The 8 Best Non-Dairy Milks of 2021

Make smoothies, coffee, and more with these alternatives

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With plant-based nutrition trends growing, many consumers are looking for non-dairy alternatives to milk. From coffee to oatmeal and smoothies to baking, milk has a wide variety of uses. And with so many non-dairy milks on grocery store shelves, one type does not need to fit all needs. Did you know milk can be made from flax seeds, rice, and even macadamia nuts?

If you are lactose-intolerant, allergic to dairy, or just looking to add more plant-based foods to your diet, you have many options to choose from. Some milks have a creamier consistency great for coffee or oatmeal, while others are more watery and work well for smoothies and baking. 

Many non-dairy milks are fortified with vitamin D and calcium for bone health. Just be sure to check out their protein content, as non-dairy milk is often lower in protein than traditional cow’s milk. You may need to get your protein from other dietary sources. 

Here, we’ve rounded up the best non-dairy milks for drinking, cooking, baking, and more.

Best Overall: Milkadamia Unsweetened Macadamia Milk

Milkadamia Unsweetened

While the first thing most people probably associate with non-dairy milk is soy or almond options, one of the best nut milk options on the market comes from indulgent macadamia nuts. Thanks to their naturally creamy texture when raw, these nuts make a surprisingly milky drink.

Macadamia nut milk is naturally sugar-free and only contains 50 calories per serving. While the unsweetened version of Milkadamia has no sugar, the original version has 6 grams of sugar.

Like regular dairy milk, each glass of macadamia nut milk is packed with vitamin D, and even contains 50% more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk. Milkadamia brand non-dairy milk is vegan-friendly and is also GMO-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly, so it’s perfect for people on a low-carb diet that want to add a new non-dairy milk into their regimen.

Best Almond Milk: Blue Diamond Almonds Almond Breeze Original Dairy Free Almondmilk

Almond Breeze Almond Milk

If there’s one brand that’s synonymous with almond milk, it’s Almond Breeze, the official almond milk brand of Blue Diamond Almonds. Each box of this shelf-stable milk remains fresh while unopened for months, so this 12-pack of boxes is perfect for stocking your pantry with so you never find yourself starting the day with a bowl of dry cereal or black coffee.

Almond Breeze makes their almond milk with California Blue Diamond almonds for an irresistible creamy drink without a noticeable almond flavor. Each glass is lactose- and soy-free and is only 60 calories. We love the original kind, but if you prefer your milk a little less sweet, opt for the unsweetened variety, or choose the vanilla for the best possible taste for drinking.

Best Coconut Milk: Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk

Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk

Coconuts have become insanely trendy in both the food and beauty world, and it’s starting to feel like we use every part of the coconut at some point of our daily routine, whether it be the water, the oil, the flesh, or the milk, like this can of unsweetened organic coconut milk from Native Forest.

Coconut milk has a naturally creamy texture, which makes it perfect for adding to a variety of dishes. This natural indulgence has made it a staple in many dishes in Thai and Indian cuisines, among others.

Coconut milk has a much stronger natural flavor than other non-dairy milk, so we recommend staying away if you’re not partial to a little coconutty flavor in your food. 

Best Rice Milk: Rice Dream Original Rice Drink Enriched Organic

Rice Dream Organic Original Rice Drink

If you’re looking for a non-dairy milk that isn’t made from nuts, whether for allergy concerns or just because of the taste, reach for a box of this rice drink milk alternative from Rice Dream.

Part of the reason it’s loved by the dairy-free community is that rice drink closely resembles skim milk in taste and texture, but it is just a touch sweeter, so it’s perfect for using in the same places you would regular milk without worrying about a strange aftertaste.

Each glass is made from organic brown rice and is 99% fat-free, verified non-GMO, and kosher.

Best Oat Milk: Pacific Foods Original Organic Oat Non-Dairy Beverage

Pacific Foods Oat Non-Dairy Beverage

If you’ve stopped by an urban coffee shop or café lately, you’ve probably seen this unusual non-dairy milk on the menu as an option to drink in your java. If you haven’t tried it, drinking milk made from oats might sound strange, but in reality, oat milk is a surprisingly delicious alternative to cow’s milk.

Each serving of oat milk is packed with good-for-you whole grains but is naturally creamy and sweet because of the oats themselves.

Pacific Foods oat milk also contains more protein per serving than other non-dairy types of milk, including cashew, coconut, and hemp milk. Oat milk also contains more carbohydrates than cow's, almond, coconut, and soy milk.

Best Soy Milk: Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk

Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk

Before there was the booming popularity of oat, hemp, and almond milk, there was soy milk, which is one of the most widely available dairy-free milk options. We recommend this organic unsweetened option from Silk, which is fortified to have as much calcium as a glass of dairy milk. Each of these boxes is made with shelf-stable packaging so you can keep soy milk in the pantry at all times without worrying that it’ll spoil before you get to drink it. 

In addition to making a great-tasting substitute for all the traditional uses for milk, soy milk is packed with nutrients. Research has even suggested that soy milk may protect against cancer and lower cholesterol. Each glass of Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk contains 7 grams of protein that is naturally found in soy, contains no added sugar, and is low in saturated fat. In addition to being dairy and lactose-free, Silk is made without gluten, casein, egg, or MSG.

Best Hemp Milk: Living Harvest Unsweetened Tempt Hemp Milk

Living Harvest Unsweetened Tempt Hemp Milk

Another unusual source of non-dairy milk is hemp seeds, which are milled and milked for their nutritional value. Tempt brand enhances its natural nutritional hemp with vitamin A, D2, B12, and riboflavin, in addition to omega fatty acids and amino acids. We recommend the unsweetened original variety, which is made with no added sugars. Hemp milk is more watery than creamier non-dairy ​milk like coconut or macadamia and has a nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Best Flax Milk: Good Karma Vanilla Lightly Sweetened Plant-Powered Flaxmilk

Good Karma Vanilla Lightly Sweetened Plant-Powered Flaxmilk

If you’re looking for a milk that’s a great source of plant-based protein, consider trying flax milk, which is made from flax seeds. Each glass of this delicious and creamy vanilla flax milk is packed with 8 grams of protein—which is high for non-dairy milk—and 1,200 mg omega-3 fats which may be beneficial to heart health. It also contains 10 grams of sugar per serving. We recommend getting it in a set of shelf-stable boxes so you have plenty on hand for everyday use.

What to Look for in a Non-Dairy Milk

Protein

Unlike cow’s milk, non-dairy milk is typically low in protein.  Milks such as oat, almond, and hemp contain anywhere from 1 to 4 grams of protein, while soy milk has the most at 7 grams per serving. If you are going to replace your dairy milk with plant-based milk, be sure to get your protein from other sources. 

Added Sugar

Many non-dairy milks come sweetened or flavored with vanilla or chocolate, which means sugar is added. Aim for an unsweetened variety or choose one with 10 grams of added sugar or less per serving.  

Main Ingredient

You’ll want to consider what your non-dairy milk is made from when selecting your choice. If allergies to nuts or soy are a concern, stick with rice, coconut, or flax milk.

Consistency

Non-dairy milks are versatile and can be used in many ways.  Since all of the different types of milks are different consistencies, consider how you’ll want to use them. If you are looking for milk for your coffee or oatmeal, you may want a creamier texture like macadamia nut, coconut, or oat milk. If you’re looking for something for a smoothie or a baking recipe, try almond or rice milk. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of non-dairy milk?

    Different types of non-dairy milks vary in their nutritional benefits. If you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein, non-dairy milk is an excellent alternative. Many non-dairy milks are fortified with many vital nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, folate, and B12. In many cases, non-dairy milk is also lower in calories and fat, if that is important for your health needs.

    Non-dairy milks are also a more sustainable option compared to cow’s milk. Their production accounts for less greenhouse gas emissions and less water use than dairy milk. While plant milks do still have an environmental impact, they are an eco-friendly option compared to cow’s milk.

  • What is the shelf life of non-dairy milk?

    Non-dairy milks have variable shelf-lives. When unopened, non-dairy milk can last for months. Many types can even last unrefrigerated, which makes them a good option to stock in your pantry or take when traveling.

    Consume almond milk within 1 week of opening; refrigerate and keep the lid sealed tight to prevent bacteria from entering. Oat milk and flax milk should also be consumed within 7 days of opening. Opened containers of coconut, soy milk, and rice milk can last up to 10 days in the fridge.

  • How should you store non-dairy milk?

    You’ll want to store plant-based milks that are sold chilled in the middle of your refrigerator, where the ideal temperature is 37 degrees. Avoid storing them in the door and the top shelf, as those are typically the warmest parts of your fridge.

    Dairy-free milks sold in shelf-stable cartons or cans, such as hemp milk or coconut milk, do not require refrigeration until they are opened. Store them in your pantry, preferably at room temperature and away from sunlight and heat.

  • How do you use non-dairy milk as a substitute?

    Non-dairy milks are used in a variety of ways as a substitute for cow’s milk. In many cases, they can replace cow's milk directly, in the same proportions. 

    Since they have different flavors and textures, certain non-dairy milks substitute better than others depending on their use. For example, oat milk gives coffee a creamy consistency and it froths beautifully to make a latte. Soy milk is generally good for baking, in smoothies, or over cereal. Rice milk has a sweeter flavor and is best in desserts, as well as curries and sauces. 

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