If you’re new to following a dairy free diet, you’ve probably been experimenting with different plant-based substitutions. While ten years ago there was maybe one or two brands of dairy free yogurt on the market, now you can find many different brands, flavors, and types. While they all vary slightly from traditional milk-based yogurt, you can still find some fabulous options on the market.
How to Choose a Dairy Free Yogurt
There are several factors that might impact your choice of plant-based yogurt. You will want to consider:
- What is the base made out of? From almond to coconut to cashews to oats, these days there are a ton of options. Your choice may depend on taste preferences (for example, if you love coconut, a coconut-based yogurt is a natural choice), or it may depend on other allergy concerns (for example, if you have a nut allergy, you might veer towards oat milk).
- What are the nutrition facts? As an RD, I love that traditional dairy-based yogurt is packed with protein. Unfortunately, many plant-based options miss the mark on the protein, simply because they are made of ingredients that are not necessarily rich in it. In addition, some plant-based yogurts are high in added sugar – though that is the case with traditional dairy yogurt too!
- What am I using it for? You might find that different dairy-free yogurts can be used for various culinary applications. For example, while an oat milk yogurt is a little thinner and possibly not ideal for a parfait, it might work well in making overnight oats.
The key here is to simply experiment with all the different options, both for snacking, baking, and cooking, and see what works best for you!
Dairy Free Yogurt Brand Comparisons
Today, I’ve got my intern, Sami, helping out from Boston University.
Sami tested out a variety of yogurt bases, from almond to coconut to oat, and gave us her thoughts below on each one.
Of course, keep in mind that everyone’s taste preferences are different. Something Sami didn’t enjoy, like perhaps the thinness of a yogurt, might be something that you actually prefer. Always test the different options yourself to see which is your favorite.
Take it away, Sami!
Yogurt 1: So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla
Ingredients: Organic Coconutmilk (Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream), Rice Starch, Contains 2% or Less of: Pectin, Natural Flavor, Calcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Dipotassium Phosphate, Live and Active Cultures, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12.
Nutrition facts (3/4 cup): 80 calories, 5 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, <1 g protein, 30% calcium, 10% Vitamin D
Flavors available: Unsweetened vanilla, Unsweetened plain, sweetened plain, sweetened vanilla, strawberry, pineapple brulee, strawberry banana, key lime, raspberry, peach
Thoughts: This yogurt was coconut milk based with a vanilla flavoring, though unsweetened. (it also comes in many different flavors but I chose this one!). This one wasn’t my personal favorite – but it does come in a regular sweetened vanilla version so I wonder if I would like the taste of that better. The coconut base had an interesting consistency; it felt lighter and thinner than regular yogurt. It tasted like this one had tiny shreds of coconut in it which I actually really enjoyed.
From a nutrition standpoint, this is one of the lowest sugar options out there with just 1 gram of sugar and 80 calories per serving. It also is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D, making it comparable on that end to dairy yogurts (and considerably higher than most other plant-based yogurts). Keep in mind it does have several grams of saturated fat, which some people may want to limit. It’s also low in protein. However, if you’re looking for a light, tropical-esque snack, this might be a perfect treat – especially with some granola and fruit.
Yogurt #2: Kite Hill Regular, Vanilla
Ingredients: Almond Milk (Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Citric Acid, Vanilla Bean, Xanthan Gum, Agar, Live Active Cultures: S.Thermophilus, L.Bulgaricus, L.Acidophilus, Bifidobacteria
Nutrition facts (1 container): 170 calories, 9 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 18 g sugar (17 g added), 4 g protein, Calcium: 4%, Vitamin D: 0%
Flavors available: Vanilla, plain sweetened, plain unsweetened, peach, blueberry, strawberry, key lime, raspberry
Thoughts: Kite Hill offers several almond milk-based products, including both regular style and Greek style yogurt. Let’s start with this regular vanilla version. I found this version very sweet – which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it!
From a taste perspective, it might be ideal if you’ve got a sweet tooth. It kind of tasted like boxed icing! From a nutrition standpoint, though, it has 17 grams of added sugar – a bit high for a small container. I also personally found it a bit too sweet.
However, when I tried the plain unsweetened version, I found it a bit too bland. But I came up with a perfect solution – add a little vanilla extract to the plain version which helped bring out the natural sweetness and add flavor. I loved that, and really recommend that yogurt if you’re looking for a plant based yogurt that isn’t too sweet!
Some people have complained that this yogurt has a bit of an “artificial” taste to it, others have said it’s more sour than the other dairy free yogurt alternatives. Just keep that in mind.
Yogurt #3: Kite Hill Greek Style Yogurt, Plain Unsweetened
Ingredients: Almond Milk (Water, Almonds), Tapioca Starch, Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Agar, Live Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidobacteria.
Nutrition facts (1 container): 160 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar (0 g added sugar), 11 g protein, Calcium: 10%, Vitamin D: 0%
Flavors available: Plain unsweetened, vanilla unsweetened, strawberry, blueberry, peach
Thoughts: This is another KiteHill almond based yogurt and was specifically Greek style. I was pleasantly surprised to find the texture was thick like Greek yogurt should be! This plain unsweetened variety had a subtle almond taste (which make sense, because it’s made from almonds) – though some may find the plain version perhaps a little chalky.
