How versatile is dairy-free milk? Considering all the options, you may wonder if every single one can be swapped for cow’s milk for different applications. Truth be told, some dairy-free milk is extremely versatile (like soy), and some yield best results in specific preparations (like coconut). We’ve compiled a list of the most popular and accessible dairy-free milk to guide you through your next shopping trip.
Soy milk is extremely versatile. It contains the same amount of protein as a glass of cow’s milk (8 grams) and has a decent amount of healthy fat (about 4 grams per serving). This fat content provides a thick richness and allows soy milk to stand up to heat. Soy milk lends itself well to a number of applications including frothing, simmering, and drinking straight from the glass.
Brands: Silk, Eden Foods, generic grocery brands
Like soy, pea milk is also extremely versatile thanks to its protein and fat content. It also contains 8 grams of protein and about four grams of healthy fats for a rich and creamy consistency. Note: this dairy-free milk is made with yellow split peas—not the green kind! Swap in pea milk for cow’s milk when making a roux for mac and cheese, blitzing up a nutrient-dense protein smoothie, or pouring onto cereal. It even makes excellent ice cream!
There’s a reason oat milk has become so popular—its thick and creamy consistency matched with a neutral yet pleasant flavor lends itself well to a number of applications, particularly when it comes to espresso beverages. Most independent and chain coffee shops carry oat milk as it froths remarkably well. Due to the consumer affinity for oat milk, you’ll also find a wide array of oat-based, dairy-free products such as butter, yogurt, coffee creamer, cheese, and ice cream. At home, pour oat milk into your morning coffee or tea, drink it by the glass, blend it up in smoothies or creamy soups, or swap it in a one-to-one ratio for whatever you use dairy milk for.
Along with oat and soy, almond milk is another popular dairy-free option at coffee shops. It’s also widely available in grocery stores thanks to its mass appeal with consumers. Use almond milk just as you would dairy milk, though in our opinion it is not quite as creamy nor does it froth quite as well as oat or soy. However, oatmeal, smoothies, and cookie-dunking are all fair game! Curious about how “thirsty” almonds are? Check out our environmental calculator to see how almond milk stacks up next to cow’s milk.
Brands: Almond Breeze, Elmhurst, Califia, generic grocery brands
Cashew milk is very light in texture and mild in flavor. Despite the fact that it comes from a fat-heavy nut, it’s very low in calories and fat compared to other dairy-free milk (about 25 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving for unsweetened options). It’s lovely to dunk dairy-free chocolate chip cookies into, poured over cereal, or stirred into oatmeal.
Brands: Silk, Elmhurst, Forager
Those looking to consume a few more omegas without swallowing fish oil pills should incorporate flax milk into their diet. The omega-3 content differs from brand to brand, but you can count on about 1200mg of omegas per serving. This dairy-free milk is creamy with a hint of a flaxseed taste when drunk straight from the glass. It holds up well in creamy soups and hot oatmeal.
Brands: Malibu Mylk, Good Karma
Point of clarification: there are two kinds of coconut milk—the kind that comes in a can and the kind that comes in a box or carton. The canned variety is not meant for drinking. It’s extremely thick and fatty, which makes it perfect for making dairy-free curries, creamy soups, whipped cream, and ice cream. The coconut milk encased in a carton is significantly thinned out and definitely tastes like coconut. It’s best in smoothies and cold applications. If you do not enjoy the taste of coconut—or if you’re working with a flavor that does not complement coconut—opt for another dairy-free milk.
Brands: Califia, Silk, generic grocery brand
Fortunately, we live in a world where plant milks have become ubiquitous, and there’s a wonderful variety to satisfy every taste and suit every culinary purpose. If you’re curious to learn even more about your favorite plant milks, check out our milk calculator.