Taste Test: Milks Not From a Cow
"Hemp milk, like hemp necklaces, should be avoided."
Of all the taste tests here at Serious Eats, this one probably wins for least likely to make us fatter. Milk does a body good, but what about milk that doesn't come from a cow? Does it do a body nauseous? We tried vanilla "milks" made of soy, almonds, rice, goats, oats, and even hemp (sorry, no yaks). Judging was based on taste, texture, color, and ability to properly wash down a PB&J.
If you're lactose-intolerant or just looking for an alternative to the old-fashioned cows' milk, see which brands are drinkable.
Best Soy Milk
Silk: Of all the soy milks we tried, this was definitely the least offensive, both in taste and color. While it has a pretty pronounced soy aftertaste, something like liquid tofu, it kind of grows on you. Throw it into coffee or cereal to add some non-dairy pizazz. silksoymilk.com
Passable Soy Milk
Trader Joe's Generic Brand: Does it taste like milk? No, not really at all. It's much sweeter and that camel color--what your cereal milk turns after the cereal infusion part--is a little disorienting. But if you get past that, it's really not that bad. traderjoes.com
Best Almond Milk
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze: While it deserves credit for not tasting like cardboard, it doesn't necessarily taste like almonds either. Sweeter, almost on milkshake terms, it was more like a chocolate bar with almonds. It definitely beat competing brand Pacific Natural Foods, which you should do yourself a favor and never put in your mouth. bluediamond.com
Best Animal Milk Not From a Cow
Meyenberg Goats' Milk: Finally, a liquid that doesn't remind us of hospital colors! It was white (automatic points). The only way to describe the taste? Goaty. It definitely came from a goat. It's always good to be true to your name. If you've ever felt like chèvre should come in liquid form, drink this. meyenberg.com
Most Like Skim Milk
Rice Dream: Thin and runny, this didn't have the chalkiness that many of the others did. Like skim milk, this doesn't leave a lasting impression but maybe our palates were just rocked too hard by the goats' milk. It was definitely too sweet for a PB&J pairing. tastethedream.com
Organic EdenSoy: This was the loser of the soy milk category. Not only was it the most unappetizing shade of milk (a brownish blech) it tasted like you just swallowed a chalkboard. edenfoods.com
Pacific Natural Foods Oat: Yes, oat milk exists. The leading brand Oatly is actually a huge hit in Europe. Made from oat groats (hulled grain broken into oat fragments), it's mixed with water, barley, and other grains. Oatmeal enthusiasts: this will depress you. Stick with the warm cereal goop. At its best, oat milk tastes like cookie juice, but there are also hints of Robitussin. pacificfoods.com
Hemp Dream: Though we scored on a 1-to-5 scale, this earned a negative five million. It tastes like rope. Gray with unappetizing flecks, hemp milk, like hemp necklaces, should be avoided. tastethedream.com