With their similar creamy textures, greek yogurt and sour cream seem interchangeable. But do they really taste the same?
While yogurt and sour cream share some qualities, they have distinct differences in tanginess, fat content, health benefits, and best uses in cooking.
In this article, we’ll compare greek yogurt vs sour cream side-by-side. We’ll explore their flavor profiles, discuss what sets them apart, and provide substitution tips. Read on to find out does greek yogurt taste like sour cream!
Table of Contents
Overview of Greek Yogurt vs Sour Cream
Here’s a quick rundown of how greek yogurt differs from sour cream:
- Flavor – Greek yogurt has a tangy, tart flavor from fermented milk. Sour cream tastes mildly tangy with creaminess from fat.
- Texture – The thick, smooth consistency of greek yogurt resembles sour cream. But yogurt is more dense while sour cream is silky.
- Fat content – Greek yogurt is much lower in fat and calories than the high-fat sour cream.
- Culturing – Yogurt uses thermophilic cultures while sour cream uses mesophilic cultures to sour the dairy.
- Usage – While interchangeable in some cases, each suits some applications better than the other.
So while greek yogurt makes a tasty, healthier substitute for sour cream in many recipes, they are not exactly the same in flavor or texture.
Greek Yogurt Flavor and Texture
Let’s break down the distinctive flavor and texture qualities of greek yogurt:
- Tangy and tart – The fermentation of the milk by yogurt cultures creates lactic acid for tang. Full-fat yogurt is mildly tangy while nonfat and Greek-style have more tartness.
- Creamy, smooth – The liquid whey is strained out to produce the thick, rich Greek-style yogurt. It has a smooth, velvety texture.
- Slightly grassy – Hints of grassiness come through from the milk and yogurt starter cultures. This is most noticeable in sheep or goat milk yogurts.
- Cooling finish – The tangy tartness has a mouthwatering, cooling effect similar to sour cream but more pronounced.
- Dense and thick – Greek yogurt has a higher protein content leading to a thick, almost chewy texture compared to loose regular yogurt.
So Greek yogurt offers great creaminess with bolder bursts of tanginess than sour cream. The density and mild grassy flavor also distinguish it.
Sour Cream Flavor and Texture
In contrast, here are the signature qualities of sour cream:
- Mildly tangy – Sour cream has a subtler, more rounded tanginess than Greek yogurt from the lactic acid. The sourness is tempered by the dairy fat.
- Rich and creamy – Made from cream, sour cream delivers a decadent, silky texture and mouthfeel.
- Cooling – The tang provides refreshing quality, but more mellow than yogurt. The richness balances the tartness.
- Nutty, buttery – Slight cooked, nutty notes come through along with a buttery finish from the dairy fat.
- Smooth, glossy – Sour cream has a creamy yet ethereal texture compared to dense Greek yogurt.
The luxuriousness of full fat sour cream makes it less sharply tangy than Greek yogurt. The satiny texture also differs.
Fat Content Comparison
The fat content greatly impacts the flavor and use:
- Greek yogurt – Nonfat Greek yogurt has 0g fat. Whole milk Greek yogurt around 6-10g per serving.
- Sour cream – Sour cream contains about 18-20g of fat per serving, providing richer mouthfeel.
- Substitution – To substitute, use full fat Greek yogurt for sour cream. Low fat yogurt lacks the right texture and fat to mimic sour cream.
The higher fat content of sour cream gives it more mellow tanginess and richness than fat-free and low fat yogurts.
Nutrition Profile Comparison
Due to differences in fat, Greek yogurt and sour cream differ nutritionally:
| Greek Yogurt | Sour Cream |
| More protein | Much higher in fat |
| Excellent source of calcium | Higher calories |
| Lower lactose | Contains less protein |
| Often fortified with vitamins | Minimal micronutrients |
| Contains probiotics | No living cultures |
So Greek yogurt packs a more nutritious punch of protein, calcium, vitamins, and probiotics compared to high-fat, high-calorie sour cream.
Yogurt Cultures vs Sour Cream Cultures
The different starter cultures used create the divergent flavors:
- Greek yogurt – Made from thermophilic cultures like Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
- Sour cream – Uses mesophilic cultures including Lactococcus lactis and Leuconostoc species
The specific microbial species ferment the milk and cream differently to produce yogurt’s sharper tang versus sour cream’s rounded taste.
Taste and Use Cases
Due to their different balances of tang, richness, and coolness, Greek yogurt and sour cream each suit some recipes better:
Where Greek yogurt shines
- Tzatziki or raita
- Salad dressings and dips
- Adding protein to baked goods
Where sour cream excels
- Topping baked potatoes
- Enchiladas and casseroles
- Creamy soups
- Cream sauces
- Frostings and creamy desserts
- Whipping cream
So while interchangeable in some cases, greek yogurt works better where tang and protein is desired. Sour cream is the choice for pure richness and neutral flavor.
Can They Be Substituted?
In many recipes, Greek yogurt and sour cream can be swapped 1:1 with relatively minimal impact:
- In dips, salad dressings, and spreads, Greek yogurt substitutes directly for sour cream nicely.
- In baked goods, the moisture content may need adjusting slightly. But the flavor impact is minimal.
- Adding Greek yogurt to creamy soups gives a tangy twist.
- For frostings, yogurt needs more added sugar/sweetener to offset the tartness.
- In recipes where sour cream is cooked or used as a topping, the tang of yogurt comes through more.
Always opt for full fat Greek yogurt when substituting for the richness. And consider the greater tartness yogurt will contribute to the dish.
Price and Availability
Greek yogurt and sour cream differ in price and availability:
- Greek yogurt has become widely available and affordably priced, especially larger tubs of plain.
- Sour cream is cheaply priced as well but may have less inventory variety depending on the grocer.
- Organic or small batch artisanal yogurts and sour cream cost considerably more.
- Greek yogurt has surged in popularity over the past decade while sour cream use has remained steady.
For most home cooks, either dairy product can be readily purchased at an affordable price making substitution easy.
Key Takeaways – Does Greek Yogurt Taste Like Sour Cream?
- Greek yogurt has more tart, tangy flavor while sour cream is mildly tangy and rich.
- The textures differ with Greek yogurt being dense and sour cream silky.
- Fat content impacts the flavor and mouthfeel greatly.
- Yogurt contains more protein and nutrients while sour cream offers pure richness.
- They substitute 1:1 in many recipes, but sometimes yogurt’s tanginess comes through.
- Both are budget-friendly, widely available staple dairy items.
So while Greek yogurt makes an excellent stand-in for sour cream much of the time, expect some variation in richness and tanginess when swapping them in recipes.