Sour Cream vs Mayo: What’s the Difference?

Last updated on October 30th, 2022 at 08:51 am

Regarding food dressings or toppings, you have a range of condiments to pick from. And among them are two renowned choices, sour cream and mayonnaise (or just mayo).

While both are delectable, creamy, and ideal for piling on baked potatoes or topping tacos, they are pretty different. On that note, what’s the difference between sour cream and mayonnaise? Which makes the better pick for your food? Well, read on to find out.

What is Sour Cream?

Also referred to as cultured cream, sour cream is a dairy product made by fermenting high-pasteurized cream with lactic acid bacteria. It’s from the fermentation process that sour cream gets its thick, creamy texture and tangy flavor.

You can use sour cream in various recipes, from baked goods to sauces and dips. It’s also a treat on its own and makes a great topping for veggies and fruits.

Types of Sour Cream

The most common type of sour cream is made from a mixture of heavy cream and buttermilk, which contains lactic acid bacteria. This combination thickens the cream and gives it a slightly sour taste.

Sour cream can also be made from cultured milk or cream. This involves adding lactic acid bacteria to milk or cream, then allowing it to culture for a period of time. The result is a thicker, more tart-tasting sour cream.

Flavored sour creams are also available, such as those that contain herbs or spices. These can be used in the same way as regular sour cream, but they’ll add an extra layer of flavor to your dish.

Health Benefits of Sour Cream

Like other dairy products, sour cream contains calcium and protein. It also contains some vitamin A and potassium. Because of its high-fat content, it’s also an energy source. But beware, sour cream is high in saturated fat – so don’t go overboard. It is not the healthiest option to accompany your dinner or lunches.

Sour Cream Ingredients

You’ll need three ingredients to prepare sour cream. They include cream, whole milk, and lemon juice or distilled white vinegar. Moreover, you may also substitute buttermilk for the cream and milk.

Sour Cream Nutritional Facts

Sour cream contains a variety of vital nutrients. However, its serving sizes are typically small and thus doesn’t quite provide any nutrient in considerable quantities.

A 30 g (2-tablespoon) serving of sour cream offers:

  • Calories: 59
  • Total fat: 5.8 g
  • Protein: 0.7 g
  • Carbs: 1.3 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Magnesium: 1% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 1% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
  • Calcium: 3% of the (DV)
  • Choline: 1% of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 3% of the DV
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 4% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 4% of the DV

What is Mayo?

Mayo, also known as mayonnaise, is a thick, creamy spread typically utilized as a condiment. Mayonnaise is made by combining oil and vinegar with either an egg or egg yolk. The mixture is then whipped until it becomes thick and creamy. Seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and mustard, can be added to taste.

Like sour cream, it also makes a notable ingredient in different recipes, from sauces to dips, sandwiches, and salads.

Types of Mayonnaise

Regular mayonnaise – this type is made with eggs, oil, vinegar, and spices. It has a thick, creamy texture and is used as a spread or condiment.

Light mayonnaise – this type is made with egg whites or a combination of egg whites and whole eggs. It has a lighter texture and flavor than regular mayonnaise.

Vegan mayonnaise – this type is made with plant-based oils, vinegar, and spices. It has a thick, creamy texture and is used as a spread or condiment.

Health Benefits of Mayonnaise

Although mayonnaise is commonly used as a spread on sandwiches and in salad dressings it is high in calories and fat and generally not considered that healthy as a result – but that is the confusion.

Taken and used in moderation it can offer health benefits as it contains fatty acids which can help to lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels. Mayonnaise is also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage.

Note: If you are trying to lose weight or reduce your calorie intake, you should limit your consumption of mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise Ingredients

Mayo is a creamy sauce made of egg yolks, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and seasonings. It’s often used as a base in dressings and sauces and makes a great condiment on salads and sandwiches.

Mayonnaise Nutrition Facts

A 28 g (dipping-size container) serving of mayonnaise includes the following:

  • Calories: 190
  • Total fat: 21 g (3.3 g saturated fat)
  • Protein: 0.3 g
  • Carbs: 0.2 g
  • Potassium: 5.6 mg
  • Calcium: 2.2 mg (0.2% of the DV)
  • Choline: 9.6 mg (2% of the DV)
  • Vitamin B12(Cobalamin): 0.03 mcg (1% of the DV)

Mayonnaise vs Sour Cream: Key Differences

Many people can’t tell the difference between sour cream and mayonnaise. While that’s not surprising, the two have numerous differences. A few key ones include:


As seen earlier, sour cream is made by fermenting high-pasteurized cream with lactic acid bacteria, which gives it its unique sour taste through fermentation.

Mayo, on the other hand, is made from egg yolks, oil, and vinegar. The oil adds body and creaminess, and the eggs facilitate the mixture’s emulsification, with vinegar providing the signature tangy flavor. 


Mayo’s thick and creamy texture of mayonnaise is derived from egg yolks, which help avoid the separation of the oil-water mixture in mayonnaise as they are an excellent natural emulsifier. As a result, mayo tends to have a fine, velvety texture. 

