By Sheela Prakash
The world of alternative milks is so vast these days it’s enough to make your head spin. That’s good news if you’re looking to branch out from your usual almond milk routine but it can be daunting to know where to start. Beyond actual nutrition, how the alt milk tastes and what its mouth feel is like is a good start when deciding which to buy. The best, in my opinion, should at least try to be as rich and creamy as dairy milk, so if you add a splash to your coffee, it’s actually worth your while. Here are 5 of the creamiest:
1. Oat Milk
Oat milk is currently the darling of the alternative milk world. Perhaps you’ve seen it popping up as an option as almost every cool coffee shop in the past year or two. The reason it hasn’t gone anywhere yet is because it’s got a great mouthfeel and really does mimic dairy milk when added to coffee — it even froths well when used to make lattes and other drinks. One note: If you’re gluten-free, you may want to make your own as common store-bought brands can often be made with non-gluten-free oats.
2. Coconut Milk
If you’ve eaten a Thai curry before, you know just how rich and creamy coconut milk is, not to mention the signature flavor it delivers. To be clear though, there are few options when it comes to coconut milk. For everyday drinking, the refrigerated (or shelf-stable) cartons that are with the rest of the alternative milks are your best option. It’s more diluted than the canned stuff, which is better for cooking and baking. It’s still plenty creamy, though, so no need to worry about it watering down your smoothie.
3. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is quite similar to almond milk in that it has a mildly nutty flavor but it benefits from having a thicker, creamier texture. Many cartons of cashew milk are actually a mix of both cashews and almonds, but I particularly like Elmhurst 1925 cashew milk which is simply cashews and filtered water. You can, of course, make it yourself, too.
4. Hemp Milk
Hemp milk is hardly as popular as the first three mentioned, but maybe it should be. It’s even nutty in flavor than almond milk and creamy without being too rich. Oh, and just so you know, drinking it won’t get you high. While it’s made from the same plant that marijuana comes from, you’re not consuming the “drug” component of the plant, which is called THC.
5. Pea Milk
One of the newest alternative milks on the market, pea milk might seem confusing at first. How can a milk made from peas be creamy, let alone taste good? First of all, it’s not made from the green peas you pushed around on your plate as a kid. It’s made from yellow peas, which are a type of field pea that’s grown to be dried and consumed like split peas in soups, stews, and curries. Pea milk is surprisingly thick and creamy and doesn’t actually taste like peas at all, rather it’s mildly nutty.