As plant-based milk becomes more popular and widely available, new exciting flavors are available on the market. Due to its creamy, mild flavor, vanilla almond milk is one of the most common flavored dairy-free milk alternatives.
However, you may wonder how vanilla milk is made or whether it’s actually good for you.
Discover what is in most vanilla almond milk products and whether it’s considered healthy for different types of diets such as keto, plant-based, paleo, or gluten-free.
Is vanilla almond milk good for you?
Vanilla almond milk can be good for you depending on the ingredients. Look for brands with minimal additives and added sugar.
What is Vanilla Almond Milk?
Vanilla almond milk is a variety of flavored almond milk. It’s made the same way as traditional almond milk - blending raw, soaked almonds with filtered water and straining out the solids.
To make vanilla almond milk, manufacturers add some type of vanilla flavoring into the final drink, along with other additives like sweeteners, emulsifiers, or fortified nutrients.
The type of vanilla flavor added depends on the manufacturer.
For example, some commercial brands use “natural flavor” to give their product a hint of vanilla. Other brands, such as New Barn Organics, use organic vanilla extract.
Mooala’s Organic Vanilla Bean Almond Milk uses organic vanilla flavor and organic vanilla beans, and Three Trees Organic Unsweetened Vanilla Bean Almond Milk also uses real vanilla beans and vanilla extract to give their products a sweet vanilla flavor.
Malk also uses pure organic vanilla extract in its Vanilla Almond milk.
Is Vanilla Almond Milk Sweetened?
Many brands of vanilla almond milk add sugar, honey, or another type of sweetener for a richer vanilla taste.
If you see added sugars on the nutrition label or items like cane sugar or honey on the ingredient list, the product has additional sweeteners.
However, not all products add sugars to vanilla almond milk. New Barn Organics, Mooala, Three Trees, and Malk all use minimal additives and vanilla extract to create their product. The vanilla extract itself can create a sweet flavor on its own without additional sugars.
Our brain and taste buds connect vanillin, the flavor molecule that gives vanilla its signature taste and smell, with sweetness.
So just by adding high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla beans, these manufacturers create a delicious and sweet product without adding extra sugars.
This helps lower the calorie count and keep the product’s carbohydrate and sugar counts low.
Is Vanilla Almond Milk Good For You?
Generally, if you drink almond milk from a brand that keeps a minimal, organic ingredient list, almond milk is just as good for you as regular unsweetened almond milk.
Of course, whether an almond milk is “healthy” depends on your specific dietary goals and needs.
For example, if you are on Keto, Paleo, or Whole30, you might want organic almond milk with no processed sweeteners.
If you need a high protein count, you might want to drink dairy milk in place of almond milk in general.
Alternatively, vanilla almond milk might be healthier than a chocolate variety if you want to lower your calorie, fat, or sugar intake.
To help you compare vanilla almond milk with other almond products and dairy milk, let’s look at a breakdown of various vanilla almond milk products compared to other options.
Vanilla Almond Milk Vs. Unsweetened Almond Milk
Three Trees Vanilla Bean almond milk contains just four ingredients: filtered water, organic almonds, organic vanilla extract, and organic vanilla beans.
It uses 4x more nuts than some brands, giving the product a higher nutritional value and protein than other options. It also has 66 mg of calcium, 0.6 mg of iron, and 126 mg of potassium.
Below is this vanilla product compared to Elmhurst 1925’s Unsweetened Milked Almonds.
Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Unsweetened Milk Almonds
Vanilla Almond Milk Vs. Chocolate Almond Milk
Compared to chocolate almond milk, vanilla almond milk is often the healthier option with fewer additives.
Mooala Vanilla Bean Almond Milk contains filtered water, organic almonds, less than 2% organic vanilla flavor, calcium carbonate, sea salt, gellan gum, and organic vanilla beans.
It also has 150 mg of calcium, 0.3mg of iron, and 50 mg of potassium.
When compared to the MALK Chocolate Almond Milk, which contains organic coconut sugar, dutch processed cocoa, and Himalayan pink salt, vanilla stacks up as follows:
Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Chocolate Almond Milk
Vanilla Almond Milk Vs. Barista Almond Milk
Next up is Almond MALK Vanilla versus Elmhurst 1925’s Barista Almond Milk.
