Let’s be honest – going dairy-free is tough. At least it was for me. Giving up sour cream was especially challenging. There’s nothing like that creamy, cultured, slightly tangy dollop of goodness on baked potatoes, home fries, tacos, burritos, fajitas, stroganoff, lentil soup, enchiladas……..you get my drift. I honestly thought that I’d never get to enjoy “real” sour cream again. Friends, I was wrong.
The non-dairy sour cream alternatives at the grocery store leave a lot to be desired in terms of flavor and nutrition. The first three ingredients in one popular brand are water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and soy protein isolate, followed by a suite of thickening gums including locust bean, guar, xanthan, carrageenan, and more. Not to mention a 12 ounce container sells for $3.75 on average. Not exactly fat wallet friendly. You don’t have to settle for this.
I’m going to share with you a method for making non-dairy sour cream that has fooled hardcore omnivores on several occasions. It involves 15 minutes of active time, 3 ingredients (one of which is optional), and as a bonus, you will also learn how to make non-dairy yogurt in the process. Let’s get started!
Three simple ingredients work together to make creamy and tangy non-dairy yogurt that is the basis for heavenly sour cream. You’ll need unsweetened plain soy milk, raw cashews, and a small amount of non-dairy yogurt.
I want to take a moment here to talk about soy, because I fear I may have already lost some of you. As far as the nutrition experts are concerned, the jury is still out on soy. It seems like every week the opinion changes on whether it’s a super food or a killer food. Let me go on the record now – I am not a nutritionist. However, from what I can gather the suspicious character is soy protein isolate, which is a highly processed derivative of soybeans. In this yogurt, I use Westsoy Organic Unsweetened Soymilk* because it contains two ingredients: Organic soybeans and filtered water. That’s it. I also like it because it doesn’t have a prominent “soy” flavor, which can sometimes turn people off (including yours truly). If you decide not to use soymilk for whatever reason, please note that this method may need some tweaking, as other non-dairy milks don’t have enough protein to thicken the yogurt. I’m working on this! Stay tuned.
Ok, back to the yogurt. Raw cashews are an optional addition, as they help to make the yogurt extra thick and creamy, especially when strained for sour cream. But I have made this yogurt successfully without the cashews, so it’s totally your call. If you include the cashews, I recommend soaking them for a few hours so that they blend more easily. I’ve also included a quick-soak method in the recipe notes. If you have a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, no soaking is required.
The final ingredient is prepared non-dairy yogurt, which will be used as a starter. Here’s an important note. To my knowledge, there is no plain unsweetened soy yogurt out on the market right now. Whole Soy & Co. makes one, but due to some issues with their production facility, they are not shipping it right now. So, what’s an aspiring yogurt maker to do? Since you will only be using a small amount as the starter, you can use any unflavored non-dairy yogurt, be it soy, almond, or coconut, as long as it contains live active cultures (it will say so on the packaging). If it contains a bit of sugar, that’s ok, just look for a variety without vanilla or other flavoring.
Beth, make the yogurt already! Ok, ok. Hold your horses.
Blend the cashews (if using) with 2-3 cups of soymilk until smooth and creamy (an immersion blender works too!). Combine the mixture with the remaining soymilk and heat to 115-120 degrees. You can do this on the stovetop, in a slow cooker (on high), or in a rice cooker (the keep warm setting). I’ve tried all three and they all work. The important thing is checking the temperature at regular intervals to make sure the mixture doesn’t go over 120 degrees, because soymilk can become bitter if heated at too high of a temperature. Once you figure out the method that works best for you, it’ll be easy peasy the next time around because you’ll know exactly how long it takes to get to the right temperature. I remember a few rounds of trial and error to get to my preferred method, but if you like to geek out in the kitchen, it’ll be right up your alley. If you don’t, I recommend a yogurt maker. 🙂
Once the mixture reaches 115-120 degrees, add the yogurt/starter. The live cultures will hit the warm soymilk and start to do their important work of eating up all the natural sugars and transforming it into creamy, tart, and tangy yogurt. The mixture needs to stay around 110 degrees until it has set, which can be anywhere from 4-8 hours. You can leave it for up to 24 hours if you want, just be aware that the longer you wait, the tangier it will be. If you heated the mixture on the stove top, put a lid on the pan and wrap it in a large towel and set in the warmest spot in your kitchen (the oven works well!). If you used a crockpot or rice cooker, make sure the heat is turned off and the lid is secure.
If this seems like a lot of effort, it really isn’t. Once you’ve found the the method that works for you, the amount of time you’ll actively spend making the yogurt is 15 minutes or less. I’ve created a little diagram to illustrate this for you visual learners.
Here are some ideas for how to spend your inactive time:
– Take a nap
– Watch a tv marathon on Netflix
– Take a nap
– Play on the swings at the park
– Take a nap
After four hours (or after you wake up from your nap), check the yogurt. When you lift up the lid, there is a moment of anticipation – did the yogurt set? I have to admit to a bit of a thrill every time this happens.
