I grew up suspicious of dairy milk. Like so many Chinese families, my parents and I almost always drank soy milk for breakfast. We weren’t lactose intolerant. We didn’t think soy milk had any magical benefits. We just knew it tasted best, especially when hot and freshly ground, like coffee. (Yes, at 8 years old, I was already a snob about non-dairy milks. No, I didn’t grow up in Brooklyn!)
Nowadays, I’m more tolerant of the various types of milk out there. But I still drink non-dairy milks just for the taste—and I’m obsessed with trying out all the nutty, beany blends and origins. After a lifetime of playing soy sommelier, I’ve homed in on the best non-dairy milks—not based on alleged health properties or sustainability claims, but purely on taste. I can’t compare
apples almonds and oranges oats, so I’ve named the best non-dairy milk for lattes, cereal, smoothies, and all our other favorite ways to drink mylks, malks, and mülks.
The Best Milk for Lattes
This faintly tastes like…chocolate. I’m not kidding. Sproud’s Original Pea Milk does not taste like peas—instead, it has a vaguely bittersweet aftertaste that kind of reminds me of cacao. For some, it might be a little unusual to drink on its own, but I’ve discovered that a warm cup of coffee plus splashes of pea milk tastes almost like mocha, or at least like someone’s gently whispered the word “mocha” into the drink while brewing it. It’s nice.
The Best Milk for Smoothies
Milk goes in smoothies and hemp seed goes in smoothies, so Good Mylk’s Hemp Mylk is a double whammy. It tastes strong and earthy and really rich when blended with cacao powder, bananas, dates, and honey. The brand actually provides the milk as a concentrate (in a bag, fun) that you stir into water, so it’s a DIY hemp milk. I’ve found this quasi-homemade version to taste a bit textured and gritty, but I’m the kind of person who likes orange juice crammed with pulp, so I enjoy it.
The Best Milk for Drinking in a Whole Damn Glass
Wow, Minor Figures’s Barista Oat. I could drink a bathtub of it. How does water and oats taste like this??? Its texture is so creamy, and it tastes like cow’s milk amped up with a hint of natural sweetness. I’ve maniacally added this to everything, including coffee, cereal, and tea. At one point I found myself drinking more coffee just so I could drink more of this milk and realized that was a very bad way to be. Then I realized I could just drink the milk all by itself, and my life has never been the same since.
The Best Milk for Dunking Cookies
Willa’s Creamy Oat Milk features whole grain oats, so it’s full of protein and fiber and light on sugar—one cup includes fewer than three grams. And because it uses the whole oat, it’s also zero waste! Drink this oat milk to feel like a good person. As for its taste, the mouthfeel is super smooth and creamy, and because it’s less sweet than other oat milks, I’ve discovered it’s perfect for dunking Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, and any funky sugary cookies left over from the holidays (okay, maybe not the last one if you want to live).
The Best Milk for Oatmeals
This is rich and nutty and transforms a regular bowl of oatmeal into an enigmatic dish layered with flavor and secrets. I like adding almonds and all sorts of nuts to my oatmeal or muesli, so Elmhurst’s Unsweetened Milked Almonds brings me halfway there. I top my bowl with extra nuts and berries so I’m basically eating trail mix for breakfast. Like Willa’s, Elmhurst’s production process is also zero waste.
The Best Milk for Cereals
This is the OG. Silk’s Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk is the non-dairy milk I grew up drinking, and at this point, it’s a comfort bev. It doesn’t have fancy packaging or ingredients, but it’ll always be there for me. I don’t eat cereal that much, but when I do have a bowl of Kashi or Cinnamon Toast Crunch (more likely the latter tbh), this milk completes it. It tastes very mild and very creamy and very nostalgic. When I just want a taste of home, this is the one.