Tips and tricks for the best baked goods using almond milk, rice milk and dairy milk.
This post was originally published here in 2012 – and has become one of our most popular. In the last 5 years, the formulations of some plant-based milks have changed, so I retested these muffins. I’ve also updated the recipe, all the photos and information to give you the best baking results.
Most plant-based milk company web sites specify that alternative milk beverages such as almond, soy and rice can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio, but they give few details on the potential outcome differences in the baked products, like muffins. However, a quick glance at the differences in nutritional content between the beverages led me to believe there might be small variances in the final baked products:
|2% dairy milk||Almond Milk||Rice Milk|
|Protein||8 gm||1 gm||1 gm|
|Fat||5 gm||2.5 gm||2.5 gm|
|Carbohydrates||12 gm||8 gm||23 gm|
|Calories||130 cal||60 cal||120 cal|
When I first did this research, I used all-purpose flour only, and the results were more obvious. But I rarely make 100% all-purpose flour muffins anymore. This updated recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour which actually masks some of the differences between muffins. However, some differences were still apparent. This is not formal research, but the folks I asked to taste my muffins are accustomed to doing taste-tests; so the results can be viewed with some validity:
|2% Dairy Milk||Almond Milk||Rice Milk|
|Appearance||Raised highest Lightest color Smooth top||Raised least Golden color Cracked top||Raised medium Light color Smooth top|
|Texture||Light and moist Tender crumb||Dense and moist Fairly tender, squishy crumb||Dryer, especially day-old Almost gritty crumb|
|Taste and Aroma||Richer ‘egg’ flavor ‘Sweet egg’ aroma||Subtle almond flavor Slight ‘nutty’ aroma||Sweetest flavor ‘Toasted’ aroma|
As you can see, there are certainly differences in milk vs alternative milk beverages even with formulation updates and the use of whole wheat flour. (In all photos, the white muffin paper is almond milk, silver paper is dairy milk, red paper is rice milk.)
In terms of overall performance:
- Regular dairy milk performed the best – with higher rising, a moister muffin, and a better blank slate for flavor additions. Results are probably due to protein levels 8 times higher than other beverages.
- Almond milk added a slightly nutty flavor to the muffins which would be a pleasant addition to many baked goods. The slightly drier texture could be remedied by under-baking the product by a few minutes or by adding juicy ingredients like berries.
- Rice milk has twice the number of carbs as the other beverages, so it’s not surprising that rice milk muffins had a sweeter flavor. They also had the driest texture (especially one day later.) When baking with rice beverage, the amount of added sugar could likely be reduced by a couple tablespoons. Almond milk vs. dairy milk: Which bakes the best muffin? via @TspCurry Click To Tweet
Have you had differing results with dairy milk vs alternative milk beverages?
For more baking tips, see: Which Protein Powder is Best for Baking?