Today’s post features one of those ideas that, before you try it, sounds crazy and needless and hard; but that, after you try it, becomes brilliant and easy and so simple, you can’t believe you waited so long to give it a go. Tim and I have made homemade almond milk twice in the last few weeks, and each time we have, it’s amazed me—I mean, literally, had me staring at the towel I’m squeezing like a cow udder, in total disbelief. In case you relate in any way to my innocence in the almond milk realm, this post is for you.

Bowl of Almonds

The first time I had almond milk, I was a teenager. It was vanilla flavor. I’d picked the vanilla flavor at the store because, I suppose, when I’d stood there at the cold case, facing plain or vanilla, vanilla had seemed a better choice. I think it had something to do with the fact that “vanilla” makes a thing sound more like ice cream, and ice cream has always been an easy sell. I liked to pour vanilla almond milk on my cereal. I ate a lot of cereal back then.

Making Homemade Almond Milk

The first time I heard of homemade almond milk was much later, probably a year or two ago. Like a lot of things I’d grown up eating by picking up a package at the store, I had no idea how it was made. I don’t think I cared. But then, not unlike when I met Tim in 2010 or, in the case of some of you, when you come over here and hear homemade kombucha or raw milk ice cream or likewise not-mainstream terms, my world bumped up against someone with an interest in something that, to me, was new. This friend of mine said she wanted to make her own almond milk. Then she Instagrammed a photo of her almonds soaking on the counter; and a day later, she shared a photo of her fresh glass of almond milk. I remember thinking, Cool! Way to be adventurous! I remember Tim’s saying how it would be super easy to try. I also remember having zero desire in my heart to go do it myself. I mean, why?

Making Homemade Almond Milk

I tell you all that to explain, so you know, the reason we made almond milk this month and the reason I’m posting about it today isn’t because I’m ambitious or brave or a challenge seeker. It’s not because I thought, I can make almond milk! Let me roll up my sleeves and try! In fact, it was Tim who had the idea to make it a few weeks ago, and, that first time, when he did it, I mostly watched. The reason I’m posting about it today is because making almond milk amazes me. It’s because watching a milky substance be strained away from ground nuts for the first time feels like looking at the world like a child.

Straining Almond Meal

And if the only gift of making almond milk is that it renews a sense of wonder and discovery, an ability to watch with amazement as familiar objects (almonds) transform before your eyes (yielding both almond milk and almond meal!), then that is gift enough to make it worth trying.

Squeezing Almond Milk

Almond Meal + Almond Milk

The way I see it, in this world filled with false promises, disillusionments and corresponding cynicism (hand raised), we could all use a little more wonder in our lives. We could all use a few more opportunities to see with childlike eyes and discover, whether those discoveries are the annual glories of spring, the beautiful glimpses of genuine kindness or the simple joy of going to the kitchen to make something new.

Speaking of the wonder-producing discovery of learning how foods are made, check out Erin’s recipe roundup of pantry staples. If you’re even a little curious about how to make some basic food, from tahini to tortillas to kettle corn, it’s worth a look.

Homemade Almond Milk
Makes a quart of almond milk and about three cups of almond meal

It’s worth mentioning that you’ll need a few specific tools to try this project, namely a cheesecloth or tea towel or, if you really want to get serious, nut milk bag. You’ll also need a high-powered blender or food processor, like our Vitamix.

Ingredients:
1 cup of almonds
3 to 4 cups of water, plus more for soaking

Directions:
Making almond milk starts the night beforehand. Place the almonds in a bowl with enough water to cover the nuts; cover that bowl with a thin towel, and let this soak on the counter overnight.

In the morning, drain the water from the almonds. Then, place the almonds in a high-powered blender or food processor, along with three to four cups of water. You essentially want one part almonds to three parts water (or about that). Blend.

Set a strainer over a large bowl and line it with a cheesecloth or tea towel, or use a nut milk bag as mentioned above. Pour blender mixture into cloth; milk will go through the towel and the strainer into the bowl. Use a spoon to stir and help it along. When this gets full, you can gather the towel and squeeze it to get more milk out. The stuff left in the towel is almond meal; the liquid strained into the bowl is almond milk.

