In case you haven’t noticed, the milk section at the grocery store has grown. The dairy options have expanded from skim and whole milk to plant-based choices like oat, almond, and even hemp milk. While half the fun of plant-based milk is the sheer variety available, shopping for dairy replacements can be overwhelming. What products are best for baking, and what pairs well with cereal? Do you dare use soy milk as a coffee creamer?
If you’ve experienced a minor case of decision paralysis in the dairy aisle, we get it, and we’re here for you. That’s why we compared four plant-based milks, so you don’t have to.
Almond milk is one of the most approachable entry points into the world of non-dairy milk. Made from a mixture of water and ground almonds, almond milk is typically low in calories, carbs, and protein. Almond milk typically contains only one gram of protein per serving, while cow’s milk contains a whopping eight grams of protein per serving. Even though this plant-based substitute doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrition, its popularity can be attributed to its mild, inoffensive taste. The neutral taste blends well with classic coffee shop flavors like French vanilla and hazelnut.
If you are trying to replace the nutritional value of milk in your diet, soy milk is the way to go. Most brands are right on par with cow’s milk, serving seven grams of protein per cup. Soy milk has a smooth, silky texture but is best with a little added sugar or vanilla if you’re not a fan of the signature soy flavor. This milk is best-suited for dishes and drinks with strong flavor elements – like soups or smoothies – that will overpower the traditional taste.
There are actually two kinds of coconut milk. The type you’d find in a cardboard carton has been watered-down to make it less fatty. If you don’t mind the coconut flavor, you might use it like you would almond milk: over cereal, in drinks, or drank straight from the bottle. Canned coconut milk, on the other hand, is as rich and creamy as condensed milk. It’s not for chugging but works well for most baking projects.
Hemp milk is a newcomer to the non-dairy market but has soared in popularity over the last few years. It’s as easy to use as almond milk (with a slightly nuttier flavor) but packs a slightly greater nutritional punch. Hemp milk is a great option for someone looking for the versatility of plant-based milk but is allergic to nuts.