Non-Dairy Milks

Why buy non-dairy milk from the store when you can easily and inexpensively make your own from nuts, seeds and grains? Below are four step-by-step recipes for making almond, pecan, oat and rice milks.

Why non-dairy milk? Why would a person want to make their own non-dairy milk, you ask? Ah, there are many reasons. While most grocery stores today carry a wide variety of non-dairy milks, it remains a challenge to find them without oil, salt and sugar. This is the main reason I make my own most of the time, because I know what I’m getting. Additionally, the milks I make at home taste great and save me a bit of money. Making your own non-dairy milk takes more time than picking it up from the store shelf, but they are easy to make once you get the hang of it. Now, if you’re wondering why it’s healthier to consume non-dairy milks in the first place (as opposed to cow’s milk), you can read about that here.

Strainers: All of the recipes below require some type of fine strainer to thoroughly separate the milk from the ground nuts or grains (after soaking and blending). There are a few ways to strain your non-dairy milk. You can use a nut-milk bag, made just for this purpose, which costs around $8 per bag. You can also use cotton cheesecloth, which is found in most grocery and kitchen supply stores for about $5 per 3 square yards. I have even heard of people using paint straining bags found at hardward stores, which run about $1 or less per nylong bag.

You can often find nut-milk bags at health food stores but they are easily ordered online as well (in cotton, hemp, nylon). I like my nylon nut-milk bag because it’s sturdy and is easy to wash (be sure to wash right after using, turning it inside out a couple times to get all the bits out). As for the paint strainer bags, my understanding is that the nylon used is not “commercial grade” or “food grade,” which may be of concern to some people. In my research I have not found a definitive explanation about the difference between the nylons used, only that “food grade” is of greater purity. Maybe it is akin to organic vs. non-organic: there are those who wouldn’t touch anything non-organic while others don’t see buying organic as a priority. If this issue is not of concern to you, the paint bags are a great value. However, my nutmilk bag cost $8 and I have used it repeatedly and it is still in great shape. So while the initial investment is more, the sturdiness and peace of mind about how it is made may be worth it to you. (See page 1 of my online store to find nylon nut-milk bags).

Blenders and storage: As for blenders, any type will work. I prefer to use my high-speed blender (like a Vitamix) but a standard blender will work well too. For storing your non-dairy milk, I like to use a 32-oz. mason jar. I like these big jars because they are glass, they hold a lot of liquid, they are easy to pour from, and their wide mouths make them a breeze to wash. (You will also find blenders and mason jars listed on page 1 of my store).

Uses and flavor: While almond and pecan milks are perfectly flavored all on their own, other milks such as rice and oat are a little less flavorful, not to mention that they have less fat in them, so they are less rich. To boost the flavor of any non-dairy milk, you may add some vanilla extract and/or cinnamon (which I have noted below in each recipe as optional), or anything you like. Sometimes I blend in a half of a banana or a few strawberries with a batch of non-dairy milk. Experiment and find the balance of flavor and richness that suits you. I mostly use non-dairy milks on my oatmeal or other hot grain cereals in the morning, over fruit, in baking, or in sauces and creamy soups. I don’t often drink a glass of non-dairy milk, but use it more as a condiment. Nut and seed milks are higher in fat than grain milks, so you may want to keep this in mind if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake.

Many options: There are many ways to go about making non-dairy milks, and I have attempted to present the easiest methods here. I have started with just four types of non-dairy milk, but I look forward to adding more recipes as I experiment with them, so check back. Other non-dairy milks I am interested in trying are soy, hemp, sesame, hazelnut, pistachio, and cashew. If you have ideas or suggestions to share, please add them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! These milks will keep for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.

ALMOND MILK

Almond milk is a very popular non-dairy milk, and is probably the one that is most like cow’s milk in appearance and texture; it’s bright white and fairly rich. If you’re trying to get your kids off of dairy, this is a good option to start with. I have also made a quick version of almond milk using almond butter and just blending it with some water when I didn’t have nuts on hand. But I did notice that it was harder on my digestion, likely because it had been refined to a degree (refined foods are harder for the body to process). Almond butter can be found near the peanut butter, and quality brands that are organic and raw can be expensive, between $10 and $15 for a 16-oz. jar.

