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How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

If you’re a sucker for dairy products, you probably always have some sour cream in your fridge.

Even if you don’t use sour cream as a side dish or spread for a quick snack, you use it as a topping or garnish for soups, chili, and Mexican dishes.

Sour cream is also a common ingredient in most bakery goods, such as cookies, cakes, and scones. 

Because of its specific taste and texture, if you aren’t a vegan sour cream is an ingredient that you can’t avoid in your kitchen. And even if you are a vegan, there is a substitute for sour cream. 

Unless you’re allergic to both traditional and vegan sour cream, there’s no way of avoiding it, be it in delicious cakes or creamy side dishes. 

Because of its sour taste, it’s a bit tricky to determine if your sour cream has gone bad or not. 

Thankfully, you have us!

Today, you’ll learn how long does sour cream last, can you freeze it, and how to properly store it. What’s more, we’ll also touch upon how long does the vegan alternative least. 

Does Sour Cream Go Bad? 

The answer is pretty straightforward: Sour cream does go bad!

Just like all dairy products, sour cream can go bad if left too long in the fridge. 

Sour cream can sometimes even go bad before its expiration date. This is usually caused by improper handling during production before it even gets to the store shelf. So, it doesn’t have to be your fault the cream went bad, it was mishandled before you even bought it. 

Sour cream can sometimes stay fresh after its expiration date, even if the pack is opened. This is because sour cream is already sour, so it will keep its taste and texture longer than most other dairy products. 

Of course, this can only be the case if the sour cream was stored correctly and kept under perfect temperature. We’ll touch upon how to store sour cream a bit later correctly. 

When it comes to the vegan alternative, it’s practically the same case as with the regular sour cream. The only difference is that vegan sour cream will usually go bad much quicker, even if kept in a covered container in the refrigerator

How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

So, we have confirmed that both regular dairy sour cream and vegan sour cream can go bad, but now it’s time to jump on the real question. How long does it last? 

Sour cream is a milk product that has been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria it can contain. After the pasteurization, it’s fermented with good bacteria that produce lactic acid. The lactic acid is what gives sour cream the specific sour flavor. 

Commercially produced sour cream must fulfill a lot of safety standards because of the bacteria it contains. Homemade sour cream usually includes a lot more bacteria than the one in the store. 

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consume homemade sour cream. It just means that you should be more careful when it comes to expiration because it will go bad much quicker than the sour cream you bought in the store. 

Because of the living bacteria in the sour cream, you should always be careful when leaving it sitting in the fridge. Although the cold temperature slows down their metabolism, the bacteria in the cream are still very much active. If the sour cream has gone bad without you noticing, you can get food poisoning. 

According to the USDA, a can of sour cream, whether opened or unopened, is good for up to three weeks after the sell-by date. Of course, with the presumption that it’s left in the fridge under a temperature of around 40 F. 

One thing you should never do is mix up the expiration date with the sell-by date. The sell-by date determines how long the product can sit on the market shelf. The expiration date – on the other hand – tells you how long the product remains good after the sell-by date. 

Assuming the sour cream is refrigerated at around 40 F, it can stay fresh anywhere between 7 and 21 days. 

When it comes to vegan sour cream, it’s usually good for around a week, depending on if it’s homemade or bought in a market. 

How To Check If The Sour Cream Has Gone Bad

Even if the use-by date on the package tells you that the sour cream has perfect quality, you should always double-check that. So, here are three signs that sour cream has gone bad. 

  1. Weird Smell – Just like with most other foods, the scent says a lot about the quality. So, before you use sour cream for anything, take a whiff of the sour cream. If the cream has a moldy, rotten, or stinky smell, it is not safe to eat. Any other smell than the usual sour smell is a sign that there is extra bacteria growth that affects the taste and quality of the sour cream. 
  2. Mold – It’s pretty apparent why mold is a definite indicator that food has gone bad. If you see something greenish, grayish, or black, the sour cream is spoiled. Some people just scoop off the mold at the top and eat the rest. We don’t recommend doing that. Mold can easily extend further than you think. So if you notice mold, the whole can has to go. 
  3. Weird Color And Texture – If the sour cream has developed a thicker, grave texture, or yellowish color, don’t eat it. That is a clear sign that there is a significant growth of fungi and bacteria. It may seem that the sour cream is still good because there is no strange smell or mold, but it’s still not safe to eat. 

We recommend you always check for these three signs before you serve sour cream. The same goes for both dairy and vegan alternatives. 

With the vegan alternative, you should also check if the sour cream is watery. If that is the case, it’s no longer safe to eat. That can also be the case with the dairy version of sour cream, but it’s most likely that the cream is good even if there is segregation. 

How To Store Sour Cream 

When it comes to storing, it’s the same with both dairy and vegan sour cream. 

Sour cream shouldn’t be left at higher temperatures for a longer time. Everything above 40 F will cause the sour cream to spoil much earlier than expected. After use, you should always put it back in the refrigerator and seal the can properly. 

Most people store sour cream in the fridge door because it’s handier, but that isn’t the best place for storing it. Sour cream should be kept in low temperatures. This is why the best place to store this cream is the bottom shelf of the fridge. 

Just like with room temperature, the colder area of the fridge is always on the lower part. So, to preserve the quality of sour cream, we recommend you always keep it on the bottom shelves in the refrigerator. 

Can You Freeze Sour Cream 


Yes, you can freeze sour cream, but the overall quality, flavor, and texture won’t be the same as with fresh sour cream. This is because sour cream segregates after it’s been frozen. 

The watery part will be on the top, while the thicker part will remain on the bottom once defrosted. You can just mix it all up, but it probably won’t regain the natural texture of sour cream. 

If that isn’t bothering you, you can put the sour cream in a freezer-safe jar or container and freeze it. Make sure that the box isn’t filled to the top because sour cream expands when frozen. 

Although you can freeze sour cream, we don’t recommend it because of safety reasons. 

See Also: Can You Freeze Half And Half?

How Long Does Sour Cream Last TL;DR

If you’re in a hurry and are looking for quick answers. The table below contains all the information you need about how long does sour cream last.

Dairy Sour CreamVegan Sour Cream
Can It Go Bad?YesYes
How Long Does It Last?Usually, around 7 to 21 days, if properly storedUsually, around 7 to 10 days, if properly stored
Signs That It’s Gone BadWeird smell, color, or texture, and moldWeird smell, color, or texture, mold, and water segregation
How To Store It?Sealed up in the bottom shelf of the fridge at around 40 FSealed up in the bottom shelf of the fridge at around 40 F
Can You Freeze It?Yes, but it’s not recommendedIt’s not recommended

How Long Does Sour Cream Last – Conclusion 

Before we finish this article, let’s do a quick recap. 

Sour cream does go bad, in fact, it’s highly perishable. Under perfect conditions, a pack of sour cream can last around 7 to 21 days. As for the vegan alternative, it can last approximately 7 to 10 days. 

When it comes to freezing, you can do it, but it’s not recommended. If you freeze it, there is a high chance it’ll go bad. You will know if the sour cream has gone bad if it smells unpleasant, has a strange texture, and has mold. 

That about does it for today. We hope you learned something, and if you did, please share this article with a friend. 

And of course, we can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below!