Cow’s milk has long been a staple in many Western diet households.
However, with the rise of plant-based diets, dairy sensitivities, and health awareness, milk alternatives have also surged.
In the US alone, milk alternative sales are over 3 billion annually!
In this article, we will focus on the tried and true milk alternative - almond milk.
Specifically, we will go over several methods for how to thicken almond milk.
Each of these methods has been tested, and depending on what you're using the thickened almond milk for, some methods are better than others.
So read on to learn how to thicken almond milk!
What is Almond Milk?
Currently, almond milk is the most sold milk alternative in the United States. Its flavor is nutty, creamy, and slightly sweet while still being low in sugar. Almond milk is also relatively low in calories and naturally rich in several vitamins and minerals.
In its simplest form, almond milk is just almonds and water blended together and then strained. It might seem intimidating initially, but almond milk is actually very easy to make at home. All you need is a couple of ingredients, a high-speed blender, and a nut milk bag!
This leads us to the first method to thicken almond milk - thickening homemade almond milk!
How to Thicken Homemade Almond Milk
If you make your own almond milk, you can thicken it simply by adding less water.
This method works best with a high-speed blender that can fully incorporate ingredients into a smooth and creamy texture.
The basic recipe for almond milk is a 1:4 ratio of almonds to water. However, you want to do a 1:3 ratio for thicker almond milk.
- 1 cup almonds
- 3 cups water
- Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
- Optional add-ins: vanilla extra, maple syrup/honey, dates, salt, and/or cacao powder
- Place the almonds in a lidded glass container and cover them with water. Soak the almonds overnight or for at least 6-8 hours. When they are done soaking, drain and rinse the almonds.
- Add the soaked almonds, water, and any optional add-ins to a high-speed blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes on the highest setting until creamy.
- Over a large bowl or measuring cup, pour the almond milk into a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and squeeze to get all the milk out of the bag.
- Transfer your thickened almond milk into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- If you want to make this a no-waste recipe, use the leftover almond pulp to make almond pulp chocolate chip bars or almond pulp hummus!
Want to make more of your own plant milks?
Download our FREE plant milk recipe cheat sheet on our homepage that you can print and always have on hand when making homemade plant milks!
Now, let's look at how to thicken almond milk with a few different methods:
- Arrowroot powder or corn starch
- Xanthan gum
I'll also show you how to turn almond milk into a vegan heavy cream substitute!
How to Thicken Almond Milk By Scalding It
Scalding milk is an old-timey process that used to be done to kill bacteria.
To scald milk means bringing it to a near boil, then letting it cool.
Thanks to pasteurization, scalding milk is less of a necessity and more used to thicken milk for recipes requiring it.
The method of scalding milk isn’t limited to cow’s milk, you can also scald plant-based milks! To scald almond milk, use however much almond milk you need and follow these steps:
- Add the almond milk to a heavy-bottomed pot in order for the milk to cook as evenly as possible.
- Over medium heat, warm the milk while stirring frequently. When you see bubbles forming on the edge of the milk and the pot, remove the pan from the heat.
- Allow the milk to cool and thicken before using it in a recipe.
How to Thicken Almond Milk with Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
Both arrowroot powder and cornstarch can be used as thickening agents and are tasteless and gluten-free.
Arrowroot powder (also referred to as arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour) is a starch obtained by extracting from the root of a tropical plant known as Maranta arundinacea.
On the other hand, cornstarch comes from the starchy portion of corn kernels known as the endosperm.
So, when should you use arrowroot powder over cornstarch and vice versa?
Cornstarch should be your pick if you are cooking something at a higher temperature and need to add your thickening agent at the beginning of the cooking process.
This is because cornstarch can withstand higher temperatures than arrowroot which breaks down quickly if cooked for too long at a high temperature.
Recipes like stews, soups, sauces, and even mac-n-cheese are all great to thicken with cornstarch.
You should use arrowroot in recipes where you will add the thickener at the end of the cooking process (i.e., sauces, pie fillings, or baked goods).
Arrowroot also wins over cornstarch in recipes that are acidic or that you plan to freeze.
Unfortunately, cornstarch breaks down in the presence of acids, leaving a watery consistency.
In addition, cornstarch gets a spongy-like texture if frozen and thawed, whereas arrowroot holds up pretty well.
Once you’ve decided whether cornstarch or arrowroot is the way to go, here's how to thicken your almond milk:
Mix a small amount of cornstarch, starting with a tablespoon, with one tablespoon of water in a separate container to make a slurry.
Drizzle the cornstarch mixture over the heated almond milk and whisk until smooth.
Repeat this process until your almond milk reaches your desired consistency.
Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot per 1 cup of liquid.
How to Thicken Almond Milk with Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is commonly added to recipes as a thickener and stabilizer. It’s created when sugar is fermented by a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.
