the best 14 dairy free milks to put in your trolley; panel tested for taste
5th February 2016
The supermarkets are lined with them. It’s now a fact that dairy free milks are no longer the new kids on the block; today they are pretty much mandatory at any café or coffee shop. Since dairy free milk became more of the norm, there has been an explosion of options for our shopping pleasure. Yet how do we know which brands are good and which ones are just glorified sugar water? How do we know if it is going to suit our individual tastes? These are questions that I deal with daily in clinic, which has lead me to this blog post.
Within this blog post I have compiled a list of my favourite nutritional choices for dairy free milks available in supermarkets that you can add to your trolley with confidence. Yet, how do they taste? To get the low down on this I gathered my own 'tasting panel' to get some very honest feedback on the flavour and textures of these milks. I decided that with this tasting it was important to get a diversity of palettes. It's all well and good for me to tell you what these milks taste like, as I drink versions of them daily, but what about people who generally drink cow's milk? Or those that have dabbled in a little dairy free milk and are keen to expand their use further? I think its imperative to gain insight into what the general public thinks as well as a 'dairy free' nutritionist.
To give you a heads up on our tasting panel;
Dameon - generally has regular cows milk products, although does not drink cow's milk anymore unless in a coffee or a milkshake. Will happily have alternative dairy milk in a smoothie at home and in cooking because his wife makes it for him and he is damn lucky :-)
Nicki (plus Blossom age 2)- recently dabbling with dairy free milks for herself and her daughter for health reasons, but yet to really find one that she likes
Joel - a cow's milk product consumer through and through.
Sean - dabbled a little in some dairy free brands, not using them daily however
Tiff - similar to Sean, has tried a few here and there and has some favourites already
Jess - that's me! I always drink dairy free milks and have tried most brands on the market
I should point out also that our tasting panel tasted these milks straight. Now I know it's not that common to drink dairy free milks as you would a glass of milk, but this way of tasting allowed us to gain insight to the variations between brands.
Lastly, please note this is not a sponsored post, these milks are brands that I recommend in clinic everyday to my clients and enjoy (some of them) myself.
Rice milk (with oat milk close on its tail) contains more natural sugars than any other dairy free milk options due to rice being a carbohydrate base. Obviously if you need to keep your sugars down just keep this in mind when using rice milk.
Australian Own Rice Milk
This organic rice milk has no added sugars and is boosted with an additional 300mg of calcium. It is made with just filtered water, 10% rice flour, sunflower oil, aquamin (calcium) and salt. 250mls of this milk contains 10.5g of naturally occurring sugars.
Dameon - has a powdery texture, not a big fan.
Nicki - smells ricey and has a flavour similar to the milk left at the end of your cereal. Bloss liked this one.
Joel - like this, its sweet.
Sean - tastes like Aunty Betty's cream rice (vanilla flavour) mixed with water, don't love it, but don't hate it.
Tiff - slightly chalky, though a nice sweetness, I quite like it.
Jess - I use this milk all the time at home as my milk of choice in my hot drinks like dandelion tea. It's the best brand that I have found for not curdling in hot tea, which is so common with dairy free milks. It's creamy, yet has a nice sweetness, which works well in a hot steamy beverage.
Pure Harvest Rice Milk
This rice milk is also organic and is 15% brown rice. It is made from filtered water, whole brown rice, sunflower oil, plant calcium (275mg) and sea salt. 250mls of this milk contains 7.1g of naturally occurring sugar.
Dameon - this rice milk is not as sweet as the previous, I like it better, its more granular than chalky.
Nicki - really chalky, I don't like this one. Bloss is not a fan either.
Joel - this is really bland, I don't like it.
Sean - cereal notes on the nose, not a massive fan.
Tiff - this one is chalky and thicker, I think it would be better in food or in a drink. Think I prefer the previous one for tea's, this one has a funky after taste.
Jess - I find this milk curdles really easy in hot beverages, and as I like rice milk more for hot drinks I tend to not use it as much. It is also very chalky, I do agree with the others on this. It is great however in cereals and smoothies.
Australian Own Soy Milk
This soy milk is made from whole organic soy beans (as opposed to soy protein isolate) and contains no added sugar. Carrageenan (a seaweed derivative) is used as a vegetable gum to thicken the milk slightly. It also contains organic sunflower oil.
Unfortunately this milk was not available from the supermarkets for the panel to taste on the day. I have kept it on the list as I really like this soy milk as a creamy, sugar free option for sauces and baking, either savoury or sweet.
Pure Harvest Soy Milk Malt Free
This soy milk is stripped back to the basics. Filtered water, 13% organic whole soy beans, sunflower oil and a little sea salt. It contains no added sweeteners. For me this is one of the best soy milks to get in your trolley nutritionally if you are a soy milk drinker.
Dameon - this one is quite bland, it’s also nutty and oily.