Note: You may drink the milk as is, or you may sweeten/flavor it as you like. We add a little vanilla (old habits!) and some maple syrup. Also, regarding the almond meal, it won’t perform *exactly* like almond meal you may be used to buying, but it’s close. The drier you can get it, the better it will work in baking; I toasted mine a little in the oven for this reason, but it’s optional.

PS: If you like the idea of making pantry staples from scratch, you’ll love Alan Chernilla’s book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 60 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    Here’s a question: Why should I drink almond milk? Does it taste better than regular (cow’s) milk? Healthier? I’m not quite at the “let’s make our own almond milk!” stage but rather, just curious about it in general. I might pick some up this weekend … do you have a favorite brand?

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Good questions! While I feel confident saying you should absolutely make almond milk because it is amazing and eye-opening and worth trying, I’m less confident to tell you that you should drink almond milk. That’s not because I can’t think of good reasons to: if you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive, for example, or if you’re avoiding dairy for any other reason (vegan, say) or if you like the taste of almond milk better (it can be quite good). Mostly, I’m kind of avoiding saying reasons to drink almond milk because I’m kind of avoiding making this post about that, ha. : )

      That said though and because it it is a perfectly reasonable question –> Anecdotally, I can tell you I drank it in teenage years because store-bought milk made my stomach upset, and I didn’t know why. Almond milk didn’t. And currently, I can tell you I would choose almond milk over cow’s milk at a restaurant or store because I prefer not to drink pasteurized milk, and all restaurants and stores have to sell that kind. But at the same time, I get annoyed with how long the ingredients list is on most almond milks at the store — so heavily processed! — and so would probably only buy that in a pinch. That was another cool thing about making it ourselves: almonds and water and bam!

      Sorry this was so long and probably not super helpful. Bottom line is: Look around, test stuff out, see what works best for you!

      (PS – See you soon!)

  2. Lindsey @ Pas de Deux

    I had the “homemade nut milk” epiphany about a year ago, when I realized how long and complicated the ingredient list on my store-bought milk was (I like the taste of almond milk over cows milk in oatmeal, and had been buying the boxed kind for years). I have now made almond milk, cashew milk, brazil nut milk, pistachio milk (probably my favorite!), and as of yesterday, hemp milk. It is truly incredible to see nuts and seeds transform into milk with such a simple process!

  3. Nicole

    I recently made almond milk for the first time, too! You’re right, it’s very easy and completely amazing. I did make mine with vanilla, cinnamon and a few dates and I didn’t strain mine. It makes excellent french toast!

  4. Inês Oliveira

    Very interesting “How to”!
    I’ve never tasted almond milk. Cow milk makes my stomach just a little bit upset, so I eat yogurts instead. Where I live I’ve never seen almond milk for sale, just soy milk, or coconut milk… So I’m wondering what it tastes like! I’ll probably try this recipe soon, because I’m very curious about it ;)
    Have a nice weekend!
    Inês

    1. Icalasari

      That could indicate an intolerance to lactose (yogurt is easy to digest even by those with lactose intolerance, because the bacteria in the yogurt help break down the lactose)

  5. Stephanie

    This looks easier than I would have imagined, and sounds refreshing and delicious. I have an old-school Waring blender but I think I will give it a try anyway!
    Any tips on how to use the ground almonds that remain? I have baked with blanched, ground almond flour…wondering if these could be used in the same way. If 1 c. almonds yields 3 c. almond meal, I am guessing that they absorb a lot of water and may be too mushy to bake with. Did you have any problems toasting the meal?
    Thank you for this creative and easy idea, and, as always, for your beautiful way with words.

      1. Icalasari

        Wait, do you use it in lieu of flour?