Isn’t that awesome? I’ve done this a bunch of times and it’s still exciting. Congratulations, you just made yogurt! At this point, you can bask in your yogurt-making prowess and put up your yogurt. I use mason jars and a canning funnel/ladle to make it easy on myself.
And now, my friends, you can make SOUR CREAM.
REAL DEAL SOUR CREAM
Making the sour cream is super duper easy. The only thing it requires is patience. But as Alton Brown always says, your patience will be rewarded.
Line a strainer with two to three layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Fill the strainer to the brim with yogurt (I can usually fit a quart or a bit more). Cover with the extra cheesecloth or a tea towel, and set in a warm place to culture for 24 hours.
24 hours later, you will see that the liquid has drained into the bowl and you are left with thick, dreamy, cultured sour cream.
As you can see, the volume has decreased by about half and the liquid has drained into the bottom of the bowl. You can use the liquid to water your plants or as a replacement for some of the water in bread dough. Or you can chuck it – I won’t tell anyone. A quart of yogurt will yield about 2 1/2 cups of sour cream.
You did it! You made homemade non-dairy yogurt AND sour cream! You’re a DIY rockstar! Go celebrate with the biggest baked potato you can find and for goodness’ sake be generous with the sour cream. You deserve it. And puh-leese tell me if you made it, or if you need any help troubleshooting the process. I want to help!
Now go get your culture on.
Real Deal Homemade Non-Dairy Sour Cream
- 3 32 ounce boxes of WestSoy Unsweetened Plain Soymilk
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours (see notes for quick soak method) - optional)
- 1/3 cup non-dairy yogurt (plain unsweetened)
- If using, blend cashews with 2-3 cups of soymilk in a blender until creamy and smooth. If not using a high speed blender, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any cashew pieces that did not get pureed.
- Add the remaining soymilk to the cashew/soymilk mixture in a large saucepan, crockpot, or rice cooker. Heat the mixture to 115-120 degrees.
- Once the mixture reaches 115-120 degrees, turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt.
- Cover the cooking vessel with a tight lid and place in a warm spot until the yogurt is set, 4-8 hours. Makes 3 1/2 quarts of yogurt.
- When the yogurt is set, transfer 2 quarts of yogurt to clean containers with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate. Use the remaining yogurt to make the sour cream.
- Line a strainer with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Fill the strainer to the brim with yogurt, and cover with remaining cheesecloth or a tea towel.
- Set aside in a warm place to culture for 24 hours.
- Transfer the drained sour cream to a well-cleaned container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate before serving.
*Westsoy has no idea who I am and didn’t pay me to promote their product (although, ahem, I wouldn’t turn them down if they offered). I just really love this soymilk and wanted to share it with you.
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Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent says
You’re a genius, Beth! I love that this only requires three ingredients. 🙂 Do you think a similar experiment could make non-dairy cream cheese? I hate having to buy the processed stuff.
YES! In fact, I almost added that to the post, but decided that I would write about it separately. The basic method is to strain the yogurt so as much liquid comes out as possible. So far I’ve found a nut milk bag to be the best option. And then only culture it for 8 hours or so for that mild cream cheese flavor. I have used it in place of cream cheese in recipes very successfully – it’s pretty exciting stuff. 🙂 Please let me know if you try this, ok?
Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent says
You are my new favorite person. I hope to make the cream cheese soon—after I buy a nut milk bag. 😉
Whoops, I commented last week but I think it got deleted when I had to do a blog restore (ever happened to you?). I just wanted to mention that a clean tea towel or flour sack cloth works as well. In fact, I’m going to experiment with polyester voile (curtain sheers fabric) or organic cotton muslin. The disadvantage of the nut milk bag is that debris can get caught in the seams. I really like the loose fabric idea, and I’ll keep you posted if it works out!
Beth, can I still make this by just buying the dairy free “So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt”, then adding the soy milk and cashews ?? and blending?
Hi Beth, thanks for the great recipe! Can you share the cream cheese recipe please? I tried to make vegan cream cheese with cashew nuts and probiotics but it turns out very sour – the kind of rotten sour. I’m desperately seeking a recipe to get a real deal cream cheese! Looking forward to your reply!
Hi Lydia! I’m traveling for a bit, but will definitely get to work on the cream cheese recipe for you!! 🙂
Thanks so much! Can’t wait!
Cara (Fork & Beans) says
Once this cleanse is over I’m so trying this. Awesome recipe Beth!
Thanks, Cara! Good luck on your cleanse! And please let me know if you try this. 🙂
Although it’s been many years since I’ve had real sour cream, I can say without hesitation that this is better tasting than real sour cream, hands down! What’s more, no cows were harmed in the process! And since I love cows, this is a really good thing. Thank you, Dear Wife, for figuring out this yummy alternative.
Dear Husband, I’m blushing! Thanks so much for your sweet comment. 🙂
Dana Shultz (@minimalistbaker) says
Friend, this is amazing! I so miss sour cream – what a great dairy-free alternative!!!
