3 Yogurt Substitutes to Use—and 3 You Should Skip

Running low on yogurt? Don't rush to the store to grab another container! You may have a yogurt substitute hanging out in your fridge.

You’re all ready to bake your favorite lemon pound cake recipe and as you peek inside your fridge, there isn’t a yogurt container in sight. And you don’t even have the ingredients to whip up homemade yogurt! So…now what?

Thankfully, you’ve got options. I headed to our Test Kitchen and found Peggy Woodward, Taste of Home Senior Food Editor, to get the lowdown on what yogurt substitutes you can use—and which ones you’re better off avoiding.

Test Kitchen-Approved Yogurt Substitutes

When you’re searching for a substitute for yogurt in baking or cooking, reach for one of these ingredients instead. (Keep these whole milk substitutes in mind, too—you never know when they’ll come in handy.)

Sour Cream

Use: All-purpose yogurt substitute

In most cases, plain yogurt or Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream—and vice versa. Sour cream will give you a similar texture and tanginess, and swapping sour cream for yogurt is a simple 1-to-1 ratio. Where it gets tricky is if you’re using a fat-free variety: In that case, the substitution only works for cold recipes, like dips. Otherwise, the texture will be off.

Greek Yogurt

Use: Regular yogurt substitute 

Don’t shy away from that lonely Greek yogurt container in the back of your fridge. Greek yogurt is just as good as the regular stuff for baking, dips and sauces. Just like sour cream, Greek yogurt is a 1-to-1 substitute for regular yogurt. Plus, there are a ton of benefits to eating Greek yogurt.

Buttermilk

Use: Greek yogurt substitute for baking

Because of its acidic properties, buttermilk works instead when a recipe calls for Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker, of course, so you’ll want to adjust the volume of buttermilk (down) or flour (up) to get to the right consistency.

Yogurt Substitutes to Avoid

These creamy products may look like they could work in a pinch as substitutes in recipes with yogurt, but they just don’t cut it.

Mayo

Mayonnaise is short on acidity, so it doesn’t make a good yogurt substitute. When a recipe calls for yogurt, it’s formulated to account for the yogurt’s acid. When you substitute mayo, you’re missing out on having the acid react with the leavener (like baking soda).

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese also lacks the acidity that yogurt provides, so it won’t spark the same chemical reactions. Even in cold recipes, you’ll get a very different flavor and texture. But don’t let that cottage cheese go to waste! Try one of these cottage cheese recipes.

Cream Cheese

Avoid using cream cheese as a yogurt substitute, especially while baking. One place where you can swap one for the other is when spreading on toast—just expect a texture difference.

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Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.