Nicki - it has no taste at first, but then has a weird aftertaste that is reminiscent of almonds. (Bloss is now out, she is more interested in hunting for chocolate in the house).
Joel - this one is too watery for me.
Sean - salty chips on the nose, tastes like I imagine water colour paint would taste. Don't like this one.
Tiff - yes! It does smell like salted thin crisp chips! It is smooth and watery, yet tasteless in a way. It leaves your mouth dry.
Jess – I don’t mind this as a base for smoothie, baking and sauces. It is quite a thick and oily milk, which definitely needs to be used in conjunction with other ingredients. I also like that this milk is gluten free for those with intolerances.
This brand seems to be back on track. Iodine rich kombu has been removed from the ingredients list. It’s not an Australian brand like the others mentioned here, but it is a good reliable option for those who love a great cup of coffee. Bonsoy is a café favourite thanks to its ability to froth up and hold a superb creamy texture when heated to the right temperature. Bonsoy is made from filtered water, organic whole soybeans tapioca syrup, job's tears or ‘hato mugi’ (a natural thickening agent), sea salt, calcium carbonate. The tapioca syrup adds additional sugars to this brand, in total it contains 4.4g of sugars.
Dameon - smells like baby formula, has a slight fishy taste, don't like this one.
Nicki - tastes nutty, walnut like. I don't like it but I don't hate it. (Bloss didn't try this but she did knock it for a six, hence the photographs).
Joel - I'm not a fan of this one. It tastes like ham.
Sean - this has point five more flavour that the last one. It dried out my mouth at the end, I don't like it.
Tiff- this feels like I am drinking unsalted butter, its quite thick. I can see how it would go well with coffee though.
Jess - I like Bonsoy when used in cooking and in hot drinks and smoothies. It's quite a strong creamy milk, a lot of cafes use it for this reason as it gives good consistency and holds froth when heated. It's luscious in porridge or a creamy bircher.
Australian Own Unsweetened Almond Milk
Although only 3% almonds, this milk is organic and made from filtered water, almonds, sunflower oil and salt. It contains no added sugars.
Dameon - watery, don't really like it.
Nicki - like the colour and the look of it, it looks like normal milk. Tastes like water with a hint of almond. Don't mind it actually as it's not too strong.
Joel - very watery, not a favourite.
Sean - like drinking water that has been out all day, don't like this one.
Tiff - not as almondy, it's okay.
Jess - I must admit I find this milk very watery as well. I'd use it as a base to a smoothie with lot's of added ingredients, but I wouldn't use it for a porridge or cereal. Definitely wouldn't use it for tea or coffee as it curdles.
Almond Breeze Almond Milk (unsweetened)
This is the pick of the bunch out of the Almond Breeze range. It has not been sweetened; therefore there are no added sugars. This milk contains filtered water, ground almonds (2%), calcium carbonate, tapioca starch (to thicken), sunflower lecithin (natural emulsifier) and natural flavour.
Dameon - tastes like watery almonds, I would have the previous milks tasted before choosing this one.
Nicki - smells like kettle chips! It's light tasting and low in flavour, which I like.
Joel - Don't like this one.
Sean - smells like playdough and tastes like water with just very subtle hints of almonds.
Tiff - this one is more full bodied but quite tasteless which would be great for cooking. It has a before and after taste similar to an 'up and go'.
Jess - I use this almond milk quite a lot for porridge, bircher muesli and smoothies. I find that its not too sweet or over powering. I agree that it is a bit watery, but I think its best used with food rather than drank alone, or added to tea or coffee.
Vitasoy Unsweetened Almond Milk
This almond milk is made from whole almonds (3.8%), filtered water, calcium phosphate (providing 300mg calcium per serve), sunflower lecithin, sea salt, gellan (a vegetable gum for thickening) and natural flavour.
Dameon - underwhelming, similar to the almond breeze for me.
Nicki - I like this one, smooth and good consistency, easy to swallow. I like that it doesn’t not have a lot of flavour which can be over powering for me. It's a favourite.
Joel - like it, though it’s a bit watery.
Sean - tastes like the almond breeze, underwhelmingly rolls on by.
Tiff - I like it, similar to Nicki actually. It's not too sweet and I think it would be great for cooking.
Jess - I hadn't really tasted this one before but I must say its really nice for a store almond milk. It certainly is not chalky at all and I would use it in breakfast dishes and baking.
Pure Harvest Unsweetened Almond Milk
This almond milk is free from any sweeteners and has 8% almonds compared to the 2-3% in the above brands. It does not contain any oil and is flavoured with salt and almond essence. The ingredients are filtered water, activated almonds, organic brown rice, sea salt and almond essence.
Dameon - heaps better than the almond breeze, better consistency, can taste almonds. It's better than it looks.
