Best Vegan Yogurt (Part 1: Plain)

 Post I/II. In this post, we review brands of plain vegan yogurt. Our second post reviews flavored vegan yogurts and can be found  here .

Post I/II. In this post, we review brands of plain vegan yogurt. Our second post reviews flavored vegan yogurts and can be found here.

Let’s face it: the yogurt aisle is brimming with possibilities. And (thankfully), there’s now more dairy-free varieties than ever before: soy-based, coconut-based, almond-based, you name it. There's a lot of choice. While we wish we could say they were all amazing, the truth is they’re not. Finding a delicious brand of vegan yogurt can involve a lot of trial and error – and sadly, that could mean a huge wad of your hard-earned dough. So we went ahead and did the hard work for you! Here we share the winners and losers of our taste test, so keep reading to save yourself from ever having a disappointing spoonful again.
 

The test

In our quest to find the best vegan yogurt, we crossed the US border, bought as many dairy-free yogurts as we could find – and then headed back home to Canada. The border crossing was interesting, given we had approximately 30 plain & flavored yogurt containers stuffed in an ice-filled cooler in our trunk. Heh. If that’s not commitment to research, then we’re not sure what is. All these yogurts were bought at Whole Foods (except for the Silk, which came from Fred Meyers).

For the test, the two of us tasted all the plain yogurts head-to-head. We then tested again the next day to ensure we still agreed with the results from the day before. And for particularly close calls, we looped in a couple friends to taste as well. For full disclosure, we occasionally eat dairy-based yogurt. While we prefer vegan/dairy-free alternatives, we did buy a dairy-based yogurt to have on hand for a truer side-by-side comparison. So, when we say something tastes or looks like “real” yogurt, we mean it. But if there’s anything you can take away from this test, it’s that there's some vegan yogurts out there that taste just as good as dairy-based yogurt – but only if you pick it right.

The criteria

We judged based on taste, texture, and ingredients. Taste was by far the most important criteria. In our world, if something tastes horrible, there’s no amount of texture or ingredient benefits that could get us excited to eat it. Sorry, not going to happen.

And it goes without saying that taste can be subjective. We did our best to control for this by having two (sometimes four) people testing each yogurt. That and having traditional yogurt on hand, in case we needed a reminder of what the “real” stuff tastes like. That being said, you may find that you like some of these brands more/less than we do. And that’s totally cool! We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, in case you were wondering: this post is not sponsored in any way. We bought all the product ourselves so that we could share our true and honest opinions, no strings attached.

The line up

The play-by-play commentary

Because we’re Canadian, many of these brands aren’t available to us locally, so this was actually the first time we were trying each of these brands.

Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt (Plain): We’ve heard a lot of people rave about Kill Hill yogurt. We were excited, to say the least. Texture looks very similar to yogurt. It’s thick, smooth and not clumpy at all. Seems promising.

A couple bites in and we can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about. The taste is not blowing us away, by any means. It has a sweeter aftertaste than what we’d expect from a plain yogurt. The label says 5g of sugar, so that explains it. Because of the sweetness, it’s hard to see this Kite Hill Plain yogurt being optimal for savory applications. But putting that aside, the overall taste is also slightly too sour for our liking. It’s as if they were going for tang, but went a bit too far. Definitely a lot more “tangy” than regular yogurt. The mouthfeel is slightly chalky and we can’t ignore the slightly weird aftertaste. Wish we could say we loved this one, but that’s not the case. Looks better than it tastes.

Kite Hill Greek-Style Yogurt (Plain Unsweetened): Kite Hill’s Greek style yogurt is definitely thicker than their traditional yogurt. Can’t say we had an issue with the thickness of their traditional yogurt, but appreciate what they’re going for.

This one made our noses scrunch when we had a bite. If it’s even possible, the Greek-style Kite Hill yogurt is even more sour than their traditional yogurt. And not in a good way. The bitterness is probably more noticeable because this version has less sugar (1g) than their traditional Plain. Unfortunately, way too bitter for us; and the ultra-thick texture verges on pasty. Womp womp.

Coyo (Natural): The simple, short list of ingredients gets a big thumbs up. Looks-wise, this Coyo yogurt isn’t trying to fool anyone. It’s unapologetically coconut. The best way we can describe the texture is that it’s like the thick coconut solids that rise in a can of chilled coconut milk. We had to stir ours quite vigorously to smooth it out.