I remember the first time I tried this, I was just blown away, because I didn’t think it was possible. I kept telling Michael, it’s REAL sour cream! I will warn you, once you have this, you will seriously consider bringing some along when going out for Mexican food. Or maybe that’s just me… Seriously, though. It’s that good. Please let me know if you make it! 🙂
Hannah Elizabeth says
Beth, this sour cream was so nummy (and it was extra-special when I did have some, because we were visiting ;)), and I agree with Michael: it totally tastes like real sour cream!! I am also SUPER excited about the prospect of non-dairy cream cheese (and homemade yogurt!!), something I’ve missed *dreadfully* since limiting/going off of dairy! Especially cream cheese…somehow, the vegan store-bought stuff doesn’t taste quite right. Not to mention the fact that it usually has a bunch of other unnecessary additives.
OMG this is awesome, i have been looking for a good vegan substitute for sour cream that i looooove, but don’t eat anymore. I will definitely try it! I have one question: did you use instant pot (electric pressure cooker) to make it? the pot on the picture above looks like pot from instant pot. i have one so i was wondering if yogurt program is the way to go? 🙂
Yes it is the Instant Pot! I used to make the yogurt in my rice cooker until I got the IP. It’s so easy to use the yogurt function! Just stir everything together, set to the yogurt function and go! I set mine for 6 hours and it sets up perfectly. Please let me know if you try it! 🙂
well, dang, awesome 🙂 so you just put room temp soy milk, cashews and yogurt and then start yogurt program? or you heat milk to 115F before adding stuff and closing the pot? sorry for so many questions 😉 anyway, i will be looking for soy milk to try it very soon. i haven’t seen westsoy milk anywhere here but maybe i can find some other brand that has only soybeans and water. (on daily basis i use almond milk, not much experience with soy milk 🙂 ). how long the sour cream is good refrigerated?
You don’t have to hear it to 115 first, the yogurt function does it for you! I love that part. Please ask all the questions you like! That’s why I’m here. 🙂 Do you have a Trader Joe’s nearby? I know they sell the WestSoy brand or their own brand with only soybeans and water. Edensoy is another good brand. I’ve kept the sour cream refrigerated for up to a week, but honestly we eat it up so fast it rarely lasts that long. It’s really important to store it in an airtight container in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil more quickly. Good luck!!
thanks Beth. unfortunately there is no TJ’s in my state. sob. but we have whole foods, i hope they will have something. or i can make my own soymilk 🙂 i will report how it worked out for me 🙂
JoAnn M Lakes says
Surprisingly, Walmart sells Westsoy 32 oz and 64 oz at a fantastic price. You’ll find it with their health grocery items. In my store, it’s near the juices on aisle 7B. No matter what some clerk tells you it’s not in baking and they do carry it!
Will this work with almond milk? I try to avoid soy milk when possible.
Hi Laura! I have tried it with almond milk and it just doesn’t set up well, because there isn’t enough protein/structure. That’s why you’ll see so many additional thickeners and gums in commercial almond milk yogurt. I haven’t experimented with thickeners in almond milk yet, but my wheels are turning, so stay tuned! If you ever make exceptions for soy, this is a great reason. 🙂
Hello, friends! I just wanted to leave a comment here, suggesting that you might want to try using pectin as a thickener if you want to go soy-free. I make my own coconut milk yogurt and sour cream, also with only a few ingredients, and I use pectin to set it up. I really want to try this version! But soy free! Thanks so much for the recipe :^)
Hi McKinley! Thanks so much for sharing about pectin. It’s so funny, just the other day I was at Natural Grocers and had picked up a box of pectin thinking I’d try it out as a thickener. I only put it down because I was about to spend a week testing and photographing upcoming recipes, so it needed to wait a few days. Now I’m even more excited to give it a go with this method! Thanks again!
Erin Jean says
I have now made 2-batches of this recipe. It really is as easy as it sounds and DELICIOUS! Both the yogurt and the sour cream have that authentic tang that is missing from commercial non-dairy yogurts and sour creams. The second batch I just stopped at the yogurt phase. I can’t get my family to stop eating it. I followed the directions exactly using the crock-pot variation wrapped in towels. I did heat the soymilk on the stove to temp before transferring in to my pre-warmed crockpot (just had hot water in there while heating the soymilk). The first batch was done around dinner time so we had yogurt parfaits for dessert. Mixed in vanilla extract, maple syrup and sprinkled choc chips on top. Wonderful dessert. We’ve made all sorts of variations with the mix-ins, fruit, oatmeal, jam, almond extract, coconut flakes. Like I said, can’t keep my kids/husband from eating it. My husband even managed to locate and eat the 1/3rd cup I was saving for the next batch so I had to buy another yogurt for batch #2 instead of passing on my cultures, lol! One batch fills up several jam jar sized mason jars of yogurt. I realized that I was making 96oz of yogurt and the commercial varieties come in 6oz containers for nearly $2 each, that’s a HUGE savings!