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup almonds (preferably raw, non-roasted, no salt; skin-on is okay)
4 cups water
Optional: vanilla extract and/or ground cinnamon to taste

Directions
1. I use a 1:4 nut to milk ratio with my almond milk, but feel free to experiment with it to find the ratio you like best. But start with 1:4 first and adjust after that.

2. Place the almonds into a bowl and cover them with two cups water. Let soak for 24 hours (if it’s hot out, keep them covered in the refrigerator).

3. After the almonds have soaked, drain the water off and place the almonds into a blender (preferably a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix) with the 4 cups of remaining water and blend on high for at least 1 minute until the nuts are thoroughly ground. The water will turn white, like cow’s milk. (If you are using a small blender, do in two batches: 1/2 cup almonds, 2 cup water, then repeat).

4. Holding your nut-milk bag over a large bowl, pour the water and ground almonds from your blender through the bag. Squeeze the bag (gently at first while it’s full) until all the water has filtered through and only dry, chalky pulp is left (toward the end, give it a few really good twists and squeezes). Discard the pulp (or save it and use in another recipe, such as muffins. I’ve not done this but have heard of people doing it).

5. Pour your almond milk into a storage container; I like wide-mouth mason jars (as shown in the photos below; mine hold about 2 pints/4 cups). If you want it richer, you can use less water, or if you want to make it thinner and stretch it further, I have used a ratio of 1:5; I like a thinner milk. I would start with 1:4 and see how you like it, and then adjust to your taste by adding a bit more water.

PECAN MILK

Pecan milk is probably my favorite non-dairy milk, as it has a naturally subtle brown sugar sweetness to it. Pecans are also a very soft nut, so they can be soaked overnight or not soaked at all (this is also true with walnuts). I love pecan milk over fruit with a little cinnamon.

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup pecans (preferably raw, non-roasted, no salt)
4 cups water
Optional: vanilla extract and/or ground cinnamon to taste

Directions
1. I use a 1:4 ratio with my pecan milk (1 part pecans, 4 parts water), just as with my almond milk; but feel free to experiment with it to find the ratio you like best. Pecans do not need to be soaked as long as almonds, as they are a much softer nut; 8 hours/overnight is sufficient. Because pecans are soft, in a pinch you can also get by without soaking them at all. In this case, start with step 3 below.

2. Place the pecans into a bowl and cover them with two cups water. Cover and let soak for 8 hours/overnight (if it’s hot out, keep them in the refrigerator).

3. After the pecans have soaked, drain the water off and place them into a blender (preferably a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix) with the 4 cups of remaining water and blend on high for at least 1 minute until the nuts are thoroughly ground. (If you are using a small blender, do in two batches: 1/2 cup pecans, 2 cup water, then repeat).

4. Holding your nut-milk bag over a large bowl, pour the water and ground pecans from your blender through the bag. Squeeze the bag (gently at first while it’s full) until all the water has filtered through and only the dry pulp is left (toward the end, give it a few really good twists and squeezes). Discard the pulp (or save it and use in another recipe if you like).

5. Pour your pecan milk into a storage container, such as a wide-mouth mason jar (mine hold 32 ounces/4 cups). If you want your milk richer, you can use less water, or if you want to make it thinner and stretch it further, I have used a ratio of 1:5. I would start with 1:4 and see how you like it, and then adjust to your taste by adding a bit more water.

OAT MILK

Oat milk is an inexpensive and easy-to-make non-dairy option. It’s got a nice, earthy taste to it.

Ingredients
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup rolled oats (slow-cook “rolled oats” variety)
2 cups hot water
Optional: vanilla extract and/or ground cinnamon to taste

Directions
1. For Oat Milk, I again use a 1:4 ratio (1 part oats to 4 parts water), but as noted previously, feel free to experiment with the taste to find the ratio you like best.

2. In a bowl, add 2 cups of hot water to the 1/2 cup of rolled oats, and stir. Let sit for 8 hours/overnight. Oats, like pecans, do not need to be soaked as long as almonds, as rolled oats are already very soft (rolled oats are whole oats that have been steamed and rolled flat), so soaking overnight is sufficient.

