Be honest, do you get giddy when November rolls around and you arrive in the creamer section of the store to see an array of seasonal creamers from peppermint to nog? We certainly do, but as the festive, dairy-free options continue to multiply each year, we found ourselves struggling with decision fatigue. To help prevent you from experiencing this same Yuletide hardship, we held the ultimate holiday creamer taste test to compare 8 leading creamers on 4 key criteria.
- Flavor - how delightful the creamer was when mixed with coffee, how prominent was the respective flavor notes?
- Texture - how well did the creamer mix with the coffee, was it a fluid sipping experience with equal distribution of cream from the first to the last sip?
- Holiday Authenticity - did it provide a unique sipping experience that channeled the magic of the holiday season? Was the flavor clearly identifiable as a holiday option?
- Ingredient’s Integrity - how high quality were the ingredients used? Will it cause any unwanted gut distress?
We selected 8 creamers and brewed a batch of coffee pouring a small amount into 8 mugs while keeping all variables consistent to an honest tasting match-up. Here’s how it went:
Contender 1: Tied For Winner
We were pleasantly surprised by what the non-dairy Silk creamers brought to the table. Typically I wouldn’t grab them off the shelf, since I tend to gravitate towards products with more ‘organic’ branding, but for this seasonal delight, I’m okay deviating from my normal ingredient standards. The flavor was noticeably more present in the Silk Almond Dark Chocolate Peppermint compared to others in the lineup. It had just the right amount of sweetness to make you feel as though you’re celebrating for the holidays but not to make you feel as though you need to brush your teeth and eat something salty (as I personally feel after sipping half a Starbuck’s peppermint mocha). The texture scored high as it blends well throughout hot coffee, it doesn’t sink to the bottom or get clumpy. The ingredients could certainly be improved, but with this creamer, a little goes a long way, and it falls into the ‘not that bad’ category. They are using Cane Sugar (4g per serving, on the higher end but not horrible), we don’t love seeing Sunflower Oil as when consumed in excess it may contribute to inflammation in the body. In this case, it’s likely a very small amount and we’re not ‘cooking’ with it, so we’ll let it slide but would prefer a High-Oleic Sunflow Oil alternative to lower the chance of oxidation. Finally, natural flavors is a blanket term that doesn’t provide the desired transparency to know what is making this drink taste so magical. Either way, Silk Almond Dark Chocolate Peppermint ranked among the highest in the final tally, and given the short season of availability, we’ll continue adding it to our morning coffee.
Contender 2: 4th Place
We were excited to find a plant-based eggnog alternative, as this presents a challenging flavor to mimic without dairy and eggs. The Califia Holiday Nog Almond Milk Creamer is a subtle improvement to the everyday ‘sweet cream’ but nothing to get too hyped over. When it comes to flavor, it’s more subtle than the Silk creamers, but you can taste a bit of ‘rich cinnamon’ sweetness coming through, especially in the second half of the cup. Eggnog is such a distinct holiday drink, it’s not quite meeting expectations. The bigger issue in both Califia creamer is the texture and consistency. They are SO thick, almost clumpy like a drinkable yogurt. Not only is this viscosity mentally unpleasing to pour, but it also causes the cream to gravitate towards the bottom of the cup creating a bland top and overly sweet bottom. It was so thick it caused me to check the expiration date thinking maybe it had gone bad, but that wasn’t the case. The ingredients are a slight improvement over the Silk variety, however, we had to use more to have the flavors come through, so it probably balances out. Califia still uses Cane Sugar but at half the amount (2g) and substitutes Sunflower Oil for Coconut Cream, a much better alternative but possible at the expense of texture. It once again uses natural flavors. Overall, this ranked 4th because of the texture and lack of nog authenticity.
Contender 3: 5th Place
We wouldn’t typically classify Maple Caramel as a holiday flavor, but we didn’t want to let our own season bias exclude any contenders. The Califia Maple Caramel Almond Milk Creamer has a lot of the same pros and cons listed above. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of these 2 flavors in my coffee and it didn’t bring anything all that ‘special’. It shared the same ‘sweet cream’ subtlety of the nog but was ever thicker! It was so thick it formed a cream sludge on the bottom of the cup that would require frequent stirring for even distribution. The ingredients are very similar to the nog but the flavor isn’t quite as enjoyable and the texture is a deal-breaker, it ranked 5th.
Contender 4: Ranked Last
We’re saddened that through this competition we’ve come to believe that Nutpods are not worth the hype. Maybe it wasn’t a fair evaluation, since we’re not assessing ‘everyday’ creamers but looking for the flavorful ‘healthier than Starbucks’ at-home alternatives but Nutpods were incredibly bland. We kept adding more with the hope that maybe the holiday notes would come through. I think about Nutpods Peppermint Mocha as an equivalent of La Croix’s flavorings, it’s essenced with fruit but doesn’t come close to a Spindrift. Yes, the ingredients are certainly an improvement from the other two if someone is looking for 0 grams of sugar, but in this special season, we would pass. It’s also more expensive per ounce and still uses natural flavors. The texture is fine, it blends well enough but from our own experience it doesn’t froth well at all (another luxury we seek in a creamer). Compared to the other 2 Nutpods, Peppermint Mocha ranked last because both flavors were lost, resulting in a sort of mint gum + coffee combo that leaves much to be desired.
