Sour Cream vs. Cream Cheese: Differences and Similarities

While cream cheese and sour cream look not much different, there are many differences between these two dairy products. If you’re not familiar with any of these two staples, you probably need some help in telling these two apart. So, here’s the basic difference between the two.

The primary difference between the two is that cream cheese is made from milk and cream, but sour cream is made with just cream. They also have different flavors and textures, whereas sour cream has a sour, tart taste with a soft, spreadable texture. While cream cheese has a mild tangy flavor and a thicker consistency.

To know more information about these two cooking staples, read more below. Also, find out if they are interchangeable or not.

Cream Cheese vs. Sour Cream – 6 Differences

Though cream cheese and sour cream look similar if you see them on one plate, there are key differences between these two items. First, let’s start with ur cream.

sour cream or cream cheese?


How sour cream is made?

Sour cream is a dairy product made by adding lactic acid bacteria to the cream. As a result of this, fermentation begins to happen in the cream changing its texture and taste. As for regular cream, it thickens and as the name implies, it changes its flavor, making it slightly sour.

In addition, it has restrictions on the percentage of other ingredients. Like the rest of dairy products, sour cream is not entirely fermented. However, just like the rest, it should be refrigerated before and after use.

Store-bought sour cream may contain added ingredients to provide the right texture and flavor of the product. It is typically a product that is high in fat. However, there are a lot of varieties to choose from. You can use a fat-free sour cream to dairy-free ones, you can use sour cream that is best suited for your diet and your preference.

Meanwhile, the light varieties of sour cream are lower in fat, but the fat percentage in the old varieties usually ranges from 12 to 16%.

How cream cheese is made?

The manufacturing process of cream cheese is not complex. Just like sour cream, it is also produced due to the fermentation process. However, unlike sour cream, it is made only from cream, whereas cream cheese is made from cream and milk.

In contrary to sour cream, cream cheese is made from low heat, wherein the lactic acid is added to the dairy mix (milk and cream). The mixture is heated gently to start the fermentation process. The dairy mix is then separated into curd and whey.

The latter is then removed to leave behind what is later turned into cream cheese with the addition of salt.

Nutrition Facts

Sour cream and cream cheese are two different dairy products that contain high fat. Cream cheese has at least 33% milkfat, while the fat content in sour cream typically ranges from 14 to 18%. For instance, 2 tablespoons of sour cream and cream cheese provide 52 and 80 calories respectively, and a good amount of fat.

But, this small amount is not sufficient in providing the essential nutrients your body needs. Therefore, enjoy these products with other ingredients and use them in moderation.

Here’s a table that summarizes the basic nutritional differences between cream cheese and sour cream:

Cream Cheese(Daily Value)Sour Cream(Daily Value)
Total Fat79 g121%45 g69%
Carbohydrates 9 g3%7 g2%
Sodium744.7 mg31%184 mg7%
Protein14 g28%4.8 g9%
Cholesterol255.2 mg85%119.6 mg39%
Potassium320.2 mg9%324.3 mg9%
Calcium98 mg22%110 mg25%
Iron0.4 mg4%0.2 mg2%
Magnesium9 mg5%10 mg5%
Vitamin A1343 IU62%623 IU28%
Vitamin C0 mg0%0.9 mg3%
Vitamin D25 IU14%14 IU8%
Vitamin B-60.3 mcg5%0.1 mg5 % 
Cobalamin0.3 mcg10%0.3 mcg10%
Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Nutrition Facts

Texture and Taste

While the name sour cream implies that the dairy product tastes sour, in reality, it is more tangy and tart than its connoted taste like sour. However, in comparison to the taste profile of cream cheese, it is sour.

Cream cheese, on the other hand, has a mild taste with a slight saltiness. It is also tangy, yet in a very soft way. As for the texture, sour cream is softer, more spreadable, and slightly liquidy while the consistency of cream cheese is much thicker.

sour cream or cream cheese?

Uses in Culinary

Cream cheese and sour cream can be used in a variety of ways. You may eat them as is with a slice of fresh bread or incorporate them in different cooking tasks from dips to baked goods.

Sour Cream is Best For

Sour cream has so many uses in cooking that you need to have it always in your fridge. Listed below are some of the common uses of sour cream.

●     Dips

Easy dipping sauces with sour cream, spices, and herbs are perfectly paired with potato chips or wedges. They also go well with fresh vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, and celery.

●     Salad dressing

Sour cream on salad dressing goes well with chicken or beef salads. A simple potato salad can be enhanced with a creamy ur cream dressing. In fact, you can use it on any salad you like and it will turn out delicious.

●     Baked goods

Sour cream is a basic ingredient in baking. It is commonly used in batters, where you can make cookies and donuts. It is also great for cakes. If you want your cakes to become creamy and have an even golden color from the outside, you should use some sour cream.

●     Baked potatoes

Sour cream is a classic topping for a baked potato. Just add a little cheese, bacon, onions, or whatever you think is fancy, and you’re all good.

●     Soup garnish

Sour cream is the perfect garnish for soups. Adding a spoonful of this ingredient is enough to neutralize the taste of cozy cream soups. But what sour cream is best used for is in soups to tone down the heat. For instance, you made a soup that’s too spicy, you can top it off with sour cream and you’re good to go.