On the nutrition side, it had a relatively short ingredient list, which I appreciated. And unlike many plant-based yogurts, it actually packs in quite a bit of protein – 11 grams per container! This, along with the 4 grams of fiber per container, both help keep you full longer.
Though it does have 10 grams of fat (which can seem quite high for a yogurt), the fats come from almonds – so they’re a healthy type of fat that can actually help with satiety. For those of you looking for a non-fat yogurt, though, unfortunately (unlike dairy Greek yogurt) with this kind you can’t choose the fat content (i.e. low fat or fat free).
Yogurt #4: Forager Cashew Yogurt, Vanilla
Ingredients: Cashewmilk (Filtered Water, Cashews*), Cane Sugar*, Tapioca Starch*, Pectin, Coconut Cream*, Locust Bean Gum*, Natural Flavor, Agar, Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Vanilla Beans*, Live Active Cultures (S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Lactis, L. Plantarum).
Nutrition facts (1 container): 140 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 3 g protein, Calcium: 2%, Vitamin D: 0%
Flavors available: vanilla, unsweetened plain, blueberry, strawberry, lemon, and cherry in traditional style | unsweetened and vanilla in “double cream” style
Thoughts: This cashew based yogurt was my personal favorite by far. It was slightly runny, but just as creamy and tasty as regular yogurt. To me, it tasted the most like traditional dairy yogurt out of all of them.
From a nutrition standpoint, it’s a bit more balanced in fat, carbs, and protein overall for a flavored yogurt compared to certain alternatives. It does have 12 grams of sugar – but it is also a flavored, sweetened variety, so it makes sense to have sugar. If you’re looking for a lower sugar version, the unsweetened plain flavor has only 1 gram of sugar.
There are only 3 grams of protein per container, which is higher than some brands and lower than others. If you combine this with nut butter or high-protein granola, though, it could boost the protein content to make it more of a filling light meal or snack. You can also use this yogurt in an breakfast bowl with oats.
Yogurt #5: Silk Almond Milk Yogurt, Vanilla
Ingredients: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Pectin, Calcium Citrate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Live And Active Cultures, Vanilla Bean, Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin D2.
Nutrition facts (1 container): 200 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 17 g sugar, 5 g protein, Calcium: 10%, Vitamin D: 15%
Flavors available: vanilla, peach, dark chocolate coconut, strawberry, mixed berry acai, unsweetened vanilla, sweetened vanilla, plain | (note Silk also offers a soy-based yogurt which we didn’t cover, as well as the oat-based yogurt below)
Thoughts: Similar to Kite Hill, this is another almond milk based yogurt, made by the brand Silk. The yogurt had a slightly thin consistency, similar to the cashew based yogurt, but it was not quite as thin as the coconut based yogurt.
This yogurt is very sweet, which makes sense given the 17 grams of sugar. As you can see, it’s a bit tough to find plant-based flavored yogurts that are lower in sugar. This does have 5 grams of protein per container, which is higher than most plant-based yogurts, and offers a bit of balance. It also has 15% of your daily Vitamin D needs (as it’s fortified) which I thought was great.
Like many nut-based yogurts, it might be a bit higher in fat than you were expecting at 11 grams, but these fats come naturally from the healthy nuts.
Overall, I this yogurt was pretty pleasant to eat.
Yogurt #6: Silk Oat Yeah Yogurt, Vanilla
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Ingredients: Oatmilk (Filtered Water, Whole Oat Flour), Cane Sugar, Faba Bean Protein, Corn Starch, Pectin, Calcium Citrate, Natural Flavor, Vanilla Bean, Live and Active Cultures, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12.
Nutrition facts (1 container): 80 calories, 0 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 9 g sugar (9 g added sugar), 3 g protein, Calcium: 10%, Vitamin D: 10%
Flavors available: strawberry, vanilla, mixed berry, mango
Thoughts: Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of oat milk. I love it in my smoothies and coffee because it is creamy and has a smooth taste. Therefore, I assumed that I was going to really enjoy this yogurt – but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype I had built up in my head. Though it was vanilla flavored, I personally found it to be a bit bland. The consistency was also quite thin.
On the nutrition end, I do like that this container was lower in added sugar than some of the other alternatives, with 9 grams compared to the 12-17 seen in similar size containers. It also has less calories due to it’s zero fat content, which might make it convenient if you’re looking for a low-calorie snack. And it does pack in 10% of your calcium and Vitamin D needs.
In addition, this is one of the few non-nut-based yogurt alternatives on the market, which is essential if you have an allergy and need a nut-free version.
(Chrissy’s note – I agree that the consistency is quite thin, but I actually personally really like the flavor of this – especially when you use it for overnight oats!)
Obviously, there are many different types of plant based yogurts to try out – these are just a few examples! I recommend trying at least a few to see what your favorite bases and flavors are. Though some plant-based yogurts don’t provide as much protein or the creamy consistency of dairy yogurts, they can still be a great alternative if you are trying to avoid dairy.
Share with me: What’s your vote?! Do you have a favorite dairy free yogurt brand?
Much of this post was written by a nutrition student, Sami Mirchin! Sami is studying Nutritional Sciences at Boston University. She is very interested in all things health and wellness. She is an avid runner and can often be found at the gym – or at a local coffee shop guzzling down as much coffee as she can drink. She is studying towards becoming a dietitian and cannot wait to continue cultivating her passion for nutrition. You can find Sami over on LinkedIn.