Does Oat Milk Have Dairy?

Written by: Jeana Marie

As plant-based diets have become more mainstream over the last few years, many people are turning to dairy-free alternatives like oat milk.

If you’re new to the plant-based food scene or are looking for a dairy-free product to alleviate dairy allergies or lactose intolerance symptoms, oat milk is one of the most dairy-like substitutes you can explore. 

You may be wondering how oat milk acts like dairy if it doesn't have dairy and whether it really stacks up in terms of nutrition and taste compared to its dairy counterpart. 

Below, I’ll get into the details about oat milk and dairy to help you understand whether oat milk is truly dairy-free and which brand to choose for your kitchen.

Quick Answer

Does oat milk contain dairy?

Oat milk is dairy-free. It is made from oats and water and does not contain any dairy.

What is Dairy?

Dairy refers to more than just cow’s milk; it is any milk obtained from mammals, which can include cows, goats, and sheep (as well as a few others).

Dairy can also refer to any product made from the milk of an animal, such as yogurt, butter, cheese, and cream. 

The most popular dairy product in the U.S. is cow’s milk.

Cow-based dairy milk has traditionally been the most consumed in the U.S., with a USDA study finding that 92% of American households bought cow’s milk in 2017.

While dairy still maintains higher sales than oat milk ($3.248 billion vs. $150.5 million in July 2023), oat milk is still one of the top preferred replacements for those looking for a tasty non-dairy option. 

What’s in Oat Milk Exactly?

You may already know that oat milk is made of oats and water, but what exactly goes into creating the creamy beverage you see on store shelves and at your favorite coffee chains?

Well, it depends on the brand, but here are the most common ingredients in oat milk.

Keep in mind that brands like Elmhurst 1925 will use fewer ingredients because they focus on clean, simple recipes, while other brands, like Califia Farms, may include more of the “added” ingredients below:

  • Filtered water
  • Oats ( sometimes whole grain, sometimes broken down with an enzyme)
  • Cocoa or vanilla extract (for flavored varieties)
  • Sunflower oil (thickener/emulsifier)
  • Dipotassium phosphate (emulsifier/stabilizer)
  • Calcium carbonate or tricalcium phosphate (calcium additives)
  • Sea salt
  • Vitamin A palmitate (vitamin additive)
  • Potassium Citrate (pH balancer/texturizer)
  • Vitamin D2 (vitamin D additive)
  • Gellan gum or guar gum (emulsifier/thickener)
  • Sugar/maple syrup/molasses/cane sugar (all types of sweeteners)

Is Oat Milk Dairy Free?

Despite the long list of potential ingredients in oat milk, one ingredient it doesn’t contain is dairy.

Oat milk is dairy-free, meaning none of its ingredients come from the milk of a mammal. 

So yes, oat milk is completely dairy-free.

In fact, oat milk is not just dairy-free — it’s vegan, nut-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free (although it is sometimes processed in proximity to rice, so if gluten is a concern, you’ll want to look for a gluten-free label). 

There are some oat milk blends that contain other plant-based ingredients, though.

For instance, you may find oat-coconut milk blends or oat-almond milk blends. These offer different taste profiles and textures from straight oat milk. 

Still, none of these options contain dairy (though they may contain nuts or other non-dairy ingredients). 

Can People With Dairy Sensitivities Drink Oat Milk?

As long as your sensitivity is to dairy specifically, such as a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance, then yes, oat milk is a good choice for you. 

Dairy allergies are a condition in which your body has a severe reaction to any type of dairy milk and can result in difficult breathing, hives, or anaphylaxis.

Since oat milk does not contain dairy, it is safe for someone with a dairy allergy to consume it. 

Likewise, oat milk is a good choice if you are sensitive to lactose or are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar found in cow’s milk, which some people’s systems have trouble breaking down properly. 

Oat milk doesn’t contain lactose (since it doesn’t contain dairy), so it won’t give you any common symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as bloating, gas, or nausea. 

How Does Oat Milk Stack Up to Dairy Milk Nutritionally?

Nutritionally, oat milk and dairy milk offer different benefits.

If you’re thinking about switching out oat milk for dairy, you’ll want to consider the following to ensure you get the right amount of nutrients for your body. 

