Ever since Impossible Foods stole the show at 2019 with its White-Castle-burger-that-wasn't, Engadget has been following the science of plant-based foods. Nowadays, it's not just patties that can do a convincing impersonation of animal products, and it's not just Impossible Foods. Between Impossible and its biggest competitor, Beyond Meat, we've also seen plant-based chicken nuggets, sausage, pork, "KFC" and even taco meat. But you don't often hear about attempts to mimic a different animal-based product: milk.
And when you do hear of plant-based milks, it's more likely to be dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk or oat milk. Even then, it's rare for a dairy-free version to taste like the real thing. That’s exactly the selling point of Silk’s new line of plant-based milk, Nextmilk. It will be available in both full fat and reduced fat versions (MSRP is $4.99 for a 59-ounce carton). It’s going on sale today in grocery stores like Target, Kroger, Publix and HEB, among others.
I tried a sample of Silk’s Nextmilk last week and while it’s tasty, I wasn’t fooled into thinking it tastes like cow's milk. It tastes more like a richer, fattier version of oat milk. It does have a similar creamy mouthfeel to regular milk and the taste is a little closer to dairy than other plant-based milks I’ve tried, but it doesn’t quite replace dairy for me.
The ingredients list reflect what I tasted: It consists primarily of oat milk, plus smaller proportions of coconut milk, coconut oil, soy protein isolate, chicory root extract, cane sugar, sunflower oil, a vitamin and mineral blend, sea salt, locust bean gum, gellan gum, sunflower lecithin, soy lecithin and “natural flavor.”
Still, it’s quite delicious, and it might be close enough to dairy for some people. When eaten with cereal or as an accompaniment to cookies, for example, I thought Nextmilk was a more than acceptable substitute. It also mixes well in coffee and tea. “Silk Nextmilk was specially formulated to meet dairy-lovers’ taste expectations through a remarkably delicious blend of plants that are designed to deliver on key attributes of dairy milk, like taste and texture,'' a Danone (Silk’s parent company) spokesperson told Engadget.
Additionally, Danone says that Nextmilk can be used as a one-to-one alternative to traditional dairy milk in recipes. At the same time, however, the company is also working on another product called So Delicious Wondermilk, which arrives next month and was specifically developed for culinary purposes.
“While Silk Nextmilk is meant for everyday dairy lovers and offers great versatility [...] Wondermilk beverages were developed with culinary-focused consumers in mind and taste great in recipes,” the spokesperson said. When it arrives, Wondermilk will only be available through natural food channels like Whole Foods and Sprouts.
Danone is not the first to attempt a dairy-free alternative that tastes closer to real milk. Impossible Foods, the company behind the Impossible Burger, is also working on this, with a product tentatively called Impossible Milk. However, its availability is still unknown.