Tired of just pouring almond milk in your morning cup just to avoid your dairy-based downfall? Fear not, we’re here to give you the run-down on how to choose the best non-dairy creamer. Plus, we’ll even tell you a little bit about a few of our favorites.
Why Ditch Dairy?
There are two main camps when it comes to why people are ditching dairy products: health and environmental/ethical concerns.
Those making the switch for their health may be going dairy-less for several reasons. Lactose-intolerance and health benefits of non-dairy alternatives are two of the biggest motivators. Also, traditional creamers tend to be high in calories (Unfortunately, salted caramel creamer doesn’t exactly scream”healthy choices”). So those looking to reduce their intake are also among those seeking alternative creamers.
The other camp, those with environmental or other ethical concerns, is a bit more complex. The dairy industry has come under quite a lot of criticism in recent years, leading many to shift their consumption habits to avoid supporting it. With this shift has come the rise of dairy alternatives, which is why we’re here today to help you sort out how to choose the best non-dairy or dairy-free creamer.
Dairy-Free vs Non-Dairy
Before we jump into our top picks, we do need to cover some nuances of the non-dairy territory. If you are looking to move away from your go-to full dairy creamer, you are going to come across two different terms “dairy-free” and “non-dairy.” While they sound similar, there is a pretty important distinction between them.
Creamers that are labeled as “non-dairy” are often not technically free of dairy ingredients. They simply have to contain less than 0.5% milk (by weight). That means they may still have some dairy-based ingredients, like casein, whey, and lactose. If you are simply lactose intolerant, this small amount won’t bother you. However, if you have more serious reasons for staying away from any sort of dairy product, “non-dairy” isn’t going to cut it.
On the other hand, dairy-free coffee creamers are completely free of dairy. These products will be more suitable if you are vegan or have a severe allergy to dairy products.
We are going to focus primarily on Dairy-free creamers, as their marketing tends to be a bit more transparent. Plus, if you are going non-dairy anyway, you may as well go all the way. However, if we do include a non-dairy product, we will make note of it.
Roasty’s Favorite Dairy-Free Creamers
Nutpods Oat Creamer (Original Flavor)
Nutpods Oat Creamer is one of the most popular alternative creamers out there. Their dairy-free creamer is made using oat milk, vegetable oils, and thickeners. Overall, it’s pretty simple and straightforward, but it certainly does the trick. Even without added sweeteners, the oat milk provides an innate sweetness and creaminess.
We like this creamer because it can work for several people with different dietary needs. It is diabetic friendly; keto-friendly; certified vegan; OU Kosher; Non-GMO Project verified; and free of dairy, soy, gluten, and Carrageenan (thickening additive). Plus, to top it all off, it even froths well!
Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamer
Califia Farms is one of the go-to dairy alternative brands for several of our Roasty team members. Their almondmilk creamer is nut-based and made with coconut cream and is available as both shelf-stable and refrigerator versions.
The Califia Farms’ coffee creamer is soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and sugar-free. On top of all of that, it is only 10 calories per serving, so you can sip your creamy coffee guilt-free.
Their line-up also includes a various assortment of flavors, the Califia farms better half, as well as a Barista Blend specifically intended for those who want to create a nice foam (see below). Plus, you can find Califia farms pretty much anywhere that sells other non-dairy creamers and products, so you’re free to try out all their different options.
Ripple Barista-Style Milk
Like Califia farms, Ripple is a pretty accessible brand, as you’ll likely be able to find it in some of your local groceries. If you are looking for a thick, foamable creamer, this is the one for you. Ripple’s dairy-free creamer can create a velvety foam that any coffee lover will adore.
Their coffee creamers are made using Pea protein, which is purportedly more sustainable than other plant-based alternatives (like almond, soy, oat, etc.). The Barista Blend is dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, non-GMO, and low sugar.
Additionally, Ripple is both a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) and a Certified B Corp company, demonstrating their commitment to both sustainability and serving communities beyond their shareholding stakeholders.
Also, while you won’t be able to come across it on Amazon, you may come across Ripple’s half-and-half at your local supermarket. If you do manage to spot it, don’t hesitate to pick some up– it’s a fan favorite among our dairy-free coffee fanatics.
Laird Superfood Coffee Creamer
For those of you partial to powdered creamer, look no further than this superfood team-up by Laird. This particular powder is coconut based, so it includes coconut milk powder, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. In addition to the coconut ingredients, the creamer utilizes Aquamin, a multi-mineral complex from Calcified Marine Algae.
Many of the ingredients of this USA-made creamer are organic and sustainably sourced. So you won’t find any additives, artificial ingredients/colors, sweeteners, or chemicals. As a whole, it is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, and non-GMO.
This one is a great choice for those of you looking for a creamer that isn’t too “heavy” for your morning brew. For those of you new to the plant-based world, you may prefer something that feels and tastes a little more familiar.
Silk Soy Creamer (Vanilla)
Even if you aren’t on a dairy-free diet, chances are you’ve spotted Silk’s soy milk in your local grocery store. This brand is a pretty big player in the dairy-free world, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they also have a creamer.
This vanilla-flavored soy coffee creamer is gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, carrageenan-free, and non-GMO. The ingredients are as follows: Soymilk (Filtered Water, Soybeans), Cane Sugar, Palm Oil, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Tapioca Starch, Locust Bean Gum, Dipotassium Phosphate.
