Almond Milk: The Best and Worst Brands

Do you drink Almond milk? Here is a round-up of the best and worst almond milks, and what to look for in a brand.

Almond milk is one of an ever-growing line of non-dairy alternatives to traditional cow’s milk.

The current list includes: oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, flax milk, hemp milk, and coconut milk hybrids. Oh, and don’t forget hazelnut milk, and even cashew nut milk.

What’s prompted this post is my experiences with almond milk. I purchase almond milk every now and then (and this varies for me depending on price).

I find the “original” varieties to be over-sweetened.

To add insult to injury, some manufacturers make single serve formulations of these beverages. Often with almost identical packaging, the single serves can contain a whole lot more sugar.

Silk and Almond Breeze are both the target of a class-action lawsuit claiming that they only contain 2% almonds. Unfortunately, labeling requirements in the USA allow manufacturers to withhold the percentage of almonds in the beverage.

We were unable to find Almond percentages for any USA brands. However, one brand’s exported product (Almond Breeze) did show the percentage at 2%.

The highest percentage we were able to find is an Australian brand (Pure Harvest) at 10%.

silkSilk

Their range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Vanilla (16g sugar), Light (5g sugar), Light Vanilla (11g sugar), Unsweetened, Unsweetened Vanilla.

Ingredients can include: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum. Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.

  • Uses non-GMO almonds.
  • Carrageenan free.
  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.

More: silk.com

(Discounted at Amazon).

almondbreezeBlue Diamond Almond Breeze

Range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Vanilla (13g sugar), Chocolate (20g sugar !) Unsweetened, Unsweetened Vanilla. They also have chocolate flavors.

Ingredients can include: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, D-Alpha-Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E)

  • Almond Percentage: 2% (source: bluediamonduk)
  • Also has a coconut milk blend.
  • Uses non-GMO almonds.
  • Now carrageenan free in the US.
  • In other countries like the UK, it still may contain carrageenan and it doesn’t contain added vitamins.
  • Chocolate flavoring is from ‘dutch process’ chocolate (read more here).

More: www.almondbreeze.com

Discounted at Amazon.

sodeliciousSo Delicious Almond Plus

Range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Vanilla (8g sugar), Unsweetened.

Ingredients can include: Almond Milk (Water, Almonds), Dried Cane Syrup, Pea Protein, Rice Protein, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Kosher Sea Salt, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D-2, L-Selenomethionine (Selenium), Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12.

  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.
  • The 5+ range contains extra protein (pea and rice protein).
  • Uses non-GMO almonds.

NOTE: There is now a newer range (simply called Almondmilk) from So Delicious that is Carrageenan-free, and uses Vitamin A Acetate.

More: Sodeliciousdairyfree.com

Discounted at Amazon

elmhurstElmhurst Harvest

Their range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Unsweetened (0g sugar), Chocolate (18g sugar).

Ingredients can include: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Gellan Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin).

  • Carrageenan free.
  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.

More: elmhurstharvest.com

(Discounted at Amazon).

pacificorganicPacific Organic Almond Milk

Range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Vanilla (10g sugar), Unsweetened, Unsweetened Vanilla.

Ingredients include: Almond Base* (Water, Almonds*), Dried Cane Syrup*, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2

  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.
  • Non-GMO almonds.
  • USDA certified organic almonds and sugar

More: www.pacificfoods.com

Discounted at Amazon.

naturaNatura Almond Milk

Range includes Original (7g sugar per cup), Chocolate (18g sugar), Vanilla (15g sugar), Unsweetened.

Ingredients include: Filtered Water, Almonds, Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavours, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Gellan Gum, Zinc Sulfate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A Palmitate.

  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.
  • Non-GMO almonds.

More: www.nutrisoya.com

tradejoesTrader Joe’s Almond Beverage

Range includes Unsweetened and Vanilla Unsweetened.

Ingredients include: Almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, gellan gum, dipotassium phosphate, xanthan gum, natural flavors, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d2, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin e).

  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.

wholefoodsalmondWhole Foods Market 365 Almond Milks

Ingredients: Organic almond milk (filtered water, organic almonds), organic evaporated cane juice, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, xanthan gum, potassium citrate, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin e).

  • No carrageenan, but uses Xantham Gum as a thickener (this may have been updated to Gellan gum and Locust Bean gum).
  • They use organic almonds and sugar.
  •  Available in original, unsweetened, and vanilla

newbarnalmondmilkNew Barn Almond Milk

This newer milk is USDA organic, contains no carrageenan. Available at Whole Foods Market. Unsweetened, sweetened, and vanilla.

Ingredients (unsweetened): organic almonds, spring water, organic acacia gum and sea salt.

califiafarmsCalifia Farms

Their range includes Original (5g sugar per cup), Vanilla, Unsweetened, Chocolate, Coconut, and even a Barista Blend.

