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Cashew Milk vs Almond Milk: A Comprehensive Comparison of Dairy Alternatives

June 15, 2023

HWA offers a complete comparison of some of the most popular dairy alternatives: cashew milk vs almond milk. Which is best for consumers and manufacturers?

The dairy industry touts cow’s milk as “nature’s most nearly perfect food” since it contains over a dozen nutrients and is easy to produce and consume. Yet millions of people can’t or don’t drink dairy milk because of allergies, lactose intolerance or other health concerns, ethical or environmental commitments, or personal taste preferences. Thankfully, tasty dairy-free milk options exist. These are becoming a staple in many consumers’ diets and not just those who are vegan or allergic to dairy.

As the demand for dairy-free milk alternatives grows, so do the options. Manufacturers have developed a wide range of plant-based milk products commonly made from nuts, legumes, grains, and seeds.

Almond milk remains the top milk alternative as the most popular choice for consumers and manufacturers. Milk manufactured from cashews is another popular option in today’s market. These two stand out as some of the best for many reasons — nutrition, texture, taste, etc. But, when deciding between the two as ingredients and milk products, restaurants, chefs, food product developers, and consumers can consider the following differences between almond and cashew milk.

Discover Almond Milk

Almond milk has witnessed a significant surge in popularity and has become a staple in the dairy-free market.

Almonds themselves are widely recognized for their nutritional value, offering a good source of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Almond milk’s mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it versatile and appealing for use in various recipes, including smoothies, coffee, baked goods, and cereal.

The dairy-free market has embraced almond milk as a nutritional, versatile, and tasty alternative to traditional dairy milk, leading to its widespread availability in supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants. The popularity of almond milk is expected to continue its upward trend as more people seek out dairy-free milk options and experiment with the possibilities of plant-based alternatives from cheese to yogurt to ice cream and more.

How is Almond Milk Made?

Almond milk can be manufactured in a variety of ways. Raw almonds can be soaked, blended with water, and strained to separate the almond pulp from the liquid and result in creamy almond milk.

It can also be formulated straight from almond butter. Natural almond butter can be combined with water to create a smooth mixture. This mixture is strained to remove the almond particles and create the same creamy almond milk.

Optional steps include homogenization for consistent texture and the addition of stabilizers or emulsifiers. Flavoring and fortification may be added to enhance taste and nutritional value — this can include sugar, vanilla, vitamins, and minerals. The almond milk is then packaged in large containers for storage and distribution. Stringent quality control measures are followed throughout the process to ensure consistent quality and compliance with food safety standards.

Almond Milk Applications

Almond milk is commonly used as a base for dairy-free beverages, such as smoothies, shakes, and coffee drinks. It can be found in an array of dairy-free yogurts, ice creams, and desserts, providing a creamy and indulgent texture. Almond milk is also utilized in baking, where it adds moisture and richness to cakes, muffins, cookies, and bread. Savory products like dairy-free sauces, cheeses, dressings, and soups can benefit from the smooth consistency and subtle taste of almond milk. With its widespread availability and growing popularity, almond milk has become a go-to ingredient for food manufacturers seeking to cater to the increasing demand for plant-based and dairy-free alternatives in their products.

Discover Cashew Milk

Cashews are delicious on their own with a uniquely rich, buttery flavor. These kidney-shaped nuts are a good source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats that promote heart health. They are also rich in protein, making them a valuable plant-based protein option for vegetarians, vegans, and other diets.

The combination of a buttery taste, a creamy texture, and nutritional value contributes to their versatility, making them a preferred nut for not only snacking but for cooking, baking, and recipe formulation. Whether standing on their own or utilized in a cashew-based product, like cashew milk, cashews offer consumers and manufacturers a wide range of benefits.

How is Cashew Milk Made?

Similar to almond milk, cashews are ground before being soaked in water to activate the enzymes. The soaked cashew paste is thoroughly rinsed and blended with fresh water to create a smooth mixture. Next, the mixture is strained through a fine mesh to separate the cashew pulp from the liquid, resulting in creamy cashew milk. Pasteurization is often carried out to eliminate harmful bacteria and extend the shelf life of the milk.

The resulting cashew milk can undergo the same optional steps as almond milk including homogenization and the addition of stabilizers, flavorings, and other additives.

Cashew Milk Applications

Similar to almond milk, cashew milk can also be used as a dairy-free milk option in beverages like smoothies, coffees, and teas, providing a rich and creamy base. Its smooth consistency makes it ideal for making dairy-free ice creams, cheese products, yogurts, and creamy sauces, adding a luscious mouthfeel to these creations. And, of course, cashew milk can be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing and nutritious beverage.

The versatility of cashew milk allows it to be used in both sweet and savory recipes, making it a top choice among those seeking dairy alternatives and enhancing the flavor and texture of a wide array of culinary products.

Nutritional Comparison

When comparing cashew milk and almond milk from a nutritional standpoint, both options offer unique benefits.

One cup of unsweetened almond milk is typically going to contain 40 calories, 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber.

On the other hand, one cup of cashew milk is going to contain fewer calories at 25, less than 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs, and 0 grams of fiber.

Of course, the individual nutrient content of each is going to vary depending on unique brands and formulas.

For consumers, the nutritional choice between cashew milk and almond milk depends on personal preferences and dietary needs. Consumers may choose a milk brand with a higher protein content as they build and maintain muscle. For weight loss, consumers may select low-calorie or unsweetened milk.

For manufacturers, the choice is between the goals of the end product and the target market it is serving. Fortunately, both almond and cashew milk varieties provide a similar nutritional punch and supplement healthy, balanced diets.

Texture & Taste Comparison

There are some notable taste and texture differences to keep in mind, especially when using these in food or beverage product development.

Cashew milk offers a subtle taste with a hint of sweetness. It is often described as having a rich, buttery flavor that can add a luxurious touch to recipes. On the other hand, almond milk has a mild and slightly nuttier taste for a more natural flavor experience.

In terms of texture, cashew milk is known for its creamy consistency. It can feel smooth and velvety in the mouth for a satisfying and indulgent product. This creaminess adds richness and depth to various food and beverages. On the other hand, almond milk has a lighter and less creamy texture compared to cashew milk. It offers a relatively smooth consistency that feels refreshing and suitable for lighter applications.

Manufacturing Milk Alternatives

Investing in plant-based milk alternative products is becoming a must for companies looking to maintain a broad market and remain inclusive to consumers with plant-based diets, health and wellness initiatives, or dairy allergies.

Almond and cashew milk are versatile products that can stand on their own or help formulate high-quality, dairy-free products. With the right supplier, cashew and almond milk can act as more clean, sustainable, and reputable ingredients, helping create a more valuable and traceable recipe.

Harris Woolf Almonds Serves a Variety of Manufacturers

Whether you’re interested in more almond ingredients or are looking to formulate the best plant-based milk, Harris Woolf Almonds can be your partner through it all. As the world’s premier independent wholesale almond-product producer, our team can help formulate high-quality almond solutions, and we’re constantly expanding our California nut expertise.

Our almonds offer numerous health, environmental, and financial value to your customers and company, and we continue to learn, grow, and improve our practices to ensure quality. Contact us to learn more about our products and their benefit to your organization’s goals.