How To Make Nut and Seed Milk
Homemade nut and seed milk is a staple liquid that can be used in many different ways in the kitchen. It’s one of the first cooking techniques our Culinary Nutrition Expert students learn to master, and they are always surprised at how easy the process is. Basically, if you have nuts or seeds, water and a blender you can whip up a simple batch (or blend a larger amount for batch cooking and meal prep). If you’re game for some nut and seed milk excitement, there are also many ways to jazz things up by adding new flavours, natural sweeteners and nutritional boosts to amp up the health benefits.
In this culinary nutrition guide to nut and seed milk, you’ll learn how to make a basic batch of nut milk, along with the best nuts and seeds to use, batch prep and storage tips, flavour options, nutrition add-ons and best uses.
Culinary Nutrition Benefits to Making Your Own Nut and Seed Milk
There are many reasons to make our own nut and seed milks. The store-bought varieties are expensive, very watered down and often loaded with preservatives, refined or artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and stabilizers that may detract from our health. On the other hand, homemade nut and seed milks are:
- Free from any additives or preservatives
- Naturally dairy-free (dairy milk can be difficult to digest and aggravate many health conditions – this is why the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program is completely dairy-free)
- Sugar-free, if desired
- Low waste or zero waste
- Easy to make at home
- Rich in flavour and freshness
- Simple to adapt with different nuts, seeds and spices
- Higher in bioavailable nutrients if nuts or seeds are soaked in advance
Best Nut and Seed Options for Homemade Dairy-Free Milk
You can use virtually any nut or seed – it depends on your preference or if there are any food allergies in your household. Some are more strongly flavoured than others, which we have indicated below.
Neutral Nut Flavours
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
Stronger Nut Flavours
Most seed milks have a robust taste; you’ll need to experiment with which ones you enjoy or mix them with a more neutral nut for a subtler flavour.
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds (these don’t need to be strained either)
- Sunflower seeds
The following seeds do not work well as the base for seed milk. They are, however, great in very small amounts for thickening or nutritional boosts.
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Coconut (learn what you can do with coconut milk and the rest of the coconut here)
Gluten-Free Grain Options
How To Make Nut and Seed Milk: Step by Step
- 1 cup nuts or seeds (or a mix of both)
- 4 cups water
- Measuring cups
- Fine-mesh strainer or nut milk bag
- Large bowl, for catching nut milk or seed milk
- Storage container
What to Do:
- Soak the nuts and seeds. This helps to eliminate phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that inhibit digestion, and increase the bioavailability of nutrients (soaked nuts and seeds, if left for long enough, will eventually sprout – the soaking helps to kick off this process). Soaking time will depend on the nut or seed you choose – larger and heavier nuts will take 6-8 hours, smaller around 2 hours.
- Add the nuts/seeds and water into the blender. Blend until smooth.
- If using a strainer: Place the fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain the pulp by pouring the milk through the strainer, pressing on the pulp with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the liquid.
- If using a nut milk bag: Pour mixture through the nut milk bag, straining out the pulp by carefully squeezing the bag. You could also fashion a nut milk bag using a few larger layers of cheesecloth, but a nut milk bag is a good purchase and there are several other ways you can put it to good use.
- Transfer the nut or seed milk to your container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Shake before using.
As homemade nut milks and seed milks don’t have any preservatives, they won’t last for weeks. If you won’t consume it in a few days, you can freeze it (see more in the storage section below).
Ideal Nut-to-Water or Seed-to-Water Ratios
We typically use a 1:4 ratio – so 1 cup of nuts or seeds to 4 cups of water. However, if you’d like to create a thicker and creamier milk, you can try 1:3 or 1:2. Keep in mind you will go through your milk quicker and it will be more expensive if you do this on a regular basis.
Best Blenders for Nut Milk and Seed Milk
We love using a high-speed blender for super smooth nut and seed milks. A regular blender or even a bullet-style blender will also work well (though you’ll need to make milk in smaller batches with a single-sized blender). A food processor can also do the job, though it will likely be messier.
With a regular blender, you will end up with a little more pulp – but that’s OK because you can use the nut pulp to make a bunch of other tasty recipes.
Batch Prepping and Storing Nut and Seed Milk
As fresh dairy-free milk can go rancid quickly, it’s the perfect recipe to make in large batches and store it in small containers and freeze for later use. We like to store it in multiple-sized containers, including:
- Ice cube trays (great for smoothies, iced elixirs or homemade ice cream)
- Small mason jars
- Large mason jars
When storing nut and seed milks, ensure you leave at least an inch of head space at the top of the container to allow for expansion (like you would when making broth). It will keep for at least a couple of months, but you’ll likely consume it well before that.
Flavouring and Sweetening Nut and Seed Milk
This is where you can let your imagination run wild! Create your own signature nut milk flavour blends and customize to what you enjoy (or what your family will love). Here are some of our favourites:
- Vanilla extract or vanilla powder
- Chocolate (you can use cacao powder, or try melted dark chocolate)
- Fresh fruit (strawberries are very popular!)
