Homemade vanilla almond milk is my new vice. From the moment I nailed down my version of this oh-so-simple recipe, I COULD NOT stop drinking it. Whether straight out of the fridge or in my afternoon coffee, I can’t get enough. It’s creamy, slightly sweet, smooth, and wickedly addictive!
You want to know the best part??? This Vanilla Almond Milk is “no-sugar-added”. That’s right, I don’t add a lick of white sugar, honey, brown sugar, or even agave nectar. I use dates (you know, the fruit that can double as candy) to add a hint of sweetness. Not that the milk needs it, honestly. It’s delicious with the simple addition of vanilla extract, but my kids love the added sweetness so I oblige and put it in. (After all, it’s all about the kids!)
When I first made the milk, I didn’t have my Nut Milk Bag. I’d ordered it but didn’t want to wait to make the milk so I tried to make due with a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth. Boy was that inconvenient! I didn’t get all the fine bites of almond strained out, which left the milk slightly separated (with the heavy nut bits settling to the bottom). Plus, the flavor wasn’t as smooth and subtle. It’s definitely worth the little money to invest in a nut milk bag because it makes the job go so much quicker! One quick note about the finely ground nuts you will strain out of the milk – save this! I use it to make other things because otherwise I would feel so wasteful making the milk. You can add it to things like muffins, pancakes, breads, cookies, etc. Here are two recipes I love making with the leftover almonds:
One ingredient I occasionally add to my almond milk, which is completely optional, is xanthan gum. Say what??? I know, this sounds like something you’d add to franken-food, but it does wonders to the milk by thickening it into a rich velvety consistency, and helping to prevent separation in the milk. (The milk can separate into two subtle layers after sitting a day or two but by adding the xanthan gum, this doesn’t happen). Xanthan gum is a plant-based fine white powder that has the ability to thicken and stabilize liquids. It is often used in gluten-free baking because it can mimic some of the properties of gluten, even though it is gluten-free. The beauty of xanthan gum, unlike some other thickeners, is that it does not require heat to thicken a liquid, which makes it a perfect addition to make ultra-creamy almond milk. You can find xanthan gum in many supermarkets – look in the health food section or gluten-free baking section.
This SHOULD NOT have been such a long post before getting to the actual recipe, but I just can’t stop gushing about how much I love this almond milk! Anyway, one last love note about the milk – the foam. It’s glorious! After blending and straining the milk, a thick layer of foam appears on top of the milk. You know, like the foam you get on top of a good cappuccino? Yep, that foam. I generally can’t stop myself from eating it with a spoon right after I make it! As I said, this is my new vice, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it!
Speaking of cappuccinos, one thing I have learned is that for some strange reason, it’s important to put the milk in the cup first, and then add coffee. Going the other route, of putting the coffee in first, and topping it off with the almond milk makes the milk curdle – it doesn’t look or taste good! So, take my word for it, and add the milk first. You can heat the milk very slightly over low heat (or on a very low power in the microwave) before adding the coffee, but don’t go overboard or the xanthan gum will gel into lumpsI
One thing I had to compromise on when posting this recipe was to not include the nutrition information. Being a stickler for details like I am, I just didn’t feel confident in calculating the numbers because, after all, how do you figure out how many calories and what nutrients from the almonds actually make it into the milk? So, for that reason, I am not including that info.
Have I mentioned how much I love this Vanilla Almond Milk??? Now, you try it and see what you think. Let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk How-To Photos:
Start with raw almonds – 1 cup for a single batch
Soak the almonds in cold water for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours (this softens the almonds so they blend easily)
After soaking the almonds, this is what they look like; the water will look murky
Drain and rinse the almonds well after soaking them.
Soak whole pitted dates in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften them. I give a big range for the number of dates to use. Like it less sweet?, use 4 dates. Need it sweeter?, go for 8 dates.
Combine the drained almonds, undrained dates, and 3 1/2 cups water in a blender.
Blend the living daylights out of the almonds. One to two minutes is usually sufficient.
This is a nut milk bag, in case you’ve never seen one. It’s inexpensive and will make your life so much easier when making almond milk!
Pour the blended mixture into the nut milk bag that is setting in a large bowl.
Squeeze all the “milk” out of the nuts. The nuts and dates remaining in the bag will look like this when you’re done – save them to use in other recipes!
If adding the xanthan gum, blend that into the milk at this point. Then, stir in the vanilla and refrigerate the milk.
As I mentioned, adding the xanthan gum is optional, but if you DON’T add it, this is what the almond milk will look like after chilling a day or two. Very subtle separation – there’s nothing wrong with it, by the way. Simply give it a stir before drinking to bring it all back together.
Finished Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk in all its creamy glory!
- 1 cup whole raw almonds
- Cold water
- 4 to 8 pitted whole dates
- ½ cup boiling water
- 3 ½ cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (such as Bob’s Red Mill) (optional)*
- Place almonds in a 2-quart glass measuring bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the almonds by about 2 inches. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours.
- In a small bowl combine the dates and boiling water. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. If not blending right away, place dates in the refrigerator until you are ready to blend the milk.
- Drain almonds in a colander. Rinse well with cold water. Transfer almonds to a blender. Add 3 ½ cups cold water and the undrained dates. Cover and blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until nuts are very finely ground. Watch blender closely as the mixture will expand as it blends.
- Rinse out the 2-quart glass measuring bowl used to soak the almonds. Place your nut milk bag upright in the bowl and open the top of the bag. Pour the blended mixture into the bag. (make sure your hands are freshly washed for this next step.) Lift and slowly squeeze the bag until all of the liquid is pressed out of the almonds. This takes a bit of time and effort (I’m talking a minute or two) but it’s worth your while to squeeze as much of the liquid out of the nuts as possible. (Dump the strained ground almonds into an airtight container to save for another use. Refrigerate them up to 1 week or freeze for later use).
- Stir vanilla into the almond milk. If using the xanthan gum, rinse out the blender. Add the milk back to the blender. Add xanthan gum; cover and blend on low speed until well combined. Pour into a pitcher; cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.
- 4 cups