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There is no shortage of plant-based milk on the market these days. Recently, oat milk, in particular, has been increasing in popularity, in part because it’s one of the more sustainable plant-based milks out there, according to research conducted by The University of Oxford. Whether you like it in smoothies, coffee, for baking, or just to drink straight up, this fast-growing beverage is as versatile as it is tasty. With so many new options on shelves, we’re breaking down the choices to keep you informed and ready for your next grocery trip.
Ahead, find the best oat milks on the market.
Best Overall: OATLY! Oat Drink Organic
Oatly!’s original oat milk is the winner of the batch due to its consistency, color, and texture. This Swedish company, which started out in the 90s, is eco-conscious and remains independent. Keeping with its namesake, Oatly! does, in fact, just sell oat-based products.
The mission behind Oatly is to bring wholesome beverages to people who just didn’t like cow’s milk or were unwilling to use it for personal reasons. Thirty years later, its products are flying off the shelves, as the oat milk craze catches on (it's also expanded its offerings beyond just milks—you can now find Oatly! ice creams, yogurts, and more). Also noteworthy: Its milk is certified gluten-free and does not curdle when added to coffee—a major bonus.
Best Budget: Dream Oat Beverage Oat Original
Dream’s oat beverage wins the best budget category due to its very reasonable price point. Alternative milks are notoriously pricey compared to cow’s milk, but Dream Oat's price tag is not too far off (and you can probably score an even better deal buying in bulk, as Dream’s beverage is shelf-stable). And for that low price, you’re still getting all the goodness that comes with this drink. lt sells an unsweetened version as well for those who like a milder flavor.
Best Gluten-Free: OATLY! Low Fat Oat Milk
According to the FDA, oats are gluten-free, but those who have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities should always check labels for certified gluten-free products to guarantee a product wasn’t processed in a plant where it could’ve been cross-contaminated. Although several oat milk brands claim their products are gluten-free, Oatly!’s products are certified via a third party, which is the gold standard for label claims and certifications.
There is also no added sugar, soy, nuts, thickeners, gums, or GMOs in this milk. This low-fat version is not as thick and creamy as Oatly’s Original, but for those who like the consistency of low-fat or skim milk and are seeking a plant-based alternative, this is a solid choice.
Best High-Protein: Califia Farms Protein Oat Milk
Califia Farms protein oat milk is an unsweetened milk that contains all nine essential amino acids, thanks to pea, oat, and sunflower protein. In addition to protein, this milk is rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and vitamin E, all while tasting delicious and boasting a thick, creamy texture. You can use it as you would any other oat milk—in baking, cereal, smoothies, coffee, or just plain in a glass.
Best Chocolate: OATLY! Chocolate Oat Milk
Who doesn’t love a glass of chocolate milk every once in a while? This childhood favorite has gone vegan-friendly, and now there are plenty of oat-based chocolate milks on the market to satisfy adults and children alike. Our favorite is Oatly!’s chocolate oat milk, which is great on its own but would also work well in baking or smoothies. Cocoa powder and cane sugar provide the sweet chocolaty flavor we know and love. Note that it is higher in calories and sugar than its original milk, as one would expect in a sweet chocolaty treat.
Best Vanilla: Planet Oat Oatmilk Vanilla
For those seeking a vanilla-infused oat milk, Planet Oat has you covered. Perfect for cereal, coffee, tea, or smoothies, this milk is as versatile as it is satisfying. It’s also surprisingly low in calories (90 calories per 1 cup) and sugar (4 grams per 1 cup), so it’s not overly saccharine, but rather subtly sweet. It also offers plenty of vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A, and it's available in original, extra creamy, and dark chocolate.
Best Clean: Thrive Market Organic Oat Non-Dairy Beverage
Made of just oats and water, Thrive Market’s organic oat beverage has no hidden ingredients. It is unsweetened, but it does have a natural pleasant sweetness to it. It can be used in coffee, smoothies, overnight oats, and baked goods. It’s shelf-stable and does not have a weird aftertaste, though it’s on the more watery side, which may be less ideal for adding to coffee.
Best for Coffee Drinkers: Oatly Oat Milk Barista Edition
Oatly! has winners in several categories and also has a great coffee option, thanks to its popular Barista Edition product that has been specifically created with coffee-drinkers in mind. Whether you work as a barista or make your own coffee at home, this oat milk has a creamier consistency and will even form foam, thanks to an “acidity regulator” in the recipe.
“Just heat this Barista Edition Oat Drink in a container while giving it a whirl until it foams up nicely and then pour yourself a latte," says Oatly!'s site. You can also use this product in tea and cold brew, and it will not separate.
If you’re a purist who would like an all-around winner in terms of taste, texture/consistency, and nutrition while supporting an eco-conscious brand, you can’t go wrong with Oatly!’s Original Oat Milk (view at Amazon). For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend Dream Oat's Original Oat Beverage (view at Walmart). It’s priced pretty closely to cow’s milk, making it a more affordable option if your household goes through a lot of milk.
What to Look for in Oat Milk
Read the label to see just what is in the carton of oat milk you're looking at buying. You will find that some have additives or are sweetened with sugar in order to make the milk thicker and creamier. Some cartons will have certifications on them, for instance, stating they're gluten free. Others might have ingredients like nuts added to them. If there are any food allergies or sensitivities in your household, or you want the purest oat milk possible, keeping an eye on the list of ingredients is important.
Oat milk has a taste of its own that's similar to cow's milk but with a touch of sweet oat taste. Various ones will be sweeter than others, depending on their ingredients. Even unsweetened oat milks have a sweet, "oaty" taste to them.
Oat milk can vary in thickness depending on the manufacturers and the type—regular, low fat, etc. Thicker oat milk seems to be better for use in coffee, smoothies, and baking. There are even barista editions of oat milk that provide a creamy texture and actually foam up for the coffee lover in the household.
Can you use oat milk in place of regular milk?
Oat milk is a good alternative to regular milk and can be substituted in even amounts when baking and cooking.
Does oat milk need to be refrigerated?
Several varieties of oat milk are shelf stable and can be kept in the pantry or cupboard until it has been opened. Make sure you know if the oat milk you've bought is shelf stable or needs to be stored in the refrigerator, though. Once opened, all types of oat milk should be refrigerated.
How long does oat milk keep after opening?
Once that carton has been opened, oat milk should be kept in the refrigerator and used within four to seven days. As always, check the expiration date before purchasing.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, she has a diverse background and varied interests that give her a unique perspective, which fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews.