By Lexi Langman
While walking through the milk aisle of the grocery store, I noticed an overwhelming number of options of dairy-free milks. As dairy-free milk alternatives have grown in popularity, more and more variations have become available. This is great for those with dairy allergies, lactose intolerance, and other people, like me, who want to try new alternatives for milk to add some new flavors to their kitchen. The labels of some of these milks intrigued me, as I was curious about the taste and textures of some ingredients, so I decided to try several different types of dairy-free milks and compare them. In my comparison, I evaluated three factors: price, texture, and flavor. Depending on your allergens and what you expect from your dairy-free milk product, I hope this helps sort out some options for you.
Texture: silky, thin, and watery
Flavor: nutty and mildly sweet
Texture: light, smooth, and creamy
Taste: sweet, rich, and mildly nutty
Texture: thick, creamy, similar in texture to skim milk
Flavor: mildly sweet and mild beany taste
Texture: creamy and smooth
Flavor: rich and sweet, tastes like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cereal
Texture: chalky, mildly creamy
Flavor: earthy and nutty
Texture: light and watery
Flavor: mild taste, sweet, tastes like rice pudding
Flavor: bitter, nutty, earthy
Texture: creamy and smooth
Flavor: sweet aftertaste
To illustrate the main takeaways, here are some awards from my overall impressions of the milks:
Best bang for your buck: Almond milk
Most like cow’s milk: Soy milk
Most versatile: Almond milk
Best for dunking cookies: Oat milk
It is difficult to choose an overall best option because each person may have their own preferences based on the texture, taste, price, and their own dietary restrictions. Personally, I prefer the creamy, smooth, sweet milks, so my favorites were the oat, Patch Pumpkin Seed Milk, and coconut milks. I will definitely buy some of the milks again because I could see their tastes working well for my everyday use.
For the majority of flavors, my assumptions were pretty accurate, but a couple surprised me. I had never seen or heard of pumpkin seed milk before this, so I assumed it was not as popular as other milks because of its taste. However, after trying it, I really enjoyed the flavor and texture. I will definitely be incorporating Patch Pumpkin Seed Milk more into my groceries. I was also hesitant about rice milk. After tasting it, I actually really enjoyed the rice milk, as it was reminiscent of a watered down rice pudding.
Each milk seems to be best suited for different uses:
Overall it was really interesting trying all the different types of milk and seeing how different, and similar, each of them were.
- the sweet and creamy ones (oat and coconut) would be a good option to mix with something like coffee,
- the earthier and nuttier ones (hemp, flax, and almond) seem like a great choice to mix into smoothies,
- the more mild ones (soy and almond) would be a great substitute in baking
- and some (rice and pumpkin seed) just taste great on their own
If none of these options pique your interest, there are even more milk alternatives beyond the ones I tried including banana milk, pea milk, cashew milk, and macadamia milk. At the end of the day, always choose what milk is best for you and your dietary needs!