It's January, the time of year when people make all sorts of resolutions, many of them centered around their health. For those whose resolutions include trying a vegan diet, taking part in Veganuary (that's vegan January), means they can give it a trial run for a month before making a commitment.

It's during this month that Melanie McDonald's already popular blog, A Virtual Vegan, gets a big jump in traffic. One of the recipes people come to her site to find is oat milk, an easy-to-make, inexpensive alternative to other plant-based milks or cow's milk.

"It's so cheap to make," said McDonald. "Nuts are expensive and most of the vegan milks are nut-based. All you need for oat milk are oats and water. You can also add sweetener and a pinch of salt."

She makes the alternative milk all the time for using in her coffee and baking. You can replace conventional milk with oat milk in baking on a 1:1 ratio.

"It can be used in pancakes, cakes and muffins and it saves so much money. I've seen the price of cow's milk." McDonald said.

She believes oat milk is "pretty neutral' and doesn't affect the taste of baked goods.

"If you taste it neat, it's oaty," said the blogger who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, "but once it's baked up in pancakes or cakes, you can't taste the oats."

It's also one of the quicker alternative milks you can make at home, taking less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

"If you want to make pancakes for breakfast and you go to your fridge and you're out of milk, you can whip oat milk up and don't have to go to shop," said McDonald.

Oat milk instructions

oat milk Inexpensive oats can be turned into plant-based milk alternative. (Photo: Oleksandra Naumenko/Shutterstock)

The process is simple and customizable. Here are McDonald's instructions:

  1. Cover rolled oats (you can use either old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats) in water. Soak then for 15 minutes to soften them up.
  2. Strain the oats in a sieve and rinse them well because they get slimy. Make sure all the slime is rinsed away.
  3. Once they are drained, put the oats in the blender with water. McDonald likes her oat milk creamy so she uses an oats-to-water ratio of 1:3. You can use more water to make the milk thinner or less water to make it creamier. At this point, you can also add the optional pinch of salt and little sweetener in the form of dates, maple syrup or even sugar.
  4. Blend it all up and then run it through a sieve to separate any solids from the liquid.
  5. Decant into a bottle with a lid. The oat milk will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Recipes that use oat milk

Blueberry Cinnamon and Strawberry Dark Chocolate overnight oats Ready in the morning: Blueberry Cinnamon and Strawberry Dark Chocolate overnight oats. (Photo: Anna Norris)

Now that you have oat milk, what can you do with it? Here are some suggestions.

  • Overnight oats: You can get meta with overnight oats by using oat milk as the liquid to soak your oats and other ingredients in for a ready-to-eat breakfast.
  • Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars: This is McDonald's recipe for vegan bars. It uses both a plant-based milk (so the oat milk works great here) and aquafaba, the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas.
  • Gingerbread pancakes: Moist, fluffy, and made with healthy whole grains, you can use oat milk in this recipe.
  • Vegan Mac and Cheeze: Try substituting the almond milk in this recipe with less expensive oat milk.

McDonald has a cookbook coming out in the spring, "Vegan Comfort Cooking," which includes 75 recipes, so there are bound to be several opportunities to test drive your oat milk.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

How to make oat milk
This Veganuary, make your milk alternative tasty and inexpensive.