What to CookNon-Boozy Drinks

A Rainbow of Ideas for Your Next Glass of Milk

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When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

Flavored milk can be a many-splendored thing. Growing up, my sights were more often than not set on the chocolate or strawberry varieties school, grocery stores, or after schooling snacking offered up—and that magnetic draw hasn’t let up over the years. But I’d wager that you haven't considered adding your favorite fruit, vegetable, or even spices and herbs to your glass (!). And you don't have to stop there, either: Nut butters, seeds, and even rice take well to a tall glass of milk. That's because milk is happy to be a creamy sidekick to your whim.

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Follow the steps below for blending up various ingredients into flavored milks that'll have you saying chocolate milk, strawberry milk? Love 'em, but what else is in the rainbow?

Photo by Bobbi Lin; design by Tim McSweeney

To make flavored milks, a whole rainbow of them, you’ll need:

A blender
A fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or thin dishtowel
A touch of something sweet, and something colorful and delicious—that is, the thing you want your milk to taste like

The options for that happy fill-in-the-blank are nearly endless, so long as you can blend it. Mixed-berry milk? The happiest ending for your smushiest, bottom-of-the-basket berries. Cereal milk? Of COURSE! Squash n' spice milk? Yes, indeed.

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In my mind, you can start with wet ingredients (say, fruits, nut butters, purées...) or dry ones—oats, coconut flakes, smashed up cookies (!). And each type has its own particular, though similar, method.

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Squash n' Spice Milk

D0abaf68 a3aa 4105 a15a 732c3fd0d9ee  186158 Caroline Lange
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Serves 2
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1/4 cup canned or homemade squash purée (unsweetened—pumpkin, butternut, or sweet potato—not a squash, I know—will work well)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
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You'll need to keep a few things in mind.

  • For that something sweet, consider sugar, yes, but also brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or dates. Already very sweet things, like certain cereals, may not need any sweetener at all. This is the fun part! (If you’re using dates, soak them in hot water for at least 10 minutes before blending them.)
  • Consider adding a long pour of buttermilk for extra tanginess. This plays especially well with anything you’d bake into a cobbler.
  • Don’t forget about spices, extracts, and other powders and concentrated liquids. Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cocoa powder; vanilla, almond, or peppermint extracts; rosewater and orange blossom water. All will add complexity to your flavored milks.
  • The drier, harder things—nuts and seeds and the like—will benefit from an overnight soak before you blend.
  • If the result tastes flatly sweet, add a pinch of salt and taste again.
  • You want a pumpkin pie milk, you say? Add some blitzed-up oats and a teeny handful of toasted pecans to the cinnamon-squash combo. If you want to steep the ingredients together, it will only help—but if you’re impatient and don’t want to, it will still be pretty delicious. Either way, strain before serving. Follow this method for any wet-dry ingredient combinations.
All the flavored milks!
All the flavored milks! Photo by Bobbi Lin

Now, for the wet ingredients.

If you’d like to make a fruity milk, nearly anything will work: berries, peaches, mango, corn kernels stripped from their cobs (with the milk scraped from the cob with the back of a chef’s knife, too!). The only things I’d use caution with are very acidic fruits, like citruses, pineapple, and kiwi, wherein you run the risk of curdling the milk. No good.

For 2 servings, start with cold ingredients: You’ll need 2 cups milk and about 1 heaping cup fruit, plus your desired sweetener to taste.

If you have the patience and the time, macerate the fruit, roughly mashed or chopped, with your sweetener of choice, at least two hours and up to overnight. (You might add some herbs at this step too—some torn mint tossed with sugared and smashed blueberries and left to macerate.) If neither, go ahead and move on to the next step.

Pile the roughly mashed or chopped fruit (and, if you’ve macerated it, all the accumulated juices) into a blender and add the milk and the sweetener (if you haven’t already). Purée thoroughly, and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into glasses. Ta-da!

If you want to start with a purée or a nut butter—say, tahini, almond butter, or pumpkin purée—use a tablespoon per cup of milk. Again, any added sweetener will depend on your taste, but start with a tablespoon and taste as you go.

Onto the dry ingredients!

Some ideas to get you started: oats, rice, nuts, Frosted Flakes, coconut flakes, sesame seeds… And the same rule for sweetening as you go applies.

Blitz your mix-in in the blender until broken up relatively finely—not quite dust, but not much larger. Combine with cold milk (say 2 cups for 2 servings) and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight; this steeping step will allow the flavors to really meld.

Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into glasses.

Which one will you choose?
Which one will you choose? Photo by Bobbi Lin

A few more ideas to keep you going.

Creamsicle milk: Rub the zest of an orange into 2 tablespoons of white sugar with your fingers. Blend with 2 cups milk and a tablespoon of orange blossom water. Steep, then serve.

Nutella milk: Blend 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with a small handful of toasted hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons white sugar, and 2 cups of milk. Steep, then serve.

Toasted coconut milk: Toast 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes in a frying pan until golden. Blend with 2 cups milk, 2 soaked dates, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Steep, then serve.

Rice pudding milk (that is, faux horchata): Toast 1/2 cup white rice in a frying pan until golden. Blitz in a blender or clean spice grinder until almost powdered, then combine with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, and 2 cups milk. Steep, then serve.

Black sesame milk: Grind 5 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds with 2 tablespoons white sugar in a blender or clean spice grinder. (The sugar will help break up the seeds!) Add 2 cups of milk, blend to combine, then strain through a fine mesh strainer and serve. (Alternatively, use a couple of tablespoons of tahini, and zip through the blender with some milk and some sugar or a date or two. If you use a date, strain it before serving.)

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

Tags: milk pep flavored milks