        I’ve been looking to try to cut out gluten from my diet to see if it improves my ADHD and Tourettes, but combined with lactose intolerance, I pretty much went, “Nope”. But if I can use it as replacement flour…

        1. Tim

          Yes, you can use it in lieu of flour, but for best results it is used partially with other flours, which could also be gluten free. Like for example in these cookies: http://summerharms.blogspot.com/2012/12/my-christmas-treat-king-size-chocolate.html – they are gluten and dairy free. We did a version of these but they were not gluten or dairy free so they are versatile either way: http://foodloveswriting.com/2012/12/04/ashley-rodriguezs-cherry-chocolate-chip-cookies/

        1. Tim

          Hi Brittany,
          It would be tough to make the almond butter without the whole almond, as it needs the oils from the almond and sometimes you have to add more oil. You could use it to make a spread but the texture might be a bit weird as the meal is coarse. It seems to be best when dried and used in baked goods, but we would love to hear back if you experiment and have some success!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hey, Jessie – The ones we used were not roasted… I guess they’re what you could call “raw” (but technically, no almonds in the States are raw because they’re required by law to be pasteurized briefly).

  6. jacquie

    sorry but back to the “why” – why do it? other than perhaps 1 or 2 times for the amazingness of it because it does sound amazing – why would you do it regularly? it seems expensive to do. also what do you do w/ all those left over solids? that part seems very wasteful to me. and i’m not lactose intolerant so that is not a reason for me but I can see how for someone else it might be and therefore it wouldn’t be wasteful. from a nutrition standpoint doesn’t almond milk have less protein than cow’s? so if not lactose intolerant why would you choose it?

    sorry for the questions but I have been wondering about them for some time without being able to find answers easily and you post just prompted them again. Thanks for any insight you might have.

    1. Tim

      Hi Jacquie!

      Although the post is not really about the “why”, I would be glad to give you some of the reasons. Due to almonds being a tree food, the mineral size and form is easier for the body to assimilate.

      Protein is not received on a one to one basis–that is, you do not eat 10 grams of protein and utilize 10 grams of protein. Protein from a raw source such as an avocado might only be 2-4 grams, but you may get more usable protein than eating a steak (depending on the steak). You do not need to feed a cow protein for it to make protein, it eats grass. The same is true of humans in that proteins are formed from the amino acids which are abundant in plants, nuts, and seeds. Protein is way over done in society and actually puts greater strain on the kidneys. (Yes, we still enjoy meat, but the point still stands–protein is not a problem in the least).

      Nothing is wasted as the almond meals is used, as the directions state.

      Expense is relative. Some people are lactose intolerant and do not have access to raw milk with its over 60 enzymes and so they use almond milk. Other people have issues with all of the dead bacteria that is in pasteurized milk. Other people find that the calcium and vitamins in milk are not absorbed when the enzymes are removed (such as phosphatase). Some people have difficulty with the difference in casein protein depending on the breed of the cow (A2 beta casein is much better). So as you can see there are many reasons why people would switch to alternative milks even if they were not lactose intolerant, and we like all of them, if they are made with high quality ingredients. The quality of milk, or meat for that matter depends greatly on the quality of the animal and its environment and food. Pasture and grass, being a perennial plant is ideal food for cows so it greatly affects the milk–if people can’t get it, almond milk is a nice alternative.

  7. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    This is a lot easier than I imagined it to be! I guess I never really took the time to read through the process before your post. :)

    Also, I hadn’t seen your kombucha post before! Do you still make it at home? I’ve heard it can be risky to make at home, but your tutorial seems fairly simple. I’d like to at least give it a try, since my kombucha budget makes my wallet look very sad, haha!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Marie, We’re not making kombucha right now, mostly because, when I was making it back in Chicago, I found that over time it changed and got more bitter. The thing with kombucha is that it’s highly sensitive to its environment (i.e., stuff in the air, temperature) and so it’s hard to get perfect. However, we might do it again sometime if we get our hands on a scoby from someone we trust. And I totally know what you mean about kombucha and the pricetags!

  8. Nikki Anyaogu

    Hey Shanna, I recently starting making almond milk from scratch, we buy it all the time since we no longer drink cow milk. It’s so easy to make and it’s so much fun, that is when I have spare time…which is rare, lol. Thanks for sharing, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks it fun to do and so good for you!

