Sour Cream vs Cream Cheese

Sour cream and cream cheese are quite different. They are the result of adding different things to cream or cheese. Let’s also be honest: both are delicious in their own right.

Want to know the differences between sour cream and cream cheese so that you can decide which one to use and when? We can help with that!

Sour cream and cream cheese offer different textured and totally different flavors. Cream cheese is more often used to add sweet creaminess. Sour cream is also a thickener, though popularity in its own right.

What’s in sour cream?

Sour cream is made by simply adding lactic acid to regular cream. Lactic acid causes fermentation to take place, which results in an altered texture and taste. Sour creams basic ingredients really are quite simple. 

As you might suspect from the word “fat”, there can be quite a bit of at in sour cream. You can often find low fat or non fat varieties though.

What does sour cream taste like?

Sour cream is sour, though not in a shocking way. We aren’t talking about taking a bit out of a lemon here. Sour cream is slightly sour and often quite smooth. 

Sour cream also tends to either have a very light, airy taste, or a thicker texture depending on how much fat was removed.

How should I use sour cream?

Sour cream can readily be added to a broth or soup to thicken it a bit and add a tangy flavor. Sour cream is probably best known as a topper for a taco, burrito, or baked potato. It’s also often used in dips for chips.

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Mac and cheese lovers have been known to add either sour cream or cream cheese to their pasta to give it a bit of a kick either way.

What’s in cream cheese?

Cream cheese and sour cream are proof that milk is very versatile. If sour cream is cream, which is made from milk itself along with natural acids, then cream cheese is nothing more than milk and cream mixed together.

Cream cheese is made with lower heat and also has lactic acid added. The dairy mixture helps seperate the curd and whey, with the whey removed. Most manufacturers also add some amount of salt and other potential additions to give cream cheese more taste.

What does cream cheese taste like?

Cream cheese is often thick and creamy. Talking about cream cheese, learn how to thaw frozen cream cheese?. Cream cheese is also often sweetened in some way, though savory flavors and herbs are also entirely possible. The big difference is thickness – you won’t find cream cheese that is as light and airy as sour cream.

You’ll notice a big difference when dishing it out. Cream cheese is often available as a “brick,” which is more literally a foil wrapped rectangle. Cream cheese often needs a butter knife to cut and spread.

How should I use cream cheese?

Sour cream and cream cheese have fairly similar uses, just going in slightly different directions. Cream cheese can be added to soups and broths. It’s more often added as a serious thickener.

As mentioned earlier, cream cheese and sour cream are great with boxed or homemade mac and cheese. Cream cheese adds tanginess and thickness.

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Cream cheese is perhaps best known as a spread for bagels and bread, or in pies. Cream cheese can also be found in lots of flavors that range from sweet to spicy.

Is either one healthy for you?

In a word, probably not. Both are available in less fatty forms, but cream cheese is typically at lesat 33% milkfat while sour cream is up to 18%. Cream cheese will fill most people’s daily allotments of both fat and salt with one serving. 

Sour cream isn’t as bad, though cream cheese packs a few more vitamins in. We suggest eating both relatively sparingly, though neither are food items that most people use every day anyway.


Sour cream and cream cheese are both delicious spreads made through the many forms of milk that humans have learned to alter. Cream cheese will provide a creamy, thick, and potentially salty flavor. Sour cream is indeed a bit sour and is a great topper.