●     Sandwich spread

If you use store-bought mayonnaise in your sandwiches, wraps, and burgers, try using sour cream to replace it. Not only sour cream is a healthier choice, but you’ll also be surprised at how it makes your food incredibly tasty.

Cream Cheese is Best For

Cream cheese is also a versatile product. If you have a block of cream cheese that is sitting in your fridge, it’s now time to make delicious out of it. Whether you want a savory dip or just a sweet cream cheese feeling, there are a lot of options.

Here are some popular ways on how to use cream cheese:

●     Frosting

Cream cheese frosting might be the first thing that will come into your mind if you think of cream cheese uses. It is very easy to make and can be used on cakes and cupcakes. You can also put it directly into the cupcakes to make them creamier when you bite into them.

●     Dipping sauce

Cream cheese is also used to create delicious dips for veggies and chips. You can also use it on its own and add herbs and spices. Or, you can mix it with some sour or heavy cream for a creamier consistency.

●     Bagel spread

Cream cheese is ideal as a spread-on bagel for your morning meal. You can make it sweet with sugar and fruits, or top it off with some salmon, avocado, tomato slices, and other ingredients you want.

●     Soups

If sour cream is best used as a soup garnish, cream cheese is best for soups. From pureed vegetable soups to a hearty chicken soup, cream cheese works well to make it smooth with a thicker consistency.

●     Pasta sauce

If you are not that good at cooking, but still want to enjoy pasta with a cheese sauce, adding cream cheese to it while it’s pippin’ hot is an easy solution.

And unlike sour cream cheese is not the best to be used in baking, usually. It works well as a topping or filling for cakes and other baked goodies.

Shelf Life

Both sour cream and cream cheese should be stored in the fridge to make them last longer. Store these dairy products at 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep their texture and taste qualities.

For an opened package of cream cheese, you must use it within 10 days while the unopened one will last good for up to 10 weeks after the “best by date”.

On the other hand, sour cream will last for around 21 days after its “best by date”, and it does not matter whether it is opened or not, as long as you store it properly.

To sum it up, here’s a quick table of comparison between the two dairy products.

Sour CreamCream Cheese
ProcessThe manufacturing of sour cream involves the fermentation of creamThe manufacturing of cream cheese involves draining and curdling the milk. After it turned into a smooth and soft cheese
Sour tasteAs the name implies, sour cream has a sour tasteAs the name suggests, cream cheese has a creamy texture without much sour taste
FatSour cream has 20% fats and has less fat than cream cheeseCream cheese has 33% milk fat, and it has more fat than sour cream.
CholesterolIn comparison, the cholesterol in sour cream is 42% less in cream cheeseIn comparison, cream cheese has more cholesterol
Other ingredientsIn comparison, sour cream has lesser protein and carbohydrates than cream cheese.In comparison, cream cheese has more proteins and carbohydrates than sour cream.
Sour Cream vs. Cream Cheese

Top Brands

There are lots of cream cheese brands out there, and here is the best brand:

Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese

The Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese Block is the most ideal choice for preparing cheesecakes or making icing.

It superbly consolidates richness, tartness, and pungency with a smooth, spreadable surface, making it an exemplary brand that pastry specialists, gourmet experts, and homes all around the world love. The flavor is incredible, and you can get it at any supermarket or grocery store!

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is made with milk, cream, salt, carob bean gum, and cheese culture. Also, with a wealth of stabilizers and an amazingly smooth surface, Philadelphia cream cheddar functions admirably in desserts and treats.

When contrasted with different brands, it has a high sleekness and low dampness content, which is similar to butter inconsistency in numerous aspects. So it’s not difficult to whip into anything or shape any way you like! Overall, the Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese Block is a versatile cream cheese that has turned into a clique top pick.

Here are the top 3 cream cheese brands:

Best Sour Cream Brands

This is the best sour cream brand that goes well with your favorite delicacy:

Daisy sour cream

The pure and natural Daisy Sour Cream is probably the best item you can discover on the lookout. Liberated from artificial preservatives and additives that could make it non-kosher. The active ingredients in the blend are full refined cream and grade A purified milk.

The 16 oz packaging makes it the ideal size to cater to the family. Also, combined with its flavorful taste and velvety surface, it is remarkably difficult to oppose this one from Daisy’s.

Here are the top 3 sour cream brands:

Can You Substitute Sour Cream For Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese is usually used as a good substitute for sour cream; however, a lot of recipes are usually for most baked goodies.

On the other hand, you can substitute sour cream with cream cheese by mixing 170 grams of cream cheese with 45 grams of milk. The texture of this mixture is similar to that of sour cream. You can use cream cheese instead of sour cream in making dips, sauces, and even spreads.

Making Dairy Products at Home

You can make both sour cream and cream cheese at home. In both cases, you’ll need some kind of acid that can turn the cream into milk curdle.

Making sour cream at home does not require cooking. Just put the acid into the cream and allow it to sit for a day. You can also use a small amount of milk.

To make cream cheese, you need to add the acid in the milk while it simmers on low heat. Once the milk has curdled, all you need to do is to strain and separate the curds from the whey. Just a few minutes in the food processor will make the curds creamy. You can add herbs and spices to customize this homemade cream cheese.


Sour cream and cream cheese are two different types of dairy products. Both are obtained through different manufacturing processes. The two of them have different tastes and textures. Sour cream is very sour while cream cheese has very soft with a mild taste. However, cream cheese is a crowd-favorite when it comes to desserts.

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