  9. Sophia

    Love this post – I love homemade almond milk and think it actually tastes better than storebought (and I definitely prefer the simpler ingredient list as well). Sometimes I do a twist on horchata by substituting some of the almonds with rice and adding cinnamon – amazing over ice or indeed in iced coffee.

    As for the almond meal, I have found it’s perfect to substitute 1/2 of the flour amount (by weight) for most quick bread recipes like banana bread. I definitely try to squeeze out all of the liquid I can from the almond meal before using it for baking. I love your idea of toasting the almond meal to dry it out a bit though, I guess that way you could even store it in a container for later (I typically popped mine into the freezer if I wasn’t using the almond meal straightaway).

  10. sarahkeith

    Great topic! I love homemade almond milk, but hate the boxed kind, which is oddly thick, in my opinion. I also add a pinch of sea salt to my almond milk, because I think it brings out the almond flavor. Yum! Oh– and I also peel my almonds. Sounds labor intensive, but it goes pretty fast (involves squeezing the almond out of the skin after soaking, before blending). I’m not sure why I started doing this….something about the skins inhibiting digestion maybe? I’ll have to do some research :) But at any rate, I love the beautiful incredibly white color the almond milk is when made without skins!

  11. Jess

    I love that you gave this a try, Shanna. I’m sometimes shocked at how much junk can be packed in the storebought almond milk varieties that I’ve seen, and I always feel like I can taste the strangeness of those things. I’ve never had homemade almond milk, but I’m sure it tastes infinitely better. This will definitely be on my list for when we get back home and almonds aren’t shipped halfway around the world to reach us.

  12. Kathryn

    I felt the same way when I made ricotta for the first time – that sense of wonder and amazement that I could make these things! It makes me feel so much more connected to my food and I feel like I just understand it so much better. Love this post.

  13. Bethany

    I so appreciated your response to Jacqui’s questions. It was very helpful. I’ve bought store almond milk for a long time and have recently switched to purchasing non-homogenized milk from grass fed cows – still not ideal, but getting closer. I recently had a conversation (again with my sister :)) about why we make things like organic yogurt in our home when I can buy a good organic yogurt in the store. And it came down to knowing more about my food and where it came from and the processing time and all that goes in it. Do you know what I mean? It has gotten me thinking – yet again.

    Thanks for a good post. I look forward to trying this.

    P.S. I started my sourdough started last night. The wait begins!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Non-homogenized milk from grass-fed cows is an excellent step, Bethany… as is making your own yogurt! Love that! And oh my goodness, please keep me updated with the sourdough starter. I’m so impressed that you’re doing it and can’t wait to hear progress!

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  15. Julie

    You can dry (oven or dehydrator) out the almond meal and grind it up very fine for homemade almond flour… This saves lots of money since almond flour is quite pricey! I’ve been told you can sub almond flour for half the flour in any recipe for a healthier (and gluten free) option but I’ve yet to try it in that regards.

    I made my first batch of milk yesterday – I don’t like all the unnecessary ingredients in store bought almond milk but am lactose intolerant… And almond is my favorite. I do really like this batch but am eager to sweeten it up a bit… I can’t help it, I love sweet vanilla almond milk!!!

    Another note… If you’re a fan of milkshakes and Starbucks style blended drinks, almond milk can help you make homemade ones FAR cheaper and more delicious. For example I love the chocolate chip blended drink they sell and used to get the soy milk version… my husband loved the vanilla drink they had similar to a milkshake… But have you ever seen how much ice they use in those??? It’s just a watered down joke at that point and the ice melts so darn slow that you spend more time stirring and waiting than drinking! So I decided to figure out how to make my own and I’ve got it down so easily!
    Make 1/2-1 cup almond milk into ice cubes… Once frozen add them to your blender and add an almost equal amount of almond milk – 1 cup milks worth of ice, just under 1 cup milk, etc. I add a couple tsp of vanilla, and blend together. You can add more milk if you like it thinner. That’s it for my husband’s drink. Chocolate syrup makes it chocolate, chocolate chips blended in makes it like the choc chip Starbucks drink I loveD. My husband always asks me for these, and as one who is ok with regular milk, he’s not been easy to convince to switch so that says something!!!
    Sorry for the long comment!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks so much for these tips, Julie! I have to tell you, I made almond milk again last week, but, this time, I not only dried the residual almond meal in the oven but I also blended it in a food processor as you suggest. Huge difference. I am always going to do it that way from now on! Good advice!

