Shelf Life of
Sour Cream

How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

Sour Cream Shelf Life

How long does sour cream last? Does sour cream go bad? The shelf life of sour cream is influenced by a variety of factors, such as the type of cream, the processing method, packaging date, its exposure to heat, and it is stored. Sour cream is a diary product obtained by fermenting regular cream with a bacterial culture that sours and thickens the cream. [1] The resulting product is high in fat, but can be found in reduced fat and non-fat versions and can also be mixed with a variety of spices to create dips.

So, how long does sour cream last?
When properly stored, containers of sour cream last for the time periods indicated in the table below beyond their printed date:

(Unopened) Refrigerator
Past Printed Date
Sour Cream lasts for 1-2 weeks
Reduced Fat Sour Cream lasts for 1-2 weeks
Sour Cream Dip lasts for 2 weeks
(Opened) Refrigerator
All Sour Creams last for 7-10 Days

Of course, all food and drink products last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. But remember, sour cream, like a lot of other dairy products, usually has a sell by date which is simply the last date it should be sold, not consumed. Because of this distinction, you may safely use sour cream on your vegetables even after its sell by date has lapsed.

How to tell if sour cream is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent food borne illness. Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your sour cream has gone bad. You can tell if sour cream has gone bad if you notice dark mold on its surface, bright bacterial marks, pockets of watery liquid and a sharp, bitter flavor. First the liquid will begin to separate, at which point it can still be used but within a week you will need to throw it out when you notice mold on the inside of the lid and then in the product. There are, of course, certain health risks associated with any spoiled food, so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your sour cream prior to its expiration.

How to store sour cream to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of sour cream. Prior to purchase, you should leave all cream products on the shelf until you are ready to check out. Once at home, you can help all dairy products stay fresh longer by storing them in your refrigerator below 40°F immediately after use. Like with most dairy products, you should store your sour cream in air-tight containers that help keep out moisture and other contaminants – the original containers work fine.
In addition, you should always make sure to use clean utensils when serving sour cream in order to avoid contamination. Separate sour cream from onions, garlic, and citrus fruits so it doesn’t absorb pungent odors.  
Can you freeze sour cream? Freezing is not recommended as it will likely result in a lumpy texture and loss of flavor when the product is thawed.
Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

What to do with too much sour cream that is about to go bad?

If you are afraid your sour cream will go bad before you use it all, try this suggestion:

  • Use sour cream in place of some oil in your favorite coffee cake recipe for a more unique flavor.
  • If you’ve run out of sour cream and need a quick substitute, check our sour cream substitute page.
  • Interesting facts about the shelf life of regular, reduced fat, fat free sour cream:

  • Most sour cream containers are made of plastic which reduce the cream’s exposure to light, air and fluctuating temperatures.
  • Whether or not sour cream contains preservatives depends on the specific manufacturer.

  • How long is sour cream good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does sour cream last? That depends. How long do baked potatoes last? In general, sour cream lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient it is mixed with. To find out how long those other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

    Search the Shelf Life Guide!

    What are our shelf life resources?

    Our how long does sour cream last content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scour the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of sour cream.

    *An important note about the expiration date of sour cream …

    Although information provided by Eat By Date is reliable, it not intended to substitute for the advice of your qualified health care provider. Please eat responsibly!