3. Instead of draining off the soak water in this case (which isn’t really possible since the oats will have absorbed so much of it after soaking), simply pour the soak water and the oats into your blender. Blend on high for at least 1 minute.

4. Pour the oat-water mixture through your nut-milk bag. After you have squeezed as much liquid as possible out (what’s left in the bag will be quite gooey at this point), send 2 additional cups of water through and squeeze thoroughly.

5. Pour your oat milk into a storage container. This recipe will yield about 4 cups of oat milk. If you want it richer, you can use less water, or if you want to make it thinner and stretch it further, add a bit more water.

RICE MILK

Rice milk is starchy and somewhat viscous, so in this recipe I have added more water than with the other non-dairy milk recipes here. Rice milks that are bought in the store also tend to be on the thin side, so you will notice that with this recipe too; it’s thinner and a bit murky in color compared to almond milk. Finding rice milk in the stores that does not contain oil can require a thorough search; and companies will often change their ingredients, so be sure to check those labels every so often. The upside of making your own rice milk is that it’s pretty fast (you don’t need to soak the rice overnight), and it’s very inexpensive to make compared to nut milks (a 1/2 cup of organic, raw almonds can cost around $2.50 while a 1/2 cup of organic brown rice costs around $.75). Rice milk has a milder flavor than nut milks, so I usually add the optional vanilla and/or cinnamon in this case.

Ingredients
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
6 cups water
Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and/or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
1. For Rice Milk, the ratio is greater than with the above milks, about 1:6. But as noted, experiment with it and find the balance that you like best.

2. In a small pot, combine the 1/2 cup of rice with the 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 50 minutes (or according to the type of rice you’re using). Take off heat and let stand 10 minutes covered.

3. Place the cooked rice into your blender with 3 cups of the remaining water (or all 6 cups if it will fit in your blender; otherwise do this in 2 batches). Blend on high for at least 1 minute.

4. Pour the rice-water mixture through your nut-milk bag. After you have squeezed as much liquid as possible out, send the remaining cups of water through and squeeze thoroughly. (The leftover rice “pulp” in the bag is actually quite tasty and can be used for breakfast poridge or pudding; just heat it up with some milk and raisins.)

5. Pour your Rice Milk into a storage container; I like wide-mouth mason jars (as shown in the photos; mine hold about 2 pints/4 cups). This recipe will yield about 6 cups of rice milk. If you want it richer, you can use less water, or if you want to make it thinner and stretch it further, add a bit more water.

Above: Pecan milk (left) with plums is more golden in color, while the almond milk (right) is much whiter.

Above: Rice milk in a 32-oz. mason jar, and a synthetic nut-milk bag.

Above: rice milk

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Comments

  1. You’ve made it sound so easy. I think I’ll give making my own rice milk a try.

  2. Thank you! You’ve re-inspired me to make my own almond milk again instead of buying commercial unsweetened soy milk. (Luckily, I can find a brand that is just soybeans and water, though.) Now…what to do with that almond pulp? Vanilla no-sugar cookies? Almond pulp crackers? Almond-banana-chai cookies? Raw nut-pulp hummus? Carrot muffins? Crunchy oaty cereal? I’ll let you know…

  3. I love making my own nut milks as well. They taste so much better (and are better for you) than store-bought! I really like a combo of cashews and almonds…

  4. Teresa Kruys says:

    I make my own soy milk all thetime. I use the SoyQuick machine. It is extremely quick and easy and I know what is in the milk. I usually just make plain soy milk but sometimes I make other kinds or mixtures like soy hazelnut. The leftover pulp is excellent for cooking with.

  5. Yes, making non-dairy milk seems easy enough. My concern is that most store bought non-dairy milds are fortified with vitamins such as B-12, D, and Calcium, and homemade milks lose out on the fortified vitamins. Any thoughts?

