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Pitcher of oat milk

Oat milk has become a popular plant-based milk in recent years. It has a neutral flavor and is a safe option if you have intolerances to soy, gluten, dairy, or nuts. While oat milk isn't much pricier than other plant milks or even organic cow's milk, it's even cheaper if you make it yourself. Just one cup of oats, which costs pennies at the supermarket, is enough to make two cups of milk. The quick, easy process requires very little equipment: just a blender and something you can use to strain the milk — even a clean dishtowel works!

It's important to know that homemade oat milk doesn't contain all the nutrients that a store-bought carton of oat milk boasts. Commercially-produced oat milks are usually fortified with calcium, potassium, and other vitamins and nutrients. But the homemade stuff is still rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that's great for your heart, among other nutrients.

Use our tips to try your hand at whipping up a batch of oat milk — you may never reach for a carton of cow's milk again!

What You'll Need to Make Oat Milk

Blender: Any blender will do, but a higher-power model like a Vitamix or Blendtec will blend the pulp more quickly and to a finer consistency.

Strainer: Though made for plant-based milks, nut milk bags can let in too much of the pulp. Try a woven tea towel or even a clean T-shirt if you prefer a smoother milk. A fine-mesh sieve is also an option but, like the bag, it might allow too much of the solids to pass through.

Bowl: Use a medium-sized bowl of any material for soaking and straining your oats. One with a spout will make pouring the mixture into your blender even easier.

Storage Container: A glass or plastic bottle with a lid or a large Mason jar are good storage options for your finished oat milk. Make sure the lid is water-tight because you need to be able to shake it up if it settles.

Choosing Your Ingredients

Rolled oats are the best type of oat to use for oat milk. They give a creamier end result than steel cut oats. As for quick oats, these are too processed, and often yield an unpleasantly slimy milk. If you are on a gluten-free diet, be sure to seek out oats labeled gluten-free.

You can add ingredients to oat milk for a sweeter consistency or a flavored version. Try adding two pitted, roughly chopped dates to the oats in the blender, or stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract or maple syrup after the milk has been strained. Or try chocolate milk by adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder! You can blend a little bit of coconut oil into your oat milk, which will give it a richness that is more like the commercial versions.

How to Make Homemade Oat Milk

Homemade oat milk could not be easier to make. Simply combine one part rolled oats and three to four parts water in a blender, blend just until smooth, then strain. As we've mentioned, you might want to experiment with how different strainers affect your end result. In my experimenting, a nut milk bag left a lot of sediment in the milk, but the tea towel I used wouldn't allow the liquid to drain out properly.

To Soak or Not To Soak?

Some recipes call for the added step of soaking the rolled oats in water for 15 to 30 minutes, draining and rinsing them, then adding water again. If you've ever made oat milk and found the texture to be a little slick or slimy, try adding this step to your process, as it rinses away any of the powdery sediment that gives the milk this texture. Hydrating the oats also helps them blend more easily. I tried it both ways and didn't notice a discernible difference between milks from soaked and un-soaked oats.

Using and Storing Oat Milk

Keep oat milk in a covered bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to five days. It's natural for it to separate a bit; just shake it or stir it before using. Oat milk is perfect for baked goods, cooked cereal, smoothies, and coffee.

My Favorite Method

Oat milk is so quick and easy to make that I make it in smaller batches so that it's fresher. First, combine 1/2 cup of oats, 1 pitted and chopped date, and 1 cup of water in the blender. Blend for no longer than 30 seconds, until the date is processed and the mixture looks creamy. Strain it through a nut milk bag into a wide-mouth, 1 pint Mason jar with a lid. Chill for at least an hour, and give it a shake before serving. This method yields a little less than a cup of milk.

Save Those Solids!

You can use the thick solids left behind from straining to add nutrition to recipes — after all, they contain the fiber and nutrients that don't make it into the milk. Transfer the solids to a covered container and refrigerate for up to three days. Blend a spoonful into a smoothie to make it heartier, or mix it into muffin batter, brownies, or even meatloaf.