Primarily Paleo

A path to wellbeing

The Low Down on Paleo Milk Alternatives


I get a lot of questions about cow milk alternatives. For those of you still enjoying Paleo granola or who have a weaned Paleo Toddler, here’s a run down of my favorite Paleo friendly milk alternative beverages that can be purchased. Read the nutrition labels carefully when purchasing the following. Different brands or flavors add different ingredients. The ingredient to avoid at all costs is added refined sugars in the form of cane syrup/ juice and anything you don’t recognize ending in the suffix -ose.

Whole Coconut Milk. Yum. This is not the light stuff! It typically comes in a can- look for a BPA free brand. This milk is thick, creamy and often somewhat solid at room temperature. It can be diluted with water if that makes it easier to drink.

Coconut Milk Beverage (Sugar Free Version): Yes, it is called a beverage because it contains both milk and water. Warning: unless it says sugar free, it contains refined sugar products. This can be purchased in the refrigerated section of your local grocer and is typically sold in a paper milk carton. Coconut Milk beverage is a blend of emulsifiers, coconut milk and coconut water.

Cultured Coconut Milk (Original Flavor): This can be purchased in the refrigerated section of your local grocer. It comes in a plastic carton. Cultured coconut milk contains coconut milk, water, emulsifiers, and watch out for the tapioca derived dextrose (remember that -ose is code for refined sugar) if you are strict on refined sweeteners. The brand I buy has 3 grams of sugar per serving. Cultured Coconut Milk contains live cultures of probiotics.

Unsweetened Almond Milk: This is sold both on the grocery shelf and in the refrigerated section. The important word on the bottle is unsweetened. It contains water, almonds, emulsifiers, and added vitamins. You can also buy an unsweetened chocolate version. Almond milk froths well too for homemade lattes.


  1. I’m so glad that you posted that! I tried to make a chai tea latte with coconut milk beverage and it was a watery mess! Next time I will try almond milk or the real coconut milk stuff for sure! Sometimes the canned coconut milk scares me b/c of the high fat content…

    • Hi Christina, I hope your next chai tea is more satisfying. As I mention frequently, fat is very important especially on a Paleo plan. I hope you found the link on the benefits of coconut and the research on why saturated fats aren’t the dietary culprits we are led to believe. Fat is our friend! Stephanie

  2. Or cashew milk in the vitamix. Yum!

    • Homemade nut milks are also a great replacement for animal milk. Cashews are “on the fence” Paleo. They need to be cooked in order to be edible and by this definition are not truly Paleo. I enjoy them once in awhile as a treat. Too many cashews tend to disrupt the digestive system.

  3. This is awesome! I was having a hard time trying to find a milk replacement for my morning coffees, just can’t drink them black yet and this just saved me!

    • HI- Thank you for the comment. So glad to hear you found the post helpful. Once you’ve given yourself a 14- 30 day break from dairy you can try a little cream or whole milk and see how you tolerate it 🙂 Good luck- Stephanie

  4. Any tips on other alternatives? My husband is allergic to both coconut and almonds (all tree nuts).

    • Hi Karleen, Coconut actually isn’t a tree nut. There’s a bit of botanical controversy regarding what a coconut is (whether it is a drupe or in the palm family). However, everyone agrees it is not a nut. However, that is not to say your husband isn’t allergic, I just wanted to clarify for anyone reading the post!

      My first question is, does he really need or want a milk substitute when following the Paleo diet. If he does, you can try hemp milk (which is from a seed). I am not too familiar with various brands and whether an unsweetened version is available or if it tastes any good!

      Good luck and thanks for your comment!

  5. I am thinking aobut going to Paleo and I always have been a BIG milk drinker, i love that. But I don’t see the point in drinking almond milk if there is NO protein in it..

    What about soya milk, why is it bad ?

    • Pascal, Many people who still classify themselves as Paleo eat cow’s milk products like butter, cheese and even plain old milk. If you can tolerate the dairy products from a gut integrity standpoint then you shouldn’t worry about eliminating it from your diet. Soy is a legume (which is also a gut irritant) and most soy products have been genetically modified. It is also estrogen producing in large amounts, which can be problematic for males- such as giving them extra belly fat.

  6. Dear Stephanie:

    Please tell us the brand of Cultured Coconut Milk (original flavor) you buy. We hope we can find it in one of our local health food stores. Thank you.

    • Hi Monte, Forgive me for not including a link originally. So Delicious is the brand of cultured ‘unsweetened’ coconut milk we buy in the refrigerator case at our local market. I’m sure you can find it near you or request the store to carry it– Stephanie

  7. Is there any chance that products like “coffee mate” are ok?

    • Sorry to report that coffee mate and the like and not ok- Paleo or not! The second ingredient is often corn syrup solids (that’s sugar derived from corn) and it also often contains partially hydrogenated soybean or cotton seed oils. Soy is often GMO, and cotton seed oil is not good for our bodies- it’s a leftover from the cotton used to make clothes. Real cream is a decent alternative, if you are not sensitive to dairy products.

  8. Pingback: Paleo Diet Dairy Substitute | Paleo Recipes

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