Making homemade almond milk is so simple and affordable that it's really unnecessary to buy it in the grocery store. It’s worth trying to make at home, at least once, so you understand the difference between homemade almond milk and shelf-stable almond milk from a carton. When you make almond milk at home, stripped down to its bare essentials (nuts and water), it becomes more than just almond water.
Store-bought almond milk is undeniably convenient. It's also cheaper than anything you can make at home. So, why make your own?
With packaged almond milk, you're certainly paying for convenience, but you're not necessarily paying for many almonds. Most almond milk at the grocery store contains only 2% almonds; the rest is water, flavors, and additives. Manufacturers aren't currently required to list the percentage of almonds on the packaging, so it's impossible to know the percentages of various brands. However, in most cases, you'd have to drink an entire half-gallon of almond milk to get the same nutrients as a handful of almonds.
Homemade almond milk recipes typically call for 1 cup/145 g of almonds to 2-4 cups/480-960 ml of filtered water, so making your own should result in about 10 to 20% almonds. This is why homemade almond milk is typically creamy and thick even without additives - it contains way more almonds. It also has a beautiful bright white color incomparable to the store-bought variety. If you ask me, homemade almond milk tastes and looks ways better than store-bought. I doubt you'll be able to go back to a store brand after seeing how good it tastes and how easy it is to make.
Tips for Making Raw Almond Milk
This raw almond milk is a classic recipe I've used for years. It requires only two (or three) ingredients:
- Almonds: the taste of almond milk reflects the taste of the almonds. So, get high-quality, organic, fresh almonds. If your almond milk tastes sour or the flavor is unpleasant, the almonds are most likely the culprit. Nuts go bad faster than you'd think, and nowhere is that "off" flavor more apparent than in a batch of nut milk. I used to have this problem when I was buying almonds from a supermarket. The results have been incomparable since I started buying almonds in a local health food store. So, if you don't like the taste of your homemade almond milk, try buying nuts from a different store. For the best result, always start with raw almonds. Roasted almonds are dry and brittle, making for less-creamy milk. Roasting also highlights the bitter undertones of almonds. Blanched (peeled) almonds work too. Almond milk from blanched almonds has a less intense almond flour and an even brighter white color. Almonds also come in many forms - whole, sliced, slivered, ground (in the form of almond meal or almond flour) - all of these are fine to use.
- Water: since almond milk is mostly water, clearly, the water you use will also have an impact on the taste of the almond milk. My tap water is alkaline in the aftertaste compared to filtered water with a much brighter and sweeter flavor. When I make almond milk with tap water, it's slightly basic with a metallic aftertaste, while filtered water produces a little more acidic yet sweeter almond milk. It really comes down to your specific geographical source as to whether filtering offers any real benefits.
- Sunflower lecithin (optional): the one issue with homemade nut milk is that the fat from the nuts and the added water separate over time. Sure, it's not a big deal - give it a shake, and it's all good. However, if you're trying to entice your family into switching over to non-dairy milk, it can make or break the deal. Fortunately, I have a solution for you - an emulsifier. Sunflower lecithin acts as a fat emulsifier in this recipe. In other words, it brings the fat from the almonds and the water together, holding them in suspension.
How to Make Almond Milk
The process of making homemade almond milk is relatively simple, but it does require a high-speed blender. Almonds are hard and dense - perhaps the most challenging nuts for a regular blender. It's possible to make almond milk in a standard blender, but it's watery and bland, with just a slight almond flavor. Making almond milk in a high-speed blender - I use the Vitamix - is a different story. A Vitamix blender blends so thoroughly that it breaks down cell walls, making the nut milk smooth and creamy. There is also very little leftover almond pulp with the Vitamix because most almonds have been broken down during blending. So, here's how to make Vitamix almond milk:
- Soak the almonds. Place the almonds into a bowl and cover them with water for at least 8 hours, so they soften up and blend easily. Alternatively, you can soak the almonds in hot water for 1-2 hours. Soaking saturates the nut from the inside out, producing smoother, creamier almond milk. When the almonds are done soaking, drain the water and rinse the nuts thoroughly. If something comes up and you can't use the almonds within 24 hours, store them in the refrigerator, changing the water twice a day.
