What does oat milk taste like? Non-dairy milk options have exploded in popularity in recent years as consumers have searched for alternatives for a variety of reasons.
Back in the day, the only alternative to cow’s milk was soy; these days, however, the market is flooded with products like almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, and of course oat milk.
After an infamous Superbowl commercial catapulted Oatly oat milk into the spotlight, the demand for oat milk has been higher than ever.
For those of you still wrapping your mind around all the nut milks floating around out there, the idea of milk that comes from oats may be just plain confusing—and maybe a little suspicious.
But have no fear!
We’re here to be your oat milk kitchen guide and answer all of your oat milk questions, including what it tastes like, what it even really is, how long it lasts, and even how to make oat milk.
Plus, we’ve got your back with some pretty incredible tips, tricks, and recipes that will quell any lingering suspicion you may have (um, oat milk ice cream and oat milk mac and cheese—yes, please!).
The only thing you’ll be wondering after we’re through here is why you haven’t hopped on the oat milk train sooner.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is, “what does oat milk taste like,” and understandably so.
After all, you are going to consume it in one way or another, whether you’re drinking it, using it as cereal milk, or as an ingredient in a new recipe, so it makes sense that you’d be concerned about the flavor.
To cut right to the chase, oat milk tastes a lot like regular whole milk, for the most part.
Oat milk has a sweeter taste than cow’s milk and most other non-dairy milks, and it has a similar consistency to vitamin D whole milk, which is on the thicker side.
Just as nut milks maintain the flavor profile of the nuts they’re made from, it’s only natural to assume that a slight oat flavor can also be detected in the taste, but it’s not overwhelming or off-putting.
And like regular milk as well as milk alternatives, oat milk now comes in different varieties, such as low-fat and sugar-free- not to mention flavors like chocolate and vanilla.
These varieties will obviously have an effect on the taste and thickness of the product as well.
That being said, oat milk is surprisingly versatile when it comes to ways you can use it.
It’s great for cooking and baking, it’s a great option for cereal milk, and most coffee shops carry it along with other alternative milks as creamer.
Oat milk’s sweetness, consistency, and similarity to traditional cow’s milk has already won over countless consumers.
What is oat milk?
Oat milk obviously comes from oats, but exactly how do you get from the oats we think of in our breakfast bowl to the milk we use to cook them?
The answer: soaking and blending.
Oat milk is the product of a process in which either whole-grain or steel-cut oats are soaked in water, very finely blended, and then strained through a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or other small-grain kitchen strainer.
The liquid final product is oat milk.
Because oats are very absorbent, the finer they are blended, the thicker the texture of the milk will be as the ground oat ‘meal,’ for lack of a better term, will pass through the straining cloth with the liquid.
Hence the ‘shake me’ signs on your carton of oat milk.
Even with the light sediment that occurs, it’s nice to know your dairy alternative contains just two main ingredients—unless you’re adding some sugar, which is also fine!
Of course, when you start getting into the different variations, like sweetened and unsweetened, the process gets a little bit more complex.
But at its core, oat milk truly is the product of ground whole oats and water.
Yes, it really is that simple.
How long does oat milk last?
Though oat milk is indeed one of the many non-dairy alternatives to regular milk, it does still have a shelf life.
However, there are a few types of oat milk, and they each have their own special rules of thumb when it comes to storing and longevity.
Shelf-Stable Oat Milk
Shelf-stable oat milk can be purchased at grocery stores and is not refrigerated.
It can be stored unopened for months at room temperature.
To that end, most food experts agree that shelf-stable oat milk is even still OK to use for a few months past the “best by” date on its packaging.
Once shelf-stable oat milk has been opened, however, it does need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Shelf-stable oat milk should be used in 7-10 days from the time it was opened and refrigerated.
Refrigerated Oat Milk
Refrigerated oat milk is bought already refrigerated and must remain refrigerated to maintain freshness.
It can be stored unopened in the refrigerator for about a week past the “best by” date on its packaging.
However, once refrigerated oat milk has been opened, it should be consumed ideally within 4-7 days.
Also, for those of us wondering about the difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated commercial oat milk, it’s all in the packaging.
Shelf-stable oat milk is packaged using an “aseptic” process that keeps the carton totally sterile, allowing the milk to remain at room temperature.
Refrigerated oat milk, on the other hand, does not undergo this same process and therefore must be refrigerated.
Aside from this difference, the milk’s contents are exactly the same—the same ingredients, the same nutritional values, the same preservatives, if any—so there’s no need to worry that your self-stable oat milk is loaded with chemicals that enable it last for several months.
Homemade Oat Milk
If you prefer to make your own oat milk at home, which we’ll tell you how to do in just a bit, the guidelines for storage, use, and shelf-life are very similar to that of store-bought oat milks once they’ve been opened.
Once you’ve blended and strained your oats and are left with the delicious milk product, you’ll want to store it in the refrigerator within 30 minutes or less.
Your homemade oat milk should be consumed within five days of production and should be covered while in the refrigerator to ensure maximum freshness.
How to know if oat milk is bad
If you’re following the guidelines above and discarding your oat milk according to the dates and length of time the product has been opened, there should be no question whether or not the oat milk you’re using is good or bad.