Although sour cream also has a creamy texture, its consistency doesn’t match that of mayonnaise due to the absence of egg yolks. Rather, it incorporates cream and milk solids and has a fairly thinner texture than mayonnaise.   


Mayonnaise boasts a slightly sweet and tangy flavor derived from egg yolks and vinegar. The egg yolk has enzymes that metabolize protein, giving the mayonnaise a savory taste. Vinegar, on the contrary, adds its distinctive tang to the mixture.

Meanwhile, sour cream is both creamy and tart, with the tartness coming from the lactic acid produced during fermentation. The fermentation process also adds to the sour cream’s creamy consistency.


Sour cream is often used as a salad condiment or dressing, a spread on sandwiches, or a base for dips and sauces.

Conversely, mayo is utilized as a baked tomato topping or a dip for chips. It’s also great for making sauces and creamy soups.


Sour cream can last in the fridge for roughly two weeks, sometimes less. Mayonnaise, on the other hand, can stay in the fridge for weeks, if not months. So, suppose you want a long-lasting condiment, opt for mayonnaise.

Better put, sour cream should be refrigerated and used within two weeks. Meanwhile, when stored at room temperature, mayo can last up to two months. 

Nutrition Comparison of Mayonnaise vs Sour Cream


Both mayonnaise and sour cream are high in calories. Mayonnaise has 243% more calories than sour cream – mayonnaise has 680 calories per 100 grams and sour cream has 198 calories.


Both mayonnaise and sour cream are low in carbohydrates – mayonnaise has 0.57g of total carbs per 100 grams and sour cream has 4.6g of carbohydrates.


Mayonnaise and sour cream contain similar amounts of sugar – mayonnaise has 0.57g of sugar per 100 grams and sour cream has 3.4g of sugar.


Mayonnaise and sour cream contain similar amounts of protein – mayonnaise has 0.96g of protein per 100 grams and sour cream has 2.4g of protein.

Saturated Fat

Both mayonnaise and sour cream are high in saturated fat. Mayonnaise has 15% more saturated fat than sour cream – mayonnaise has 11.7g of saturated fat per 100 grams and sour cream has 10.1g of saturated fat.

Trans Fat

Both mayonnaise and sour cream are low in trans fat – mayonnaise has 0.19g of trans fat per 100 grams and sour cream has 0.8g of trans fat.


Mayonnaise and sour cream contain similar amounts of cholesterol – mayonnaise has 42mg of cholesterol per 100 grams and sour cream has 59mg of cholesterol.

Vitamin Breakdown of Mayonnaise vs Sour Cream

Vitamin C

Sour cream has more Vitamin C than mayonnaise – sour cream has 0.9mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams and mayonnaise does not contain significant amounts.

Vitamin A

Sour cream is a great source of Vitamin A and it has 675% more Vitamin A than mayonnaise – mayonnaise has 16ug of Vitamin A per 100 grams and sour cream has 124ug of Vitamin A.

Vitamin D

Mayonnaise has more Vitamin D than sour cream – mayonnaise has 7iu of Vitamin D per 100 grams and sour cream does not contain significant amounts.

Vitamin E

Mayonnaise has 763% more Vitamin E than sour cream – mayonnaise has 3.3mg of Vitamin E per 100 grams and sour cream has 0.38mg of Vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Mayonnaise is an excellent source of Vitamin K and it has 107 times more Vitamin K than sour cream – mayonnaise has 163ug of Vitamin K per 100 grams and sour cream has 1.5ug of Vitamin K.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sour Cream and Mayo

Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding sour cream and mayo.

How is sour cream different from yogurt?

Sour cream and yogurt differ primarily in that sour cream are made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria, whereas yogurt is produced by fermenting milk with live bacteria.

Moreover, sour cream has a thick, creamy texture, while yogurt is slightly thick and tart. In terms of usage, however, you could use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.

What makes a good sour cream substitute? 

Suppose you lack sour cream; there are a few alternatives to consider. Buttermilk, crème Fraiche, and plain yogurt are all suitable substitutes for sour cream. And for those after a non-dairy option, coconut cream and cashew cream make good substitutes. 

What makes a good mayo substitute?

There are a few things that make a good mayo substitute. The first is that it should have a similar texture to mayo, so it can be used in the same way. The second is that it should be relatively neutral in flavor, so it doesn’t alter the taste of the dish too much. Finally, it should be relatively easy to find and affordable.

There are many options to use in place of mayonnaise including Greek yogurt, pesto, sour cream, mustard, hummus, and olive oil.

Is mayo healthier than sour cream?

Mayo and sour cream are both dairy products. However, mayo is made mostly of oil, while sour cream is made mostly of milk. … Therefore, sour cream is generally higher in calories and fat than mayo. Still, neither food is particularly healthy for you.

Sour cream vs mayo; which tastes better?

If you are into a richer flavor, then sour cream is a good option for you. Whereas mayo is more creamier and flavorful. Ultimately, it is up to you which you prefer. Mayo is pretty versatile and can be combined with most dishes, therefore if you want a safe bet on which to choose to please, go with mayo.

Sour Cream vs Mayonnaise: Final Take

Mayonnaise is the healthier option as it’s a good source of protein and contains healthy fats. But both condiments contain high amounts of calories.