The Vanilla flavor, while subtle, adds a decided sweetness to your brew. So, if you know you have a sweet tooth to cater to in the morning, this soy creamer is for you. However, you should note that it does contain some sugar and additives, so for those of you looking for a more healthy or natural option, look elsewhere.
Milkadamia Macadamia and Coconut Creamer (Fudge)
Last but not least, we have this Fudge flavored Macadamia and Coconut coffee creamer. It is macadamia milk-based with coconut cream, making for a smooth creamy addition to your morning coffee with a fun hint of chocolate.
Aside from being plant-based, this fudgy creamer is vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, non-GMO, and kosher. Additionally, this creamer is made in the USA from Australian macadamias.
We recommend the Milkadamia creamer if you are looking for something decadent and sweet in your morning brew. If the reason you take your coffee with creamer is to erase that bitter edge so that you can wake up slowly, this is the perfect choice for your dairy-free coffee.
Flavor or No Flavor?
As you may have noticed, some of our creamer recommendations for your non-dairy coffee have added flavoring while others do not. Fudge or chocolate alongside french vanilla and the occasional hazelnut are some of the most popular pops of flavor on the creamer scene (for both dairy and non-dairy creamers).
If you are a regular in the world of coffee, you’ll know that generally flavored=bad. Added flavorings are generally added to hide the poor flavors of inferior beans or roasting practices. But does the same rule go for your coffee creamer?
Unlike with your coffee grounds, a creamer labeled “french vanilla” isn’t hiding any nefarious (or simply subpar) ingredients. The level of “craftsmanship” to achieve most of the key ingredients (the oils, sugars, etc.) can’t hold a light to what goes into growing, roasting, and brewing the coffee itself. So you are safe on that front.
The downfall of flavored non-dairy creamers is the same as their dairy counterparts: their calorie count. Many dairy-free creamers boast lower calories and sugars than the standard milk products. However, once you begin venturing into the land of flavors, you’re looking at a LOT of added sugars.
Also, the added flavoring can seriously dampen any real flavor notes coming from your coffee, so you might be missing out. But, as long as you are checking your label for serving size information, you should be okay otherwise.
Dairy-Free Creamer vs Milk Alternatives
You may be asking why you can’t simply pour in your regular non-dairy milk. Well, you can, and some people certainly do. However, most milk alternatives react poorly with hot coffee, either due to the heat or the acidity of the brew. This is especially an issue with almond milk as they tend to almost “curdle” when added to coffee.
There are a few ways to avoid these issues including…
- Switching to iced coffee or cold brew
- Pouring the milk before slowly adding the coffee
- Opting for a low acid coffee
However, there is no guarantee that these methods will work, so you may end up ruining a few of your brews. No one wants that! Thankfully, with the rise of milk-alternatives (like almond milk, oat milk, and more) has come with a growing variety of non-dairy creamer options, such as the ones we discussed above.
So we recommend choosing a product that is specifically marketed as a coffee “creamer” or better half and half. If you are looking for something with more milk than creamer, the Silk and Laird options above are best for you.
If you aren’t quite satisfied with any of the creamer replacements you can buy off the shelves, you can try making your perfect non-dairy or dairy-free creamer at home! There are a ton of different ways to make dairy-free creamer at home, so feel free to experiment with the dairy replacements that bring you joy.
Here is a simple recipe to give you a jumping-off point:
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk*
- 2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1/2 vanilla bean
*If you want more control over the sweetness of your milk, you can make a combination of your go-to milk replacement and some coconut sugar
When just using those 3 base ingredients, all you have to do is blend things and refrigerate. If you sub things out and bring sugar and vanilla beans into the mix, just gently heat things on your stovetop to combine them and strain afterward.
Plus, if you are looking to get creative, you can try different recipes that involve homemade nut milk, dates, cocoa, and more!
Look at the Label
Speaking of labels…
When shopping for non-dairy creamers, the most important thing to keep in mind is the label. Some labels will have a short list of ingredients that are pretty easy to sus out, others will leave you feeling like you’re reading a murder mystery novel.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Avoid Generic Brands. As a general rule, most generic brands aren’t putting the same level of quality ingredients into their non-dairy creamers as brands that are explicitly working to produce those types of products. If you are considering picking up the store-affiliated brand, pay extra attention to what their ingredients are.
Look for Less Oil. Oil should not be the first ingredient of your non-dairy creamer. Most of them will include some oil but having it listed as the first ingredient generally means you are looking at a lower-quality product.
Take Note of Sweeteners and Additives. One of the biggest points of variance among different non-dairy brands is what they use to thicken and sweeten their brews. That means you may run into added sugars, carrageenan, or even corn syrup. Reflect on what ingredients you are okay with consuming so that you can make a conscious choice when selecting your creamer.
Check for Color. Some brands will use food coloring to help their alternative look more like your usual creamer. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is something to make note of.
So there you have it! Whether you are choosing one of our recommendations, making your own, or going off-script, we hope this guide helps you make an informed decision about your coffee creamer.
Remember to pay attention to how these products are labeled. Is it non-dairy or dairy-free? Is it vegan or keto-friendly? Does it check all of your boxes or just a few? Remember, as with any coffee product, doing your research beforehand helps you get great results.