And the sour cream, YUMMY! You really can put it on anything. I used mine for a taco night and mixed it in to the lentil soup from this blog as well as a homemade curry. I have had mine for more than 2-weeks and it doesn’t show signs of going bad. How can I know if it is going bad? I’m assuming it will either look moldy or smell funny. There’s only a little left anyway.
Thanks for the awesome recipe. We’ll be making this very often around here!
that sounds so awesome! I found the milk, so I am going to make mine for a first time, prolly not today, but hopefully tomorrow or during weekend for sure.
can you pass cultures by using a little of homemade yogurt to make next batch? i read many times that living cultures from commercial yogurts are not that viable and passing will not work. the only “passable” cultures are special bought ones. curious if you guys anything about it.
Erin, what I want to know is how the sour cream lasted more than a few days without being eaten!
bummer, it did not work 🙁 i got westsoy milk, added cashews, the only difference was that i used coconut yogurt (they did not have soy at store today), but i had live bacteria. after 6 hours in instant pot the mixture is slightly tangy but did not thickened at all :/ I left it for another few hours at 115F. if it does not work, next time will try different yogurt I guess?
Oh Anna, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you! I really have a hunch that it’s the yogurt starter. I just made a batch today and it set up perfectly. You can still try again with the same mixture if you like. Refrigerate it until you can get another starter to try. I do hope you will try again, I want this to be a success for you! Oh, and I use a small portion of yogurt from my precious batch as my starter. It works really well. You can get vegan yogurt starters online (powdered), if it comes to that. Please stay in touch, we’ll figure it out together. 🙂
that’s ok Beth 🙂 I will make it work. i successfully produced sourdough bread starter and cultured kefir before, so i can make yogurt too! 😉 🙂 just tell me which yogurt do you use (brand/kind)? i will try to buy the same. 🙂
OK. It worked out! and result is unbelievable 🙂 so I incubated it at 115F for another 8 hours (that gives total 14 hours) and this morning woke up to really nice thick yogurt 🙂 is it quite tangy and the liquid separated, so I might over incubated it for yogurt, but I LOVE the taste (I like tangy thinks – I was die hard fan of super tangy kefir before going vegan) and am just straining it for sour cream. OMG, so good!
Now I wonder, since it reminds me (in consistency and flavor) of farmers cheese I used to make from cows milk, if i can make it into cheese like that and bake a cheesecake! i will surely give it a try at some point. that would be the best thing.
Also Beth,do you have any idea if this recipe would work with home-made soy milk? I am actually thinking about buying soy milk maker to make my own milks and coffee creamers (to make it without additives and save money as I go through a lot of them) and now also sour-cream and yogurt?
THANK YOU! this is hands down one of the best vegan things so far 🙂
* tangy things, sorry typo 😉
Anna, I’m so sorry I took so long to reply! Yes, I do think this would work with homemade soy milk, and I’ve considered trying it myself! I really hate the waste of buying the packaged milk, but yet another appliance isn’t super appealing either. Too bad the Instant Pot isn’t a soy milk maker too, huh?
I’m SO GLAD that the yogurt worked out for you!!! How was the sour cream?
Hello Beth, now it took me forever to reply 🙂
The sour cream was awesome! 🙂 actually I am just starting a batch. This time will try to drain yogurt longer and make cream cheese. my 4yo daughter is addicted do cow’s milk cream cheese and I really want to make her non-dairy one.
as to make home made soy milk. yeah, i am not that excited about buying another appliance (nut/bean milk maker, no space in my kitchen lol), but it can be made in high speed blender. if you have one then you soak beans,blend, cook in instant pot (I assume to kill bacteria), drain, and voila. havent made it yet, but my friend did and he loves it.
Hi Anna! I’m so glad you loved the sour cream! I have a huge batch of yogurt draining now and it should be in cream cheese consistency. I will be posting a cheesecake recipe soon using it! Stay tuned! 🙂 I’m going to update this post soon with some tips on how drain/culture times for sour cream, cream cheese, etc. But in the meantime, here’s something I’m trying lately that is working really well. I picked up a yard of fabric used for curtain sheers, called voile. I ripped it into a big piece, about 24″ square, and used that to drain the yogurt. I bought some grommets to add to the corners so that I can suspend it over a bowl, which I think will help it drain/thicken even more. I like using the voile because it’s strong and easy to clean, and it can also double as a way to strain nut milks and blended up fruit/veggies to make juice. This was a really long comment! 🙂
I am super excited about this but having trouble keeping the temp around 110. All of my crockpots and my rice cooker only hold the heat for about an hour once turned off. The “warm” setting with the lid on put me over 125 degrees. I was able to get a small batch by using the warm setting on one of my crockpots and partially covering but then I end up with a very thick film on the top. Am I trying too hard or is there a trick to keeping a 110-ish temp for 4-8 hours? Thanks!!!