Xanthan gum is entirely plant-based and used in many gluten-free recipes because it can mimic the properties of gluten.
For thickening almond milk, xanthan gum will give it a velvety texture, and also, because it’s a stabilizer, it will help prevent any separation of the almond milk.
Probably the best part of xanthan gum is that it requires NO heat to thicken.
Merely add ⅛ teaspoon of xanthan gum per 1 cup of almond milk to a blender and blend until thick and creamy!
How to Make Heavy Cream With Almond Milk
Sometimes you may want to use almond milk as a substitute for heavy cream in recipes like sauces, soups, and desserts.
Heavy cream is the fattiest part of the milk and has a milk fat content between 30%-40%, so it is super rich and very thick.
Just use almond milk and plant-based butter to replace heavy cream in a recipe with a plant-based alternative!
- Melt ⅓ cup of plant-based butter in the microwave at 20-second intervals or on the stovetop.
- Pour the melted butter and ⅔ cup of almond milk into a high-speed blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until fully incorporated and slightly thickened.
Unfortunately, this almond milk heavy cream recipe will NOT whip, but it will achieve that creamy and rich flavor. So I would use this in recipes that call for heavy cream to be stirred into things not whipped.
Thick & Creamy Almond Milk is Possible!
As you can see, there are MANY ways to thicken almond milk.
Some methods are better than others, depending on what your ultimate use for the thickened almond milk is.
How to Thicken Almond Milk for Coffee Creamer
There are two good methods of thickening almond milk for coffee creamer, xanthan gum and heat.
The addition of a very small amount of xanthan gum (around ¼ teaspoon to 1 cup almond milk) to your almond milk will yield a creamy, soft plant-based milk product that can be used as creamer.
Consider adding extracts like vanilla, caramel, and chocolate syrups to customize your creamer flavors.
Second, you can simply heat your almond milk to achieve a coffee creamer consistency. This can also be accomplished with the addition of extracts to add flavor to your morning cup of joe.
Simply heat your almond milk until it gently bubbles and stir constantly. Remove from heat and allow the almond milk to thicken, then store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use in your coffee.
How to Thicken Almond Milk With Rice Flour
When you add rice flour to just about any liquid, it thickens up quickly.
It’s a colorless and mostly flavorless thickening option, making it great for people who want to substitute dairy milk with plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk.
To use rice flour to thicken almond milk, you’ll want to first decide how thick you want your milk to be in the end.
Ratios can include 1:2 (1 cup rice flour to 2 cups almond milk) or 1:3 (1 cup rice flour to 3 cups almond milk).
The more almond milk you use, the thinner the end result.
Measure the appropriate ratio, then heat the almond milk by itself over low heat.
Once it’s reached low heat, sprinkle the rice flour gradually over the cooking almond milk and whisk constantly so it doesn’t clump.
The milk will begin to thicken, and you can remove it from the heat once it’s reached your desired thickness.
How to Thicken Almond Milk With Oil
Oil is recommended as a thickening agent for almond milk only if you’re using almond milk as a substitute for heavy cream.
By adding oil to almond milk, you’ll increase the fat ratio to allow you to use this almond milk and oil mixture in baked goods and soups for a similar mouthfeel.
A two to one ratio works best for these purposes, meaning two parts almond milk mixed with one part oil.
This mixture does not need to be heated.
How to Thicken Almond Milk for Pasta
To thicken almond milk for pasta, you’ll want to first cook your pasta and reserve some of the starchy cooking liquid.
With your pasta in a pan, begin by adding the fat of your choice such as oil, butter, or a plant-based alternative.
Stir the pasta and fat vigorously and add some of the pasta cooking liquid back in, and you’ll begin to see a starchy sauce form.
With the heat on low, gradually add small amounts of almond milk until it binds with the starchy sauce.
Continue cooking the pasta and stirring constantly until the sauce has reached your desired level of thickness.
How to Thicken Almond Milk for Sauce
To thicken almond milk for use in a sauce, consider making a roux.
While a roux can be made with any liquid plus fat plus flour, you’ll get that nice creamy white color by using almond milk as your liquid in this recipe.
A roux should be made before your sauce, or at least in another pot. Once made, the gradual addition of almond milk yields a thick, creamy result perfect for sauces and gravies.
Roux is one part fat and one part flour.
For your fat, choose a flavorless oil or butter. All-purpose white flour works best as your flour.
Melt the two over low to medium heat in a large saucepan that’s big enough to fit the amount of almond milk you want to thicken for your sauce.
As the roux begins to cook and brown, it may puff up a bit. Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Then, once it is a golden color, begin adding in your almond milk slowly. Stir constantly and continue adding liquid until you’ve achieved your desired viscosity.
This roux method yields a very sauce thick result. For thinner sauce, create less roux.
Finally, add in your other sauce ingredients.