Yogurt is not only a handy grab-and-go breakfast, it's a common ingredient in recipes for muffins, cakes, smoothies, dips, sauces, and more.
If you're looking for the best substitute for yogurt, take a spin through these seven yogurt alternatives, including vegan and dairy-free options, to find the one that will work best in your recipe.
Common Uses for Yogurt
Yogurt is a staple in many-a-refrigerator — and not just for loading up with your favorite toppings for breakfast. This veritable Swiss Army knife dairy product is a go-to for everything from salad dressings to tater toppings.
There are countless ways to use yogurt, including:
- Smeared on toast
- Cream sauces
- Salad dressings
- Toppings for soups, tacos, and baked potatoes
So, whether your fridge is bare of this handy staple ingredient, or you’re looking for a yogurt substitute for other reasons, no need to make an extra trip to the grocery stores.
Chances are, you probably already have something else in your kitchen that will serve as a perfectly good swap-out in your favorite recipes. It will just depend on what you’re making.
Here are seven yogurt substitutes that just might work for you.
7 Best Substitutions for Yogurt
1. Sour Cream
Best yogurt substitute in baking, toppings, and most other uses
Sour cream is the best substitute for yogurt because they share many similarities in terms of creamy texture and tangy flavor.
So in many cases, a cup of sour cream is an easy substitute for a cup of yogurt. And vice versa. Go ahead and add a dollop of plain yogurt in place of sour cream on your baked sweet potatoes.
For best results, use full-fat sour cream as a yogurt substitute in baking. Low fat and nonfat sour cream are much thinner and can negatively affect the texture.
2. Greek Yogurt
Best yogurt substitute for baking, dips, sauces, and spreads -- great all-purpose substitute!
If your recipe calls for plain yogurt and all you have is plain Greek yogurt, it may come as no surprise that Greek yogurt is a good substitute for plain yogurt.
Greek yogurt can be used for everything from baking breads and cakes to making dips, sauces, and spreads.
Because the consistency of Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt, a great way to get that same smooth and creamy texture of yogurt is to dilute it with a little water.
3. Cream Cheese
Best substitute for Greek yogurt in dips, spreads, sauces, sweet fillings and frostings
Cream cheese and yogurt offer similar tanginess and creaminess, so it makes sense as an alternative for yogurt in some instances.
As a substitute for Greek yogurt, which has a thicker consistency, in dips, spreads, savory sauces, and sweet frostings and fillings, cream cheese can be an excellent replacement.
Cream cheese is not the best yogurt substitute in baking.
4. Cottage Cheese
Best yogurt substitute in smoothies, dips, spreads, and parfaits
Cottage cheese and yogurt are both nutritional powerhouses. So from that standpoint alone, cottage cheese is a great alternative to yogurt.
As a baking substitute, you may want to pass on this one.
If you’re looking for a substitute in cold dips, spreads, or something to stir with your fruit in the morning, cottage cheese is a good alternative.
When blended smooth, it has a similar texture to yogurt, which makes cottage cheese a good substitute for yogurt in smoothies.
Best yogurt substitute in muffins, cake, and other baked goods
Buttermilk and yogurt share tanginess and acid, so it’s a great substitute in baking cakes, muffins, or most other baked goods.
Buttermilk is thinner than regular yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, so for the best yogurt replacement, you will need to add about 25% less buttermilk than the amount of yogurt called for in the recipe.
Of course, this will depend on your recipe, so adjust as needed.
You may need to compensate by adding other ingredients, like flour, to get the right consistency.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually have buttermilk in my fridge. No prob. You can make your own homemade buttermilk, it’s super easy. Just add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of milk and let it sit for five minutes.
Best vegan yogurt substitute in smoothies, dips, salad dressings, and toppings
Avocados are clearly well known for their unctuous creaminess and ability to be transformed into condiments, toast toppings, and chip dips.
As a vegan substitute for yogurt in smoothies, dips, salads, and salad dressings, avocados are a great alternative.
They're also a super delicious replacement for yogurt in sauces and toppings for tacos and baked potatoes.
When it comes to baked goods, the flavor and texture just might not be the same.
Best non-dairy yogurt substitute in smoothies and overnight oats
Bananas are the perfect grab-and go fruit, sweet, creamy, and inexpensive. But, kind of hard to keep up with if you want to eat them before they turn brown -- or make something other than banana bread.
Bananas are an excellent dairy-free alternative for yogurt in overnight oats and smoothies.
How to substitute bananas for yogurt in overnight oats:
Mix mashed banana with almond milk and oats and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning, add your favorite toppings.
How to substitute bananas for yogurt in smoothies:
Blend frozen sliced bananas with frozen fruits, almond milk, and almond butter for a creamy decadent dairy-free ice-cream-like treat.
Ways to Use Yogurt in Cooking
If you find yourself with more yogurt (or any of its substitutes) than you know what to do with, there are plenty of great ways you can stir it into your savory dishes:
- Marinades. A combination of yogurt (or a yogurt substitute), along with your favorite fresh herbs and spices, makes delicious marinade for your meat dishes. The yogurt helps to break down the protein in meat, which renders it super-tender.
- Salad dressings. Add yogurt to your favorite creamy salad dressing to amp up the tang and velvety texture. Besides being plenty tasty, it's also a good source of protein.
- Creamy soups. Enhance soups with a big spoonful, or two, of plain yogurt. Just before serving, swirl it in. This is super-delicious in tomato, black bean, or creamy carrot soup.