Hi Michelle! I’ve definitely gone through this trial and error process. One thing that worked well for me was getting it up to about 115, then wrapping the crockpot in a big towel and putting it an oven with the light on. It holds the heat long enough for the cultures to start doing their thing. The other thing I’ve done is to put it on the warm setting for about 10 minutes every hour and then turn it back off. That’s kind of a pain because you have to be home and monitoring it all that time. Try the oven method and let me know how it goes. I want you to have yogurt making success! 🙂
Hi, again, Beth-Thanks so much for the quick reply! I will definitely try the oven light option. Did some more digging around today and came across that suggestion along the way too. I also went ahead and purchased an IP. I couldn’t resist. The little bit of yogurt I was able to salvage was delicious. I just know I won’t be disappointed with the easy of the IP. I am 4 weeks into the world of non-dairy for health reasons and your recipe is going to be a life saver!!! Thanks for your investment and for sharing your successes with the world! PS-Congrats on your new addition to the family. Hope you’re feeling great. Merry Christmas!
What is IP?
I have a 2 year old who is lactose intolerant. He doesn’t know that right now he is missing out on some good things, but he WI figure it out eventually. We use Lactaid milk for him. How would the process differ using whole Lactaid milk?
Hi Kim! You know, I’m not sure how Lactaid would work. My gut says that it would work out just fine instead of the soy milk, but I haven’t tested it because we don’t consume dairy milk. I did find this article that you might find useful that addresses how Lactaid milk is used in yogurt making. With that said, the soy milk makes amazing yogurt (in my ever-so-humble-opinion), in case you want to give that a try. 🙂 Happy New Year!
This looks AMAZING. However, I just found out that I can’t have dairy OR soy (my baby apparently has an allergy to both — I’ve been dairy free for months but she’s still having problems). I read the comments and apparently almond milk won’t work. Coconut probably would set up, but I don’t fancy the idea of coconut flavored sour cream! I wonder if flax milk or homemade cashew milk would have a different result than almond?
I made yogurt following your instructions (used organic raw cashews too) but even after 12 hours there was only a thin “yogurt” on top. The rest of the pot tasted exactly as it did before I added the coconut yogurt. It tastes good, just not like yogurt. Hate to think I have to toss out the whole batch. Perhaps my new thermometer is defective. Can I reheat and add a different yogurt starter? Maybe I should have used more of the coconut yogurt or perhaps a different vegan yogurt.
Love your website! Great vegan ideas!
I’ve definitely had a couple of experiences like this. Don’t give up! I would reheat and try a different yogurt starter. How are you maintaining the temperature? Please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to help you troubleshoot. 🙂
I went ahead and re-heated the mixture to only 105 degrees, added more coconut yogurt and I’m happy to report my yogurt is awesome! Thanks for your support! 🙂
That’s AWESOME, Michelle! Woo hoo!!! So glad it worked out for you.
Wow, Beth, this is so cool! I’ve missed “real” sour cream since going plant-based, and I love the idea of making my own yogurt, too. (The vegan yogurts at the grocery store are expensive and loaded with sugar!) That said, can this recipe be made with almond or cashew milk? Or do you need the higher protein content of soy milk to make it work?
Hi, Lee! This is so funny, because I just finished putting three quarts of yogurt in the fridge and was marveling again at the cost savings of my making my own. I haven’t experimented with straight cashew or almond yogurt yet, because I know they are going to need to some help in the thickening department – you’re right that they just don’t have enough protein on their own. I’m not super excited to use the current thickeners that commercial yogurt manufacturers rely on – agar, carrageenan, etc. I have some ideas though, and I’ll definitely be sharing once I’m confident in the method/ingredients. Give this is a try, it’s so easy and the resulting sour cream you can get is SO GOOD.
Alright, I’ll give it a try with soy milk to see how it’s supposed to turn out (soy doesn’t totally agree with me, alas), and then try with almond milk to see what happens! Wish me luck. 🙂 In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing what you figure out for other plant-based milks!
Dan Duran says
I am trying the sour cream for the first time and am on the second attempt. The first attempt did not set, reheated and added another coconut yogurt and it has started to set. Will let you know how it turns out. I bought a new Instant Pot for the maiden try, any help would be appreciated.
Hi Dan! I’m so excited that you’re giving this a go. Just to clarify, are you heating before adding to the Instant Pot or just putting everything in and selecting the yogurt setting on the IP?