  16. Marian

    Hi Shanna,
    While it is my first time making almond milk I really appreciate the recipe. It is amazing how good it tastes, but since I don’t drink much of it I would like to know how many days can I keep my almond milk for.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hi Marian! Thanks so much for stopping by! I would say the almond milk keeps for several days in the fridge—beyond that, I’d see how it looks and smells.. ours never lasts that long! If you’re concerned about not using it up in time, feel free to freeze some and then thaw it when you like!

  17. Cali

    I’ve been making my own coconut milk for awhile now (just unsweetened shredded coconut soaked in hot water, filtered water, a pinch of stevia, and vanilla) – it’s amazing in my morning smoothie. I’ve made almond milk twice this week (every store bought variety I’ve seen, including Whole Foods 365 brand, has synthetic vitamins A and D2 in them – NOT something you want in your body, along with other undesirable ingredients), which is a really good reason to make your own.

    For the first version, after soaking overnight, I took the time (a bit tedious) to remove the skins to make a smoother milk, and it turned out really good. The second time, I didn’t remove the skins, and don’t like it as much – even after thorough double straining, the skins make it a bit gritty. The skins do come off really easily once soaked, but it adds an extra 10 minutes of work to the process.

  18. Leila

    Awesome recipe, Shanna! I made almond milk for the first time yesterday and it is delicious :) I, too, saw how processed store-bought almond milk is and thought there was something wrong with all of that. I was wondering what you think about selling homemade almond milk at grocery stores? There’s a few specialty grocery stores near me and I was thinking about selling my own- raw vegan, organic, non-gmo, unpasteurized almond milk. However, it would be expensive- about $5 per bottle for just the ingredients and packaging, and if I sold for $6/litre it would be a lot more pricy than other brands. Would you personally buy pure, organic homemade-style almond milk if you saw it at the grocery store, or would you feel uneasy about buying it from a small company?

    Thanks!
    P.S. I’m 16 and I thought it was so funny about you saying how you ate a lot of cereal- I eat a ridiculous amount of cereal with vanilla almond milk and it made me laugh when you said you did too!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hi Leila, I don’t feel uncomfortable buying from a small company, and I like the idea of being able to buy high-quality products from a local shop. As far as whether I’d buy homemade almond milk, I don’t know if I would or not…. it would depend on a number of factors. I imagine you’d have to get past a number of red-tape measures in order to get it on the shelves, but if you could, more power to you! : ) Thanks for your comment!

  19. Maria

    Hello! I recently made almond milk for the first time using a recipe that suggested soaking my almonds up for 2 – 2 1/2 days to ensure the most creaminess possible. Doing so, when I went to rinse my almonds this morning, they had an off smell and a mucus like coating on the top and around the almonds. Thinking this was normal, I went on to make 4 cups of almond milk and quite a bit of almond meal. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming smell, I will most likely not be using the almond milk and meal. I was curious if you believe that the almonds possibly fermented, and are not safe or smart to consume. Please let me know your opinion! :)

    1. Tim

      Hi Maria,
      I don’t think they should have an off smell. The water might need to be changed regularly or else you risk mold growth and spoilage. Even when sprouted nuts, I think they should still smell good and fresh, provided they are rinsed daily. If it were me, and I had doubts, I would probably pitch it, but that is the best I can say without seeing them. Hope that helps!

      Tim

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  24. Anna

    I too love almond milk, and like the little twist you can do with it! Though is there any other reason to strain the milk afterwards? Can you just leave it all in there (i mainly use mine in smoothies so texture is not that important – and I always thought the skins hold a lot of goodness too! Many thanks

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hi Anna, You absolutely may use the complete mixture in smoothies. Because this post is about making almond milk, we’re explaining how to separate the milk and pulp, but both are edible, and you’re welcome to use them how you like. Hope you enjoy!

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