When you think of carbs you probably think of bread, fruit, things with flour, and sweets – but what about milk?
Milk contains carbs, but how much depends on the type of milk you choose – and there are plenty of types of milk to choose from!
Some of the types of milk that have the most carbs include chocolate cow’s milk, strawberry milk, and barley milk. We’ll review 12 high-carb milks in this article and compare them nutrition-wise!
Carbs in milk
The amount of carbs in milk varies depending on the type of milk. Mammal milk (cow’s milk, goat’s milk, etc.) contains lactose, or milk sugar, which is naturally occurring.
Plant-based milks don’t contain lactose, so many types are lower in carbs if they’re unsweetened. However, sweetened versions of plant-based milks are higher in carbs due to the added sugar, and you’ll soon see that even some unsweetened plant-based milks can still be high in carbs!
Finally, flavored cow’s milk (like chocolate milk) will contain both natural sugar from the lactose and added sugar for the flavoring!
12 types of milk with the most carbs
Each amount of carbs is for one cup unless otherwise noted!
Chocolate (cow’s) milk – 33 grams of carbs
Cow’s milk already contains carbs from the natural sugars in plain milk, and then 16 grams of sugar are added through the chocolate flavoring. Other chocolate-flavored milk (non-dairy milk, ultra-filtered milk, etc.) is also high in added sugar, so if you’re watching your carb intake, be sure to choose unsweetened/plain milk!
Strawberry (cow’s) milk – 27 grams of carbs
Similar to chocolate milk, strawberry-flavored milk is high in carbs thanks to the added sugar from the strawberry flavoring.
Barley milk – 26 grams of carbs
Barley is a grain, and grains contain a lot of starch. Barley milk contains 26 grams of carbs per cup, but only six of those grams come from sugar, and three of those are from added sugar.
If you’re not deterred by its high carb content, barley milk has several impressive benefits. It’s a natural source of iron (8% of the daily value per cup) and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D (50% of the daily value for both!).
Condensed milk – 22 grams of carbs (per 2 tbsp.)
Condensed milk is cow’s milk with around 60% of the water removed, which is then sweetened. It comes in canned form, which gives it a longer shelf life than liquid cow’s milk.
Condensed milk (also called sweetened condensed milk) is used for making candy, desserts, and even to sweeten coffee and tea!
Donkey milk – 18.5 grams of carbs
Donkey milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk if you’re allergic, but it has more lactose than cow’s milk. You’ll have a harder time finding it since it’s not as common as other mammal milk like cow’s milk and goat’s milk.
Buttermilk – 15 grams of carbs
Buttermilk is essentially fermented cow’s milk, which gives it a tangy flavor similar to yogurt. It can be drunk plain or used in recipes.
Lactose-free milk – 13 grams of carbs
Lactose-free milk is cow’s milk with the addition of the lactase enzyme, which helps break down lactose. (Lactose intolerance is when your body doesn’t produce enough of the lactase enzyme, causing digestive upset when you eat lactose.)
Lactose-free milk still contains cow’s milk protein, so it’s not a good option for a cow’s milk allergy.
Rice milk – 13 grams of carbs
Like barley milk, rice milk is made with rice (a starchy grain) which makes its carb content on the higher end. While it isn’t suitable for very low-carb diets like keto, rice milk is a great allergen-free milk for anyone with allergies to cow’s milk, tree nuts, and/or soy.
Sheep milk – 13 grams of carbs
Sheep milk isn’t typically drunk on its own because it’s so high in fat (and it’s also high in protein!). Instead, sheep’s milk is mainly used to make cheese and yogurt.
A2 milk – 12 grams of carbs
A2 milk is made from cows that only produce the A2 protein, not the A1 protein. It’s believed that the A2 protein is better digested than the A1 protein. If you have lactose intolerance you might tolerate A2 milk better than regular milk, but it’s not suitable for a cow’s milk allergy.
Buffalo milk – 12 grams of carbs
Buffalo milk is made from water buffalo, not bison. Like A2 milk, buffalo milk naturally only contains the A2 protein, not the A1 protein, so it might be better tolerated by people with sensitivities to mammal milk.
Buffalo milk might sound rare, but it comprises 15% of the world’s animal milk production!
Cow’s milk (all types of fat content) – 12-13 grams of carbs
All types of cow’s milk have a similar carb content regardless of the fat content. These sugars all come from lactose, the naturally occurring milk sugar. Powdered milk is similar in carb content, and is cow’s milk that has been evaporated until the liquid has been removed.
Nutritional comparison of high-carb milk
?=reliable info not available, e.g. for milk not commercially made
|Per cup (237 ml/8 oz.)||Calories||Total fat (saturated)||Total carbs||Total sugars (incl. added)||Protein|
|Chocolate milk (2% fat)||220||5 g (3.5 g)||33 g||31 g (16 g)||11 g|
|Strawberry milk (whole)||220||5 g (3.5 g)||33 g||31 g (16 g)||11 g|
|Barley milk||237||17 g (? g)||12 g||?||9 g|
|Condensed milk (2 tbsp.)||130||3 g (1.5 g)||22 g||21 g (18 g)||3 g|
|Donkey milk||100||0.25 g (0 g)||18.5 g||18.5 g (0 g)||4.6 g|
|Buttermilk (low fat/1%)||120||2.5 g (2 g)||15 g||11 g (0 g)||10 g|
|Lactose-free milk||130||5 g (3 g)||13 g||12 g (0 g)||8 g|
|Rice milk||70||2.5 g (0 g)||13 g||<1 g (0 g)||0 g|
|Sheep milk||264||17 g (11 g)||13 g||?||15 g|
|A2 milk (2% fat)||120||5 g (3 g)||12 g||12 g (0 g)||8 g|
|Buffalo milk||237||17 g (? g)||12 g||?||9 g|
|Cow’s milk (2% fat)||130||5 g (3 g)||12 g||12 g (0 g)||8 g|
Barley milk, a vegan-friendly milk alternative, is the highest in carbs among plant-based milk with 26 grams of carbs per cup.
Unsweetened oat milk is now high in carbs. One cup of Planet Oat unsweetened oat milk contains 8 grams of carbs per cup, which is lower than regular cow’s milk.