What is the Difference Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream

The main difference between sour cream and whipping cream is that sour cream contains only 10% of butterfat while whipping cream contains 30% of butterfat.

If you are craving to taste a mouthwatering extra creamy piece of cheesecake or if you just want to give a rich finish to a delicious dish you are preparing, cream products are a perfect choice for you. However, different cream products may render different results. Therefore, you should always decide carefully which cream variety may blend well with your dish.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Sour Cream 
     – Definition, Features, Recipes
2. What is Whipping Cream
     – Definition, Features
3. Similarities Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cream, Sour Cream, Whipping CreamDifference Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream - Comparison Summary

What is Sour Cream

Sour cream is a cream quite similar to fresh cream but is soured and thickened with bacterial cultures. Sour cream has a very smooth and silky texture. It usually contains at least 10% of fat. Compared to whipping cream, it is lighter and can be considered the lightest of the cream products. Focusing on the nutritional value of sour cream, it contains about 190 calories per 100g serving.

Making Sour Cream at Home

Making homemade sour cream is not hard as you might think.  To make sour cream, you need heavy cream and a starter culture with the bacteria required to thicken and sour the cream. It is possible to find these cultures in organic markets, online stores, or even in plain old buttermilk. First, you need to add the heavy cream to a saucepan and heat it until it reaches an approximate temperature of 63°C. This helps to kill all other bacteria so that the starter culture is allowed to perform its task properly. You should maintain a constant temperature for about 45 minutes. Then you should let it cool down to 25°C.

Compare Sour Cream and Whipping Cream

Then you need to stir in the buttermilk or starter culture until it is well dissolved. After that, you should put the mixture into a clean jar and cover it lightly with a clean cloth. Then you should leave it to rest for abut16–18 hours in a warm place. Sour cream made like this can be used immediately, or you can store it in a  sealed container and preserve it inside the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

When you are using sour cream in dishes, keep in your mind that sour cream tends to curdle quickly when it is added to warm mixtures. Therefore, sour cream tastes best when  added to  cold dishes like dips, cold soups, or even dressings

What is Whipping Cream

Whipping cream refers to a liquid cream that includes around 30% to 36% of butterfat. Therefore, whipping cream is frequently called heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Whipping cream can also contain added sugar; therefore, you need to check the label when you buy it. Whipping cream usually contains 300 calories per 100g serving.

Sour Cream vs Whipping Cream


Compared to the silky texture of sour cream, whipping cream cannot be considered the best choice if you want to give your soup an extra smooth texture. Nonetheless, whipping cream is an excellent base for sauces. It also has the ability to simmer for a longer period of time without curdling.  Keeping savoury uses aside, whipping cream is a widely used sweet topping for a variety of cakes and other bakery items.

Similarities Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream

  1. Sour cream and whipping cream are both added to give a tangy flavour and an extra richness to dishes.
  2. Both contain butterfat.

Difference Between Sour Cream and Whipping Cream


Sour cream is a cream similar to fresh cream but is soured and thickened with bacterial cultures, whereas whipping cream refers to a  liquid cream that includes around 30% to 36% butterfat.

Butterfat Concentration

Sour cream contains only 10% of butterfat, while whipping cream contains 30%- 36% of butterfat.

Thickeners Added

Ingredients like gelatin, vegetable enzymes and rennin are added to sour cream to make it thicker, while whipping cream does not contain any added thickeners.


Whipping cream has a richer and creamier taste and is less tangy compared to sour cream.


In brief, the main difference between sour cream and whipping cream is that the butterfat concentration of sour cream is lower than the butterfat concentration of whipping cream. Further, whipping cream is richer in flavour compared to sour cream. Therefore, choosing between these two cream-based products depends on how you plan to use them.


1. “Cream – Types of Cream and Their Uses.” The Epicentre, 26 Mar. 2020.
2. Stradley, Linda. “Cream Types and Definitions.” What’s Cooking America, 25 Oct. 2019.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Sour-cream-pot-ceramic-tomatoes-4215618” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “1634950” (CC0) via Pxhere

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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