There have never been so many different types of vegan milk to choose from, which is good news for those who don’t (or can’t) drink cow’s milk. And its A double-edged sword for vegan cooks and bakers. Variety is great, but it means that every new milk is a gamble; I’ve had oat milk with a half and half texture, almond milk that was originally off-white water, and everything in between.
If you consume vegan milk primarily in coffee, with cereal, or on its own, an unexpected texture (or flavor) situation can be annoying, but not a complete dealbreaker. However, when you’re baking and cooking, choosing the wrong milk can ruin your recipe. This is why I keep soy milk in my fridge or pantry at all times: It’s a known quantity. Unless you’re allergic to soy, it won’t let you down. Why here
Soy milk is easy to find, consistent across brands, and chemically similar to cow’s milk, all of which make it a reliable ingredient for cooking and baking. Although different companies have different recipes, they all have roughly the same texture and nutritional content; If your usual brand is sold out or not available on the street, then it is not a big deal to swap for a new brand. Furthermore, of all the widely available vegan milks, soy milk is closest to cow’s milk in that it actually contains protein. in fact, according to USDA’s FoodData Central Nutritional Database, soy milk have roughly the same nutritional profile as 2% milk, The specific types of protein, fat and carbs may not be the same, but the total amounts are—and that’s what counts.
All of these properties combine to make soy milk the perfect all-in-one substitute for the real thing. In my experience, you can count on soy milk to behave like cow’s milk over a wide range of temperatures and pH values—in other words, when cooking and baking. I’ve used it in waffles, pancakes, sheet cakes, cornbread, instant pudding, rice pudding, and German buttercream; To make vegetarian “buttermilk” I have acidified it with lemon juice; I’ve cooked it with sofrito for vegetarian bolognese; I’ve used it to make tangzhong for milk bread and béchamel for vegan mac and cheese. Last Thanksgiving, I even used it as the base for homemade vegan butter. (It worked surprisingly well; Also, I’m never doing that again.)
Soy milk may not be as cool as the new kids on the alt milk block, but if you need a reliable vegan alternative to milk, you can’t beat it. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll still reach for oat milk when I want a delicious, refreshing drink — but when I need an ingredient I can trust, it’s soy. Keep a shelf-stable carton or two in your pantry for emergencies; I promise you won’t regret it.