Dan Duran says
Hi Beth, I heated the nut & soy mixture, then added 6 oz. of coconut yogurt at 6 pm Mon. After several failed attempts of “yogurt” settings, I heated the mixture by sauté, then added the starter, placed on yogurt. Left it till this morning and no set. Reheated, added 6 oz. of starter to mixture (read Christine’s post) placed IP to yogurt and at 12 noon on Tuesday got set. I now have yogurt straining, one in cheese cloth and one in nut bag! ! ! Any suggestions will be used, I have been allergic to cow milk all my life, avoided dairy when possible. Now I am getting ready to retire, get off the road, and be dairy free! Glad other people are ready to help Thanks Dan
Hi Dan! When I make it in the Instant Pot (as opposed to any other method in the post), all I do is blend up the cashews, a couple of cups soy milk, and yogurt starter together, then add that mixture to the IP along with the rest of the milk. They I set it to yogurt for 6 hours and let the magic happen. I don’t do any preheating at all. It’s possible that the heating step prior to adding the culture might have been the problem. That being said, I’ve also had problems with commercial yogurts as starters because occasionally the live cultures are no longer active. That being said, now that you have achieved yogurt (yay!) you can use that as your starter for your next batch, and then some from the next batch as your starter, one we go…
I am re-reading this post, and realizing that despite my best intentions, I never did make it back to include specific Instant Pot directions. I’m so sorry! Now I realize why you were doing a pre-heating step. Also, the Instant Pot directions for yogurt address sterilizing the milk first, in reference to dairy milk. This is not required with the soy/cashew mixture. So, for next time, mix up the ingredients in the IP, set to yogurt, and bide your time. Theoretically (and in my experience week after week), you should have perfect yogurt each time!
Please keep in touch on your yogurt and sour cream making adventures, I’m happy to help troubleshoot and celebrate your success! 🙂
Dan Duran says
Thanks Beth, I will try again next week with my sour cream for a starter and use the IP on yogurt. I realised that I did not close the vent and I wont peek. I will be trying non dairy cheeses also if you have any sugestions. Thanks again Dan
This has been on my list of things to make for AGES! Finally made it to go with vegan tamales for Christmas dinner. It turned out AMAZING. Everyone was asking about it, not believing it was vegan, begging for the recipe etc. It really wasn’t hard at all. I followed the recipe exactly, including the brand of soy milk. And the yogurt is delicious too, yum!
Hi Beth. thank You. My brand new IP just made a ‘vat’ of yogurt overnight and mine looks just like your picture. Amazing!,
Questions – Does this freeze? I am alone in this plant based adventure and a vat of yogurt might last a bit long for me! Second question – if it freezes, do I then freeze a small portion for my next ‘starter’?
Again thank you. I am now trying the lentil soup. What a fun day this is!
Yogurt typically keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge for me, and when I’ve tried to freeze it in the past the texture wasn’t great, but I wonder if it would do better if blended up and then strained through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to make it a bit creamier after freezing. I think I will try it! As for freezing the starter – YES! I’ve done it before with success. As for how to use up your yogurt, you can always make a smaller batch next time, or drain some of it using cheesecloth and use it for sour cream or a tangy cream cheese style spread. I’m so excited that you are diving into the plant-based yogurt making world, and happier still that this method worked so well for you. 🙂
I have a question about the amount of non dairy yogurt needed, you say a small amount but could you be a bit more specific? Thanks can’t wait to try out this recipe.
Hi Amy! So sorry for the delay. In the recipe/instructions, I call for 1/3 cup of non dairy yogurt as the starter. Hope that helps!
My daughter is allergic to soy. Have you experimented with other non dairy milks yet? I am thinking of trying cashew milk.
Hi Dee! So sorry for the delayed response, I took a bit of a break this summer and am playing catch-up now. This post is long overdue for an update, and I am testing options for using other plant milks. The trouble is the protein content, which is what helps the yogurt set up and thicken. I have some ideas that I think might work out, and I’ll definitely update you as soon I’ve nailed it! 🙂
Hi, hoping to venture into some yogurt/ sour cream making this week. When you say leave it in a warm place for 24 hours….what would qualify as “warm enough”?
Hi Jamie! So sorry for the delayed response, I took a bit of a break this summer and am playing catch-up now. Did you try this out? By warm place, I just mean the warmest spot in your kitchen, like the counter near your oven, perhaps. Ideally a temp around 70 degrees. Hope you’ll let me know how it goes! And I promise not to take 2 months to respond. 😉
Juanima Hiatt says
Hi Beth! I’m so excited to try this. Your instructions say to strain the yogurt in a “warm place.” Do you just let this sit on the counter? Is that warm enough?
Also, I wanted to share my findings of a new plant-based milk out called Ripple Pea Milk, made out of yellow peas. (Can you believe it??) I’m SO excited about this because I started having issues with almond milk, and cannot do dairy, soy, and I don’t like carton coconut milk. It comes in an unsweetened version that makes the best lattes. It doesn’t taste super on its own, but it allows other flavors to shine in recipes. The great thing about pea milk is it’s got 8g of protein in each serving, so it might work well for the yogurt/sour cream. I’m going to try it, and I’ll let you know how it turns out! 😀
Hi Juanima! So sorry for the delayed response, I took a bit of a break this summer and am playing catch-up now. By “warm place”, I just mean the warmest spot in your kitchen, like near your oven or on top of the fridge, or something like that. So yes, the counter is fine, unless you keep your house at 65 degrees or something. 🙂 I have heard of Ripple, but haven’t tried it yet. I’m excited to give it a go! I definitely think it has possibilities for this yogurt/sour cream. Did you try it out? I’ll be testing pea protein as a thickening agent in a non-soy version of this yogurt very soon.
hey Beth! love the recipe! I want to try it soon, but I was wondering if you could recommend a different type of but to use? raw cashews are rather expensive in my area. or, do you think it would be possible to recreate the recipe without nuts?