- Herbal coffee alternatives like Dandy blend
There are more flavour options that also provide nutritional boosts, which we’ll discuss in the section below.
These are our standard sweetener options:
- Maple Syrup
- Raw Honey
- Coconut Sugar or Coconut Syrup
Of course, you can use any natural sweetener available to you that you like. Start off using 1 Tbsp (per batch of milk, not per serving) and adjust to taste.
Nutritional Boosts for Nut and Seed Milk
The nutritional boosts you add will also impact and improve the flavour!
Health Benefit + Flavour Profile: Varies depending on the tea chosen. Check out these Top 20 Herbs for Tea as a starting point.
Health Benefit: Filtered water removes many compounds found in water sources such as chlorine, volatile compounds, and odors. These compounds will vary depending on where you live – check out our Guide to Choosing a Water filter for more details.
Flavour Profile: Neutral and clean.
Health Benefit: Rich in fibre for digestion and blood sugar balance, potassium for heart health and exercise recovery, B vitamins for energy and nervous system support, and the antioxidant Vitamin C.
Flavour Profile: Sweet
Health Benefit: Balances blood sugar levels and reduces inflammation.
Flavour Profile: Sweet and slightly spicy.
Health Benefit: Relieves stress, boosts energy levels, balances hormones and increases sex drive.
Flavour Profile: Malty.
Health Benefit: Very rich in antioxidants, supports brain health and focus, and can help with weight loss.
Flavour Profile: Astringent, vegetal.
Health Benefit: Reduces inflammation and pain throughout the body, rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting nutrients.
Flavour Profile: Bitter and spicy.
Health Benefit: Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, and contains antioxidants.
Flavour Profile: Pungent, warm, sweet and slightly bitter.
Health Benefit: Reduces inflammation, aids digestion, good for dental health, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure.
Flavour Profile: Sweet.
Health Benefit: Reduces inflammation and nausea, supports digestion.
Flavour Profile: Spicy.
Health Benefit: Anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants to shield us from damage and has anti-bacterial properties.
Flavour Profile: Spicy, nutty, with a little sweetness.
Health Benefit: A complete protein, contain many antioxidants and 21 trace minerals, and help to support the immune system.
Flavour Profile: Sweet and tangy.
Health Benefit: Medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reishi help to support the immune system, are rich in antioxidants and have anti-cancer properties.
Flavour Profile: Earthy, can be a little bitter.
Ground flax or chia
Health Benefit: Rich in fibre for digestive health, heart health and blood sugar balance, a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, chia contains calcium and magnesium for bone health while flax helps with hormone balance.
Flavour Profile: Neutral flavour, but flax and chia have an effect on texture – they are mucilaginous, which will thicken up your nut milk.
How to Use Nut and Seed Milk
You can use nut and seed milks in both hot and cold recipes, including:
- Smoothie Bowls
- Iced Elixirs
- Ice Cream
- Dairy-Free Yogurt
- Nut or Seed Cheese
- Dairy-Free Cheesecake
- Hot Chocolate
- Gluten-free baking
- Dairy-free hot elixirs
- Homemade chocolate desserts
- Sauces and condiments
- Don’t forget about the pulp – you can use that in several different ways!
Once you begin to make your own nut milks and seed milks, you won’t want to return to the store-bought options.
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5 responses to “How To Make Nut and Seed Milk”
how much calcium would this almond milk recipe have? I know boxed almond milk has about 30mg per cup but it is because they add calcium. Would love to make this for my kids but would like to make sure they’d still be getting their calcium.
Hi Carla! As store-bought brands are fortified with calcium, homemade nut/seed milk would have less. We prefer to make our own nut/seed milks for all the reasons listed in the ‘benefits’ section of this post, and not necessarily for the calcium. You’re going to get much more calcium from eating almonds or almond butter than you will from almond milk, along with other foods like dark leafy greens. This is a great post about non-dairy calcium sources that you may find helpful: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/milk-depleting-bone-health/
Using old fashion white tea towels is a good alternative to nut bags. These are the thin white cotton towels (not terrycloth) that are good for drying glassware as they don’t usually have lint. They are thin enough for the milk to pass thru but thick enough that you can squeeze them without the residue seeping through.
I’m trying to find a recipe for chia seed milk: It has gut healing properties. You state that chia seeds do not make good nut/seed milk, why? Adding in other nuts would lessen, and possibly add to, the gut issues.
Hi Carol! Chia seeds are incredibly mucilaginous and absorb a lot of water. If you blended 1 cup chia seeds with 4 cups water as per our recommended ratio in this post you’d end up with a thick, gloopy mixture and not a creamy milk. The consistency really wouldn’t be appealing. You could certainly stir or blend a teaspoon of ground chia seeds into nut/seed milk before serving it; this would help thicken it a little too.
We prefer using chia seeds in other ways to glean their health benefits. You can find our suggestions and ideas for using them here: https://www.culinarynutrition.com/how-to-use-chia-seeds-and-chia-seed-recipes/