Rice Milk: Brands to Choose and Avoid

Filed under Food Choices
best rice milk brands

Rice milk is processed, milled rice, blended with water until it transforms into a liquid.

During the process, carbohydrates become sugar, giving it a naturally sweetened taste.

This somewhat sugary alternative is very low in nutrient value unless vitamins and calcium are added to it. However, it’s the least likely of all dairy milk alternatives to trigger allergies. But, it contains almost no protein.

If this is your go-to choice as a dairy-free alternative for your coffee, cereal, or recipes, here’s how some popular brands compare ingredient-wise.

Popular Rice Milk Brand Comparison

Rice Dream

rice dream nutrition

Rice Dream offers both shelf-stable and refrigerated rice milk products. Their shelf-stable line offers a more wide variety of choices like, unsweetened, and organic.

For comparison sake, let’s look at Rice Dream’s Original Rice Milk.

Rice Dream Nutrition

Per 8 fl oz serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Sugar: 10 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 2.5 grams

Ingredients: Filtered water, organic brown rice (partially milled), organic expeller pressed safflower and/or canola oil, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, vitamin B12.

Questionable ingredients:

Vitamin A Palmitate: People that eat plenty of fruits and vegetables do not need to supplement vitamin A and this is a synthetic form of the vitamin that some report to be linked to health problems.

Canola Oil: The fat in Rice Dream may be from canola oil which has been called into question in recent years because of its processing methods and possible inflammatory effect.

Health grade: B

Pacific Foods Rice Milk

pacific rice milk nutrition

This brand offers two shelf-stable varieties of rice milk. Here’s how their original fairs.

 

Pacific Rice Milk Nutrition

Per 8 fl oz serving:

  • Calories: 130
  • Carbs: 27 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 2 grams

Ingredients: Water, Brown Rice, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2

Questionable ingredients:

Vitamin A Palmitate

Canola Oil

Carrageenan: For some people, this thickener could cause some gastric distress and has some other evidence of causing other intestinal issues. A small amount appears to be fine but those who consume a lot of processed foods should take note.

Health grade: C

Vitasoy Rice Milk

nutrition of vitasoy rice milk

Vitasoy is a popular dairy alternative in Australia and New Zealand. They offer a couple of different shelf-stable rice milk options, but here’s how their original compares.

Vitasoy Rice Milk Nutrition

Per 8 floz serving:

  • Calories: 125
  • Carbs: 23.7 grams
  • Sugar: 14.5 grams
  • Protein:.7 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams

Ingredients: Filtered water, whole brown rice (min 13%), sunflower oil, calcium phosphate, sea salt.

Questionable ingredients: None

Health grade: A

Trader Joe’s Rice Drink

Trader Joe's Rice Drink Nutrition

Trader Joe’s offers a pretty extensive line of dairy alternatives and they call their rice milk a “rice drink”. I guess they understand that grains of rice do not have nipples…

Anyway, here’s how their original version stacks up.

Trader Joe’s Rice Drink Nutrition

Per 8 fl oz serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Sugar: 10 grams
  • Protein:1 gram
  • Fat: 2.5 grams

Ingredients: Filtered water, organic brown rice (partially milled), organic expeller pressed safflower oil and/or sunflower oil and/or canola oil, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d2, vitamin b12.

Questionable ingredients:

Possibly contains canola oil

Vitamin A Palmitate

Health grade: B

Kirkland Rice Milk

nutrition comparison of kirkland rice milk

Costco offers bulk rice milk to its club members under the Kirkland brand name. Here’s how their original compares.

Kirkland Rice Milk Nutrition

Per 8 fl oz serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Sugar: 6 grams (Kirkland’s Rice Milk is the lowest in sugar compared to the other brands.)
  • Protein:1 gram
  • Fat: 2.5 grams

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Partially Milled Organic Rice, Organic Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid.

Questionable ingredients:

Vitamin A Palmitate

Health grade: B+

Good Karma Rice Milk

good karma rice milk

This product is found in “natural” grocery stores like Whole Foods. Here’s how Good Karma Organic Rice Milk measures up.

Good Karma Rice Milk Nutrition

Per 8 fl oz serving:

  • Calories: 80
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Sugar: 8 grams
  • Protein:1 gram
  • Fat: 3 grams

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed High Oleic Safflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12.

Questionable ingredients:

Carrageenan

Brown Rice Syrup

Natural flavor

Vitamin A Palmitate

Health grade: D This brand appears to contain less actual rice since it is sweetened and flavored to taste better.

Alpro Rice Drink

alpro rice drink UK

This popular UK brand is available in both an original and lite version. Here’s how the original Alpro Rice Drink compares nutritionally.

Alpro Rice Drink Nutrition

Per 200 ml serving:

  • Calories: 94
  • Carbs: 19 grams
  • Sugar: 6.6 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams

Ingredients: Water, Rice (12%), Sunflower oil, Calcium (Tri-calcium phosphate), Maltodextrin, Sea salt, Stabiliser (Gellan gum), Vitamins (B12, D2), Acidity regulator (Dipotassium phosphate)

Questionable ingredients:

Dipotassium phosphate – Some research showed that inorganic phosphates can potentially accumulate in body tissues and cause harm. Most brands use calcium phosphate as a calcium supplement, but this brand has two types of phosphates.

