The Best Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

Cups of milk and different kinds of grains they are made from, shown from above

Share this post

Whether it’s for health, flavour or ethical reasons, more and more people are considering moving away from traditional cow’s milk to other alternatives.

Which milk alternative is best might depend on your tastes and values, but there are certainly no shortage of options out there! Here, we’ll list what we see as the best substitutes for cow’s milk.

What can I substitute for cow’s milk?

1. Soya milk

Frequently listed as the top answer to the question ‘Which is the best dairy alternative?’ soya (or soy) milk comes from soy beans. It comes in unsweetened and sweetened forms, with the latter emphasising the slightly vanilla-y flavour inherent to this type of milk. A great source of protein and calcium, soy is nonetheless a little contentious as a widespread milk alternative as it can play a part in deforestation. We’d therefore choosing the organic version, even if it is a little more expensive.

2. Almond milk

Another popular choice among the best substitutes for cow’s milk, almond milk is made from ground almonds and water. It great for cutting calories, but the drawback is it contains far less protein than soya.

3. Oat milk

Oat milk in a glass mason jar surrounded by oats and wooden scoopers

Perhaps the dairy alternative that’s fastest-growing in popularity, oat milk has a rich grainy flavour and is often gluten-free, making it great for people with Coeliac disease. It’s high in fibre and widely found on the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores alike.

4. Coconut milk

Not to be confused with the canned version that’s often used in cooking, coconut milk is easily one of the best alternatives to cow’s milk because it’s both tasty and commonly available. Being made from a fruit rather than an actual nut means it’s also safe for those with a nut allergy, and is good from a sustainability perspective. Like almond milk it’s relatively low in protein, however, and is a little higher in calories than many dairy alternatives due to its high fat content.

5. Hazelnut milk

Now we move onto the nuttier of the nut milks. First, hazelnut milk, which has an incredibly strong hazelnutty flavour that can be a little overpowering compared to other cow’s milk alternatives. (It’s especially great in milkshakes for this very reason!). That can either make it one to avoid, or make it the best substitute for cow’s milk if you really love the taste. You may however want to keep a milder-tasting milk in the pantry for when you have guests over.

6. Cashew milk

Another distinctively nutty dairy drink alternative, cashew milk is a little lighter and less overpowering on the taste buds than hazelnut milk and has an especially rich, creamy consistency. It’s gluten-free and low in calories, albeit a little low in protein and contains no fibre whatsoever. Both cashew and hazelnut milk are most commonly sold in heavily sweetened varieties, meaning you might struggle to find its more raw form outside of a very large supermarket setting – if you can find cashew milk in one at all without needing to look online.

7. Hemp milk

Hemp milk with leaves and grains

Like cashew milk, hemp milk is something you may need to use the internet to find. It’s made from hemp seeds which makes it excellent for vegans, and also contains a complete set of plant proteins as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it one of the most nutritionally complete milks out there. This, combined with its nutty flavour, makes it undoubtedly one of the best substitutes for cow’s milk – if you can find it to buy in the first place.

8. Rice milk

The thinnest and least creamy of all dairy alternatives, rice milk is made by grinding grains of rice and filtering them with water. It’s reasonably widely available in UK supermarkets, and arguably the least likely to cause any kind of allergic reaction. However, it’s also high-carb, low-protein, and usually contains additives to give it a thicker consistency. It perhaps wouldn’t be our first choice with drinks or cereal, but if you were asking us which is the best cow’s milk alternative for cooking and baking, rice milk’s unassuming and inoffensive flavour profile makes it a fair option.

9. Goat’s milk

If you don’t mind dairy farming but cow’s milk isn’t for you, this might be the best alternative to cow’s milk. Goat’s milk has an earthier flavour than typical dairy produce but can also be easier to digest than ‘normal’ milk. It’s also similarly great for calcium and protein, and is lower in cholesterol while providing a natural prebiotic than can help keep your gut settled and healthy.

10. Lacto-free milk

If you’re lactose intolerant, the best substitutes for cow’s milk might be, in fact, cow’s milk without the lacto. This is milk that contains the enzyme lactase which helps break down lactose. The flavour and texture are largely the same, meaning that if you love the taste of standard milk but find it doesn’t agree with your body, this could be an answer. However, some people with lactose intolerance might still want to give it a miss, and those with an allergy to milk should avoid it altogether. Luckily, for them, there are a wealth of other options!

Should milk be stored in glass bottles?

A red Milk Topz bottle cap shown open on a full milk bottleFinally, a word on storage.

Pretty much all of the best alternative to cow’s milk come in cardboard or plastic containers. Here at Milk Topz, we think storing them that way is a big mistake.

Whatever kind of milk you go for, it’s likely to last up to twice as long in an air-tight glass bottle. All you need is a pack of milkman-style glass bottles (Serving inspiration website Drink Stuff sells cases of 12 for under £15), and a pack of Milk Topz multi-colour or pastel colour silicone milk bottle tops, allowing you to place the bottles anywhere in your fridge!

To learn more about the background behind Milk Topz, check out the blogs below, or read our story and see our products here.