Hi Lissa! So sorry for the delayed response, I took a bit of a break this summer and am playing catch-up now. I absolutely think you can make this recipe without the cashews. I have done it! 🙂 I found a really great source for raw cashews online, just in case you ever need some. They are just under $7/pound but it’s a 5 pound bag. For me since we use cashews so much it was a good buy, but if you don’t use them often, maybe not. 🙂
Daniele Wiseman says
This thread seems to have so much potentila. Thank you. I’ve been trying to follow this recipe and those who are experimenting with it because I’m confused about the method. If I have Coconut Yoghurt do I need to go through the initial step of making yoghurt? Will it work if I just strain the shop bought Coconut Yoghurt as per your instructions. I have seen another recipe which says to add some lemon juice 3/4tsp I can’t have dairy or soy and just don’t like anything I try to do with cashews!
Hi Daniele! I’m so very sorry for the delayed response to your comment. I haven’t tried straining coconut yogurt to culture for sour cream. I have a feeling that it wouldn’t be a success, simply because it doesn’t have much if any protein content, and the additives used to thicken it might end up tasting odd and/or leaving a strange mouthfeel. I totally agree that this post has a lot of potential, and I’ve been meaning to test more variations as so many people need an option with no soy involved. I’m getting to work on that right away and I hope to have an answer for you soon! I’ll definitely keep you posted. 🙂
I love this. I just have a couple of questions. I tried this on the stove with your exact recipe and it did work, but the soy was a small problem. So, the next time I made it with cashew milk, but a different yogurt starter. Also I got a rice cooker with a yogurt setting. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Cashew milk is again what I’m hoping to use, but I would love any advice in how to make this work.
Hi Heather! So sorry for the delay in response. What was the problem with the soy, if you don’t mind me asking? Cashew milk alone is probably going to be tough, because it doesn’t have a very high protein content in comparison to soy milk (the protein is what helps it set up and thicken). I have had this post on my list to update for a long time, and it’s time I do so! I’m going to be testing out some alternative ways to thicken the yogurt so that plant milks other than soy can be used successfully. Stay tuned!
Thanks for all your diligence and testing! I’m really excited to try this and the cream cheese recipe, but I can’t have soy either. Have you had any success yet using other plant based milks? Or any other options for higher protein non-dairy, soy free milk options?
Hi Beth! I live in Costa Rica and to my knowledge there is no non dairy yogurt here. We also do not have the high end probiotics from the cooler section. We do have unrefrigerated probiotics, though. Do you think they might work? I also have lots of leftover cultures from vegetable fermenting projects. Would they work? Thanks in advance!
digging this recipe! i bought an almond plain yogurt (only plain nondairy version i could find) as well as the soy milk. unfortunately i did not realize the soymilk was low fat! i saw it was the same west soy brand you pictured, so i grabbed it without thinking (plus it was a steal at only $1). so i will be trying the recipe sans cashews and with lowfat soy milk lol. i will update you on it’s progress. thanks again for sharing this recipe, i’m really excited to have sour cream that won’t upset my stomach 🙂
I’m so going to try this (I have made my own yogurt before but didn’t know it would work with dairy free) but this is basically how greek yogurt is made. I bet draining plain dairy free yogurt would also work if someone doesn’t want to put this much work into it.
It would, but it would be very expensive to get the same volume of sour cream using store bought dairy free yogurt, because it’s at least $1.50 per 8oz and some of that would be strained away. Also so many dairy-free yogurts have added thickeners and with this it’s just a short list of ingredients. Too each their own though! 🙂
Thanks for an excellent post. I’m breastfeeding my dairy free baby due to her allergies, and I’ve really missed sour cream. I haven’t even found the commercial substitutes here in the UK, where they don’t eat as much sour cream as we did in the States. I know you said you don’t need the cashews, but I’m wondering if you’ve experimented with other nuts for the creaminess. My other daughter has a cashew and pistachio allergy, so we don’t bring those in the house.
Hi Jana! I’m playing catch-up on comments, so sorry for the delay. I haven’t played with this method in a while, and it’s long overdue. I haven’t tried other nuts besides cashews, but I would suggest raw macadamia (unroasted/unsalted) or raw blanched almonds if you wanted to try a nut. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be re-testing this with some other milks aside from soy, so I’ll definitely report back when I have more options. All the best to you and your family!
I am in the process of making this now and so excited. I really want to make cream cheese as well as the yogurt and sour cream. Can you explain again what to do after it is yogurt to make cream cheese? Do you strain it to sour cream for the 24 hours and then another 8 to make the cream cheese or just 8 to make cream cheese and then wait another 16 for the sour cream?
JoAnn M Lakes says
Surprisingly, Walmart sells Westsoy 32 oz and 64 oz at a fantastic price. You’ll find it with their health grocery items. In my store, it’s near the juices on aisle 7B. No matter what some clerk tells you it’s not in baking and they do carry it!