Nicki - creamy flavour, prefers the others with less intense flavour.
Joel - like this one, it has a good texture.
Sean - much more almond, like this one as it has a good texture. Imagine it would be good in protein shakes. I'd recommend this one.
Tiff - more almonds in this one, not sweet at all. I like it.
Jess - I really like this almond milk too. It has a lovely texture and I like that it has that extra almond hit. Really creamy and great for breakfast and baking. Think I might try this a bit more now over the Almond Breeze!
Nutty Bruce Almond Milk
At the time of testing this milk was not available on the supermarket shelf (not in supermarkets near me anyway). I wanted to still include it as I think it is a fabulous milk option. Nutty Bruce almond milk is organic and made with filtered water, 7% almonds, rice syrup and sea salt. It is deliciously creamy and has a slight grain to it with the increased amount of almonds. It also has a shorter shelf life, as it is so natural in its form.
Pure Harvest Coco Quench
It is hard to find a coconut milk that is not filled with emulsifiers and stabilisers. This one by Pure Harvest is quite a goodie. It contains filtered water, organic coconut milk (20%), organic brown rice, sea salt.
Dameon - tastes like a combination of everything we have tried so far. I like this one, has not much flavour overall again with a sweet finish.
Nicki - leaves a strong punch afterwards. I don't like that the rice is dominant in this, I am really not a rice milk fan!
Joel - like this one, its sweet.
Sean - this takes me back to Thailand, I like it.
Tiff - I wouldn't put it in my coffee but I would do this in a smoothie. It has a strong flavour of its own, it's quite buttery in the mouth. I'd like it for certain purposes.
Jess - I like this milk for certain types of purposes as Tiff pointed out. The coconut has it's own flavour, which doesn't work with everything for me. I like to use this with sweet dishes and drinks, I wouldn't use it with a savoury sauce or a tart for instance. It's lovely as the base of a smoothie.
Nutty Bruce Almond & Coconut Milk
This blend of coconut and almond milk by Nutty Bruce is another quality option on supermarket shelves. It is made from filtered water, coconut milk (6%), almonds (5%), organic brown rice, brown rice syrup and sea salt. The brown rice syrup will add more sugars to this milk.
Dameon - I can't taste the coconut in this. It's okay, better than straight almond milk.
Nicki - I can just taste the coconut coming through, not too sweet. This is a favourite.
Joel - I like this one. It has good balance, but I can't taste coconut.
Sean - This doesn't taste like coconut, it's like a bounty bar with out sugar, chocolate, coconut and smiles (yes he said this), its okay.
Tiff - This is good all round. Smooth to drink, a little furry though in the mouth. It's my favourite milk so far, it's got a nice thickness.
Jess - This was the first time I had tasted this Nutty Bruce blend and I really like it. I usually have the 100% almond one, which is delicious (yet not in the supermarket so not included here). I think it’s clever that the coconut doesn't dominate. It's a nice all round creaminess. I think because of the richness it would work well in baking and sauces too. Would be delicious as a smoothie base and in breakfast dishes.
Vitasoy Oat Milk
This oat milk is made from filtered water, whole oats (min 15%),oat flour, tapioca flour, oat bran, calcium phosphate, sea salt and vitamin D. The naturally occurring sugar content is 3.8g per 250mls and it also provides 300mg of calcium.
Dameon - this is sweet and bitter at the same time. I don't like it.
Nicki - fuller body again, more sweet. I don't really like this one.
Joel - I like this, its got a sweeter taste.
Sean - This is a bit sweeter again, but then it rounds out to a bitter finish.
Tiff - I really like this. Its sweeter than I imagined it would be. It would be great for smoothies.
Jess - I am not a massive oat milk fan I must say. I find them a bit underwhelming. I would use them as a base to a bircher or a smoothie, but otherwise I find they can be a bit of a miss. This one is okay, but it's not a milk I personally would go for.
Pure Harvest Oat Milk
Pure Harvest trumps in again with this oat milk made from filtered water, organic whole oats (15%), organic sunflower oil and sea salt. The natural sugars do climb up in this one to 9.3g per 250ml serve.
Dameon - this has cereal notes with a bitter aftertaste. It's also a bit watery.
Nicki - I think it has quite a punch, more bitter on the back palette. I actually like it.
Joel - I like this, it has a raw oat flavour.
Sean - Its quite medicinal. I'd even say acidic, it makes me salivate.
Tiff - This tastes like the aftertaste of when you bring milk back up (sorry folks, I'm reporting the real deal here). It's acidic and oily. Don't like it.
Jess - As far as oat milks go this one has a bit more creaminess to it. I like it with oats or granola, but I'm not a fan of it with a hot drink at all. For me oat milks are really a milk that needs to be kept cold.
What are your favourite dairy free milks? I'd love to hear from you if I have missed one of your favourites...please comment below!