Fortunately for anyone reading this, we are no longer living in the noughties when plant-based milk alternatives consisted of just soya or rice milk. I remember how sad my cups of tea used to look with this weird white rice liquid swimming around on the surface, never quite fully blending into the hot tea.
Most supermarkets and grocery stores now stock shelves worth of non-dairy milk, both in the fridge section and in the long-life area. Including everything from oat, pea, soya, rice, almond, coconut and hemp milk.
So, the question is no longer, “Is there any good plant-based milk out there?!”, but actually “What is the best plant-based milk for me?”
I’m afraid the answer isn’t simply one vegan milk, because I have found it depends on what you are using it for. Oh, and it depends on your taste of course. The trick is to try different ones out and see what works for you. But first of all, you can start by reading my favourite plant-based milk based on its use, whether that is for your morning cup of coffee, or for that vegan cake you are baking this weekend.
My top picks
- Best vegan milk for tea and coffee: Califia Farms
- Best powdered vegan milk: Overherd
- Best vegan milk for cereal: Rebel Kitchen
- Best vegan milk for cooking: Oatly
- Best pea milk: Sproud
- Best vegan milk for smoothies: Koko
- Best vegan milk for baking: Alpro soya milk
What is the best plant-based milk?
There are so many incredible vegan milk alternatives out there so let me take you through my top picks. Each non-dairy milk that I have chosen has one specific use that I have found works perfectly. However, if you are looking for a good all-rounder then I recommend oat milk, like Califia Farms or Oatly.
Here is a round-up of my favourite plant-based milk alternatives.
Best vegan milk for tea & coffee
Califia Farms Oat Milk Barista Blend
This oat milk is the ultimate plant-based milk when it comes to coffee and tea. I’d go as far as to say that this is better than Oatly’s Barista milk, which is the one you’ll see being used in most coffee shops.
It mixes really nicely into hot drinks and has a really creamy mouthfeel. I also recommend giving it a go with your next vegan hot chocolate. Even better, if you can froth up your milk at home then this makes the most delicious vegan flat whites and lattes.
I have made loads of non-vegan friends and family members a coffee with Califia Farms milk and they’ve been very impressed with the taste and the consistency. It blends into the coffee nicely and adds a creaminess to it that most people are used to with cow’s milk.
They do both long-life and fresh versions so you can keep your fridge full and your cupboards fully stocked for emergencies.
Best powdered vegan milk
Overherd Oat Milk Powder
This may start reading like a love note to Overherd, but I am absolutely enamoured by this vegan milk powder. When it comes to sustainability, Overherd is completely smashing it. Say goodbye to all that annoying Tetra Pak because this vegan milk powder comes delivered inside a recyclable pouch with enough to make 8 litres of the good stuff!
On top of this, the ingredients list is super clean and accessible. Not only do they use gluten-free oats (yay) the powder is also fortified with Vitamin B12 and calcium.
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding (or the oat milk) and in the case of Overherd, I am more than impressed by the results. It mixes really easily and smoothly into the water with just a few shakes and it is creamy enough to use in cereal, tea and coffee. Although, if you are used to having barista oat milk then you may find it a little less creamy.
I love that you can vary the amount of powder that you use to achieve different consistencies of creaminess, meaning you can change it up depending on what you are using it with. I go with extra creamy for coffee and the normal serving size for pairing with vegan cereals and porridge.
Something that has become very apparent to me since using this is the food waste you can avoid creating when having an oat milk powder. The powder itself lasts for a while and you can make batches as and when you need. Genius!
Best vegan milk for cereal
Rebel Kitchen Organic Whole Mylk
This is quite easily the best plant-based whole milk alternative. Made up of cashews, oat, rice, and hemp, it is really thick and has a really creamy feel to it. Which is why I think it works really nicely with vegan-friendly cereals.
You could also just drink this plant-based milk by the glassful, I definitely do!
It has a really nice taste to it that actually resembles the mouthfeel of cow’s milk. Although, not so much that you will think it is cow’s milk because if you are anything like me then you may find the smell and taste of cow’s milk became a bit sickening after going vegan. It is just a full-bodied drink with loads of layers of flavour to it that makes it a tasty drink, not like watery almond milk.
They also use gluten-free oats meaning this product is gluten-free. On top of this, they fortify the milk with calcium.