Ingredients can include: Almondmilk (Water, Almonds), Pure Cane Sugar. Contains Less Than 2% of the Following: Vitamin/Mineral Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Zinc), Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum.

Note that Califia says: “We are in the process of replacing carrageenan across all of our product line, and we will have an entirely carrageenan-free portfolio by the end of 2015.” They have completed this and we’ve updated the ingredient list above.

  • Almond Percentage: Unlisted.
  • Non-GMO project verified.

More: califiafarms.com

Discounted at Amazon

Starbucks Almond Milk

Starbucks offer an Almond Milk (the call it almondmilk)that is their own formulation. This is not a separate product as such, but can be chosen in some stores instead of dairy milk. It has less sugar per serving than any other milk product in their stores.

Ingredients: almond milk (filtered water, almonds), sugar, tricalcium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D2.

Per serving: 60 calories, 4 grams fat, 110 mg sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams sugar, and 2 grams of protein

  • Almond Percentage: 3%.
  • Carrageenan-free

Almond Milk Nutrition Issues

Carrageenan
A texturizing additive derived from seaweed. Regarded as safe by the FDA, although some people report gastro-intestinal issues (see more). It is used predominantly in dairy and meat products, but does sometimes turn up in Almond Milk. (Here’s a large review, if you’re really concerned.)

Additives
Different kinds of thickeners and gums can be found in non-dairy milks. Chris Kesser sums this up well “gums can be problematic for those with digestive issues simply because they’re mostly indigestible, but it’s very unlikely any of them will actually cause harm.”

Vitamin A Palmitate
Many ready-to-drink products are fortified with vitamins. There is some controversy surrounding vitamin A palmitate, as it may be sourced from palm plantations that are damaging to ecosystems.

All commercial almond milks listed here (except possibly New Barn) appear to contain Vitamin A Palmitate. If you wish to avoid additives, the only way is to make your own.

“Chocolate Almond Milk Has How Much Sugar?!”

One thing I learned: A cup of Almond Breeze Chocolate Almond Milk has almost as much sugar as Coca-Cola!

  • Chocolate Almond Milk: 20g
  • Coke: 26g

The Best Choice Is…

Look for unsweetened varieties. If you can’t handle the blandness, then try an unsweetened vanilla.

Carrageenan-free brands offering unsweetened varieties (available in the US) include: Silk (buy online), and all other brands except So Delicious and Pacifica.

If you’re in Australia, the Australia’s Own Organic is a great product.

Getting Almond Milk

PS. Have a look at Thrive Market – a subscription based site where premium organic products are heavily discounted. We spotted both califia farms and other brands organic almond milk. Membership is about $45 per year (but apparently they will negotiate this).

Other non-US Brands

  • Almond Fresh – Canadian, similar sugar content, contains carrageenan.
  • So Good – NZ & Australia. Contains carrageenan. Sweetened and unsweetened varieties. Almond Percentage: 2.5%
  • Australia’s Own Organic – Almond Percentage: 3% – Probably the best find of everything reviewed here. Certified organic, no carrageenan, lightly sweetened with Agave Syrup.
  • Macro Organic Almond Milk (Australia / NZ) – A store brand (Woolworths/Countdown) with 4% almonds.
  • Pure Harvest – Australian. Certified organic, uses Rice Syrup to sweeten. Claim 10% almond content (activated almonds).
  • Alpro Almond Milk – UK. No carrageenan. Slightly sweeter than other brands.

Almond Pasteurization

Many nutrition labels list almonds as raw. This is not strictly true as (from 2007 onwards) all almonds grown in the US must be pasteurized (after some outbreaks of Salmonella during the early 2000s). This process is either done by steam treating the almonds, or by using the fumigant Propylene Oxide (PPO) (see more). PPO is an animal carcinogen, but the USDA and EPA consider the dosage levels on almonds to be so low as to be completely safe.

If you wish to avoid almond milks that were sterilized with PPO you must choose an organic source which will have been treated with steam.

Back to Basics

If you want straight Almond milk – make your own. The recipe is simple: try this one here at Nourishing Simplicity.

We’ve made Almond milk at home. I found the taste reflected the quality of the almonds. Sometimes I find that almonds I buy are old, and have that slightly… hmmm… rancid undertone?

I recommend using a nut milk bag to strain the almonds.

MORE: Dark Chocolate: The Best and Worst Brands

References

  • Pan, Z., Bingol, G., Brandl, M. T., & McHugh, T. H. (2012). Review of current technologies for reduction of Salmonella populations on almonds. Food and Bioprocess Technology, 5(6), 2046-2057.
  • Chang, S. S., Han, A. R., Reyes‐De‐Corcuera, J. I., Powers, J. R., & Kang, D. H. (2010). Evaluation of steam pasteurization in controlling Salmonella serotype Enteritidis on raw almond surfaces. Letters in applied microbiology, 50(4), 393-398.

