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Which Non-Dairy Milk Type Do I Choose???

Updated on March 31, 2017

It used to seem complicated to choose between the whole, 2% or skim at the grocery store but now the milk options and milk substitute options take up half an aisle and can seem overwhelming. But when you are looking to replace dairy in your diet how do you chose between all the different options?

This is a handy breakdown of the nutrition, flavor expectations and best use for 9 different dairy free milk substitutes that will make it easier to choose the right option for you.

1. Almond Milk

Almond Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 30

Fat: 2.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 180mg

Carbs: 2g

Protein: 1g

Fiber: 1g

Calcium: 45%

How it tastes: This has a very distinctive nutty flavor and can be a little watery. The overall taste is not strong.

Best for: This is best for dose of calcium and as a dairy substitute.

Almond milk is one of the more commonly known and popular options for a dairy free milk option. You can find several flavor and sugar varieties in most stores making this an easy option to try if you are thinking about consuming less dairy.


2. Soy Milk

aSoy Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 80

Fat: 24g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 70mg

Carbs: 3g

Protein: 7g

Fiber: 2g

Calcium: 30%

How it tastes: Soy milk is a thicker milk and has a little bit of a sweeter taste than almond milk. Soy milk does tend to have a stronger aftertaste.

Best for: Again this is a good dairy substitute and provides good levels of protein as well. Great for smoothies.

Soy milk is one of the more commonly known and popular options for a dairy free diet and is easily found on most grocery store shelves. Soy milk is amazing to use in smoothies since it is thicker and naturally sweeter. The aftertaste is masked with the other smoothies ingredients and you end up with a thicker more satisfying drink that is high in protein without the dairy.

3. Rice Milk

Rice Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 120

Fat: 2.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 100mg

Carbs: 23g

Protein: 1g

Fiber: 0g

Calcium: 1%

How it tastes: This is a sweet milk with a medium thickness and has a pleasant taste without an aftertaste.

Best for: This is great on cereal.

Rice milk is a great dairy free option due to its smooth sweet flavor and lack of aftertaste. Rice milk is readily available in most stores. The only negative using this as a dairy substitute is that you will need to supplement your calcium intake through other foods since rice milk is very low in calcium.

4. Hemp Milk

Hemp Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 80

Fat: 28g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 125mg

Carbs: 1g

Protein: 2g

Fiber: 0g

Calcium: 30%

How it tastes: This milk is very thin and watery with a strong nutty flavor.

Best for: An amazing addition to your mashed potatoes.

Hemp milk is not as well known as a dairy substitute but can be a great addition to your diet since it has a high calcium percentage. Hemp milk is better to use in cooking since it is not sweet and does not have a strong aftertaste.

5. Flax Seed Milk

Flax Seed Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 25

Fat: 2.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 80mg

Carbs: 1g

Protein: 0g

Fiber: 0g

Calcium: 30%

How it tastes: This milk has a mild nutty flavor but is fairly bland and neutral overall.

Best for: This is great for a lactose and dairy free cookie dipping milk.

Flax seed milk is another dairy milk substitute that is not as well known but is a great milk to have in your cooking arsenal. The neutral flavor is great when you feel the need to dunk a cookie and just want to taste the cookie without an aftertaste.

6. Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 110

Fat: 3.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 120mg

Carbs: 19g

Protein: 2g

Fiber: 1g

Calcium: 30%

How it tastes: This is a very rich flavor with a subtle nut flavor.

Best for: Coffee! Because who doesn't love hazelnut coffee?

Most people know about chocolate hazelnut butter and hazelnut coffee creamer but this is another versatile nut milk that can be made at home as well. When you want that thicker coffee creamer this is the go to milk you will want. This is also nice in baking and is worth trying it in a variety of ways.

You can combine hazelnut milk with almond milk to make a nice nut blend that isn't too thick or overpowering and of course is great with a little chocolate as well!

7. Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 45

Fat: 4g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 0mg

Carbs: 2g

Protein: 0g

Fiber: 1g

Calcium: 10%

How it tastes: This milk is a little sour to taste so don't expect a sweet coconut flavor.

Best for: Using this in homemade soups is a great way to add creaminess to your soup without the need for dairy.

Coconut milk is one of those easy to find dairy substitutes that can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Besides using it in soups it can be a wonderful base to sauces and used in dessert recipes as well. While this milk is not going to provide you a good calcium supplement it will help you avoid feeling deprived when you need a milk for cooking.

8. Oat Milk

Oat Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 130

Fat: 2.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 115mg

Carbs: 24g

Protein: 4g

Fiber: 2g

Calcium: 35%

How it tastes: Oat milk is rich and sweet.

Best for: If you want to make some great dairy free pancakes then this is your milk!

Oat milk is another milk not as commonly known but is a great thick and sweet milk that can be used in cooking and baking. This can be made easily at home as is shown in the video below. You could also add a little cinnamon or sugar give this milk some extra extra sweetness or flavor. This is definitely worth having in the kitchen!

9. Cashew Milk

Cashew Milk - information per 8oz serving

Calories: 40

Fat: 3g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 120mg

Carbs: 3g

Protein: 1g

Fiber: 0g

Calcium: 30%

How it tastes: This tastes just like the nut and is a little thicker than most nut milks.

Best for: This makes a great milk to make a dreamy salad dressing with a little nutty flavor as a bonus.

Cashew milk is another nut milk option that can be made at home easily as well as found in most stores. This has great flexibility of use in cooking and baking as well. This is another dairy substitute that is really worth trying and experimenting with for uses.

This brief overview of 9 different milk options should help the decision be a little easier when you are in the grocery store or just want to experiment a little a home. There are many options you can use to create the perfect non-dairy milk for your tastes and cooking needs and they each provide a different flavor profile, sweetness and thickness to make your cooking unique and you won't feel like you are missing out by not having dairy in your diet.

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