A few years back I finally admitted to myself that dairy was (for me) undigestible, and started seriously cutting it out of my diet. This was a very sad day. I quickly learned that the number one rule to giving up dairy was to let go of the food group entirely: substitutes and fakes will never taste like the real thing. That’s why my morning yogurt and granola ritual was gone – irretrievably lost to a distant memory. Then my mom, feeling awful about the fact that I could no longer eat everything in our family fridge, bought some dairy-free alternatives to please me over the holidays.
I was incredibly skeptical, but my mom’s considerate gesture could not be ignored: I took the plunge, prepared for failure and was blown away! This led me on a quest for the best dairy-free yogurt, and I was not surprised to discover that there are LOTS of options, but few are edible. Here are my takes – these were all strawberry-flavored, to allow for a modicum of consistency:
- Almond Dream: I took one taste and had to dump the rest. I just did not understand how this got past any taster with real life tastebuds. Their texture is questionable and the flavor is completely off-putting. Avoid at all costs.
- SO Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk: On paper, this was a potential winner – Coconut has long been my favorite yogurt flavor, so what could go wrong? Apparently a great deal – again, I was struck first by the texture. There was nothing creamy about this yogurt, just a watery look and an empty flavor. Strike two. Avoid.
- Stonyfield O’Soy Organic: I looooved Stonyfield creamline yogurts before I went dairy free, so I had extremely high hopes for their dairy-free version. But oh how I was deceived. It suffered the same issues as the Almond Dream yogurt: visually unpleasant, questionable texture, and uninspired flavor. Definitely avoid.
- SO Delicious Greek Cultured Almond Milk: So much potential! The almond version of the SO Delicious line fared slightly better than the coconut, though the texture/flavor combo was still unpalatable. It seemed like an airless mousse sorely lacking in flavor, but still slightly better than the coconut version. Avoid.
- Nancy’s Organic Cultured Soy: Getting warmer. I really wanted to love this brand, mostly because they’re sold at Whole Foods, which is a convenient place for me to shop. The texture was a little off, a little too watery, but when I mixed in some granola, it was a non-issue. There was something about the flavor, though, that didn’t convince me. I am far from being a sweet tooth, but I think what bothered me was the lack of sweetness and an excessive acidity. Okay in a pinch.
- Silk Fruity & Creamy Dairy-Free Cultured Soy Milk: YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!! This is the dairy-free yogurt pot of gold. Somehow Silk (of all brands) has managed to make a dairy-free yogurt that has a smooth, actually creamy texture. This seems to be the most challenging part of the soy yogurt game. The flavors are fruity, just the right amount of sweet, and leave no unpleasant aftertaste. Go for it.
Side note: PA Nicole and Melissa agree that Amande makes a killer almond yogurt, but we’ve also discovered it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I have yet to find it on the shelves at any supermarket or bodega near me, so I’ve left it out of my roundup. This also brings me to another point: none of these brands are sure to be found on the shelves of your local market. Silk, though a major soy milk brand found in every market I’ve been to recently, is less accessible in its cultured iteration. So buyer beware, and best of luck!
(PS: please post your suggestions on brands I haven’t mentioned!)