Whenever we brainstorm a new taste test, the first question is: Are there enough options? Say, if we’re testing whole-wheat penne, how many easily accessible brands produce this? When we set out to test unsweetened, salted peanut butter, we realized: too narrow. So we stretched the parameters to be unsweetened, salted or not.
I thought the same thing would happen with almond milk: unsweetened, “original” flavored (so, not vanilla, chocolate, etc).
Are there really that many of these out there? And it turns out, yes—yes, there are. We found nine without blinking an eye, got them super cold in the fridge, and then tasted them blindly.
Here’s how they fared, from least to most favorite:
Malk prides itself on being made with three ingredients: sprouted almonds, Himalayan salt, and filtered water. It’s cold-pressed and gum-free, a rarity among its kind. And yet taste testers found its flavor the most artificial of all. (What does this say about sprouted almonds? What does this say about us?) Several noted that it tasted “like almond extract.” One compared it to “marzipan.” And another held nothing back: “fake flavor.” Meanwhile, Malk’s bottle clapped back “with an abundance of premium almonds. No binders, fillers or thickeners of any kind. Just pure, simple ingredients and a little piece of our hearts with every sip.” Sorry, Malk.
Pacific uniquely roasts its almonds “to emphasize the robust, authentic flavors.” This also seems to impart a buttery yellow hue, which most taste testers found “off putting” and “odd.” (The rest ranged from white to ivory to taupe.) Pacific’s flavor, meanwhile, didn’t do much better. Few people thought it tasted like almonds, but rather: “vanilla,” “vanilla flavoring,” “papery,” “plasticy,” “yellow cake batter,” “chocolate graham crackers.” At least some of those are good?
Like Malk, Elmhurst boats an uncommonly short ingredient list: almonds and water. Just like mom used to make! Its almond concentration also seems higher than its competitors: “18 almonds in every glass.” This yielded a thick texture, almost like cream, and grayish color. Still, several disparaged its “watery” and even “chalky” flavor. There were a few fans. One thought it would be great for coffee. A couple compared it to homemade almond milk: “Could taste too homemade for some,” asked one taste tester who described herself as an “avid almond milk drinker.”
Trader Joe’s almond milk was all over the place. Many like its “mild almond taste” and “balanced” flavor. Its color was, well, milky, which people also admired. But many found its taste “watery.” It was also compared to “rice milk,” “chemicals,” and “like flour is in it.” (It’s not. But there are gellan gum and xanthan gum. Mm.) A couple noted its saltiness. One person remarked, “tastes like a sink,” which no one else picked up on.
Whole Foods raves about its “premium organic almonds.” Most of our taste testers were not impressed by the flavor. “Cardboard” was mentioned twice and one person picked up on notes of “tortilla,” presumably a critique. That said, a few agreed it tasted like almonds. And several applauded its creamy consistency and color. “Not bad!” raved one. “Wow!” said another.
A few people went into this test betting that Califia would be our champion. Which goes to show you just how important branding is. (Have you seen their bottles? You should. So pretty!) But, ahem, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Beyond the bottle, this almond milk has a “concrete” color, which many held against it. Two wrote the same exact thing: “Literally gray. Tastes better than it looks.” This such sums up most tasters’ feelings well.
Two members of the edit team declared their Almond Breeze loyalty before the test even began—and it largely delivered. “Nice, thick, and almondy” is as kind a compliment as an almond milk could ever hope to get. Or maybe “the sweat of a full-bodied almond, toasting in the sun” is even kinder! Another echoed, “better than the others.” And one went as far as “nuttiest of them all.” Though not everyone was a fan. A couple critiqued its saltiness. One person compared it to “watery crab juice.”
Like us, Silk is “nuts about nuts.” Its flavor followed through on this promise. One described it as “Y.U.M.” Another showered it with compliments, “Tastes full. Also so fresh and so clean! I like you.” Tasters prized its rich color and thick-but-not-too-thick thickness. But there were a few naysayers. A couple people thought it tasted less like almond milk and more like “something else…” One thought coconut milk. Another, cow milk.
Congrats, So Delicious! This “carrageenan-free” and “non-GMO project verified” almond milk takes the cake. “Yum,” said one. “Yummy,” said another. There was also: “Really nice!!” and “Tastes like an almond grove.” One person thought it would be great with cereal. Another was excited to try it with cookies. Which, by the way, were offered as
bribery compensation for taste testers. We can confirm that, no matter the milk, it always tastes better with cookies.
What’s your favorite almond milk brand? Tell us in the comments!