Milk alternatives are more popular than ever, but which non-dairy drink is the best bet? Vegans, lactose intolerant folk, and those who are straying away from dairy have more options now than ever before! Here are 10 milk alternatives you need to try.
10. Rice Milk
Rice milk is made by blending milled white or brown rice with water. It’s not as widely popular as soy, almond, or cashew milk just yet, which might be because of the nutritional profile. Rice milk isn’t particularly high in protein, but it’s one of the most carbohydrate and sugar-packed milk alternatives on the market. It contains about the same number of calories per serving as cow’s milk, but with half the protein and twice the carbohydrates. This is in part because of the naturally carbohydrate-dense nature of rice, but also because the flavor is so mild, there are often added sugars. That being said, don’t discount it! Rice milk is the one of the least allergenic milks out there, so it’s often a safe bet for people who struggle with food allergies or intolerances. Those who need to avoid nuts, gluten, and dairy should be able to find a rice milk that they can enjoy safely. Rice milk is more watery, similar to almond milk, which makes it a great addition to smoothies or oatmeal. It’s not often found in coffee shops, or in common non-dairy products, but those who can’t enjoy other milks can still make use of it in other ways.
9. Pea Milk
That’s right, pea milk exists! Many people have never even tried this non-dairy milk option, but it might become the next big thing because of its fantastic nutritional profile. Pea milk is made from pea protein isolate, which is already used widely in vegan protein powders. With the addition of some emulsifiers, it becomes a creamy, completely plant-based milk. It offers 70 calories per cup, up to 8 grams of protein, calcium, and DHA, a fatty acid that’s great for heart health and cognitive function. Some brands even fortify their pea milk with a hefty dose of vitamin B12. That’s a bragworthy nutritional profile, and the reason that pea milk is growing a dedicated fan base. So, does it taste like peas? Nope, not even a little bit Pea milk has an earthy flavor when unsweetened, but most varieties have light sweetening that masks it. Flavored varieties taste pretty similar to other milk alternatives overall, making it an easy and nutritionally awesome switch. Pea milk is great in smoothies, and while it’s not widely available in coffee shops or grocery stores just yet, the rising popularity of the drink could see more places offering it in the near future. Keep an eye on the shelves!
8. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is no new thing, but it’s gaining major traction when it comes to milk alternatives. Coconut milk is made from the water and flesh from inside a coconut. It’s a more diluted version of the thicker, canned varieties normally used in cooking and baking and often found alongside the soy and almond milk on the grocery store shelves. Coconut milk is creamy and has an undeniably strong coconut taste. A serving usually contains about 45 calories, 4 grams of fat, and very little protein or carbs. Coconut milk has more saturated fat, but that includes a kind of saturated fat called MCT that can help people feel full for longer, improve cholesterol, and assist in weight loss. Coconut milk is a great option for people following a FODMAP diet. So, what makes it a must-try? The coconutty flavor is a nice addition to many dairy alternatives. It’s delicious in smoothies, ice cream, or an iced coffee. In fact, coconut milk is one of the most popular dairy alternatives used in large-scale ice cream production. Many non-dairy milk producers also offer blended coconut and almond milk options for those who want a more balanced taste, and to offset the tendency for almond milk to separate a bit when added to hot liquids. Anyone who doesn’t like the taste of coconut probably won’t be interested, but it’s a fun option for those that like a little tropical twist to their food and drinks! Splash it into a fruit smoothie and never look back.
7. Flax Milk
Flax milk is made from a combination of flaxseed oil, water, and pea protein. That’s right – pea milk and flax milk are pretty closely related! Flaxseeds are cold-pressed to produce oil, and this becomes the basis of the milk. Because of this, the nutritional profile of flax milk is pretty similar to that of pea milk. It’s got a solid dose of protein and certain acids that support immune health and heart function. It also contains no cholesterol and less sugar than most other milk alternatives on the market, making it a solid choice for a milk swap. Flax milk is less sweet than some other milk alternatives, but it has a nice flaxy flavor that some people prefer. “Flaxy” flavor might sound a bit offputting, but it’s tasty, promise! It’s more similar to almond milk in terms of texture, so diehard almond milk fans should definitely give it a try for the added protein and fatty acid benefits. Also, flax milk won’t break the bank, and it’s easier to find in stores that some might think. Because of the flavor profile, some people swear by flax milk in soups when swapping out dairy. It’s not ideal in coffee because of its more runny texture, so leave the morning cup for a soy, oat, or cashew alternative. New to flax milk? Give it a try!
6. Peanut Milk
Now, peanut milk may not be a super popular option just yet, but it’s absolutely worth a taste! It’s made from peanuts in a similar manner as almond or cashew milk, but because peanuts grow underground and require far less water, peanut milk is considered to be a more environmentally-friendly nut milk option. Peanuts are also more widely produced and readily available than some other nuts, which makes peanut milk generally more affordable. Peanuts are naturally packed with protein as well, making peanut milk a must-try dairy alternative for anyone keeping an eye on their protein intake. Since some non-dairy milks fall a bit flat when it comes to protein content, this is a huge advantage for peanut milk. The taste is fairly similar to other nut milk varieties, and peanut milk has a nice, creamy texture. While it’s not widely available just yet, some health food stores are starting to stock more of it! Keep an eye out, and then try it in a smoothie or cereal. Diehard dairy alternative fans are patiently waiting for an ice cream made from peanut milk, because the texture and taste would be amazing in a frozen dessert. Until then, nut milk lovers will have to look harder to find this delicious option, but it’ll be worth the search! Obviously, those with nut allergies should leave this one on the shelf.
