As much as I love classic beef stroganoff, sometimes I find myself without sour cream on hand to finish the dish. Rather than running to the store for a single ingredient, I’ve discovered some handy substitutes over the years that work in a pinch. Being able to whip up this comforting meal with ingredients already in my kitchen is a lifesaver on busy weeknights. So, here are the perfect substitutes for sour cream in beef stroganoff!
One of my personal favorite substitutes is cottage cheese, followed by other healthier and equally tasty options, including creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, or vegan options like coconut milk yogurt, vegan mayonnaise, cashew cream, and nutritional yeast.
Next time you make stroganoff, pick one of these substitutes and see how it turns out. You might just discover a new favorite ingredient. And if it’s not quite right, just laugh it off and try again next time.
Sour cream is a staple ingredient in beef stroganoff, but cottage cheese is a great option if you’re out or want a healthier substitute. 
Cottage cheese has a mild tangy flavor and creamy texture similar to sour cream. It melts into the stroganoff sauce, providing the same rich and creamy finish. For the best results, use small curd cottage cheese. I find large curd a bit too chunky for this dish.
You can also use low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. It has the same great taste as full-fat but with fewer calories and less saturated fat. Either way, cottage cheese adds protein to the stroganoff. A half-cup serving contains lots of protein, which helps make this dish heartier.
To use cottage cheese instead of sour cream, stir it into the finished stroganoff sauce. Start with about 3/4 of a cup and mix well. Add more to taste and reach your desired consistency. The heat from the sauce will warm the cottage cheese and help it melt in. You really won’t notice much difference in flavor from sour cream.
Creme fraiche is an excellent substitute for sour cream in beef stroganoff. As a cultured cream, it has a rich, tangy flavor that provides the right amount of acidity the dish needs.
Creme fraiche has a thick, creamy texture similar to sour cream. Adding to the stroganoff sauce helps provide body and a velvety mouthfeel. Unlike sour cream, though, creme fraiche won’t curdle when heated, so you can add it directly to the simmering sauce. This allows its flavor to blend in fully with the other ingredients.
You can find creme fraiche in many grocery stores, especially those with an extensive cheese and specialty foods section. However, it’s also easy to make your own at home. I usually just combine heavy cream and buttermilk and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
The good bacteria in the buttermilk will culture the cream, thickening it into creme fraiche. Homemade creme fraiche will last up to a week if refrigerated.
Greek yogurt is one of my favorite choices as a substitute for sour cream in beef stroganoff. It has a tangy, creamy texture similar to sour cream but with more protein and less fat. I like to use plain, full-fat Greek yogurt for the creamiest results, though low-fat or fat-free will also work in a pinch.
To use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, simply substitute the same amount. So if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sour cream, use 1 cup of Greek yogurt. You really can’t go wrong.
Using Greek yogurt in beef stroganoff is a great way to lighten up a comfort food classic without sacrificing any of the creaminess. Your family will never know the difference — at least not until they ask for seconds! Give this substitution a try, and you may reach for yogurt instead of sour cream in all your favorite recipes.
Coconut Milk Yogurt
If you can’t have dairy, coconut milk yogurt is a lifesaver. It works great as a substitute for sour cream in stroganoff and other recipes.
Coconut milk yogurt has a creamy texture and slight tang that mimics sour cream. It provides the same richness without lactose. I like to use plain, unsweetened coconut milk yogurt to control how much sugar goes into my stroganoff. Just stir a few spoonfuls into the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking.
The coconut flavor is usually quite subtle, but if you want to avoid it altogether, you can also make your own coconut milk yogurt at home using a yogurt maker. Just combine canned coconut milk, a yogurt starter, and a little sugar. The yogurt culturing process helps reduce the coconutty flavor. Homemade or store-bought, coconut milk yogurt is a great non-dairy option for stroganoff and a perfect substitute for sour cream.
Using coconut milk yogurt instead of sour cream allows everyone to enjoy creamy stroganoff. Your lactose-intolerant, dairy-free, and vegan friends will thank you. And the best part is, no one will miss the sour cream.
Vegan mayo provides the same creamy texture and tangy flavor as sour cream, which works well as a 1:1 substitute. I usually use the same amount of mayo that the recipe calls for in sour cream. The mayonnaise melts into the stroganoff sauce, adding richness without changing the flavor.
For extra tang, you can sometimes add a bit of lemon or lime juice to the mayonnaise before adding it to the stroganoff.
In addition to being vegan, mayonnaise made from plant-based oils is cholesterol-free — it contains healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil. While vegan mayo is still high in fat, it has less saturated fat than sour cream. Vegan mayonnaise can be a nutritious alternative for the health-conscious or those with dietary restrictions.
Cashews blend into a rich and creamy base that’s perfect for stroganoff. Just soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then blend with 1/3 to 1/2 cup water until smooth and creamy. This makes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of cashew cream. You can adjust the water up or down depending on how thick you want it.
Cashew cream has a mild nutty flavor and a texture similar to sour cream. It works great as a topping for stroganoff in place of sour cream. You can stir it into the stroganoff sauce to make it extra creamy. The cashews provide healthy fats and protein to help make the dish satisfying.
I like adding some lemon juice to the cashew cream for tanginess, but you can also add a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh or dried herbs like dill or chives to suit your tastes. Mix in a spoonful at a time until the flavor is to your liking.
Moreover, the cashew cream will last up to 1 week refrigerated. This gives you plenty of opportunities to experiment with different flavor additions for your stroganoff and other recipes. You may find that cashew cream becomes a staple in your vegan kitchen!
Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy flavor that works great instead of sour cream in stroganoff. It provides a creamy texture without the dairy. I use about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast for every cup of sour cream called for in the recipe.
To use nutritional yeast, simply whisk it into the sauce at the end of cooking, right before serving. Start with a little at a time, stirring frequently, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Nutritional yeast will thicken the sauce, so you may need to add a splash of milk or broth to thin it out.
Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins, protein, and fiber but low in fat, providing nutritional benefits and flavor. It has a shelf life of 2 years when stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator or pantry. Plus, nutritional yeast is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.