How Long Does Sour Cream Last? (Storage)

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It is hard to imagine what nachos and baked potatoes would be without the rich, tangy flavor of sour cream. And you might assume that sour cream has a generous shelf life due to the fact that it has already “soured.” But how long does sour cream last in your refrigerator?

Unopened sour cream may last one to three weeks in the refrigerator or until the expiration date if it has one. Once opened, you should consume it within seven to ten days. There is no difference between the shelf life of reduced fat or regular sour cream. Never eat or cook with spoiled sour cream.

Your sour cream will come with a printed sell-by, best-by, or use-by date. While it can outlast the first two dates, the USDA strongly advises that you don’t consume sour cream after its use-by date.

Bacteria and mold thrive in an environment packed with milk proteins and sugars, even in cold temperatures, and especially at room temperature.

In this guide, I’ll explain further about the shelf life of sour cream and tips to keep it fresh.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last After Opening?

Once opened, sour cream can last around seven to ten days if stored correctly in the refrigerator.

If sour cream is left at room temperature, it doesn’t take long for it to spoil. Spoilage bacteria thrive in an environment packed with dairy and sugars.

The warmer the temperature, the faster bacteria will grow. That’s why it’s important to keep sour cream refrigerated at 40°F or below.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last Unopened?

Sour cream can last up to three weeks in the fridge unopened and in optimal conditions, according to the USDA.

But we know that our home refrigerator is not optimal since we’re constantly opening the door, which changes the internal temperature.

open fridge sour cream in hand

Unfortunately, freezing sour cream doesn’t work too well, just like milk. To help prevent spoilage and waste, resist the temptation to load up on sour cream during a sale and only buy what you think you’ll need over the next week or two.

How Long Is Sour Cream Good After Expiration Date?

Sour cream is the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to grow. Even when refrigerated, these will develop over time.

Even if you are taking appropriate measures to store your sour cream properly, there may have been periods of time during shipping or at the grocery store where it wasn’t stored correctly, impacting the shelf life of your sour cream.

Once sour cream does go bad, it can be dangerous to consume and increases your risk of food poisoning.

So, it’s important to remember that any printed dates on your sour cream are not a guarantee. It can go bad much before this date if stored incorrectly. On the other hand, it could last a bit longer by chance.

I never take a chance, so I get rid of it if I see any signs that my sour cream has gone bad or a day or so before the date printed.

Can You Eat Sour Cream 3 Days After Date?

No, it’s not worth taking the chance of getting sick from old sour cream, so you should throw it away. Do not consume or cook with expired sour cream, even if it looks or smells okay.

Why Does Sour Cream Go Bad?

Like yogurt, sour cream is a fermented product that mixes lactic acid bacteria with dairy cream to cause souring. Although it has sour flavors, it has not actually gone bad.

Sour cream goes bad when spoilage bacteria multiply, and the product starts to break down. I wrote about several signs on how to know when sour cream has gone bad to help you identify when it’s time to toss it away.

sour cream storage recipe card

How To Store Sour Cream After Opening

The good news is that storing sour cream is pretty easy! Here's how to store sour cream in the fridge so that it lasts as long as possible.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 oz.
Calories 56 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Plastic Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Sour Cream

Instructions 

  • Check the package for damage. If the package was just cut by accident, it's best to transfer it to a sealable plastic container. If you notice the damage after you get home from the grocery store, don't use it. Take it back for a refund or exchange.
  • Check the date if it has one. If the date is coming up soon, plan to use it quickly.
  • Check for any signs of spoilage, and discard the whole thing if it's bad.
  • Reseal with the original lid. I like to keep the original foil, if it has it, on top as well to help seal the container as best as possible. If you want to discard the foil, or it doesn't have it, consider using a piece of plastic wrap instead. Keeping it airtight is best.
  • Use within a week and repeat the above steps each time you open your sour cream.

Notes

You can keep sour cream in any container, just make sure that it is air tight when closed or covered.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.