Below, are some comparisons of the USDA’s nutritional profile for 2% milk with different brands of oat milk:


Oat milk and dairy typically have a similar profile when it comes to calories, though some oat milk brands contain fewer calories than others. 

For instance, a dairy has about 120 calories per serving (8 ounces).

Chobani Original Oat Milk has 110 calories per serving, while Willa’s Unsweetened Original Oatmilk only has 80.


Protein is an essential nutrient that many people get from dairy milk and other meats or legumes.

Milk has 8 grams of protein in one serving, making it a fairly good source to add to your daily totals. 

Oat milk typically has between 2 and 6 grams of protein per serving. So, while it isn’t as much as dairy, it can add a small amount to your diet. 


Dairy and oat milk contain fats, but the amount and type differ. 2% dairy contains about 5 grams of fat per serving.

This can include saturated fat, the less healthy type that can cause heart health issues if over-consumed. You’re getting about 20 grams of cholesterol with 2% milk. 

Oat milk can have more or less fat, depending on the brand.

Elmhurst 1925 Unsweetened Milk Oats only has 2 grams of fat. Since the brand uses whole oats and no fillers, these are unsaturated fats, which are healthier for your heart. 

A product like Chobani Oat Milk Extra Creamy differs. A more processed brand, this has 8 grams of fats per serving. This contains rapeseed oil, which has 1 gram of saturated fat but still 0 grams of cholesterol per serving.


Fiber is essential to digestive health; most people need between 12 grams and 38 grams daily.

Dairy milk doesn’t contain fiber, so you’ll have to get all your fiber through other foods like vegetables or grains. 

Oat milk has about 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving. Brands that use whole oats, like Elmhurst 1925 or Willas, are the better option to get some fiber from your oat beverage. 


Calcium is one of the main reasons dairy milk is consumed in the U.S., providing 250 mg of calcium per serving. That’s about 25% of the RDA for calcium in just one cup. 

Oat milk contains nowhere near that amount of calcium, although some brands are fortified with tricalcium phosphate or calcium carbonate.

This is a trade-off because the fortified brands typically contain extra additives, while the healthier brands contain less calcium but also fewer fillers. 

For example, Elmhurst’s Unsweetened Milked Oats only contain 22 grams of calcium, while Chobani contains 130 mg.

The first product only has water, oats, and salt, while the second contains water, oats, rapeseed oil, sea salt, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, calcium carbonate, gellan gum, and dipotassium phosphate. 


Carbohydrates are an important consideration for people with diabetes or watching their carb or sugar intake for other health or dietary reasons.

Milk is fairly high in carbohydrates due to the natural sugar lactose. 2% milk has about 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving, listed as sugars. 

Oat milk typically has more carbohydrates and added sugars than dairy due to the maltose content.

Some brands, like Willas, can have around 14 grams of carbohydrates (1 gram of sugar). However, many oat milk products have 16 grams or higher, depending on if an additional sweetener is used. 

Does Oat Milk Taste Like Cow’s Milk?

Of all the alternative milk options, oat is the one most similar to dairy in terms of taste, texture, and performance.

Of course, it may differ based on your preferences and the type of dairy milk you usually drink – but most commercial oat milk brands are similar to something between skim and 2% milk.

Oat milk is naturally more sweet than, say, almond milk. This is because oats contain a natural sugar called maltose.

This sugar is broken down during processing, releasing a sweetness that gives oat milk a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of dairy. 

Oat milk is also thicker and creamier than some plant-based milk, such as rice or almond milk.

This natural creaminess, especially when mixed with commercial thickeners and emulsifiers, creates a beverage that acts and feels like dairy. 

Find Your Favorite Oat Milk 

If you're looking for a creamy, non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk, oat milk is one of the best options.

There are tons of oat milk options available, from barista blends and extra creamy options, to vanilla and chocolate flavored varieties.

You can also make your own oat milk at home by blending oats with water or using a just-add-water powder like the one from JOI. 

Check out our non-dairy milk database. Just type a search term like “oat milk” or “Willas oat”, and you’ll see various oat milk options.

It also helps you locate a store near you that sells the product or helps you easily buy it online so you can find the oat milk product that’s right for you.

About the Author

Jeana Marie is a freelance digital content writer. Her writing focuses on mental health, self-improvement, and healthy living. When she's not writing, Jeana enjoys spending time with her daughters and discovering new coffee and herbal tea flavors.