How Long Can Sour Cream Sit Out?

Question: How long can sour cream sit out?

Answer: Sour cream is made from milk. Like many dairy products, sour cream can quickly succumb to bacteria growth if left outside of the refrigerator for too long. There is an idea that sour cream is already “soured “, therefore, spoilage is not a big concern. This is not true. Sour cream is highly perishable and can cause food poisoning if left outside of the refrigerator for too long. Let’s look at the details.

How Long Can Sour Cream Sit Out?

If possible, you should return sour cream immediately to the refrigerator after use. While this is ideal, it is not always realistic. Sour cream often sits out for something like a party or simply because you forgot to put it away after a meal.  This is usually not a big deal as long as you return it to the refrigerator in a reasonable amount of time. But, how long can sour cream sit out?

The room temperature determines the length of time sour cream can sit out at room temperature. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service, sour cream should not sit out longer than one hour in temperatures about 90°F. Below 90°F, it should not sit out for longer than two hours. Your refrigerator should be set at 40°F or below for safe sour cream storage.

Remember, the one and two-hour rules apply not only to regular sour cream but anything containing sour cream as an ingredient. This includes things like sour cream dips and recipes including sour cream.

Unrefrigerated Sour Cream Dangers

We don’t often think about food spoilage and proper food storage until we actually get sick. However, foodborne illnesses are something we should always try to avoid with proper food safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 6 Americans obtain a foodborne illnesses or food poisoning each year. Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses are vomiting, stomach ache, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and headache. In severe cases death is possible. The CDC estimates approximately 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations in the United States from foodborne illnesses each year. In total, an approximate 48 million get food poisoning in the United States per year.


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