Can You Use Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream?

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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.

substituting yogurt for sour cream

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 crumb 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.


sour cream vs yogurt cupcake data

sour cream vs yogurt coffee cake data

Results and Discussion

sour cream vs yogurt in cupcakes

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.

Coffee Cake test

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.

Past Labs

Test 1: Using Mayo as an Egg Substitute
Test 2: Using Applesauce as a Butter or Oil Substitute

Kaitlin Marks

Kaitlin Marks is a 17 year old with a passion for kids, writing, color and baking. She wants to be a teacher when she gets older, to have lots of dogs, and to live a life filled with chocolate and sprinkles. At any free moment, you're likely to find her curled up with a good book or film and a cup of tea, writing an article or story, or whipping up some treats in the kitchen. She enjoys spending time with family, and her happy place is the beach. Entering her senior year of high school, Kaitlin is excited to be contributing to Cupcake Project. She can also be found contributing articles to the website Career Girl Daily, obsessing over Instagram, hanging on Tumblr, or trying to develop her own blog (coming soon!) Her favorite dessert is any cake with phenomenal frosting, but she'll eat ice cream anytime. She's a dreamer, a writer, a baker, a reader, a volunteer and a believer in how wonderful things can be.

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  1. Vancouver, Canadasays:

    Thank you!
    This answers all my questions. Good job

  2. Madelinesays:

    As a chemist this pleases me. Lol I’m going to save this blog for future reference!

  3. Briansays:

    Thanks Katlin for the comparison.

    when you said to leave the cupcakes in for a few more minuets. approximately how long?

    Brian the Real Estate Baker

  4. Lindsaysays:

    Hey thanks for this! I live in Mexico and I haven’t been able to find sour cream that isn’t full of thickeners and preservatives, so I’m left with yoghurt as my only 100% pure ingredient option. Now I’m going to try the cake recipe I’ve been eyeing!

  5. Rachael Philipsays:

    Many thanks Kailin and friends for conducting the tests and for sharing the results.

  6. Marysays:

    I was pulling out my hair because I got back from the store and realized that I had forgotten the sour cream that the recipe called for. (I don’t have a car during the day so it was going to be a hassle to try to get back there) Thanks to this recommendation I subbed in the fat-free greek yogurt I had at home and it tasted just fine. This really saved the day!

  7. AnotherThinkersays:

    While I appreciate this taste test, you would have had a far more appropriate test if you used full fat yogurt. Did you use 2% sour cream or fat free sour cream? No. So you shouldn’t have used 2% or fat free yogurts. I have found full fat Greek yogurt is almost a perfect substitute.

  8. Author Tamarasays:

    Fantastic article. Great help. Love the scientific method and analysis!

  9. masker naturgosays:

    Thanks! I usually have at least one of these in my fridge

  10. Dianesays:

    How can I subscribe to your newsletter? Do you have one?

  11. Muffy Smithsays:

    Wondering why you didn’t use full fat, 2% or fat free Consistently in all the tests. Sees as tho using the same fat content would have been a true comparison.

  12. Mirandasays:

    That’s great to know! Sometimes I run out of sour cream but now I know I can just use yogurt instead of going out to the store!

  13. Cathysays:

    So glad you did these tests. I do not like sour cream in anything so this is wonderful news. Thanks!

  14. Angelasays:

    Thanks! I usually have at least one of these in my fridge.

  15. Heather @Boston Girl Bakessays:

    This is great! Definitely bookmarking this post :)

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