Your guide to choosing the right alternative milk for the recipe at hand.
We've got you covered when trying to convert your recipe to non dairy: From oat to pea, hemp to almond, you have a bunch of choices. When it comes to cooking or baking not all milks are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about cooking and baking with some of the popular alternatives.
How to Use Plant-Based Milks in Recipes
First, most non-dairy milks can be swapped cup for cup in most recipes. Double check the label to see whether you’ve bought sweetened or unsweetened as sweetened versions may impact the taste of some recipes.
Oat Milk: One of our favorites, creamy, tasty oat milk is a versatile cooking and baking ingredient. With a flavor that won’t overpower, can use it in baking recipes such as whoopie pies, and also for heartier dishes like mac and cheese. Add in coconut oil to thicken it up to a heavy cream consistency to make ice cream.
Almond Milk: Almond milk doesn’t adapt well with savorier dishes because of its inherently sweet flavor and its consistency makes using it for pie fillings a challenge. But you can use it as a cow’s milk substitute for many desserts and baked good recipes including pancakes, pound cakes, muffins, and biscuits.
Cashew Milk: Nut milks, such as cashew (and almond), are high in calcium, vitamin E, and tend to have the lowest calorie content of non-dairy milks. Cashew milk is very creamy and is a good choice for drinking, adding to coffee or pouring over cereal. It can be used in cooking and baking, and in both sweet and savory dishes. Its neutral flavor and creamy white color make it perfect for sauces. When making a bechamel, an alfredo, or adding a “dairy” base to soup, cashew milk works best because its neutral flavor remains neutral when heated and cooked.
Hemp Milk: This thick and creamy non-dairy gem works great in baked dishes, but its nutty flavor works especially well with anything savory – think hemp muffins or freshly baked bread. Not great in sweet dishes.
Coconut: There are 2 kinds of coconut milk, each with very different consistencies and nutrient profiles. You have the beverage found in the dairy and plant-based milk aisle and the canned version (similar in texture to a condensed milk). Use the beverage from the refrigerated dairy aisle for your coffee drinks and smoothies, and the canned coconut milks for recipes that call for something thick and rich, such as ice cream and curry. Keep in mind, the milk will add a coconut flavor to the dish.
Flax Milk: Not as easy to find depending on your market, you can sub it for cow’s milk in any recipe where the milk isn’t being used to thicken the dish. For instance, its a no-no for chocolate ganache or in Alfredo sauce but will work for a coffee cake. Flax milk is thin and smooth. It can be poured over cereal or into coffee or enjoyed straight out of the glass. Flax milk can be used in recipes both sweet and savory but be sure to buy the unsweetened type for savory recipes
Pea Milk: We were skeptical of this one at first, too, but this milk made from yellow peas (it’s not green) is another versatile non-dairy milk. It works in your coffee but you can also use it to make ice cream, mac and cheese, muffin and cake batters, and more sweet and savory dishes.
Rice Milk: Rice milks are thin and it's sweet taste makes it a good choice for desserts and its delicate texture makes it work well in soups and light sauces but it may be too sweet for more savory recipes. Use in sweet recipes or use it as-is for glazes where rice milk’s natural thinness will work to your advantage
Soy: Probably the easiest alternative milk to use when baking as it has a similar texture, protein and fat count to dairy milk. It holds together well when heated and will even work well in custards, which is one of the hardest things to make without traditional cow’s milk.