Does Sour Cream Go Bad? How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

A dollop of sour cream can go a long way when you add it to a dish or an appetizer. When it comes to its shelf life, how far can this tasty product go?


Quick Answer

Sour cream will expire. A dairy product filled with live culture, at a certain point the product will be unsafe to consume. The shelf life for sour cream is dependent on the sell-by date and storage methods. If stored well, sour cream can last approximately 2-3 weeks after the packaged date. Sour cream can last longer if frozen, but it is not recommended.


The shelf life for sour cream is approximate. The sell-by date and its environment will best determine how long it may last.

Does Sour Cream Go Bad? How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

Perishable dairy products are best kept at colder temperatures. You can estimate how long a container of sour cream will stay good based on where it is being stored.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last Outside?

Sour cream will start to go bad within 1-2 hours if kept at room temperature:

It is not recommended that anyone keep sour cream outside of the refrigerator for too long. Sour cream should only come out of the fridge when it is ready to use, and then returned immediately. Unnecessary exposure to air and heat will make the sour cream spoil at a faster rate. If sour cream does stay in room temperature, like a dip left out at a party, it has about 1-2 hours before it will start to rot. The hotter the environment is, the sooner the sour cream will go bad.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last in the Fridge?

Sour cream can last up to 3 weeks past the sell-by date when kept in the refrigerator: Refrigerators are the best place to store sour cream. This applies for both opened and unopened containers. The cold conditions are ideal for keeping the product safe from unnecessary air and heat. It is best to keep sour cream in the back of the fridge where it is the coldest. Do not store it in the refrigerator door since those products get exposed to air and heat every time it opens.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last in the Freezer?

Sour cream can last upwards to 6 months when stored in the freezer:

You can save open and unopened containers of sour cream in the freezer. The taste may not be the same, but it will still be safe to consume. It is important to note that the texture of the sour cream will change dramatically. When frozen, liquid separates from the cream resulting in a lumpy, uneven texture. After sour cream has frozen, it is recommended that it is only used in recipes that need to be baked or cooked. The sour cream will not be useful for dishes that require a smoother texture.

These time frames are approximate. Certain brands of sour cream can last longer if they are made with preservatives. It is possible for sour cream to spoil before or after these estimates depending on many other factors.

How to Tell if Sour Cream Has Gone Bad?

Once sour cream rots, it is no longer safe for consumption. Using basic intuition, it is easy to identify once the product has reached this point.

Mold: Rotten sour cream may start to form dark spots of mold. The presence of mold on the sour cream or inside the container means it is infected. Some spots may still be white but once mold has contaminated the product, none of the sour cream is good to use.

Discoloration: If the sour cream turns yellow or shows other signs of discoloration, the product has spoiled. Off-colored sour cream indicates that the bacteria has gone bad and started to grow fungi.

Too Much Water: It is normal for some liquid to separate from sour cream and gather at the surface. If this happens, the cream just needs to be mixed to regain its original texture. However, if there is an excessive amount of water or discolored liquid pooled at the top of the sour cream, this means it has spoiled.

Different Texture: If the sour cream clumps into lumpy chunks without it freezing first, this is a sign that it is rotting.

Strong Odor: An unfavored, rotten or bitter smell indicates that the sour cream has gone bad.

Bad Taste: If the sour cream tastes extremely sour, bitter, or just wrong in some way, it is too spoiled to eat.

If you find yourself having to throw out sour cream often, you should make sure you are storing the product well. By practicing safe food protocols, you will save food, time, and money.

How to Store Sour Cream?

Proper storage for your sour cream is crucial for prolonging its shelf life. You can avoid contaminating your product by taking certain precautions.

Put the sour cream in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you can: As soon as the sour cream leaves the grocery store, it is important to get it into a cold environment shortly after. Insulated shopping bags can keep groceries cool during this transition.

Make sure the sour cream is in an air-tight container: The plastic containers that sour cream comes in are great! The plastic reduces the sour cream’s exposure to light, air, and heat. These containers also have fitted lids that protect it from contamination.

Keep the sour cream in smaller containers as you use it: If you are the kind of person who uses sour cream a little bit at a time, consider changing out the containers. Putting sour cream in small containers will reduce the amount of excess air.

Always use clean utensils: It is important to use clean utensils each time you dip into the sour cream. This will help you avoid any cross contamination.

Keep sour cream closed as much as possible: Be sure to always keep sour cream covered. Even if you plan on leaving it out for easy access, keep a cover over it.

These tips are useful for keeping sour cream stored in the refrigerator. There are different strategies when it comes to storing cream in the freezer.

Can You Freeze Sour Cream? How?

Freezing sour cream is a suitable option for long-term storage. The following steps will ensure that the sour cream maintains good value when frozen.

Fresher is Better: For best results, freeze sour cream while it is still at peak freshness.

Whisk: Whisk the sour cream before adding it to the freezer. This will mix the ingredients well and preserve the integrity of its texture when thawed.

Store in Small Portions: By storing sour cream in serving-sized portions, it will be easier to thaw.

Put in Airtight Containers/Freezer Bag: A container with a tight seal will prevent freezer burn. A Ziploc bag will also work. The less air in the container/bag, the better.

Thaw sooner rather than later: Sour cream can freeze for 6 months, but the sour cream will have the best quality if used early on.

Sour cream cannot be re-frozen: Re-freezing sour cream will encourage unhealthy bacteria growth. Once thawed, it must be used.

These recommendations are good to keep in mind before freezing your sour cream. There are specific steps to take before thawing it.

How to Thaw Sour Cream?

Defrosting sour cream is an easy process.  There are only a few things you need to do to ensure good quality.

Put sour cream in the fridge: Only take out the amount of sour cream you are ready to use. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Whisk or add cornstarch if needed: Whisking will mix any separated liquid back into the cream. Cornstarch will make the sour cream thicker if it still has too much liquid.

After the sour cream reaches its preferred texture, it is ready to add to the dish. It is important to remember that thawed sour cream does not taste good on its own. Thawed sour cream tastes best cooked or baked with other ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sour Cream’s Shelf Life

There are no exact answers when it comes to how long a container of sour cream will last. Many factors will influence its shelf life including how it was packaged and handled prior to its purchase. As a result, there are many questions regarding how long it is safe to consume. Here are a couple of the most common concerns.

Does sour cream go bad if unopened? Yes, sour cream can still go bad even if it is unopened. The best-buy date is the best way to determine how long it may last. Typically, sour cream can last up to 3 weeks past the best buy date. This is assuming that the sour cream is kept in ideal conditions. There is a chance it can expire before or after that estimate.

Is it safe to eat sour cream after the expiration date? No, it is not safe to eat expired sour cream. In fact, it might even be dangerous. If you consume a tiny amount by mistake or you are testing to see If it is bad, that should be fine. It is always better safe than sorry when it comes to spoiled dairy products. Sour cream should be thrown out once it exhibits signs that it has rot.

Wrap Up

It is common to buy too much sour cream or have some leftover. When this occurs, you should look out for any signs of spoilage. To prolong sour cream’s shelf life, always practice proper food storage and handling. This way you get the most out of your sour cream!

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