Barista blends typically have a few more additives to help them mimic dairy milk in hot drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffeehouse favorites.
This typically means they have a bit more sugar than unsweetened almond milk but are otherwise similar in nutritional value.
The following compares an unsweetened vanilla almond milk from MALK, which contains water, almonds, vanilla extract, and salt, with a barista blend containing water, almonds, rice, cane sugar, dipotassium phosphate, and salt.
Almond MALK Vanilla
Elmhurst Barista Almond Milk
Vanilla Almond Milk Vs. 2% Dairy Milk
New Barn Organics Vanilla Almond milk contains filtered water, organic almonds, organic vanilla extract, and sea salt. This makes it very low in calories and low in carbohydrates. It also has 16 mg of calcium and 6 mg of potassium.
Compared to a standard serving of 2% cow’s milk, it is higher in fat, protein, and sugars. But it’s also lower in calcium, with dairy milk having a whopping 250 mg per cup.
New Barn Organics Vanilla Almond Milk
2% Cow's Milk
Can You Make Vanilla Almond Milk at Home?
If you prefer to skip the store-bought vanilla almond milk products, you can easily make your own at home.
This lets you use your own ingredients, including specialty vanilla extracts or fresh vanilla beans.
Most vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla pods in a water-alcohol mixture for several months, which extracts the vanillin flavor.
Some extracts, however, are made without alcohol and use vegetable glycerin instead.
This is ideal for people who need to avoid even small amounts of alcohol due to religious, personal, or dietary reasons.
To make vanilla almond milk at home, you need:
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sweetener of your choice to taste (if desired)
Follow these steps:
- Soak your almonds in water overnight to soften them and make them more blendable.
- Drain the almonds in the morning and rinse with cold water
- Put your almonds and 4 cups of filtered water in a high-speed blender and blend for 2 to 3 minutes. (if including sweetener, add at this time).
- Strain your mixture with a fine mesh strainer or sieve into a sterile glass container.
- Add vanilla of your choice - most commonly, about 1 tsp of good quality vanilla extract.
- Refrigerate and enjoy for about 3 to 7 days.
Another way to make healthy homemade vanilla almond milk is by using an almond base.
For example, JOI’s almond milk base contains ground blanched almonds and can be blended with filtered water to create 7 quarts of almond milk per container.
This makes creating a customized vanilla almond milk recipe easy in seconds.
All you need to do is blend about 1 to 2 tablespoons of JOI with one cup of water, then add a dash of vanilla extract of your choice and you’ve got a delicious vanilla almond milk with no extra additives.
Is Vanilla Almond Milk Good on a Gluten-Free Diet?
If you have a gluten allergy or Celeac’s disease, you may wonder if vanilla almond milk is a good choice.
Although some processed vanilla almond milk might contain ingredients that could upset sensitive digestive systems, almonds and vanilla are gluten-free.
If your almond milk is made from almonds, water, salt, and pure vanilla extract, it is healthy for a gluten-free diet.
Is Vanilla Almond Milk Health for Vegans and Vegetarians?
Yes, vanilla almond milk is a healthy beverage for vegans and vegetarians.
Almond milk is typically a safe go-to for these dietary preferences.
Since vanilla is made from a plant source - the vanilla orchid - adding the extra ingredient lets the product maintain its vegan/vegetarian status.
Enjoy Vanilla Almond Milk as Part of a Healthier Lifestyle
Like unflavored, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla almond milk offers several health benefits for those who enjoy it on a daily basis.
The beverage contains nearly the same amount of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates as the unflavored variety.
When unsweetened, it is low in sugar and carbohydrates while still offering a slightly sweet taste.
The vanilla extract in vanilla almond milk provides a bit more flavor and excitement than plain almond milk.
It can add flavor to smoothies, cereals, plant-based puddings, and desserts due to its natural vanilla essence.
If you like almond milk but want to mix it up, unsweetened vanilla almond milk from organic or additive-free brands is a healthy choice.