How to make dairy-free milk

Oat and nut milks are ideal for those following a dairy-free diet, and they are surprisingly simple to make at home. We show you how easy it is to make your own oat, almond and cashew milks.

How to make dairy-free milk

Supermarket shelves are increasingly stocked with alternatives to traditional cow's milk, with oat and nut varieties among the most popular choices for us to pop in our shopping baskets. But is shop-bought the best option? We set out to discover just how easy and economical these dairy-free drinks are to make at home. Follow our cookery team's top tips, and get soaking, blitzing and squeezing to make these vegan milks...

How to make oat and nut milks

This basic recipe can be adapted for use with oats, almonds or cashews - just remember that you'll need a greater weight of nuts than you will oats.

Place 100g oats or 150g whole almonds or cashews in a large bowl and cover with water. Pop some cling film over the top, and leave to soak overnight or for at least 4 hrs.

The next day, drain and rinse the oats or nuts well, then tip them into a blender with 750ml cold water and whizz up until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag or a muslin-lined sieve set over a jug, and allow to drip through. Stir the mixture gently with a spoon to speed it up, if you like.

When most of the liquid has gone into the jug, gather the sides of the bag or muslin together and squeeze tightly with both hands to extract the last of the milk.




Top tips

Overnight soaking

Soaking oats or nuts overnight will result in a creamier, more nutritious milk, but if you're pushed for time, a couple of hours soaking will still yield good results.

Sweeten it up

If you prefer a sweeter flavoured milk, add 1-2 pitted medjool dates before blending. Alternatively, you could stir through a couple of drops of vanilla essence or 1/2 tbsp maple syrup. A pinch of cinnamon or salt will further enhance the flavour.

Buy in bulk

If you're planning to make nut milk frequently, buying nuts in bulk can be cheaper. Still feeling the pinch? You can even use a combination of seeds (such as sunflower seeds) and nuts to bring the cost down further.

Waste not, want not

Don't let leftover nut pulp be relegated to the rubbish bin. You can use the leftover almond pulp in baking - we used it in our lighter lemon drizzle cake with delicious results. Leftover cashew pulp can be used to make a quick dip - simply combine the pulp with 1 tbsp tahini, the juice from 1 lemon, a pinch each of smoked paprika and cumin and 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle over a little za'atar, smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil, then get stuck in - crudités at the ready!

Stir it up

As homemade milks don't have any added emulsifiers, they will separate, but this is nothing to worry about - simply give it a good stir before using each time.

Other dairy-free milks

As part of our investigations, we also tried making coconut and rice milks - however, we wouldn't recommend making these at home. We found that the sheer amount of coconut that we had to buy to get a creamy consistency for the coconut milk meant that it would be much more economical to buy it from a shop. Our homemade rice milk also separated extremely quickly and was too thin to pass as 'milk'. Shop-bought varieties tend to have emulsifiers, oil and preservatives in them to improve the consistency and give a longer shelf-life, so we'd recommend buying the occasional bottle rather than making rice milk from scratch.

Have you made any dairy-free milks at home? We'd love to hear your tips - let us know in the comments below...


Comments, questions and tips

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26th Aug, 2017
Brilliant thread! This is why I love the BBC Good Food website! You don't scoff at people who want to have a go at doing things like make their own dairy free milk. It's treated like making your own bread for instance. I love how you guys are bringing it to the mainstream!
5th Jul, 2017
Can dairy free milks be frozen?
15th Sep, 2016
I have just made the oat milk for my grandson and just wondered how long it will last in the fridge
goodfoodteam's picture
29th Sep, 2016
Hi there, thank you for your question. It will last in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.
7th May, 2017
Hello all, I have been making nut milk for years, I invested in a Soymilk Maker, costs between £130 and £150. Milk that has to be cooked (soy), is ready in 15 minutes (after soaking overnight), I usually still sive the result through a cloth for a smoother result then use the pulp in my cooking. The sive gets cleaned in the dischwasher, the cloth under the tap and once a week in the washing machine. No mess no fuss. The investement was well worth it as the grinder in the machine also chops small seeds (linseed, hemp etc) in seconds. The beans and nuts are bought in bulk over the net. My soymilk costs me around 0.30. I take it I'm not allowed to name the machine.
31st Jan, 2016
When I first turned vegan, I tried out the recipes you've described and found them too cumbersome to persist. Now I use one of the following: 1. Home made nut paste, which takes 2 minutes to prepare and keeps in the fridge for a few days. Just dry-grind a handful of almonds, cashews or mixed nuts incl. pista, then add enough water to make a thin paste and grind till smooth. Add hot or cold water to this paste when you are making tea, coffee or any other beverage. It's also great to add to pasta or vegetables! 2. Store bought soya milk powder 3. Store bought coconut milk powder The last two are convenient to carry with you when you are travelling.