Best vegan milk for cooking
Oatly Original Oat Milk
Okay, yes this is the third oat milk product on this list, but if you are cooking anything creamy then this really neutral-tasting oat milk from Oatly is perfect for you (like my vegan oat milk miso ramen). I also love oat milk and it has fast become one of the most popular vegan milk alternatives on the market, and products like this show just how incredible it can be.
You can use Oatly just like you would use cow’s milk to make a bechamel sauce. Or you can blend it up with some silken tofu and cream cheese for a cheat’s white sauce (like this silken tofu white sauce base recipe).
Oatly also does a barista version of this milk which is great in coffee. It is what you’ll often find being used in independent coffee shops and cafes.
Their oat milk is fortified with Vitamin D, Riboflavin and Vitamin B12. But the oats aren’t gluten-free so this is a no-no for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or allergy.
It comes in both a long-life and fresh version which is great for stocking up the cupboards and fridge!
Best pea milk
Sproud Pea Protein Milk
Now I’m not going to lie to you here, this isn’t the best-tasting plant-based milk alternative, but it is one of the best milk alternatives with the most protein whilst also remaining low in calories.
I love using this pea milk in my protein shakes with a good quality vegan protein powder. The other shake ingredients help to add taste and the milk helps to boost the protein levels.
Sproud also fortify their milk with Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Calcium and Vitamin B12, which alongside the protein makes this a very healthy milk indeed!
It is a little bit thinner than oat milk so I wouldn’t be putting this into your tea or coffee anytime soon.
Best vegan milk for smoothies
Koko Coconut Milk
Koko creates the best coconut milk that you can buy in the UK due to the fact that it is one of the least coconutty tasting coconut milk products. I find many of them taste really artificial, but this is much more natural tasting.
It doesn’t overpower anything and I find it works really well with fruit smoothies, particularly tropical fruit smoothies. I actually also sometimes don’t mind it mixed in with an iced coffee on a warm sunny day!
They offer a small range of coconut milk with a few of them being fortified with Calcium and Vitamins D & B12, but they also offer a Super option which has 9 essential vitamins and minerals included.
Best vegan milk for baking
Alpro Soya Milk
Many recipes for baked goods call for milk. Luckily for vegans, we can replace like-for-like with soya milk. And some of the best soya milk comes from the OGs, Alpro.
Soya milk binds really well in baking due to its really high protein content (the highest of all plant-based milk). It allows your bakes to maintain good structure, like in this vegan buttermilk pancake recipe.
It is pretty mild-tasting milk but soya does have a particular taste that I can’t quite describe and this can be detected when mixed in with coffee and tea.
That being said, Alpro does plenty of great soya milk products all of which are made using soya crops from North America or Europe making it a more environmentally-friendly soya option. It is great to see how transparent they are about their ingredient sourcing!
Their soya milk is also fortified with Calcium, Vitamin B12, B2 & D.
Frequently asked questions
Here are my answers to all your FAQs about plant-based milk.
What is plant-based milk?
Plant-based milk is a cow’s milk alternative that is made from natural ingredients, like nuts and grains. Popular examples include oat milk, soya milk and coconut milk. Plant-based milk is made to replicate cow’s milk and therefore can be consumed or used in the same way as any other milk, whether that be for tea, baking, or cooking.
Why drink plant-based milk?
If you are vegan and you are wondering whether you should include vegan milk in your diet, then I’d definitely suggest incorporating it to help get extra nutrients into your diet. This is because plant-based milk is often fortified with vitamins and minerals that you also find in dairy products, like calcium, but the ingredients to make the milk also have their own nutritional benefits. This is important for your health and wellness.
Moreover, if you aren’t vegan and you want to know why you should be drinking vegan milk then I’d say you should definitely be drinking it to help with the environment and to end animal suffering. The dairy industry causes mass suffering for animals and has damaging effects on the environment. Plant-based alternatives are kinder to animals and the environment.
Is plant-based milk healthy?
Plant-based milk is definitely a healthy alternative, but it does somewhat depend on the specific type of plant-based milk and your dietary needs and preferences.
Most plant-based milk is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and can be a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially if it is fortified with additional nutrients. For example, soy milk is a good source of protein and calcium, while almond milk is low in calories and high in vitamin E.
However, some plant-based milk may contain added sugars or thickeners, so it’s important to check the label and choose unsweetened varieties when possible. Additionally, some people may be allergic to certain types of plant-based milk, so it’s important to be aware of any potential allergies or intolerances.