243 Comments

  1. Are you Thriving?

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    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    My health food store gets me “Tree of Life” brand Almond Milk. You can get vanilla or plain. I get unsweetened vanilla. It has no carageenan.

    Reply
  3. John

    Sweetened chocolate cononut is probably the least dietetic of them all – has 5 times the calories of non diet drinks

    Reply
  4. 48south

    Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk no longer caries B12. I wrote them, and the representative who wrote back said that they took it out, but “The quality of the product is unaffected”, not true if you are a Vegan and relied on it as your primary source for B12

    Reply
    • Ted

      I would recommend getting a good sublingual B-12 supplement.

      Reply
    • Are you Thriving?

      Looking for a great source all natural vitamins and minerals that are non-GMO certified? Check out thrive by Le-Vel!!
      http://www.GoTo.Le-Vel.com

      Reply
    • KT Kacer

      I use Jarrow brand 5000mcg B12, love it.. went from 1000 in no time at all.

      Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      Hey B12 is cheap. Silk should be able to lower the price since they no longer have the expense of processing the B12 in to their. Try SwansonVitamins.com for great deals on vitamins & other healthy products.

      Reply
    • Kat

      Just buy it separately. What is the problem? I don’t want any artificially created vitamins added to my food

      Reply
  5. FPL

    Like one of the comments below, I found this article to be a bit unclear as it relates to its title of “best to worst” Almond Milk brands. I was expecting some type of ranking or grouping. Information appears to be incomplete and a bit misleading. Looking at the info you supplied on Califia original, for example, it has the wrong sugar content – should be 5g per serving. Also, you do not mention that their almond milk is Non-GMO project verified. Were there any other misses for the other brands that were later caught? To be fair, perhaps some ingredient decks changed since this article was written.

    Although subjective, nothing was offered on comparative flavor and taste. Difficult to do in the case of Trader Joes, which does not appear to offer an “original” sweetened product.

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Thank you. The califia entry is fixed. The best and worst is very much a matter of personal opinion. I’ve attempted to list some salient details so the reader can make their own mind up.

      Reply
      • scmaize

        Is the one listed first (Silk) supposed to be the best, and the one listed last the worst? I didn’t think the ranking was clear, either, though I thank you for the information that is provided.

        Reply
  6. 48south

    Has anyone noticed that Silk Almond milk no longer has b12? Not sure when they took it out. Being vegan, that was my main sourse of b12. Now I have to look for another option.

    Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      SwansonVitamins.com is a good option.

      Reply
      • scmaize

        I like iherb.com better.

        Reply
  7. 나는 호주사람 ㅋㅋ

    I use Macro Organic Almond milk here in Australia it is Woolworths Organic brand (one of big super markets) 4.8g sugar but only 4% almond.

    Reply
  8. Jennilee

    Whole Foods Market 365 Almond Milks- The one you have pictured is sugar free. I drink it all the time. There is also a vanilla sugar free. They have non vanilla and vanilla with sugar too. We love it at our home.

    Reply
  9. SSranger

    Re: Whole Foods Market 365 Almond Milk

    Apparently, still available, since fussy-food-eater daughter and Whole Foods shopper gave me a quart of it just last night . . . and which I’m drinking right now. Delicious. Especially cold.

    Ah, but the sugar, little as it is. If only they tested truly natiural Stevia as a “sweetener” and ran drinking tests through national Focus Groups for high-score acceptance, I’d pay more for the expected price increase (and “health benefit”) Stevia brings.

    But they’d have to really “fine-tune” the amount of Stevia put into their product; too little: no hint of sweet; too much: whoa! overbearing and, for my taste, excessive and, well, “sickeningly ‘sweet.'”

    Maybe I’ll write them.

    Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      I do use stevia in my iced tea, but honey tastes better. Stevia leaves a weird aftertaste for me.

      Reply
  10. sonya

    Unsweetened taste salty i donno why the companies add suly any way! I hope they read this feedback and cut the sult

    Reply
  11. danie

    You make a list of Almond Mild brands but you don’t tell us which are the best and the worse… unless I didn’t read correctly

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Hi Danie,

      We’ve highlighted ingredients that some may wish to avoid. And in summary:

      “Look for unsweetened varieties. If you can’t handle the blandness, then try an unsweetened vanilla.

      Carrageenan-free brands offering unsweetened varieties (available in the US) include: Silk (buy online) and Trader Joe’s.”

      Reply
      • Goldilocks PrettygirlRock

        So simply means stay away from carrageenan ingredients?

