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In the early days of non-dairy milk, you pretty much had one option: soy. Now, as more people ditch dairy, entire shelves and refrigerated cases are dedicated to all kinds of plant-based milk. It’s certainly nice to have options, but with so many to choose from, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
While any plant-based milk will accomplish your main goal of ridding dairy, many have lengthy lists featuring artificial ingredients and hardly any real almonds, coconuts, or oats. You're going to want one that's good for you, but still tastes delicious, so we went through all the non-dairy milks out there and came up with options that fit the bill.
Here are the best non-dairy milks.
The almond milk competition is fierce, but MALK comes out on top for several reasons. The completely clean ingredients list—filtered water, organic sprouted almonds, and sea salt—is impressive in itself, but the fact that the almonds are sprouted means they’re more nutritious and easier to digest. MALK also uses cold-pressing techniques, ensuring that none of the nutrients or enzymes are killed during processing. If that wasn’t enough, each cup of this almond milk contains 5 grams of protein—most almond milks contain 1 gram—and, of course, it’s smooth, creamy, and delicious.
Coconut milk rivals almond milk in popularity, but some milks have a strong coconut flavor that makes them a little off-putting. If you’re just using the milk in a smoothie, you generally can’t taste the coconut, but if you want something for your cereal or to cook in a savory dish, you might not want it to taste so tropical. That’s where the Califia Farms Go Coconuts Coconutmilk comes in. It's actually a mixture of coconut milk and coconut water. It has a texture that’s similar to skim milk and a light, refreshing flavor to complement whatever you’re adding it to, rather than completely taking it over.
Oat milk is another wildly popular alternative, but as the name points out, OATLY! isn’t just another company trying to hop on the bandwagon. Its entire inventory includes strictly oat-based products, so it knows how to do oat milk right. OATLY! makes its oat milk with certified gluten-free oats sourced from farms all around the U.S., and adds vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin B12, to rival cow’s milk.
Although oat milk is higher in carbohydrates than some of the other options on this list, some of those carbs come from soluble fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol and improve your digestion without major hits to your blood sugar. Oat milk is also great for making lattes at home since it foams better than some other non-dairy milks.
Soy has seemingly fallen out of favor to other types of non-dairy milk, but as one of the original plant-based milk options, it still deserves a spot on this list. Although most soy in the U.S. is genetically modified and processed, Westsoy only uses organic, non-GMO, whole soybeans and filtered water to make its thick, creamy, and protein-rich soy milk (each cup contains 8 grams of protein—the same as 1 cup of cow’s milk). Westsoy also enriches its milk with vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and calcium to really turn it into an apples-to-apples comparison with cow’s milk when it comes to nutrient density.
Cashews are one of the richest, most decadent nuts out there, which means (not-so-surprisingly) that they also make one of the richest, most decadent nut milks out there—and Elmhurst knows how to do it right. Using a method called HydroRelease, the company ensures that all parts of the cashew are used during production. This results in a thick and creamy milk with five times more nuts per serving than other milks. HydroRelease is also a zero-waste process, so you can feel good about a minimal carbon footprint. With only two ingredients—filtered water and cashews—you really can’t beat this plant-based milk.
Banana milk may not be as mainstream as the other options on this list, but once you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Made with organic banana puree, organic sunflower seeds, water, and cinnamon, Mooala Organic Bananamilk has the perfect amount of natural sweetness, thickness, and cinnamon flavor. Add it to your smoothie or cereal for a hint of banana taste without the extra effort of slicing bananas.
If you’re okay with a little added sugar, Mooala also offers chocolate and strawberry banana milk, which will quickly bring you back to your childhood Nesquik days sans the artificial ingredients.
Pacific Foods Hemp Plant-Based Beverage is an excellent milk alternative for serving the family and beyond, because unlike nut-based milk, it’s very allergen-friendly (unless, of course, you’re allergic to hemp seeds). Hemp milk is also a higher-protein option than most almond milks (each cup of this one contains 3 grams of protein), and it has the added benefit of extra omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids— something that hemp seeds are known for. Unlike almond milk, which is pretty neutral in flavor, this hemp milk does have a slightly nutty taste, but if you like hemp seeds, you’ll love this milk.
One of the biggest qualms about replacing cow’s milk with plant-based milk is that you lose a lot of the protein. A cup of cow’s milk has 8 grams of protein, while your standard commercial almond milk only has 1 gram. Silk set out to solve this problem with its Unsweet Protein Milk, which features a combination of almond milk, cashew milk, and pea protein. This non-dairy milk not only rivals cow’s milk in the protein department (it has 10 grams per cup), but it also has more calcium, potassium, and vitamin D; fewer carbohydrates; and a rich and creamy taste and texture that’s satisfying enough to replace your coffee creamer.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.