- Blend. Add the soaked almonds and water into a high-speed blender and blend on high until all the almonds have broken down and the mixture is frothy. A high-speed blender is a must-have when it comes to making nut milk.
- Strain. The almond milk will look creamy at this stage but still have little almond pieces. So, set a nut milk bag over a large bowl (I prefer a large measuring cup with a spout to prevent spilling when transferring the milk later on) and pour the milk in. Bring the top of the bag together and use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You could also use a piece of cheesecloth, but it's not very practical - it needs to be doubled or tripled; otherwise, it comes apart and is nearly impossible to wash. Nut milk bags work so much better because they are already bag-shaped, don't stretch over time, are resistant to picking up stains or food odors, and can be easily washed.
Note: the leftover almond pulp, also known as almond meal, is perfectly fine to use. Transfer it to a baking sheet and spread it into a thin, even layer. Bake the almond pulp at 200°F/93.3°C until dry, for 2-3 hours. You can also dehydrate the almond pulp at 115°F/46.1°C until dry, for 4-8 hours.
How to Make Instant Almond Milk
If you don't own a high-speed blender, like the Vitamix, you can still make almond milk at home - all you need is almond butter with almonds being the only ingredient. That's right - you can make almond milk from almond butter. This hack is almost too easy to believe, but it works!
Almond butter is already smooth and creamy, so you don't have to worry about pulverizing the almonds. There is also no need to soak the almonds or strain the milk afterward. To make almond butter almond milk, simply add the almond butter and water into a blender (a regular one will do just fine), blend, and voila - instant raw almond milk.
I still prefer classic almond milk from whole almonds - it's richer and creamier than almond milk made from almond butter - but if you don't have a Vitamix, this instant almond milk is a great alternative.
How to Store Almond Milk
- Refrigerating: transfer the almond milk into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. If separation occurs, shake before serving.
- Freezing: transfer the almond milk into an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months. You can also pour the milk into ice cube trays and freeze it.
Almond Milk Variations
You can change up the almond milk by alternating the almonds to water ratio or by flavoring it.
My go-to ratio of water to almonds is somewhere between 1:3 and 1:4, but the ratio is up to you. Other than playing with the nut-to-water ratio, there is one more technique for changing the thickness of homemade plant-based milk. Bringing the almond milk to just under a boil for a few minutes permanently increases its viscosity. In fact, this is how I make plant-based coffee creamer (half-and-half) at home.
As far as adding flavor goes, you can add a date or two or 1 Tbsp./15 ml of maple syrup for sweetness. For vanilla almond milk, use 1 tsp./5 ml of vanilla extract. If chocolate almond milk is your thing, use 2 Tbsp./14 g of cacao powder.
How to Use Almond Milk
Almond milk (or some other type of nut milk) is one of those staples I always have on hand.
You can blend it into a smoothie, pour it over granola or cereal, stir it into a chia pudding, use it in all things oatmeal, add it to your morning coffee, froth it for a matcha latte, or bake with it!
More Nut Milk Recipes
- Cashew milk: coming soon!
- Coconut milk: the taste of fresh coconut milk is so clean, so refreshing, and so fragrant. It’s just like fresh coconut in the creamy liquid form.
- Tigernut milk: this plant milk is naturally sweet with a mellow nutty flavor (despite tiger nuts not being a nut).
If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.
Classic Almond Milk
Instant Almond Milk
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 3 cups water
- Blend. Add the soaked almonds, water, and lecithin (optional) into a high-speed blender and blend on high until all the almonds have broken down and the mixture becomes frothy.
- Strain. At this stage, the almond milk will look creamy, but it will still have little almond pieces inside it. So, set a nut milk bag over a large bowl (I prefer a large measuring cup with a spout to prevent spilling when transferring the milk later on) and pour the milk in. Bring the top of the bag together and use your hands to press and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. All you should have left is nearly a dried ball of almond meal.
- Store. Leftover almond milk keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.