Almond. Soy. Oat. Hazelnut. Banana. Pea. Walnut. There are tons of nondairy milks on the market and it's hard to know what's the best milk alternative. They can taste radically different—creamy or chalky, delightful or dishwatery.
We set out to find the best unsweetened, unflavored versions to buy, plus give you pointers on what to look for. Here are our favorites.
Must Read: A Buyer's Guide to Non-Dairy Milks
Velvety and smooth with a welcome hint of vanilla, this is a great all-purpose milk replacement. (Pleasure to meet you, cereal!)
Yep, there's even macadamia milk out there and the tropical nut makes this beverage buttery and subtly sweet.
This bevvie was hands-down our favorite oat milk. It delivers delicious, natural sweetness (with no added sugar) and oat-y toastiness.
Creamy and the most luscious of the bunch, this pick is perfect in coffee. And it only has 25 calories per cup.
Try It: Healthy Almond Milk Smoothies
Popping the top on this jug is like cracking open a fresh coconut. "No fakey suntan-lotion flavor here," said Shaun Dreisbach, nutrition & features editor.
Here's what to consider, nutrition-wise.
Nondairy milks vary widely in sugar content. Some deliver 28 grams per cup! And most of it is added sugar, which studies have linked to an increased risk for heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. (Cow's milk also contains sugar, but it's naturally occurring lactose, which doesn't come with the same health concerns.) So we say: opt for an unsweetened sip. Make sure there are no added sugars in the ingredient list.
Alt milks tend to be much lower in protein than cow's milk (which has 8 grams per cup). If protein is important, soy and pea milk have the most. Our soy pick has 7 grams per cup!
Check it out: The 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources
If you're looking to shave calories, nut milks are a good way to go. Some come in at just 25 calories per serving—a quarter of the amount in cow's milk.
While cow's milk has calcium and most are fortified with vitamin D, plant-based milks are inconsistent. Some deliver neither of these nutrients and others are on par—serving up about 30 percent of your daily value of each. We recommend choosing ones fortified with these nutrients, which most Americans don't get enough of. (Our coconut pick doesn't have added vitamin D, but it does have calcium and vitamin A, another nutrient we tend to fall short on. Plus, it's just that delicious.)
Emulsifiers that create the creamy mouthfeel you associate with cow's milk are super-common in this category. We spotted gellan gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, and soy and sunflower lecithin. Carrageenan is the only one with a somewhat questionable record. Fortunately, it's not a concern for most people, but if you have a history of G.I. issues, look for products made without it.