Maltodextrin – This is an added carb which quickly converts to sugar and has a higher GI index than table sugar.

Health grade: B- The label claims no added sugars, but they add maltodextrin which is a bit deceiving

Whole Food’s 365 Rice Milk

365 whole foods rice milk

Whole Food’s market offers a rice milk beverage under its 365 label. Here’s how it compares.

Whole Foods Rice Milk Nutrition

Per 8 floz serving:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Sugar: 13 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 2.5 grams

Ingredients: Organic rice milk (filtered water, organic whole grain brown rice), organic brown rice syrup, organic brown rice syrup solids, organic expeller pressed safflower and/or sunflower seed oil, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, organic vanilla extract, carrageenan, natural flavor, vitamin a palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), cyanocobalamin (vitamin b12).

Questionable ingredients:

Added Sugars

Carrageenan

Vitamin A Palmitate

Health grade: C

What About Brand X?

There are many brands of rice milk available and your favorite may not be on the list above. But, you can still use this list to evaluate how healthy your brand is.

What you want to look for in your brand, is how many additives it contains and if the additives are among what we have identified as questionable ingredients.

The Winning Rice Milk

The Vitasoy Rice Milk is probably the gold standard in that it has the least additives and is closest to if you would make rice milk at home. Unfortunately, this is not available in the US, so Kirkland is probably the second-best.

Questionable Ingredient Clarification

The ingredients identified as questionable aren’t unequivocally “harmful” per se, but there is some scientific-based evidence that they could cause potential problems when consumed by some people or in large quantities.

If you’ve found a great brand of rice milk, add its picture and ingredients list to the comments below.

MORE Brand Comparisons:  

    Citations:

  • ROSA, M. (1972). Biological properties of carrageenan. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 24(2), 89-102. abstract
  • James, M. J., Gibson, R. A., & Cleland, L. G. (2000). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(1), 343s-348s. abstract
Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated June 25, 2021

34 Comments

  • GT 4 months ago

    Thanks for posting – I found this informative – you have to look for certain things – e.g., canola oil that might contribute to inflammation, and how much value you are getting if it is not enriched. FYI, in Canada there is a PC brand of rice milk which is the private brand of a chain called Loblaw’s and it is enriched with a lot of beneficial vitamins (think it has the canola oil, though).

    Reply
    • James (Moderator) 4 months ago

      Definitely read ingredients carefully. Although, quite frankly – with most of these products you are buying cartons of water, with small amounts of good stuff.

      Reply
  • Holly 6 months ago

    What about Rice Dream’s Original Classic?

    Reply
  • Ernest Duck jr. 6 months ago

    Best. Ricemilk. In tast. Is. Rice. Dream. But. It. Has bad. Oil. In it. I’m. Looking. For. A really. Basis. Rice. Milk. Cornmilk. With. Corn. Oil. And. No. Sunflower oils. RICE. IS. ALWAYS. UNDER. APRECIATED…… DUCKMAN………….

    Reply
  • Summer

    I thought this was going to be an article that addressed arsenic in rice milk/drink.
    Guess not. 🙁

    Reply
  • Rita Pelfrey

    Where to find unenriched rice milk

    Reply
  • Nancy Lawhorn

    Best rice milk is NOT helpful as we live in the US. What’s the best in the US??? Or do you know?

    Reply
  • Bd pellow

    Whoaaaa..not one word about arsenic content what a cover up . Switch to almond or soya milk. Know the science.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Yes, this is part of a conspiracy and a cover up…. Seriously? There are levels of arsenic in all rice products and in rice itself which is why rinsing rice is advised. Arsenic is a natural part of the earth so it exists in some levels in many food products. Organic arsenic in trace levels in our food isn’t a problem but inorganic arsenic is. With rice, you’re dealing with the organic form. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/arsenic

      Reply
  • Stephen Infield

    Hi there,
    I have relatively recently become vegetarian / pescatarian (destination vegan).
    This was v helpful, even if not many of the products are available in the UK.
    So thank you.
    Hope you’ll update again sometime…especially for the UK!

    Reply
  • C. Eubanks

    Thrive Market has a rice milk that I’ve been using since I can’t get Kirkland from Costco anymore. I used that for over ten years! Kirkland had a long shelf life. The Thrive brand has very short life but don’t know why? If it’s unopened, shouldn’t it last for several months? I used to order by case, but will now order only a few at a time.

    Reply
    • Marta A. Sloane

      Sadly, Thrive Mrket discontinued their rice milk. No reason given.

      Reply
    • Vickie D Young 9 months ago

      I also used the Costco Rice beverage and now they have stopped carrying it. I have put in a request for them to get it back in stock. Hopefully they get it back, I have stomach issues and their rice beverage seems to be the only one that my stomach will tolerate.

      Reply