delicious dishes you prepare, creams are a perfect option for you. So, for heavy cream vs sour cream, which should you go for?

The answer completely depends on how you intend to use it.

Different cream products give different results. So, you should know the different creams, their similarities, and what makes them different so that you can choose carefully which cream may blend well with your dish.

Both heavy cream and sour cream add tangy flavor and richness to food products. Read on to know which you should use for what dish or recipe and why.

What Is Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream is a cream that contains nothing less than 36% – 40% milk fat.

Heavy cream is that part scrapped off the top of fresh cream when it rises. So, it is made from the high-fat part of fresh milk. It was traditionally made from unpasteurized cream in France.

This unpasteurized cream naturally contains the right bacteria needed to thicken it. Considering the amount of fat it contains, heavy cream is higher than other creams in fat including creams like half and half, whipping cream, light cream, and even sour cream.

SEE: Is It Safe To Consume Heavy Cream Without Carrageenan

What Is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is made by adding bacteria-producing lactic acid to milk or cream to thicken and sour it.

It contains a fat content about 16 to 20 percent lower than heavy cream, typically 20%. Sometimes, it is thickened and stabilized with ingredients like gelatin, rennin, and vegetable enzymes.

You can obtain sour cream when regular cream is fermented with bacteria culture that is either introduced naturally or intentionally, which makes the cream sour and thick.

Heavy cream naturally thickens and so does not contain any added thickeners. It contains a richer flavor, is less tangy, and is thicker than sour cream.

SEE: Can You Drink Heavy Whipping Cream

Heavy Cream vs Sour Cream

The cream you go for depends on what and how you intend to use them. Although sour cream has less fat, it has more protein. So, cooking or boiling it will lead to curdling.

Therefore, it is preferable to use heavy cream in sauces or soups. If you choose to use sour cream, stir it into your dish after it’s cooked and turn off the heat.

That is, because heavy cream has a higher fat content when compared to sour cream, you should go for it when cooking. This is because it doesn’t require added thickeners like cornstarch or flour.

Sour cream is a better option for dishes that are made with milk. These may include; casseroles and macaroni and cheese. You can also use it as a base for guacamole and salsa.

For adding more moisture to your baked foods as well as sweeter sauces, like meringue and buttercream frosting, going for heavy cream is a great option.

Sour cream contains lower fat. Therefore, it is considered a better alternative than heavy cream if what you need to do is thin out sauces or dressings or make whipped cream.

For salad or as a topping, heavy cream and sour cream are interchangeable, so it’s up to you to choose which of the two to use. You may like the tanginess of sour cream or prefer the richness of heavy cream.

This means that both creams are good for you; however, you should go for either or both as required.

Is Heavy Cream and Sour Cream the Same?

No, they’re not the same. Although they have a few similarities, they both contain butter fat and give food products a rich and tangy flavor.

The high-fat content of about 20% in sour cream is enough to make it a good substitute for heavy cream in some savory recipes like soups or chili; however, that doesn’t make it the same as heavy cream.

In addition, heavy cream and sour cream are both components of milk. Nevertheless, heavy cream is derived by mere separation from fresh milk, whereas sour cream has to be mixed with bacteria culture, which is how the sour taste is derived.

Differences Between Heavy Cream and Sour Cream

Heavy cream is fresh, whereas sour cream is fermented. Other things differentiate sour cream from heavy cream. Some of them include;

Butterfat content

Heavy cream contains 36% butterfat, while sour cream typically contains 20% butterfat.


Heavy cream doesn’t need any thickeners, whereas ingredients like gelatin, vegetable enzymes, and rennin are added to sour cream to make it thicker and stabilized.


Compared to sour cream, heavy cream has a richer, creamier taste. Sour cream is a  more tangy cream.

SEE: Get Free Food or Amazing Discount At Church’s Chicken

Can You Use Sour Cream Instead of Heavy Cream?

Yes, you can. Sour cream is a good substitute for heavy cream in various recipes as long as the sourness doesn’t subdue the flavors you added to your dish.

This is because it is gluten-free, keto-friendly, and has a fat level of 20%. With its fat contents, sour cream can be substituted in equal amounts for heavy cream in a recipe.

Both creams are particularly good with sweet foods or as topping for sweets. So, instead of heavy cream, you can sweeten your sour cream with confectioners’ sugar and serve it in place of heavy cream.

If you plan to substitute sour cream for heavy cream in recipes like white chili or sauces, add it after you must have finished cooking to prevent it from curdling.

Can You Substitute Heavy Cream for Sour Cream in Cheesecake?

Yes, you can. Either will do a good job. If you like sour cream and the sour tang it adds to the cake hits you differently, then good for you because sour cream also gives the same soft texture as heavy cream and adds some moisture.

Some persons prefer sour cream, while others see heavy cream as a better option in cheesecake.

SEE: Check Out the Delicious Cheesecake Factory Gluten-Free Menu

Which Is Better in Soup?

Sour cream tastes better in soup. This makes it a superior alternative to heavy cream in soups. Sour cream can also add a creamy acidic layer to your soup.

Due to its high-fat content of about 20%, sour cream is a good substitute for heavy, savory recipes like chili or soups.

For mushroom soup, the recipe requires a little bit of tanginess, so it makes sour cream a better option. For chicken soup, sour cream is great too.

It does not contain strong flavors like cream of chicken soup, but it gives a similar texture. Also, to thicken the soup, you can use the thickening components of sour cream.

Heavy Cream vs Sour Cream in Mashed Potatoes

When it comes to mashed potatoes, it’s better when it’s creamier. The creaminess and richness of heavy cream in mashed potatoes make it desirable to many. However, sour cream can substitute for heavy cream in mashed potatoes.

Its consistency is similar to that of heavy cream, and it also adds some creaminess to your potatoes. At a conversion ratio of 1:1, you can use the same amount of sour cream in place of heavy cream in mashed potatoes.


Can you use sour cream instead of heavy cream in mushroom soup?

Yes, you can. The tanginess in sour cream makes it a good option for mushroom soup. Plus, it adds flavor and creaminess to the soup.

Can you use cream cheese in place of sour cream?

Yes, you can. If you’re using cream cheese, you have to loosen it up a little before using it. This is because it is thicker.

SEE: If Cheesecake Have Cheese

What are the substitutes for sour cream?

Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, buttermilk, coconut milk,crème fraîche, and cashews can all pass as good substitutes for sour cream.

What are the substitutes for heavy cream?

The best substitutes for heavy cream are; milk and butter, half and half and butter, coconut cream, evaporated milk, Greek yogurt and milk, soy milk and olive oil, and cream cheese.


The bottom line is that both sour cream and heavy cream are good for you and contain nutritional supplements that are beneficial to your health. Which you should go for totally depends first on what you intend to use it for, and also on what you prefer.

The most important thing is that each of them perfectly fits the dish you’re preparing as well as your healthy diet.

Your part is to know what cream serves as a better recipe for your dish or what cream you will prefer for the meal you’re preparing.

Thank you for reading.

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