The never-ending journey to create the tastiest plant-based milk possible is only just getting started. Coffee shops are continuously adding to their array of milk options, grocery stores have entire aisles dedicated to dairy-free alternatives, and people are even somehow making milk out of potatoes.
With so many store-bought oat milks packed with unnecessary oils and almond milk requiring 130 pints of water to produce a single glass, the search for an adequate dairy-free alternative, at times, can feel futile. Luckily, there’s an abundance of choices, and that number only seems to be increasing.
Whether you’re looking for healthier and more sustainable substitutions or just want to experience some new flavors, here is a list of some alternative (and a bit unconventional) milks.
Macadamia milk is like almond milk 2.0—it retains the beverage’s nutty flavor but has a much thicker texture. While many nut-based milks are bound to experience a bit of separation, macadamia milk holds itself together well. The most popular macadamia milk brand right now is Milkadamia, and the company is dedicated to keeping low carbon levels and protecting the planet through their use of regenerative farming. The brand even makes delicious macadamia nut creamers that come in flavors like vanilla and cinnamon, perfect additions to a chai latte.
Perhaps the biggest downside to forgoing cow’s milk is its undeniable creaminess. This is where hemp milk comes in—it has an eerily similar texture to your full-fat dairy or oat milk but has a less overly decadent flavor. There aren’t a ton of hemp milks on the market right now, but thankfully Pacific Foods makes a protein-rich hemp milk that can be found in most grocery stores.
So many dairy alternatives are just way too sweet. Sesame milk is completely different, with its understated yet deeply dimensional flavor profile, almost making it a savory beverage. The milk uses a whopping 95% less water than almond and 75% less water than oat. And if that weren’t enough, the crop itself is both drought-tolerant and self-pollinating, making it easier to produce and better for the environment. Hope and Sesame currently offers multiple flavors of sesame milk and the company’s dairy alternative is also gluten-free certified, which is a big deal considering many plant-based milks are made in cross-contaminated facilities. Hope and Sesame is currently available in select grocery stores, as well as on their website for purchase.
Pistachio milk is surprisingly subtle in a way that is reminiscent of your standard nonfat milk. Under the surface, however, the dairy alternative contains a complex, nutty flavor that adds depth to just about anything. And it’s bound to become a barista favorite, as it froths into a silky foam perfect for a classic café au lait. The two tastiest pistachio milks out there right now are Táche (which also sells a vanilla flavor) and Three Trees. While Táche is more prevalent in coffee shops, you can find Three Trees at your local grocery store.
As we are all aware, flaxseed is the ultimate superfood, containing a multitude of health benefits: soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol, and lignans, which reduce risk of heart disease. After considering the power flaxseed wields, it is only natural that companies learned to make milk out of it. The dairy- and soy-free beverage has a velvety and satisfying texture without an overpowering grainy taste. This means it can work in baked goods, smoothies, soups, or even on its own. Brands Good Karma and Malibu Mylk are currently leading the charge in the flax milk department, and can be found at your local Whole Foods.
With a simple ingredient list (just cashews and water!) and rich flavor, it’s no surprise that cashew milk is giving oat and almond a run for their money. Some even say the texture is so rich it rivals your typical half and half creamer. And once you become acquainted with it, the next stop is cashew milk ice cream. Elmhurst’s Unsweetened Cashew Milk is a quarter gallon of gluten-free goodness waiting to be thrown into your morning coffee.