Everything You Need to Know About Oat Milk

Everything You Need to Know About Oat Milk

Oat milk is having a real moment. In fact, this delicious cow’s milk alternative recently cruised past soy milk to secure the number two slot on the list of most popular plant-based milks in the U.S.

With a naturally sweet flavor and creamy texture that’s thicker than many other milk alternatives, oat milk has elevated the humble oat beyond breakfast and into a new realm of sweet and savory possibilities.

Before you sip your next oat milk latte (seriously, it’s so creamy and frothy, you’ll never know it’s not whole milk), learn more about oat milk nutrition.

Plus, find out how to use this trendy non-dairy milk in your meals, snacks, and more.

Oats in a bowl

What Is Oat Milk?

At its most basic, oat milk is just blended oats and water. It’s as simple as that!

Now that plant-based milks have skyrocketed in popularity, you’ll likely find several brands and flavors at your local grocery store. However, many brands include more than just oats and H2O, such as:

  • Flavors
  • Sweeteners
  • Salt
  • Preservatives
  • Thickeners
  • Oils
  • Added vitamins and minerals

Glasses of oat milk

Oat Milk Nutrition

Oat milk offers more than just rich, creamy flavor. “Oat milk is a great alternative for those who need an allergen-free milk option,” says Melissa Majumdar, M.S., R.D., CSOWM, L.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It is free of lactose, dairy, and nuts, and can be gluten-free.”

While oats do not contain gluten naturally, they’re often grown or manufactured near wheat and other gluten-containing grains.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, just check the label: “Some oat milk companies grow and manufacture their oats separately,” Majumdar says.

Oat Milk Nutrition Facts

Oat milk ingredients differ from brand to brand. Here’s the nutritional breakdown for an unsweetened cup of the popular brand, Oatly.

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 16 grams
  • Total sugars: 7 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams

“Non-dairy milks tend to be fortified in nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, so they match their dairy-milk counterparts,” Majumdar says.

Oatly fortifies theirs to contain:

  • Calcium: 25% DV
  • Vitamin D: 20% DV
  • Riboflavin: 45% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 50% DV

Oat milk in a bottle

How Oat Milk Compares to Other Milks

In terms of flavor, color, and texture, oat milk more similarly mimics whole milk than other non-dairy options.

It also has a thicker mouthfeel and creamier flavor than soy or almond milk, as well as a mild “oaty” flavor.

As for oat milk nutrition, it’s lower in fat and sugar than whole-fat cow’s milk, but it lacks the protein.

“Depending on the type of cow’s milk, the fat content may change as well,” Majumdar says.

For instance, a cup of skim milk has 0 grams of fat, making it a lower fat option than Oatly and many other types of oat milk.

Is oat milk or almond milk better for you?

If you put those two most popular plant-based options head to head, oat milk nutrition may fall short in a few key areas, says Mascha Davis, M.P.H., R.D.N., author of the book “Eat Your Vitamins.”

“Other nut milks, like almond milk, may be lower in calories, carbohydrates, and sugar and higher in other nutrients like vitamin E,” Davis says.

As a bonus, oat milk typically has more fiber than other non-dairy milks, though it’s not much.

Part of oat milk’s higher sugar content is due to added sugars, so choose brands that omit them and are labeled as “unsweetened.”

However, oat milk naturally contains more sugar than some other plant-based milks.

“The base of the milk is made from rolled or steel-cut oats, which are a carbohydrate source,” Davis says.

Soybeans, almonds, hemp seeds, and other plant-based milk sources are usually lower in carbohydrates than oats.

Cup of chamomile tea with collagen

How to Use Oat Milk

You can use oat milk in a lot of the same recipes as other plant-based milks or cow’s milk.

“Oat milk is a great base for your smoothies, oatmeal, or chia seed pudding,” Davis says. “It’s also great in coffee, tea, and lattes.”

You can add oat milk to savory recipes, too, like mashed potatoes or creamy soups.

How to make oat milk

Want to make your dairy-free milk at home? Try Majumdar’s oat milk recipe:

  • Blend one part oats and four parts water. Do not overblend or else it will get gummy.
  • Strain the mixture with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter. (For a smoother finish, you can soak the oats for 15 minutes and strain the mixture twice.)
  • Enjoy as is or flavor with a dash of salt, cocoa powder, blended berries, or vanilla extract.