A Buyer's Guide to Non-Dairy Milks

By: Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.

How do these popular dairy-free milks compare nutritionally and taste wise? We put them to the test.

Got (dairy-free) milk? If you're looking for a dairy-free alternative to cow's milk, you're in luck: the number of nondairy "milks" on store shelves is booming. Here's how popular cow's-milk alternatives stack up, cup for cup.

Related: Our Best Dairy-Free Recipes

 

Cashew Milk

Creamier than cow's milk, but with a sweetness that cashews are known for, this newcomer is like almond milk—low in calories and carbs.
Calories: 25-40
Protein: 0–<1g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 2-3.5g/0–0.5g
Sugars: 0–<1g
Calcium: 100-450mg*
Vitamin D: 100-140IU*

 

Soy Milk

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Smoothie Bowl
A good swap for cow's milk thanks to its slight sweetness and respectable protein content. The amount of protein also makes this the best of the plant-based milks for baking and cooking.
Calories: 80–120
Protein: 7–12g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 4–6g/0.5–1g
Sugars: 1–2g
Calcium: 40–300mg*
Vitamin D: 120IU*

 

Rice Milk

Similar in texture to skim milk, with a subtle flavor hint of rice. Per Consumer Reports, limit how much you drink as rice contains arsenic (a natural element that may raise risk of heart disease and some cancers).
Calories: 70–130
Protein: 0–1g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 2–2.5g/0g
Sugars: <1–14g
Calcium: 250–300mg*
Vitamin D: 100IU*

 

Coconut Milk Beverage

Pictured Recipe: Coconut Chai-Spiced Oatmeal
This naturally sweet, unobtrusively coconutty drink is lighter than its canned cousin.
Calories: 45–60
Protein: 0g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 4–5g/4–5g
Sugars: 0–1g
Calcium: 40–450mg*
Vitamin D: 100–120IU*

 

Oat Milk

Thicker than rice or almond milks and its mild cereal-like flavor won't overwhelm your food.
Calories: 130
Protein: 4g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 2.5g/0g
Sugars: 19g
Calcium: 350mg*
Vitamin D: 100IU**If fortified.

 

Almond Milk

This not-surprisingly nutty-tasting milk is ideal if you're trying to limit carbs and calories. Like rice milk, it has a light texture.
Pictured Recipe: Almond Butter & Banana Protein Smoothie
Calories: 30–50
Protein: 1g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 2.5–3.5g/0g
Sugars: 0–<1g
Calcium: 20–450mg*
Vitamin D: 100IU*

 

Hemp Milk

Don't be put off by its fat content—it's mostly heart healthy and includes omega-3s. It has a fresh grassy flavor, similar to sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Calories: 70–80
Protein: 2–3g
Fat/Sat. Fat: 5–8g/0.5g
Sugars: 0g
Calcium: 300mg*
Vitamin D: 100–120IU*

Tips for buying dairy-free milks:

Check the Nutrition Facts Panel. Calcium and vitamin D quantities can vary substantially from brand to brand.
Shake before pouring. The added nutrients tend to settle on the bottom.
Choose unsweetened. Flavored milks are often high in sugar, and even plain versions may have added sugars to match milk's natural sweetness.