Best Uses For Dairy-free Milk

Apr 17, 2024

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, there are some that are extremely versatile (like soy), and others yield best results in specific preparations (like coconut). We’ve compiled a list of the most popular and accessible dairy-free milks to guide you through your next shopping trip. Click the image to expand and learn more.

No matter which type you pick, make sure you are mindful of the variety as they are not all created equally. You may want plain unsweetened for cooking, but prefer vanilla for your morning cereal. Since they are all delicious, it’s worth experimenting with different brands and varieties to find your new favorite.


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, and its protein content makes it an easy swap for baking. Soy milk lends itself well to a number of applications including frothing, simmering, and drinking straight from the glass. 

Brands: Silk, Eden Foods, Pacific, Trader Joe’s, 365 by Whole Foods


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!

Brands: Ripple, Sproud, Bolthouse Farms


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. 

Brands: Oatly, Chobani, Planet Oat, Silk, Oatsome, Califia, Trader Joe’s, Forager


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, Silk, Earth’s Own, Malk, Three Trees


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 milks (about 25 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving for unsweetened options). Its neutral flavor profile makes it the perfect base for your savory dishes like a creamy soup or pasta sauce.

Brands: Silk, Elmhurst, Forager


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 in a carton is significantly thinned out but still 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: Carton: So Delicious, Silk, Pacific, 365 by Whole Foods; Canned: Thai Kitchen, Native Forest


Those looking to consume more omega-3s without swallowing fish oil pills might want to incorporate flax milk into their diet. The content differs from brand to brand, but you can count on about 1200 mg per serving. This dairy-free milk is thick, creamy and has nutty undertones. It’s perfect for smoothies and oatmeal. 

Brands: Malibu Mylk, Good Karma, FlazUSA


Similar to flax milk, hemp milk is high in omega-3 fatty acids. It has an earthy flavor that pairs well with decadent granola or overnight oats. It’s also on the thicker side, so a little can go a long way in something like a smoothie. And no need to worry, hemp milk does not contain THC. 

Brands: Good Hemp, Pacific, Living Harvest


Rice was one of the original non-dairy milks on the market. Most varieties are shelf-stable, making it a great option to keep in the pantry for when you’re in a pinch. It is light and neutral in flavor, making it a classic option for anything from cereal to baking.

Brands: Dream (formerly Rice Dreams), Better than Milk, Alpro

Specific Uses

Barista Editions

Although some milks naturally froth well, such as soy, many companies are coming out with Barista Editions of other varieties. These are designed to be creamier and hold their froth effectively so your latte doesn’t turn into coffee flavored dairy-free milk. They might be a little too thick or sweet for something like cereal, but can be used in a pinch if needed. These are clearly labeled as “Barista” on the cartons, making them easy to identify. 

Brands: Califia, Pacific Coconut, Rise Brewing, Oatly

Kids’ Focus

While all non-dairy milks are suitable for kids (assuming there is not an allergy or intolerance), they have different nutritional needs compared to adults. Therefore, many companies are coming out with options specifically for kids. These often are higher in healthy fats and micronutrients to support children’s growth and development. Fortunately, the adults can enjoy these too!

Brands: Ripple, Kiki Milk, Mooala

Specialty Baking

Sometimes veganizing a recipe is not straightforward when there are ingredients that don’t have a one to one dairy-free substitution. Fortunately, more and more companies are developing alternatives to make baking a breeze. Whether you’re making a decadent caramel sauce or your grandmother’s famous chocolate trifle, these options won’t disappoint. 

Brands: Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut, Nature’s Charm Evaporate Oat, Country Crock Plant Cream, Califia Heavy Whip

Ready to head to the kitchen and explore new ways to use your favorite dairy-free milk? Check out our recipes for inspiration!

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