Switching over to a dairy free lifestyle can be wonderful for your health, but you do have to relearn everything you once knew about food. Swapping your regular milk for a lactose free milk seems simple, but there’s a lot to consider. What brands are best? What can you use it for? Can you freeze lactose free milk? In this article, we’ll help you out with all of those questions and more. Pull up a chair and a glass, and let’s talk milk.
Lactose Free Milk Brands
There are a ton of options for dairy free milks. You can either choose to go with a lactose free dairy milk like Lactaid, or for one of the many vegan milks on the market. Let’s look at some of your options (if we covered them all we’d be here for days.)
Lactose Free Dairy Milks – These options are dairy milks which have had the lactose removed. Nowadays, you will find that a lot of popular milk brands offer a lactose free version. It’s important to note that these brands offer most variations with lactose free options, so you can find whole milk, 2%, and reduced fat milks with lactose free versions. Just be sure to look for the term “lactose free” on the container. Here are some of our favorites:
- Lactaid (All options from this brand are lactose free)
- Organic Valley (Lactose Free)
- Fairlife (Lactose Free)
- Good & Gather (Lactose Free)
- Great Value (Lactose Free)
- Horizon (Lactose Free)
- Natrel (Lactose Free)
Vegan milks – If you want to go completely dairy free, you’ll want to go for vegan milk options. Vegan milks are dairy free and lactose free, as they do not come from cows. Calling them “milk” is a little deceiving, but that’s how they fit in with the cool kids (aka real milk). Let’s look at the most popular vegan milk options and what brands you should look for.
- Soy milk – This heavy hitter is the OG of vegan milks – it’s been around for hundreds of years. It packs the most protein, compared to other vegan milks, with 8 grams per serving. It’s creamy and smooth, though some do find it to be a bit chalky. You can find soy milk from most major grocery store’s house brands, like Great Value at Walmart. Silk is the most popular milk alternative brand that offers soy milk.
- Almond milk – Almond milk is similar to skim milk – light and low calorie. When you get unsweetened, it’s only 30 calories per cup. It does have a subtle almond flavor, but just barely. Our favorite brand is Blue Diamond, though you can find tons of other brands that carry it as well.
- Cashew milk – This milk is a bit creamier than almond milk and also has a subtle nutty flavor. Pick up a container of Silk cashew milk at most major grocery store chains.
- Oat milk – This newly trendy milk alternative has actually been around for a long time. It’s also one of the cheapest and easiest to make at home, if you’re looking to take less trips to the grocery store. It’s a good mix of creamy, plain, but lightly sweet. Oatly is one of the most popular brands to buy in stores, or check out a recipe to make your own here.
- Coconut milk – There are several versions of coconut milk. There’s the canned kind, which is better for baking and making dairy free whipped creams as it’s more like a heavy cream replacement. Then there’s the coconut milk you find in a carton. The latter is meant to be drunk like regular milk. It has a stronger flavor than other non-dairy milks, so if you don’t like the flavor of coconut , this one isn’t for you. We like So Delicious brand for coconut milk.
- Rice milk – Rice milk is another substitute for skim milk, it works because of its thin and watery consistency. It’s lower in protein than most other milks on this list, while still being a bit higher calorie (120 calories per serving). It is lightly sweet, even when unsweetened. Rice Dream is the best brand to buy when it comes to rice milk.
- Hemp milk – Lesser known but still popular, hemp milk is made from hemp seeds which have several health benefits. Most notably, they contain a high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids. Check out Pacific Foods if you want to try this milk.
- Hazelnut milk – If you want to feel fancy, we recommend hazelnut milk. It has a fair bit of hazelnut flavor, which we enjoy. Find this milk from Pacific Foods. If you’re a fan of Nutella or Ferrero Rocher, we highly recommend checking out their chocolate hazelnut milk. You won’t be disappointed.
Can you freeze lactose free milk?
Yes, you absolutely can. If you’re looking to freeze some lactose free milk, put it in an airtight container, making sure to leave at least a half inch of space between the milk and the lid. This will account for the space needed for the milk to expand. When you’re ready to use it again, just thaw it in the refrigerator ahead of time. It’s safest to use it within four months of freezing, although it can last longer when properly frozen. It’s important to note that the milk may settle and separate as it’s freezing, which can make the texture become a bit grainy. It is still perfectly good. If the texture throws you off, whip up a batch of cookies or a baked goodie that calls for milk instead.
What else do you need to know about lactose free milk storage?
To store lactose milk in the fridge, you’ll want to ensure that the container it’s in is airtight. You’ll need to keep it in the fridge at all times when not in use, to maximize shelf life. You should also make sure your fridge is kept below 40 degrees fahrenheit at all times, for maximum food safety. If you really want to be a lactose free milk pro, store your milk in its original packaging, in the body of the fridge rather than in the door. The fridge door typically stays warmer than the rest of the fridge, since it is near the exterior and is directly affected when you open the fridge.
Let’s say you leave your dairy free milk out of the fridge on accident. If you’ve left your milk out in a space that is 40 degrees fahrenheit or warmer, you’ll notice it begin to spoil pretty rapidly. If its been four hours or more, it’s safer to throw it out. Like with any other food, you’ll want to smell it and look at it to determine if it’s spoiled. If it smells sour, the color is off, or it appears clumpy and thick – throw it out!
Use equal parts lactose free milk in place of regular milk, just as you would in any other recipe. The main thing to beware of is what kind of lactose free milk you’re using. For example, most vegan milk brands come in a few variations: original, plain, vanilla, sweetened, and unsweetened. If you’re cooking a savory dish, be sure to use a plain, unsweetened option. If you’re cooking something sweet, you can get away with any of these options.
If you’re new to lactose free milk, welcome! While it can seem overwhelming at first, you’ll be a pro in no time. There are a ton of lactose free milks on the market, so you just need to be prepared to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince Charming… that is Prince Charming of lactose free milks. Just as some people swear by 2% or skim milk, you’ll find the right milk alternative that suits your taste buds. And if you need to you can freeze lactose free milk
What’s your go-to lactose free milk? Which one do you recommend others avoid? Let us know in the comments down below!