Coconut milk and oat milk have a lot in common. Both are dairy-free alternatives to regular cow’s milk and are fast becoming more and more popular.
But there are some big differences between these plant-based milk options, including how they’re used in food and drink recipes.
Keep reading to understand the main similarities and differences between coconut milk and oat milk, including nutritional, taste, and lifestyle factors.
Nutrition Comparison: Coconut Milk vs Oat Milk
To compare coconut milk and oat milk effectively, we first need to analyze their nutritional differences.
We’ve put together a table below which compares a 1 cup serving of both coconut milk and oat milk, examining their key nutritional elements.
|Per 1 Cup Serving
|Most types yes
|Not All Options
Sources: So Delicious Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk, Oatly Oat Milk, USDA
Key Differences Between Coconut Milk vs Oat Milk
There are some key differences between coconut milk and oat milk, such as the number of calories in a 1 cup serving. Coconut milk is the lower-calorie option with 45 calories, whereas a typical oat milk has 120 calories per serving. The calories come mostly from oat milk’s extra carb count.
Both coconut milk and oat milk are vegan, however, oat milk is not keto-compliant whereas most types of coconut milk are. Coconut milk is gluten-free whereas most oat milk is made in factories with other items that do contain gluten, which means it cannot be sold as a gluten-free product.
Similarly, both types of milk have allergens to consider. Coconut is technically a tree nut, which makes it a potential allergen for those with nut allergies. Oats contain avenin, a protein similar to gluten, which can cause issues for those that suffer from coeliac disease or have an avenin allergy.
Ingredients in Coconut Milk vs Oat Milk
The ingredients in coconut milk and oat milk are quite different. These can vary depending on the brand of milk that you choose to buy, however, some main ingredients feature in most types of coconut milk/oat milk.
A carton of Unsweetened Coconut Milk from So Delicious typically contains organic coconut cream and filtered water as its main ingredients and contains 2% or less of the following ingredients: Vitamin and Mineral Blend (calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, calcium carbonate, selenium, Vitamin A acetate, Vitamin D2, zinc oxide, Vitamin B12), organic sunflower lecithin, gellan gum, organic locust bean gum, and sea salt. If you don’t love all the extra additives, the easiest thing to do is make your own coconut milk. (It’s surprisingly easy!)
Oat milk generally contains a similar number of ingredients, for example, Oatly lists the ingredients in their oat milk as water, oats, rapeseed oil, acidity regulator (dipotassium phosphate), salt, Vitamins (D2, Riboflavin, and B12) and Minerals (Potassium Iodide and Calcium Carbonate).
Comparing How Coconut Milk and Oat Milk Taste
Coconut milk and oat milk taste completely different, both deriving their tastes from their main ingredients (coconut and oats).
Coconut milk has a sweet, slightly nutty taste, and is very rich. Oat milk has a more subtle taste and is very creamy, with a clear oat aftertaste.
Oat milk is more regularly used as a substitute for cow’s milk, whereas coconut milk has a distinctive taste and is more commonly used in sauces and curries.
Cooking with Coconut Milk vs Oat Milk
You can cook with both coconut milk and oat milk, both leading to delicious meals and recipes.
Coconut milk is very popular in desserts, such as rice pudding, ice cream, and smoothies. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to make a vegan dessert as coconut milk doesn’t contain any animal-derived milk. It’s also regularly used in savory dishes, primarily Asian cuisine such as curries, soups, and stews.
You can also cook with oat milk, with many dishes using this plant-based alternative instead of cow’s milk. Many people use it in pasta dishes and stews, and it can also be used in cheese/white sauces.
The best coconut milk you can buy
When buying coconut milk, check the label – you want to make sure that it has only one ingredient (coconut – no additives here) and is organic and sustainably produced. Plus, you want to make sure that, if it’s in a can, that can is not lined with BPA.
To save you time, we’ve done this research – here are the best coconut milk brands.
We’ve put together a short list of FAQs to round up our all-encompassing guide on Coconut Milk vs. Oat Milk. Take a look at these for some final thoughts on these plant-based milk options!
Oat milk is a good substitute for coconut milk in the sense that it is dairy-free, vegan, and very creamy. However, the two kinds of milk are quite different, as oat milk is higher in calories and carbs, plus it tastes very different from coconut milk.
Oat milk isn’t always considered gluten-free, so if you suffer from coeliac disease oat milk isn’t a good alternative to coconut milk. It’s also not a good substitute for coconut milk if you’re following a keto diet, as oat milk is not considered to be keto compliant.
Most coconut milks are unsweetened, meaning they contain little to no sugar.
Sugar can be added to certain brands of coconut milk; however, it generally still contains less sugar than cow’s milk.
There are many benefits to drinking coconut milk, and people tend to choose it as a healthier alternative to cow’s milk/animal-derived milk products.
It’s a vegan product, making it more ethical and lower in fat than cow’s milk. There are also potential health benefits as coconut milk contains good fats and acids, however, we’ll leave this to the doctors to debate!
Oat milk has a higher number of calories than coconut milk, with 120 calories per cup serving vs. 45 calories per cup serving in coconut milk.
If you’re watching your weight and looking to consume a smaller number of calories, coconut milk is likely the better choice as it contains fewer calories.
Based on what I’ve seen in real life at coffee shops (and backed up by internet research), oat milk is clearly currently more popular as a cow’s milk substitute in coffee.
And we could get into brand-by-brand differences, barista blends, the science of frothiness, etc.
But bottom line, both oat milk and coconut milk are good options to lighten your coffee (or latte or cappuccino or tea…): it just comes down to which one you think tastes better when combined with your favorite cafe drink. And here’s a coconut milk coffee creamer recipe that’s to die for!