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Taste Test: Oat Milk

Story: Emma Mannheimer

Of the many plant-based milks posing a challenge to dairy, oat is now a leading contender. The global value of oat milk is expected to be $490 million by 2026, with market growth fueled by increasing consumer interest in vegan alternatives and its low environmental impact. Beloved by baristas for its neutral taste and silky foam, oat milk is also hugely popular among at-home imbibers. Here are six of our favorites.

Califia Farms Oatmilk Califia Farms Oatmilk has a unique roasty, nutty flavor. Califia adds sunflower oil to its oat milk in place of stabilizing gums for its texture, and the finished product has a slightly thinner, yet still velvety body.

Chobani Oat Plain It was good timing that when Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO and founder of America’s top Greek yogurt brand, discovered his lactose intolerance, the company was already developing an oat-based milk alternative that launched in January. Chobani Oat Plain is an apt stand-in for whole milk—with a robust body, noticeable sweetness, and neutral flavor that relegates oat’s earthier tastes to the background.

Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Oats Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Oats is one of two milks in this lineup that exclusively use filtered water, whole grain oats, and salt. Sporting a neutral character with a trace of grassiness, Elmhurst’s oat milk is a good choice for those looking for mild flavor. Its texture is slightly thinner than others, but it gets bonus points for being shelf- stable prior to opening.

MALK Organic Oat Milk Original Texas-made MALK launched in 2014 with cold- pressed almond milks, and the most recent addition to an expanding lineup is an oat milk produced with organic oats and Himalayan salt. Made without fillers, gums, binders, or carrageenan, MALK pours a full-bodied glass replete with earthy richness, while the touch of salt brings out hints of cinnamon and vanilla.

Oatly Oatmilk Chilled Oatly was founded in 1994 by Swedish food scientist Rickard Öste and was introduced into the U.S. several years ago. Built on a brand full of in-your-face charm, Oatly’s original Oatmilk is luxuriously full-bodied, thanks to a patented process that uses enzymes to break down oat starch before remov- ing the bran. An excellent substitute for milk in any application, Oatly has developed a fervent fan base for a reason.

Pacific Foods Organic Reduced Sugar Oat Original Pacific Foods has long been a leader in the alt-milk category and has been producing oat milk since 1996, though the brand’s reduced sugar option is a 2020 newcomer. Dialing back the sugar content of Pacific’s original oat milk by 80 percent, this organic milk alternative still has a subtle sweetness and maintains a creamy, thick texture due to the addition of gellan gum.

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