JoAnn M Lakes says
According to the Gentle Chef, well known for his vegan cheeses and meat analogs, the whey left from straining the yogurt for Greek-style yogurt can be reserved and refrigerated in a sealed container. The whey is a superb gluten-free alternative for preparing cultured cheese recipes calling for rejuvelac. The whey will stay fresh and active for about 5 days. Over time it will turn to vinegar and is no longer usable.
Lori B says
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I tried it yesterday/ today but achieved mixed results. I followed things closely, but first attempt was not setting at all after 6 hrs. I added more starter, stirred, and put it back into oven w light on. After another 9 hrs, it had achieved the consistency of pancake batter and was tasty, like kefir. I put it into fridge still in the pot (regular large soup pot)
In the morning, I brought it back to 120°, stirred in yet more starter, and repeated resting cycle. No luck. Pancake batter was as gelled as this was getting. Back into fridge it went.
As kefir, it was good, but that’s a LOT of kefir for 1 person to use before it spoils. So, I got creative. I strained it through a double layer of polyester sheer fabric. –I happened to have a chunk leftover from hemming curtains. I hemmed the raw edge (so I can wash and reuse) to a finished dimension of ~25″ square– Magic! 8 cups thick yogurt.
I had used 2.5 cups as kefir unstrained. 4 cups stored as yogurt. 4 more are being restrained right now, culturing, and hopefully turning into sour cream.
I couldn’t believe how well 2 layers of the polyester sheer fabric worked on the liquid kefir. Works better than any muslin or cheesecloth I’ve ever used!!!
Thank you for the recipe and the clever straining material ideas!
have you ever tried to make this in your Instant Pot?
Do you have any recommendations for IP settings?
Thank you so much.!
Rachel Luke says
I’m having no luck. I suspect it’s the yogurt I’m using. Could you list the brand of starter yogurt that you’ve had success with? Many thanks!
Rachel Luke says
Never mind! Tried it with goats milk and made sure not to heat over 120 and had success!! Thank you!
Ashlee Noel says
Hi I have a son with a soy and nut allergy along with gluten, pea protine and dairy,, but I would love to make this…would coconut milk work and no cashews? Would I need pectin? I would so love a sour cream & cream cheese
My daughter cannot have dairy soy or gluten. Would be very interested in your finding using alternative milk products.
Excited to try this! Has anyone tried freezing either the yogurt or sour cream? Curious to see if taste or texture are affected. I am cooking for 2 so I usually make big batches and then freeze portions. Thanks!
Hi Beth, trying this now! how long does the sour cream keep in the fridge? Thanks!
Dawn S Garrett says
I am looking forward to trying this. But I have a couple of questions on downsizing. I have at least one and maybe two working yogurt makers from back in the day before I stopped eating dairy. They each will make five little containers of yogurt. And you can plug them in and set it and forget it. I do not go through yogurt very quickly and there is only the one of me. I do have a fellow family member who would probably enjoy the sour cream with me because she also doesn’t eat dairy. But your recipe calls for making like 3 quarts of yogurt and then only using one to make the sour cream. I’m not sure what the right proportions are if I just wanted to make a batch of sour cream or not a ton of yogurt. For example if I was only going to make one quart for the sour cream, would I still use a third of a cup of starter or less? I’m assuming I would just use one carton instead of three of the soy milk. But what about the cashews. How much cashew would I use?
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I’m new at dairy free and haven’t been too enthused at the replacement options found in the grocery store. This recipe is a game changer! I got yogurt, sour cream and ranch dressing out of it! MY friend couldn’t believe there was no dairy in the Ranch dressing I made. I just mixed some mayonnaise, your sour cream, a little olive oil to thin it to the right consistency, a little raw honey, some garlic powder, onion powder, dill and some chives from my garden. OMG! I thought I’d never have Ranch dressing again. My friend said she liked it better than the regular! Can’t wait for my husband to try it. You are a genius!
Alaina Williamson says
Can I use the yogurt function on my instant pot? I’ve never used it, but I’m hoping it will be even faster than your 15 minutes that you’ve mentioned. I’ve had to go gluten and dairy free and it’s just SO hard to cook for my family and make something completely different for myself, especially when I don’t have TIME to cook even “regular” food. This homemade sour cream could be a life saver for me!
I just made this last night. After It set it had a curdy look to it and smelled a bit like rotten milk. Did it go bad?
George Hattis says
I’m a kidney patient and nuts and beans are no longer part of my diet. Woukd it be possible to make this with rice milk?
Looking forward to trying this. About how much does it make and how long will it last after? Thank you
So wanting to try this, but sadly cannot do soy. I know it has to contain protein in the “milk”, so I was wondering about oat milk? Or has anyone else tried a different plant based milk with success? Love your recipes!! Thank you for sharing your creativity and passion. Bless
Connie Hatch says
Hi, have you tried this with Almond Milk or Rice Milk? I am allergic to the protein in milk, and also to soy and coconut.