It is hard to imagine what nachos and baked potatoes would be without sour cream’s rich, tangy flavor and creamy texture.
And you might assume these dairy products have a generous shelf life because they have already “soured.” But how long does sour cream last in your refrigerator?
In this guide, I’ll explain the shelf life of sour cream and tips on how you can keep it fresh.
How Long Is Sour Cream Good For?
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. You Should never eat or cook with spoiled sour cream.
To make things easier for you, I’ve put together a table that breaks down the shelf life of sour cream under various conditions:
|Unopened in the fridge
|1-3 weeks or until the expiration date
|Keep it in the coldest part of your fridge.
|Opened in the fridge
|Always use a clean utensil to scoop.
|Left at room temperature
|Not Recommended. 2 hours maximum.
|Spoils quickly. Bacteria love the dairy-rich environment.
|After the sell-by date or best-by date
|Use your judgment, but don’t push it past the use-by date.
|After the use-by date
|The USDA advises against it.
|Texture changes, and it separates when thawed.
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 advises that you don’t consume it after its use-by date.
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 keeping sour cream refrigerated at 40°F or below is important.
How Long Does Sour Cream Last Unopened?
According to the USDA, sour cream can last up to three weeks in the fridge unopened and in optimal conditions.
But we know that our home refrigerator is not optimal since we’re constantly opening the door, which changes the internal temperature.
Unfortunately, freezing sour cream doesn’t work too well, just like milk or cottage cheese. 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 goes bad, consuming it can be dangerous 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.
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.
How To Store Sour Cream After Opening
- 1 Plastic Wrap
- 1 Package Sour Cream
- Check the package for damage. If the package was cut accidentally, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and transfer it to a 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 if applicable. 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.