Taste-wise, this is very coconut-y. We love the taste of coconut, but if you don’t, then skip this one. The yogurt is cultured, which means it also has a lot of tang. This tanginess is in the same direction of Kite Hill, but not quite as far, so we find Coyo’s tanginess to be more palatable and enjoyable. That said, Coyo is very rich. The two of us couldn’t even get through half the individual-sized container. Which is probably a good thing given how pricey this stuff is. Overall, we’d see ourselves using this more as a coconut cream substitute (e.g. a small scoop with fruit/dessert), rather than a 1:1 substitute for yogurt. Also, did we mention it’s expensive?!

Silk Dairy-Free (Plain): This yogurt is more yellow than the others we’ve tried so far, likely because of the soy base. Texture is good: smooth and thick. Kite Hill’s still looks more bang-on (vs. regular yogurt), but this Silk one looks pretty darn close.

The taste is much more neutral than the others we’ve tried so far. However, it’s also on the sweeter side (6g of sugar) – which combined with the color – reminds us more of a very weak vanilla yogurt instead of a plain one. Not bad, but not spectacular either.

Forager Cashewgurt (Unsweetened Plain): The two yogurts we’d heard most people rave about were Kite Hill and Forager. After our slight disappointment with Kite Hill, some of our earlier disappointments, we’d now consider ourselves “cautiously optimistic” on Forager. The consistency is definitely on the thinner side. It’s perhaps the thinnest yogurt of the bunch – and the color is off-white (what you’d expect from cashews) - not a deal breaker for us, assuming it actually tastes good.

Okay, the taste on this one is actually pretty good. It tastes a bit cashew-y, so it’s not a dead-ringer on taste compared to regular yogurt. But it does taste good, which is probably what matters most. Obviously, that assumes you like the taste of cashew. It has a nice, enjoyable level of tang to it…not as intense as Kite Hill (or even Coyo), which we like.

So Delicious Coconutmilk (Unsweetened): This yogurt is very white – especially compared to the cashew-based Forager we just tried. Texture-wise, it’s like a regular yogurt…not too thick, but not too runny either.

This yogurt has a good level of tang. We tried a scoop of regular yogurt right after to confirm, and we find this one to have the most similar tanginess to yogurt. If you try really hard to catch it, you might be able to detect a slight coconut aftertaste, but it’s really subtle. The best way to describe this is a neutral taste – which would make it the most versatile of the bunch for both sweet and savory applications. No complaints about this one, we’re actually quite impressed. I guess we unknowingly saved the best for last.

The results

And after much testing, here’s the ranking of the brands we loved most, down to the ones we enjoyed the least.

  1. [Winner!] So Delicious Coconutmilk (Unsweetened): We found this one to be the closest match to “real” yogurt. It has a similar level of tang to dairy-based yogurt. In fact, our friends we’re shocked that this one didn’t contain any dairy at all! It’s neutral in taste and limited sweetness makes it versatile for both savory and sweet applications. This one would definitely be our go-to store-bought plain yogurt.
  2. [Runner up!] Forager Cashewgurt (Unsweetened Plain): We like cashews, so thought this one tasted quite good. Would definitely buy this one again as well – especially to enjoy with granola or in smoothies. It has a bit more “flavor” than So Delicious, which makes it slightly less versatile but still a great option.
  3. Coyo (Natural): This one was hard to rank, because we don’t really see it as a 1:1 yogurt substitute. That said, for a special treat where we want a rich scoop of coconut cream, this would be perfect. Because of the price, we likely wouldn’t buy it often, but, we do think coconut lovers would agree its yummy.
  4. Silk Dairy-Free (Plain): This one isn’t bad, and we’d buy it if our other favorites weren’t in stock. But, we find it falls somewhere in the middle of a plain yogurt and a vanilla one, so it’s kind of underwhelming in the end.
  5. Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt (Plain): Not jumping to try this one again. The tanginess and aftertaste ended up being too intense for us. Their nailed the look and texture of this yogurt, but unfortunately the taste doesn’t quite match.
  6. Kite Hill Greek-Style (Plain Unsweetened): Our complaints about the regular plain Kite Hill yogurt are only worse for this variety. Will not be buying (or eating) this one again.

Curious about how different brands rank for flavored yogurts? Read on here for our post comparing brands on their Vanilla, Strawberry and Blueberry flavors. The results might surprise you!

And as always, we’d love to hear from you in the comments! Which vegan yogurts have you tried, and which do you love right now?

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