Homemade Sour Cream with Only 2 Ingredients

Homemade Sour Cream with Only 2 Ingredients

It was cake baking time in the Frugalitude household this past weekend. What was being baked? It was an old favorite: Better than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake. If you are a lemon cake lover then this is a recipe that you will want to try as it is so lemony – principally because it uses not just the zest but also the lemon segments…very Frugalitude! And it’s true; it is much better than the Starbucks version.

However, every time I make this recipe, I notice that it is very specific about the sour cream:

1 cup full-fat sour cream, all-natural (check the ingredients! if there's more than 2, you shouldn't use it!) at room temperature

But when I look at the ingredient list of the sour cream that we normally buy, I see 8 ingredients:

Cultured pasteurized cream, fat free milk, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, guar gum, carrageenan, locust bean gum, natural flavors

A little research showed me that the modified corn starch, guar gum, carrageenan and locust bean gum are to thicken and stabilize the sour cream, and sodium phosphate is just salt. These ingredients are obviously alright to eat, but I know that good baking starts with great quality ingredients so I was curious if all-natural sour cream would make a big difference to the cake.

Then some further research showed me that making my own sour cream does take only two ingredients: cream and buttermilk. OK, I would give it a go!

What you need

  • 1 cup heavy / double cream

  • ¼ cup buttermilk

  • Container – e.g. glass jar

What to do

  • Pour the cream and buttermilk into the container.

  • Shake well to mix the cream and buttermilk

  • Cover – I used a small piece of kitchen roll secured with an elastic band.

  • Let the mixture sit at room temperature, for about 24 hours, to allow the cream to sour.


How much time?

To measure and mix the cream and buttermilk took only a couple of minutes. Then you need to leave the mixture for about 24 hours.


I can purchase sour cream for about $1.29 for 1 cup, whereas making it cost $1.56 for 1.25 cups which is about $1.25 for 1 cup.

Is it worth it?

Better than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake

Better than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake

I would give this a 4-pig grading because it is worth doing if you have the time and the ingredients to hand, or you like the idea of your sour cream having 2 ingredients rather than 8!

Homemade sour cream tastes as good (maybe even a little better) than the store-bought version, but it does have a thinner consistency.

As for the Better than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake, I would say that homemade sour cream did make a difference. This time around it seemed even lighter than before, but equally scrummy!

Anything else I should know?

How long can I store homemade sour cream?

Approximately 2 weeks in the fridge.

Can I use powdered buttermilk instead of buttermilk to make sour cream?

No, the powdered buttermilk does not seem to be acidic enough to sour the cream. I tried it and even after 36 hours the cream still tasted of cream!

What can I do with leftover buttermilk?

I would strongly recommend that you try Buttermilk Pancakes or Cranberry Oat scones – both are so delicious!

What can I do with leftover sour cream?

We all know it’s a great topping for baked potatoes or chili, but you can also use it a topping for pancakes instead of butter, or to garnish vegetables. If you’re making potato salad you can replace half of the mayonnaise with sour cream. If you’re looking for more recipes that use sour cream, check out this article from Bon Appetit: 39 Sour Cream Recipes That Prove It Makes Everything Better.

I want to make the Better than Starbucks Lemon Loaf, what advice can you give me?

Firstly, the recipe does make a huge amount of lemon loaf, so I usually halve the amounts. Half of the recipe fits well into a 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch (22.9 x 12.7 x 6.4 cm) loaf pan.

Soft butter and warming the eggs as directed in the recipe are a must – plus cream the butter well, it’s makes a big difference!

Segmenting the lemons can be time-consuming. I sometimes prep the lemons (zest, mix the zest into the sugar, segment) the night before.

You do need to use cake flour for this recipe. If you don’t have cake flour you can make your own – check out the instructions from Joy the Baker.

The baking temperature in the recipe is 325°F/170°C and the cake takes about 1-1.5 hours to bake. I’ve successfully baked this cake at 350°F/180°C for just under an hour.

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