    • J, I’ve heard that the fortification of packaged foods like milk and cereal is not the best quality and is often a fractions of what is advertised on the package due to processing. It’s better to get these nutrients from natural sources: B-12, I take a weekly supplement. The D I get from the sun (for those who cannot get sun they get it from D supplements or drops or tanning beds). the calcium can be obtained from greens primarily. I get an annual blood test to make sure all my levels are within range. D and B-12 are extra but worth it. :)

  6. Thanks for the great tutorial. Do you think a fine chinois would work as well as the nut bag?

  7. I have a question…..With Aalmond milk I have a large container of thin sliced raw almonds could I use these just not have to soak as long?

  8. Very helpful and excellent review. I’m so excited to go over the content which is really high quality. Good Job! :)

  9. Annette Joubert says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for your website – it is really inspiring.
    I also make almond milk and use the pulp for a nut “cheese”. Add some chopped parsley, cilantro leaves and spring onions (or scallions) to taste. Add some lemon juice to taste and a bit of olive oil (optional). I add a little salt but that is also optional. You can open a pro-bio-tic capsule and mix the contents with the “cheese”. Add a little water if necessary to get the right consistency, This is delicious with salads or crackers or can be used as a paté.

    Annette from South Africa.

  10. Thank you for your awesome posts and recipes. Love your blog. I make my own nut milks – but I don’t strain them. They are creamy and frothy. I use a handful of raw nuts – usually walnuts or almonds.

  11. Georgianne says:

    I was inspired to use coconut water instead of regular water in your almond milk recipe, and it tastes incredible! I got the idea From an article in VegNews, where a guy is bottling it and selling it in California. It provides just the right amount of sweetness!

    Thanks for your ever inspiring recipes! I’ve been following you for months!

    Georgianne
    Chicago, IL

    • Hi Georgianne, that sounds great, thanks for the tip! Thank you for the recipe love, I really enjoy coming up with them and putting them out there to the world ;-)

  12. Susan Vickers says:

    Can these products be frozen after making?
    Have you tried it?
    Thanks so much.

    • Hi Susan, I don’t know, I’ve never tried freezing non-dairy milks. I’m thinking it wouldn’t work too well, but give it a try and let me know how it turns out :)

  13. June matranga says:

    I really enjoy coffee. I would enjoy it more if I could replace the dairy creamer . Has anyone used the nut milks.? I have tried almond & soy just not the same.

    • Hi June, I don’t drink coffee so am not sure. I think soy is the thickest of the non dairy milks. Maybe cashew or help milk would be good, or a hazelnut flavored non-dairy milk.

      • June, have you tried coconut milk with a little vanilla? I agree, soy and almond milk both seem to water down the flavor. Coconut milk might be better!

        • Great thing about nut milks are that you can make them as thin or thick as you want. Got a vitamix for Christmas and cashew milk was the first one I made. I made it a little too thick at the beginning and had to water it down, but it was like cream–I put it in my coffee and it was great! Plus it didn’t get as grainy as the almond and pecan milks I’ve made since. Still tinkering!

  14. I haven’t tried these yet but I really want to! How long would they keep in the fridge? I think my store-bought rice milk usually lasts about a week before the taste changes, would it be about the same?

    • Hi, yes, about the same I’d say. :)

    • I have been making the oat milk recipe for about 3 weeks . It keeps really well..I drink all of it within a week..and it still tastes fine!!
      I really am enjoying the taste of it…even just an ice cold glass ot it!

      • Good to know about the oat milk, thanks! I usually do the almond and it just tastes so good, and yes, keeps very well too. Plus there’s something about making it yourself that makes it more special :)

        • Is oat milk supposed to be slimy… I tried making it once, and it was very slimy…same with rice…. I have some nuts soaking now, and will be trying almond, cashew, and pecan milks later… I am making extremely diluted versions though (6 nuts per cup of water, in order to keep the calories at an acceptable level…. that is the main reason I have not been making my own nut milks – the store bought ones can be as low as 30 cal/cup, but most of the recipes I see on line come to well over 100! Hopefully the 6 nuts to one cup of water will work out… that will come to about 42 cal/cup… still more than the 30 in the Silk Almond I am using now, but am willing to accept that if this stuff tastes good – and knowing it only contains nuts and water!!

