Sour Cream vs Butter

butter vs sour cream

You may have wondered the difference between sour cream vs butter when it comes to topping something like a baked potato. Both are dairy products but they are different in their ingredients, nutrition, and how they are made. Let’s dig into the differences between sour cream vs butter.


Sour Cream: Sour cream can simply be made with cultured cream. There really is no need for other ingredients. However, several brands of sour cream contain additives. preservatives, and/or thickeners. Other ingredients you might find in sour cream are enzymes, whey, carrageenan, food starch, potassium sorbate, sodium phosphate, calcium sulfate, locust bean gum, and guar gum.

Butter: Real butter is made from churned milk or cream. Salt is often added to created salted butter. The spreadable butter products contain oil  like canola or olive create a softer, spreadable butter. Some other ingredients you might find in butter are vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene, citric acid, potassium sorbate, coloring, and monoglycerides.

How They Are Made

Sour cream is made by adding a harmless lactic acid producing bacteria to cream. The bacteria thickens the cream and creates that classic sour cream taste. You can make sour cream at home by adding real buttermilk (must be cultured) or lemon juice to cream. These will cause the cream to thicken to the texture of sour cream if allowed to sit about 24 hours at room temperature. Check out a video recipe here for a tasty homemade sour cream.

Butter is made by churning cream to remove air and the liquid known as buttermilk. What remains is the butterfat, which clumps together during the churning process. Salt is then added, if the dairy is making salted butter, and then the butterfat is churned again to mix in the salt. It is then officially butter and ready for packaging.


Sour cream is by far the better nutritional choice between the two products. You can see below that sour cream has a lot less fat and calories than butter of a similar serving size. As previously indicated, butter is essentially made from the fatty portion of cream while sour cream is made from cream. The butter (butterfat) obviously holds more calories and fat than the cream used to make sour cream.

Sour Cream

ProductServing SizeCalories Total Fat (g)Saturated Fat (g)Cholesterol (mg)Sodium (mg)Carbohydrates (g)Dietary Fiber (g)Sugars (g)Protein (g)
Regular Cultured Sour Cream2 Tablespoons 484.6 g2.4 g14 mg7 mg1.1 g0 g.82 g.59 g
Sour Cream Light2 Tablespoons332.5 g1.6 g8 mg20 mg1.7 g0 g0.05 g.84 g
Sour Cream Fat-Free2 Tablespoons180 g0 g2 mg34 g3.7 g0 g0.09 g.74 g


Butter (Type)Serving SizeCalories Total FatSaturated Fat CholesterolSodiumCarbohydratesDietary FiberSugars Protein
Butter, Salted2 Tbsp (28.4 g)20423.04g14.59g61mg183mg0.02g00.02g.24g
Butter, Light, Salted2 Tbsp (28g)14015.43g9.61g30mg126mg000.92g
Image: Haverchuk

1 thought on “Sour Cream vs Butter”

  1. Some people enjoy having their sour cream with a little bit of potato, if you know what I mean. As a server, I have seen people put 3+ 2tbsp servings of sour cream on their baked potatoes. The same people presumably wouldn’t top with so much butter, as that would create a greasy mess.

    A good comparison might also include the data on at what point the amount of sour cream used exceeds the better-than-butter point.

    Thank you very much for this value information!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *