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A Substitute for Sour Cream in Chicken Paprikash

by G.D. Palmer, studioD

Chicken paprikash is a Hungarian dish that traditionally features large pieces of chicken stewed in a creamy paprika-based sauce. This simple dish relies on large amounts of rich sour cream for creaminess and flavor. When sour cream isn't an option, substitute a lower-fat or dairy-free alternative.


Choose yogurt as a lower-fat alternative to traditional sour cream. Directly substitute whole milk yogurt or strained Greek yogurt at a one-to-one ratio for sour cream. If the sauce fails to thicken adequately, add a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into a paste with water. If you want a richer result than you can get with yogurt alone, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine for every ¾ cup of yogurt. If you prefer a dairy-free option, choose soy yogurt.

Cottage Cheese and Acid Ingredients

Cottage cheese blended with an acid ingredient, such as lemon juice, yogurt or vinegar, provides a texture similar to that of sour cream. It also adds a tangy flavor. Combine one cup of cottage cheese with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to produce the equivalent of one cup of sour cream. Or combine equal parts cottage cheese and yogurt in a blender or food processor. Cottage cheese-based sour cream substitutes are lower in fat than the real thing, but may curdle if boiled or introduced to strong acids.

Tofu "Sour Cream"

If you cannot tolerate milk, substitute tofu-based sour cream for the dairy variety. For every 8 ounces of silken tofu, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1½ tablespoons of sweetener and 1 tablespoon of soy milk. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until it is smooth and use cup-for-cup as a substitute for sour cream.


Crema is a Mexican variety of sour cream that is used to top many traditional dishes. It is sweeter and less tart than traditional sour cream, so you may need to add a little extra lemon juice or vinegar to the finished dish. Otherwise, it acts as a direct substitute for sour cream in chicken paprikash.

Creme Fraiche

Similar to crema, creme fraiche is a form of slightly sour thickened cream. It resists curdling when heated, making it a good choice for chicken paprikash, but it lacks tartness. Use this slightly sweet product as a direct substitute for sour cream, but be aware that the final dish may require a little lemon juice or yogurt to replicate the flavor.

About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.

Photo Credits

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