As recently as 10 years ago, soy milk was associated with granola-loving hippies, but today it seems like everyone is buying plant-based milks. In fact, the global market for non-dairy milks is expected to hit more than $16 billion this year.
Maybe you’re already part of this crowd and make your smoothies with cashew milk or request oat milk in your lattes. But those aren’t the only ways to use these liquids.
“Plant milks can do anything cow’s milk can do, which means you can use them with cereal, in baking and to make cream sauces and desserts,” says Virginia Messina, RD, a specialist in vegan nutrition.
Follow these expert recommendations for how to best use each nondairy milk, and don’t be scared to experiment. You’ll likely find you prefer certain milks in specific recipes and also on their own. In the end, trust your taste buds.
THE BEST USES FOR NON-DAIRY MILK
The mildly sweet flavor of almond milk means it won’t overpower the rest of the flavors in smoothies, Messina says.
Cashew milk is creamier than almond or rice milks and has a fairly neutral flavor, Messina says, which makes it a good choice for creamed spinach or kale.
Since coconuts are higher in fat, this milk is the best for creamy, decadent desserts such as pudding or mousse.
“Combine it with tahini, lemon juice and herbs to make a creamy sauce that provides essential omega-3 fats,” Messina suggests. Serve this sauce on baked sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables and on burrito bowls.
Hemp milk has a creamy mouthfeel, so use it to create savory sauces, like alfredo, Messina says. As a bonus, you’ll get some omega-3s with your fettuccine.
Hamshaw, who is also a recipe developer and nutritionist, suggests making a post-workout shake with pea milk, which has a really rich texture and protein.
“You don’t want to use overly rich milk in porridge or oatmeal — otherwise, it gets too globby and heavy, especially for first thing in the day,” says Hamshaw. Rice milk makes your breakfast creamy without weighing it — or you — down.
“When you’re making a savory dish, you are trying to recreate the full-fat qualities of regular dairy,” explains Hamshaw. That’s why creamy soy milk has the best texture for making soups and other non-sweet dishes.