Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or looking to spend an extra 75 cents on your next latte, here’s a rundown on all the dairy-free milk options out there, ranked from worst to most delicious.
8) Hemp Milk
Made from the seeds of the hemp plant, this non-dairy beverage does not deserve the divine title of “milk.” While its marketing may claim that the milk is subtly sweet, possessing a marvelously nutty flavor, it’s more like glorified water. Despite its high-fat content, which is about the same per serving as standard cow’s milk, hemp milk has virtually no milky texture. This measly little drink can’t even compare to the lousy one percent stuff we were fed in the elementary school cafeteria. If you ever happen to be in the highly unlikely and unfortunate situation of hemp milk being the only choice for your earth-friendly dairy fix, feel free to start planning a pity party for your taste buds.
7) Quinoa Milk
Okay, we all knew this was going to be at the bottom of the list. Quinoa, an edible seed that is most often prepared and eaten as a grain similar to rice, is blended with water to create this incredibly bland and boring milk concoction. With only a slightly more enjoyable flavor than hemp milk, quinoa milk is one of the most obscure milk options out there and for good reason. The flavor could only be described as hippie water, bearing no resemblance to the thickness of regular dairy milk. This makes sense as the milk is about 95 percent water with only a little quinoa to act as a subtle and rather unpleasant flavoring. It’s only saving grace is the high protein content. Even if your taste buds aren’t satisfied, at least your stomach will be.
6) Almond Milk
Some might be surprised to see such a commonly used milk alternative at the bottom of the list, and I get it. The classic almond milk latte has become a favorite among young people looking to make healthier, more wholesome choices. Despite this, almond milk is one of the worst dairy alternatives when it comes to environmental impacts. Almonds require a ridiculous amount of water to grow and must be processed in factories run on fossil fuels. While the almonds offer a subtly pleasant flavor, the texture is just plain terrible. While this is perfectly fine when cooking and baking, adding almond milk to coffee just waters it down, not adding any of the smoothness or richness provided by traditional dairy milk.
5) Cashew Milk
Cashew milk can be described as pretty average in the world of non-dairy milk. It’s slightly thicker than almond milk, which gives it some bonus points in my book. However, the cashew flavor is often painfully subtle when store-bought and in some brands the flavor just seems plain weird. This is partly because in addition to ground, whole cashews, the milk contains cashew butter which can add to its delightful thickness but also contributes to its weird flavor. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but in comparison to some of the later kinds of milk on this list, cashew milk doesn’t hold much merit.
4) Coconut Milk
Personally, I could go both ways with coconut milk. While it pairs delightfully with smoothies and oatmeal, the coconutty flavor can be slightly overpowering on its own. Mixed in coffee, the coconut takes over, giving the beverage a lotion-like, and frankly unappealing taste. However, its smooth texture and usefulness in some foods still earn coconut milk a win. If you’re someone who loves coconut, I highly recommend coconut milk ice cream, which has a lovely tropical taste. All in all, coconut milk is not too bad when used correctly.
3) Rice Milk
It sounds strange, but in my opinion rice milk is one of the best-tasting milks on the market. The rice gives it a wonderfully sweet flavor that makes it delicious on its own. If you are someone new to the world of non-dairy milk and want something sweet, smooth, and great to drink on its own, rice milk is for you. While not quite as delicious in coffee and tea as some of the other contenders, rice milk’s lovely flavor is always a win. Another benefit is that it’s great for those with nut or soy allergies who still want to enjoy an amazing dairy-free alternative.
Ah, this one’s a classic. Soymilk is probably the most readily available dairy-free alternative, being available at most coffee shops and restaurants. The thick, protein-rich texture of soymilk is comparable to standard dairy and is perfect in lattes and drinks. If you’re new to a dairy-free lifestyle, soymilk is a great option because it provides a similar texture to dairy milk and leaves you full and satisfied. The main caveat to soymilk is that it is probably the most unhealthy of all the options. While containing half the fat and calories of standard cow milk, soy can be linked to indigestion and physicians recommend watching out for excess soy consumption. Still, soymilk is an amazing option for a dairy-free lifestyle and is almost universally available at any establishment.
1) Oat Milk
Finally, we have reached the peak of all dairy alternatives. Oat milk has gained popularity in the past few years and for good reason. Its sweet flavor, creamy texture, and delightful thickness make it the perfect milk for any occasion. On its own, poured in tea for coffee, or added to a smoothie, oat milk is perfect for every use. Another great option for those with allergies, oat milk is one of the most environmentally friendly milk options out there as farmers plant oats to restore farmland after it’s been overused. While it can be a little more pricey than some of the other milks on the market, it is one of the easiest to make at home. Simply blend oats and water and you have one of the most delicious beverages out there. If you have the chance, pick up a carton of oat milk on your next trip to the grocery store or fork out an extra dollar next time you order coffee. You won’t be disappointed.