Contender 5: Tied for Second to Last
We don’t need to beat a dead horse, but once again the plant-based nog option has a long way to come. I suppose it took years for the Impossible Burger to become as desirable as a Wopper at Burger King, so maybe in time, but if seeking a dairy-free eggnog alternative, consider a ‘So Delicious Holiday Nog Coconut Beverage’, or make one yourself following this delicious recipe from the Minimalist Baker. The Nutpod Holiday Nog is slightly more pleasant than the Peppermint Mocha but still lacks significant flavor and is far from ‘creamy’ when it comes to texture. It ranked second to last and certainly not something we’ll be spending money ordering offline since it’s less accessible than the other brands.
Contender 6: Tied for Second to Last
Anytime you bring a Pumpkin Spice option to a coffee party, you have to know the bar is high. Pumpkin Spice might be the OG holiday flavor to kick-off the seasonal frenzy and Nutpod Pumpkin Spice does not deliver. Again, if this was strictly a zero-sugar alternative to a plant-based creamer, maybe… but given that Nutpods still uses natural flavors and there are a variety of ways to make ‘pumpkin’ come through without sugar it’s a miss. I honestly had nothing against Nutpods prior to this creamer taste test, but I’m now disappointed given the innovations we’ve seen in recent years in the plant-based creamer alternatives. Coffee is more than a utilitarian stimulant and if I wanted zero flavors, I would just use almond milk (which froths easily at the very least). Nutpods don’t ‘spark holiday joy’ in my morning coffee ritual, and for that reason, it tied with the nog for the second to the last place (and it’s overpriced in our opinion).
Contender 7: 3rd Place
We were drawn to the frothing claims and the oat option in Silk’s Oatmeal Cookie Oatmilk Creamer. The flavor was much more present and enjoyable than the Nutpods or Califia creamers but didn’t quite feel ‘holiday’ so it lost a few points for that reason. I could see this as a good ‘sometimes’ creamer when I want more than plain frothed milk but nothing to ‘fake flavored’. It has 4g of sugar, but a little goes a long way and it distributes well, so you don’t have to keep adding more. We appreciate the choice of oat milk as it has a lower impact on the environment when compared to almond milk. Similar to the Peppermint Mocha option, it uses sunflower oil and natural flavors, not ideal and something to keep in mind for long-term daily use. Silk’s Oatmeal Cookie Oatmilk was quite enjoyable and checked the texture box but fell short on the holiday component, so it came in 3rd place.
Contender 8: Tied for Winner
Finally, the black swan of the group, Laird Superfood Pumpkin Spice Creamer. This was the only ‘non-refrigerated’ powder creamer in the mix, but that didn’t affect the strength of the flavor whatsoever. In fact, whenever we can get back to traveling I will likely bring a bag of this creamer with me. I consistently use the Laird Functional Mushroom Creamer found in the refrigerated section of the store, so I was pleased to see a seasonal option. I ordered this online (with a coupon), so it was more expensive, but the quality of ingredients speak for themselves. I also don’t have a problem supporting smaller, premium brands who are trying to make healthy alternatives, especially when they do it really well.
Laird Superfood Pumpkin Spice Creamer delivered on a healthy and flavorful holiday experience! This was Jason’s favorite and it was tied for me with Silk’s Peppermint Mocha. It has a much more authentic sweet and spice flavor that other plant-based pumpkin creamers are often lacking. Even more, the ingredients are a 10/10! It only has 1g of coconut sugar (though I may have done 2 tsp, so let’s say 2g) but it’s SO much more flavorful than Nutpods and Califia. It doesn’t taste artificial in any way, which after I while I could see happening with the Silk creamers. It has coconut powder and coconut oil, 2 high-quality fats that are superior to the others. No natural flavors, which blew my mind but it’s clear they use real spices and pumpkin to create this lovely holiday experience.
The only area that could be improved, but is understandable given the method of delivery is the texture. Simply put, a powder is always going to be a little harder to blend evenly than a liquid, but it wasn’t a big deal. I would certainly feel good about using Laird’s festive creamers after the holidays and the ingredients validate the higher price point.
This tied for first place with Silk’s Peppermint Mocha, however, if we had to pick one winner, it would be Laird Superfood Pumpkin Spice Creamer.
Wanted to add this one, but couldn’t find it nearby :
We originally planned to add Malk to the lineup but had a very hard time tracking it down. We’ve had this in the past, and it’s sort of ‘meh’. The texture separates easily (likely due to the very natural ingredients) and I don’t love pecans as a base. We’ll certainly update the blog post if we’re able to get our hands on a bottle.
Ranking Summary :1st - Laird Superfood Pumpkin Spice Creamer
2nd - Silk Almond Dark Chocolate Peppermint Creamer
3rd - Silk’s Oatmeal Cookie Oatmilk Creamer
4th - Califia Holiday Nog Almond Milk Creamer
5th - Califia Maple Caramel Almond Milk Creamer
6th - Nutpod Holiday Nog
7th - Nutpod Pumpkin Spice Creamer
8th - Nutpods Peppermint Mocha
Since doing this test I’ve found myself reaching for 2 creamers consistently and most commonly landing on the Silk Almond Dark Chocolate Peppermint due to convenience. Yes, in the morning I can be a little lazy and the coffee machine is right next to the fridge, I tend to grab the liquid creamer to expedite my time to the first sip of caffeinated goodness. When I’m not in the mood for as sweet of creamer, I opt for the Laird Liquid Creamer.
We love getting into the holiday spirit with a taste test, and in 2020 we have to indulge in all the simple joys as much as possible. We hope you enjoyed this dairy-free holiday creamer review and get the chance to try a few of our recommendations! Happy sipping!
Illustration by : @chloeheartsart