However, we all know every now and then some things slip our minds and we find ourselves wondering how long that carton has been hanging out in the fridge.
Or if a carton or pitcher sat out overnight on the counter and was then put back in the fridge. Hmmm.
There are a few simple tests you can use to determine if your oat milk is bad:
- If it’s been opened for more than two weeks, toss it.
- If it smells funky (moldy, sour, etc.), toss it.
- If it’s slimy, chunky, or separated, toss it.
- If it tastes ‘off’ at all, toss it.
Any one of these is a deal-breaker, so if your oat milk doesn’t pass with a four out of four, the best place for it is the garbage.
How to make oat milk
As promised, we have a simple step-by-step process for making your own oat milk at home.
Our steps below were inspired by this recipe from Cookie and Kate, which yields a naturally delicious milk that you can use in your coffee, cereal, or you can just drink it by itself.
Step 1: Start with fresh, whole oats.
Homemade foods take time and patience to make, so why not start with the freshest ingredients possible? Instead of digging in the back of the pantry to use up “old” oats, treat yourself and your family to a brand-new, unopened package of oats for this recipe.
Step 2: Soak one cup of oats in water for 15 minutes.
Soaking your oats before blending them softens them up so they’ll blend smoother and finer, leaving you with a less-pulpy finished product.
Step 3: Rinse your oats and drain the water.
Draining the water the oats soaked in and replacing it with fresh water will help prevent your finished oat milk from having a “slick” texture or consistency.
Step 4: Add three or four cups of fresh water.
If you prefer a creamy texture, add only three cups; if you prefer your milk to be a bit runnier, add four.
You can also adjust your portions of oats and water up to scale If you’d like to make more oat milk at one time.
As a side note, you do have the option of adding more ingredients to sweeten or flavor your oat milk to your liking, but your oat milk with its own natural sweetness will work fine with only oats and water.
Step 5: Blend your oats and water mixture until smooth.
The length of time it takes to achieve smoothness will vary depending on the type of blender you’re using.
In general, the blending process will take at least one minute, maybe a touch longer.
If you feel that your mixture is getting too thick or clumpy to blend up smoothly, add more water a little at a time, blending after each addition, until you reach the right consistency.
Just be careful not to add too much water to the mixture, or your oat milk will be too watery and runny—and no one likes super watery, flavorless milk.
Step 6: Strain the mixture into a pitcher.
You can use a cheesecloth, a fine-mesh strainer or sieve, or a nut milk bag to strain your oat milk.
The cloth, wire mesh strainer, sieve, or bag should separate any remaining oat pieces from the liquid, leaving you with a fresh batch of homemade oat milk to enjoy.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to get your oat milk into the fridge in thirty minutes or less to keep it fresh, delicious, and at its best for cooking and consuming.
The folks over and Love & Lemons suggest pouring slowly and not stirring or shaking your homemade oat milk when serving to let any sediment stay at the bottom.
That’s all there is to it!
Tips and Tricks
Making anything at home requires some trial and error, and this is especially true when it comes to making your own plant milks.
Luckily, we’ve done the leg work in scouring recipes and advice from seasoned vegan milk makers to bring you tips and tricks that will hopefully save you from making common mistakes.
- When making your own oat milk, whole “old-fashioned” oats work better than steel-cut oats.
- Always rinse and drain the water from your oats after soaking and replace it with fresh water; trust us, you don’t want to end up with slimy milk—ick!
- The beauty of making your own anything is customization. So feel free to experiment with adding different flavors to your oat milk with ingredients like vanilla, dates, maple syrup, sea salt, or even some cocoa powder.
- When straining, some chefs prefer the sieve as they claim cheesecloths and nut milk bags permit too much oat pulp through with the liquid.
- The leftover oat pulp from your milk-making process can be upcycled and used as an ingredient in many yummy dishes like gazpacho, guacamole, and cookies. You can even use it as a face mask.
With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to whip up the perfect oat milk just for you.
Oat Milk Recipes
If you’re craving something sweet, this oat milk ice cream recipe will satisfy your taste buds and leave you questioning why you ever bought ice cream from the grocery store.
Smoothies are the perfect light breakfast, easy snack, or even a tasty dessert, and these oat milk smoothies will not disappoint no matter what time of day you’re enjoying them.
If you’re a yogurt-lover, this recipe for homemade oat milk yogurt will give you a dairy-free, creamy, decadent yogurt that you can eat by itself, with fruit, or use in other vegan recipes.
You can’t go wrong with pasta, and this alfredo sauce made from oat milk proves that a rich and savory Italian sauce doesn’t need dairy to win over your dinner guests.
Mac and cheese is a family favorite, and even though many of our kids are pretty picky about their mac, this is one oat milk mac and cheese dish they won’t ever turn down.
The bottom line
Oat milk is just one of many alternative milks for those who can’t or don’t consume dairy.
Even though it’s far from cow’s milk, it has a surprisingly similar taste with a hint of oat flavor.
Oat milk can be purchased at grocery stores or you can make your very own at home.
No matter how it ends up in your fridge, we’re willing to bet you’ll become a big fan of its creamy texture and the vast array of uses.
You may never drink regular milk again!