5. Hemp Milk
Once upon a time, Dr.Oz picked hemp milk as his favorite milk alternative. Since then, it’s risen in popularity and become a staple in health food stores everywhere. While it might be one of the more “out there” milk alternatives on the list, hemp milk definitely deserves a try! It’s made of hemp seeds, which are blended with water and emulsifying ingredients. Hemp seeds are really the star of the show- they’re packed with omega-3s, which help keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check. It’s a bit lower in protein than some other alternatives at about 2 grams per cup, but some brands fortify their hemp milk with calcium and vitamin D for added benefits. Similar to almond milk, it has a light nutty flavor. Most people would compare it to skim milk in terms of consistency, so it’s a bit less creamy than cashew or soy milk would be. Because of this, it’s not often used as a widespread alternative to dairy in ice creams, sour cream, yogurt, or other products. Also, while most hemp milk fans don’t love it in coffee, it’s great to drink on its own or to add into cereal and smoothies. Keep an eye on the health food section of the grocery store and give it a try!
4. Oat Milk
Oat milk has been gaining major traction in the milk alternative world recently, and for good reason! It’s got a very rich, very creamy consistency and a subtle taste that goes well in a few different applications. Non-dairy milk drinkers should note that while it’s a bit lower in protein than some other options (averaging about 2-4 grams per cup), it often has added fibre. Oat milk is made in a similar method to almond milk, with oats being soaked in water, thoroughly blended, and strained. Oat milk is available plain, vanilla flavored, chocolate flavored, and in products like ice cream and coffee creamers. Some drinkers actually claim that chocolate oat milk is the best non-dairy chocolate alternative, while some still vote for soy. Both are tasty! When it comes to oat milk ice cream, the results are a little more split. Some like the subtle aftertaste that the oat milk lends to ice cream, and some claim it’s too noticeably oaty. Because it’s a newer addition to the milk alternative scene, there aren’t as many other dairy products (like sour cream or yogurt) making use of oats just yet. Most reviewers rave about oat milk when used in coffee, as the consistency and subtle flavor blends almost perfectly. Lattes, creamers, the works! Oak milk is also a favorite when it comes to matcha, with oat milk matcha lattes being one of the trendiest drinks on the menu these days. While it’s not quite as widely available as soy or almond milk just yet, fans should check for it in grocery stores and on coffee shop menus as it gains well-deserved popularity.
3. Almond Milk
One of the most popular milk alternatives out there is almond milk. Almond milk is made from almond and water, plus emulsifiers and fortifying ingredients. It’s a good nutritional pick, with a mere 35-90 calories and 1-5 grams of protein per cup depending on the brand. The base flavor is light and nutty, and almond milk does come in a few different varieties, like sweetened, vanilla flavored, and chocolate. Almond milk coffee creamers and ice cream are also popular picks, with big-name brands like Ben & Jerry’s using almond milk as their milk alternative of choice in non-dairy and vegan offerings. Almond milk is a bit more watery and less rich than other milk alternatives, which makes it a popular choice for smoothies. Some reviewers say they tend to reach for creamier options like cashew or soy milk more often when it comes to coffees and cereals, but almond milk undoubtedly has a major fan base and a solid place on grocery store shelves around the world. It’s easy to find in lots of coffee shops and many people’s go-to for a latte. Some people have started to reach for other alternatives first because of the high amount of water required to grow almonds, especially when they’re grown in areas that suffer frequent droughts. This is likely why other milks like oat are having a major moment! However, the emissions created to produce almond milk are still lower than dairy milk and soy milk, so there are pros and cons. Grab a pint of almond milk ice cream or try it blended into a smoothie!
2. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is made in a similar manner as almond milk, with cashews being soaked, blended, and strained into milk. While it might be a nut milk like almond milk, it’s quite different in flavor and texture. Cashew milk offers between 40 and 50 calories per cup, and is high in zinc, copper, and magnesium. It tastes smooth and creamy, and the consistency of it is similarly thicker and richer like soy milk. Because of this, it’s a stellar swap in cereal, coffee, smoothies, and ice cream products. Cashew milk complements tea quite well, so try it in a matcha or add a splash to some Earl Grey. It’s also available unsweetened or with a vanilla kick, as well as in coffee creamers and ice cream. Due to major gains in popularity over the last few years, it’s widely available in grocery stores and coffee shops. Cashew milk is debatably the best alternative for a bowl of cereal, with a texture that isn’t too watery and a nice touch of nutty taste. Many people also reach for cashew milk for smoothies, since it gives a little more viscosity than almond milk does. Try it in a tea latte or pour it into a morning bowl of cereal.
1. Soy Milk
Soy milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives out there. It’s made from soybeans, which get soaked, blended, and thoroughly strained to produce the milk. It’s actually the most nutritionally similar to dairy milk, with about 80 calories and 8 grams of protein per cup. In addition to that, it’s packed with antioxidants and fiber that dairy milk doesn’t have, which makes it a great choice for those looking for a nutritionally balanced alternative to dairy milk. Soy milk comes in plenty of varieties, including plain, sweetened, vanilla flavored, and chocolate. Soy milk is also used as a base for non-dairy coffee creamers, ice cream, and more! It’s even made an appearance in non-dairy sour creams and yogurts. Since soy is one of the instant go-tos for animal product substitution, it’s no surprise that it dominates the milk alternative game. That being said, the carbon emissions needed to make soy milk are a bit higher than other milks, so environmentally-conscious milk seekers might be interested in trying other alternatives, too. That being said, soy milk is still debatably the most common milk substitute, and it’s on coffee shop shelves all over the world. The flavor is pretty rich and creamy, with a subtle nutty note that goes well with coffee and cereal. Some people reach for soy milk over the ever-popular almond milk because the texture is thicker and less watery, more akin to dairy milk. Try it in a latte and never look back!