The Complete Guide to Oat Milk vs Almond Milk

The Complete Guide to Oat Milk vs Almond Milk

Both oat and almond milk is smooth, eco-friendly alternatives to cow’s milk, but they differ greatly.

A barista asking you if you want oat or almond milk in your latte is like your high school calculus teacher asking you to solve a derivative. You look up at the menu, pause, and mentally weigh the pros and cons of each choice. You mutter “almond?” and hand over your credit card after about 30 seconds.

To avoid looking like the “Confused Math Lady” meme in Starbucks, learn about the nutritional, flavor, and environmental differences between the two dairy alternatives. It’ll help you decide between oat and almond milk once and for all.


Ingredients of Oat and Almond Milk

Before diving into oat milk vs almond milk nutrition, let’s review dairy alternatives. According to registered dietitian and plant-based chef Alex Caspero, M.A., R.D., non-dairy milk is simply the primary ingredient blended with water and strained. “It’s almost like making juice,” she says. “You’re nutrient-extraction.” (Nonsense. As you’ll see, some good stuff has been added back in.)

Some store-bought oat and almond milks contain sugar, but most are fortified with vitamins and minerals, especially calcium (for strong bones) and vitamin D (for calcium absorption), says Caspero. “Non-dairy milk is nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk,” she says. “Some brands add vitamin E, A, and B12, which are naturally found in cow’s milk.” For that reason, Caspero usually advises her clients to go with a fortified non-dairy option.

Since these vitamins are usually powdered when added to milk, some companies use emulsifiers like gums to keep them evenly dispersed throughout the liquid and not settle at the bottom, says Caspero. But don’t be fooled: they may have health benefits. “Some gums act as prebiotics, which are non-digestible fibers that your gut bacteria can feed on,” she says. “But some people are extremely sensitive to them, causing GI issues.” If you have a sensitive stomach, opt for shelf-stable oat or almond milk, which isn’t fortified and thus doesn’t contain emulsifiers.

Oat Milk vs Almond Milk

Aside from fortification, the main nutritional differences between oat and almond milk are calories, fat, and protein. “Unsweetened almond milk is going to be lower in calories,” she says. Caspero says oat milk has more protein than almond milk because oats are a good source of protein and most almond milk varieties only have four almonds per cup. (The rest is water, hence the lower calorie count.) Many brands of oat milk add a little oil to give it a creamy mouthfeel, she says. (This chocolatey recipe boosts the protein content of oat milk.)

Here’s the nutrition breakdown of two popular dairy-free milk options currently available in stores: Oatly’s Original Oatmilk ($5, and Almond Breeze’s Original Almondmilk ($3,

Oatly Original Chilled Oatmilk, 1 cup

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Total Sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Almond Breeze Original Almondmilk, 1 cup

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
  • Total Sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 1g

Tasting and Comparing Oat and Almond Milk

While the two alternative milks are nutritionally similar, their taste and texture are vastly different. “Oat milk is much thicker than almond milk, which tends to be really thin and watery,” says Caspero. “It froths up nicely in lattes.” Caspero uses oat milk for vegan baking because it has a higher carb content than other milks and gives the treats a nice golden brown finish without eggs. Caspero recommends almond milk for smoothies and cereals.

Almond milk has a slightly nutty flavor, while oat milk is often sweeter, says Jerlyn Jones, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (7 Almond Milk Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth)

Environmental Impact of Oat vs Almond Milk

Caspero says both non-dairy milks are better for the environment than cow’s milk, but neither is perfect. In fact, the almond trees themselves require a lot of water to grow, so almond milk is the most water-intensive. A 2019 study found that one California almond requires 3.2 gallons of water to grow. Conversely, oat milk uses more land than almond trees, she claims.

“Oat milk is slightly more eco-friendly,” Caspero says. When compared to dairy milk and all the emissions associated with feeding and raising livestock, the grain and almond options are always more eco-friendly.

The Final Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Verdict

In general, both Caspero and Jones agree that there isn’t a huge difference when it comes to the nutrition of oat milk and almond milk. Taking your personal needs and diet into account may help you decide which is best for you. “If you’re watching your calories, unsweetened almond milk is a better choice than full-fat oat milk,” says Caspero. “Oatly Oatmilk has 120 calories versus Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almondmilk’s 30 [Buy It, $3,]. A few cups per day can add up. “

Oat milk is also high in carbohydrates (16 grams per cup), which can raise blood sugar levels, according to Jones. Caspero adds that higher-fat, higher-protein oat milk may be better for pregnant or nursing women who need extra macronutrients. Still undecided between oat and almond milk? When in doubt about which milk substitute is best for you, consult a registered dietitian. “It depends on your health, budget, and usage,” says Jones.

Caspero advises choosing dairy-free milk without added sweeteners. “There are so many hidden sweeteners and hidden sugars in our food supply that the more we can avoid,” she explains. “This is especially true for non-dairy milk, where you don’t drink it for the sweetness of a brownie.” The American Heart Association advises women to consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day, so a morning glass of almond milk with 7 grams of cane sugar has already used up a third of that allowance, says Jones. “You don’t want to use up all your added sugar just by drinking it,” she says.

Remember that you’re not required to drink the same dairy-free milk for the rest of your life, and that any type — oat, almond, banana, or pistachio — can be enjoyed. “I have soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk in my fridge, and I use them all in different ways,” Caspero says. “I think that’s the beauty of where we are now — you can’t pick one.”


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