In a pinch, I’ve always substituted yogurt for sour cream and never really noticed any difference in the end result. I also know that many of you substitute yogurt for sour cream for health reasons. Having never actually tasted the sour cream version and the yogurt version of my baked goods side-by-side, it was hard to know if if there was some subtle flavor or texture element that I lost in the switch. I worked with Cupcake Project contributor Kaitlin Marks to run some true tests on substituting yogurt for sour cream to see what we would learn.
Introduction / Purpose
Many of the recipes in the baking community feature sour cream as a “secret ingredient” of sorts. Could plain yogurt or even Greek yogurt work as a substitution? Or, could these even work better than sour cream? These results could be helpful to people trying to cut calories or in cases when only one of the three ingredients is handy.
Yogurt and Greek yogurt would substitute for sour cream in baked goods without a substantial change in texture or flavor.
Kaitlin and I both ran tests using full-fat sour cream, 2% plain yogurt, and Greek yogurt (I used 2% and Kaitlin used fat-free).
Kaitlin baked my tried and true vanilla cupcake recipe three times – once with sour cream, once with yogurt, and once with Greek yogurt. I did the same with my sour cream coffee cake. We substituted the ingredients equally and measured by volume. We then completed testing with friends and family and recorded comments and scores on taste, texture, and overall enjoyment.
Results and Discussion
From Kaitlin: The cupcakes with the sour cream were, as described, ultimate. Fluffy, flavorful, and sweet, these cupcakes live up to their reputation, for sure. The Greek yogurt cupcakes had a little lighter of a crumb than the originals, a good flavor, and were fluffy, causing them to earn a 5 for taste and 4’s for texture and overall quality. The plain yogurt cupcakes were amazing; their flavor and light fluffy texture kept everyone coming back for more, so the plain yogurt would be the optimum substitution if necessary. The Greek yogurt cupcakes did not require extra time, but the plain yogurt cupcakes required a few minutes more in the oven. In addition, the cupcakes with the plain yogurt domed just as well as the original, but the Greek yogurt ones did not dome evenly. This may be because the Greek yogurt had no fat, but as we didn’t do further testing with non-fat yogurt, that is still just a hypothesis.
From me: Jonathan and I did blind taste tests of all three coffee cakes, giving each other bites and forcing each other to guess which cake was which. In the end, we couldn’t tell a difference at all. They looked the same, tasted the same, and had the exact same texture. I even had to keep signs on the cakes in order to tell them apart at all. However, like the cupcake data from Kaitlin, I did find that the yogurt coffee cake required a few more minutes of baking time.
Based on the results of this study, Kaitlin and I would definitely recommend using equal amounts of plain or Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in baked goods. The end results will not be at all compromised. We would also suggest adding a few more minutes to the bake time when substituting yogurt.