        Reply
  12. glenn

    I’m from California and was recently installing a pipeline right next to a almond tree field. The day they were spraying chemicals we had to evacuate the area. I saw the guy on the tractor and he was in a body suit with a what looked like scuba gear. Never did I see a mouse, squirrel, bird, spider,weed, anything living in those almond trees. Even my fat, meat eating, diametric opposite of holistic coworkers were freaked out. Seriously consider organic.

    Reply
    • Ted

      wow! good to know, thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • Julie

      My husband’s grandmother grew up on an apple orchard farm that used Deet and other chemicals that are outlawed today. Her dad would come in from spraying all day long and be covered in the chemicals. As a little girl, Nana would be out there too and would never wash her apples before eating them. She said they had never even heard of ticks or mosquitoes. Her dad died of natural causes in his old age and Nana died 7 months ago at the age of 100.

      Reply
      • Jacque Christy

        Just ignorant!

        Reply
      • Glenn

        Sounds like your frontal lobe is suppressed!

        Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      Thanks very much for this valued info!!

      Reply
      • Glenn

        Your welcome!

        Reply
  13. Izaak

    Very informative post thanks a lot for sharing. Thanks for all those photos this made it
    very easy to identify all of them. I believe that homemade almond milk is the best in
    every means and also have some info regarding almond milk that will be of a great
    value to all your readers.

    http://www.body-in-balance.org/blog/nutrition/health-benefits-almond-milk/

    Reply
  14. amy

    Also, I went to Calfia’s webpage (my previous favorite nut milk), and read that they are currently phasing carageenan out of all their products, which will be complete by the end of 2015. That is great news.

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Thanks for the heads up, from Califia: “Califia has developed a proprietary homogenization process and a locust bean gum replacement for carrageenan”. This will first appear in their Vegan Protein Almond milk.

      Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      I know a few people that cannot tolerate carageenan. One of them used to run her own health food store.

      Reply
  15. amy

    Best article on almond milk and additives yet, thank you so much! i clicked your link for amazon discount. great idea, as we will be drinking silk regularly after reading your article (and continuing making our own once a week!).

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Glad you found this helpful. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  16. Laurie

    Can someone tell me which almond milk is HIGHEST in fat? I recently found out that my underweight toddler is sensitive to cow’s milk.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • JamesF

      Laurie, I’m not sure that Almond milk is the best substitute as it is quite low in fat. Perhaps look at some of the milks that combine coconut milk.

      Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      Thank goodness, his little body is already talking to you. My older sister went happily thru life with absolutely no dairy milk and back then there were no alternatives like almond & coconut, etc as we have today. I think she just went with water, but she did love iced tea.

      Reply
  17. Cheryl

    365 is indeed still sold at Whole Foods. I have some in my fridge right now. The organic one. It specifically says there’s no added sugar at all.

    Reply
  18. bla

    you can get almond breeze chocolate unsweetened. It is good-ok. Good aftertaste. Feels delicious in your body to eat something so healthy 🙂 I give it to my toddler, though he refuses to drink it because it’s not sweet. I will definitely buy again.

    Reply
  19. Maranatha2011

    Any nut milk with calcium carbonate, which is most, is not a good choice. It is the cheapest form of calcium, from limestone. It can accumulate in the organs. I’d rather they put no calcium in them, at all. Hemp milk does not use it, as far as I know.

    Reply
  20. Janice Marie Foote

    You all must check out Udderly Nuts Almondmilk!!!

    from their site:

    You’ve never tasted almondmilk like this before

    Our small-batch, cold-pressed almondmilk is as pure as it gets. We
    put so much love and care into making it that we don’t think it needs
    anything extra. That’s why you won’t find any additives like
    “carrageenan,” “lecithin,” “gellan gum,” or artificial sweeteners in
    Udderly Nuts Almondmilk. Nature doesn’t add those things to almonds, we
    figured we shouldn’t either. Instead, we start with naturally sweet raw
    almonds, soak them until they’re plump, and then slowly cold-press them
    to extract a fresh, creamy almondmilk that’s alive with complex flavors
    and natural nutrients.

    https://www.facebook.com/udderlynuts
    http://udderlyalmonds.com/

    Reply
    • Janice Marie Foote

      right now they’re only in Washington DC where they’re based!!!

      Reply
      • Ron

        SWEET. I’m in DC and I see they are at Yes Organic market. I will pick one up tomorrow night. Thanks for the tip.

        Reply
    • Ted

      Thanks for sharing Janice.

      Reply
    • aud

      sounds amazing but do you have a retailer in canada?

      Reply
    • 나는 호주사람 ㅋㅋ

      Sounds so good to bad I live in Australia

      Reply
    • Jacque Christy

      Sounds wonderfully delicious! I will look for it in San Diego stores.

      Reply
    • carol

      the site for the udderly almond .com doesn’t work it says page can’t be found anyone else find this also

      Reply