          • Hi Nikki, yes, oat milk as well as rice milk will have a pretty different taste and feel than nut/seed milks. I believe they add oil and other things (carageenen, guar gum) to certain store-bought milks to help with this odd feel and thin texture. I try to avoid those ingredients, so just accept the oddness of these certain milks when made at home. You will notice quite a difference with fattier nut/seed milks. They will taste richer and look and feel more like cow’s milk (although still not as thick/rich). Diluting with water is a great idea, and I find that I get used to anything I’m drinking on a regular basis (even if fairly diluted). Almond and pecan are among my favorites, but these nuts can be very expensive (and high-fat), so that’s why I include other grain options. I don’t think about calories because I eat such an overall low-fat diet and only use milks in baking and on my hot grain cereals; but it is interesting to note how much they can vary. Thanks for the comments! ;-)

          • you realize the calorie difference is simply more water…? Pick the lowest calorie nut, if you don’t want rice, then just dilute it down. Also remember that measuring calories in an extraction is dicy — a commercial press will get much more milk, and thus calories, than you can ever get at home. Look at the bigger picture — you are talking about a small difference in calories that probably falls within the margin of error anyway!

  15. I have a recipe for Chia mIlk that I like a lot.

    2 Tbsp. Chia seeds
    1 Tbsp. Walnuts
    2 & 1/2 cups water

    In a jar or glass, soak seeds and walnuts overnight in 1 & 1/2 cups of water. Pour into blender jar, add another 1/2 cup of water, and turn on blender, running it at medium speed.

    Add 1/2 cup more of water. Blend only until smooth.

    Thank you for the other milk recipes and the food recipes too. I found your site at Forks Over Knives.

  16. I froze the oat milk…..turned out just fine when thawed!

  17. I am new to a plant-base, whole-foods diet, and am excited to get started. I especially want to try making my own plant-milk. The problem is that my husband and I have created a surplus of storable foods (like wheat and rice; to use when we can’t make it to the store or are tight on money) and all we have is white rice. Will white rice work?

    • Hi Tracey, yay! Yes, making plant milks is fun and the taste is so great. Unless you’re gluten intolerant, you wouldn’t need to get rid of the wheat. The white rice is a toss up. Brown is better for health, since the most nutritious parts of the grain have been left intact, but there’s much worse you could be eating than white rice. Check out this 2 minute video by Dr. McDougall on this very subject: http://www.drmcdougall.com/video/mcdougalls_moments_white_rice.html.

  18. Susan Vickers says:

    Just wondering what others do with the left over pulp from various non-dairy milks….especially the oat milk?
    Susan.

  19. Susan Vickers says:

    Hello Cathy…
    With the oat milk pulp .I keep in in the fridge until the next morning and cook it, the same as with oatmeal,only less time on the stove….tastes great…and no waste!

  20. I LOVE hazelnut milk and hazelnut hot chocolate is the best. I roast the hazelnuts in the oven (300 for 20 minutes), then rub off the skins with a towel. Then vitamix and strain (sometimes I don’t strain if I’m in the mood for a little texture in my hot chocolate). Then back in the vitamix, A few dates and some cocoa powder… and you have the best hot chocolate of your life.

  21. oh and people have told me they dehydrate the nut pulp to make almond meal and hazelnut meal but I haven’t tried that yet.

  22. Thank you fir the recipes!
    Can you add almonds to oat milk? Like half half?

  23. Elizabeth Greenaway says:

    I love adding 1/4 cup of hemp seeds and an extra cup of water when making your almond milk recipe. It is really creamy, but has to be shaken well before use. Remember to scald containers and straining bags before making and storing the milk .

    • Thanks Elizabeth! :) What do you mean by scald and why do this?

      • Elizabeth Greenaway says:

        I read a recipe for making plant milk which claimed we should sterilize our containers (with boiling water) for safety sake. Maybe that’s overkill, but, in any case, it probably increases shelf life a bit. Not that our milk lasts long enough to worry! :)

  24. Wonderful oat milk! Thank you! I use organic, gluten free oats. I got the nut bag. It was easy to make and saves us money and I don’t react to it.

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