How to make dairy-free milk

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

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 milk

Prep: 25 mins plus at least 4 hrs soaking
No cook
Makes approx. 850ml

  • 100g oats 
  1. Put the oats in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak, covered, overnight or for at least 4 hrs. 
  2. Drain and rinse the oats, then tip into a blender with a pinch of salt and 750ml cold water. Whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a jug and allow it to drip through. Gently stir the mixture with a spoon to speed up the process (be patient – the mixture will be viscous and may take a while to filter through the muslin). 
  3. When most of the liquid has dripped through into the jug, gather the sides of the muslin together and squeeze tightly with both hands to extract the last of the milk. Whisk in 50ml of cold water. 

How to make almond milk 

Prep: 25 mins plus at least 4 hrs soaking
No cook
Makes approx. 800ml  

  • 150g whole almonds
  1. Put the almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak, covered, overnight or for at least 4 hrs. 
  2. Drain and rinse the almonds, then tip into a blender with 750ml cold water. Whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a jug and allow it to drip through. Gently stir the mixture with a spoon to speed up the process. 
  3. When most of the liquid has dripped through into the jug, gather the sides of the muslin together and squeeze tightly with both hands to extract the last of the milk.

 

Top tips for making dairy-free milks

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 more sweetly flavoured milk, add 1-2 pitted medjool dates before blending. Alternatively, you could stir through a couple of drops of vanilla essence or ½ 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.

Use leftover pulp in baking

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 we had to buy to get a creamy consistency for the coconut milk meant 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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cherub-rock25
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!
Amanda Wallace's picture
Amanda Wallace
22nd Jan, 2019
I would like to know how long this keeps please
TheScoop21
5th Jul, 2017
Can dairy free milks be frozen?
Willis1
15th Sep, 2016
I have just made the oat milk for my grandson and just wondered how long it will last in the fridge
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goodfoodteam
29th Sep, 2016
Hi there, thank you for your question. It will last in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.
Swissy57
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.
harinigs
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.