We Tried Nearly 40 Different Coffee Creamers — These Are the Very Best Vanilla, Caramel, and Hazelnut Ones

published Dec 17, 2020
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Someone pouring creamer into cup of coffee.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

If you start your morning with a cup of coffee, then you know how important that very first cup is. When it’s not perfect (i.e., you ran out of your favorite creamer), the whole rest of the day just feels off-kilter. 

With this in mind, we set out to explore the vast world of coffee creamers and determine which ones are the best. This was a massive undertaking. Have you taken a good look at the refrigerated creamer section at your grocery store lately? At some point over the past decade, the category exploded. Not only do you have to choose between flavors, but you also have to sift through ones made of dairy, almond, coconut, oat, macadamia, and cashew milk. There’s pretty much a creamer for every diet and every taste — and that’s a good thing.

To help you find the best option for you, we gathered all the creamers we could find, from plant-based to dairy-rich, in the most popular flavor categories: vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut. (As a bonus category, we also grabbed unsweetened, plain plant-based creamers to find an alternative to half-and-half without the dairy and sugar.) With almost 40 different creamers in tow (yes, you read that right), we brewed up a big pot of coffee and got to tasting. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

How We Tested

To even the playing field, we sorted the creamers by flavor, then divided them into sub-categories including oat-based, nut-based, and dairy-based. We tasted the creamers both as is and stirred into coffee. From there the creamers were judged based on texture, richness, sweetness level, balance, and depth of flavor. Without further ado, here are the results.

Vanilla Creamers

This was the largest category by far; clearly vanilla is the flavor people crave most. Because there were so many options, we were able to break the category down into several subcategories, including soy milk, oat milk, nut milk. Let’s take a look.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Dairy Vanilla Creamer

As far as dairy-based creamers go, Chobani Vanilla Creamer blew us away with its flavor and texture — it reminded us of melted vanilla ice cream! Oh man is this stuff good on its own. The vanilla isn’t just vanilla — it’s floral and complex. Pour this into hot coffee and you’ll have the perfect start to your day. Pour this on a hot apple crisp though, and you’ve got yourself a fancy dessert. Choose your own adventure

Buy: Chobani Vanilla Creamer, $3.99 for 24 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Soy Milk Vanilla Creamer

If soy milk is your category of choice, Silk Vanilla Soy Creamer is the one to buy. This one tasted almost like vanilla pudding — super rich and luscious. You’d never know this wasn’t actual cream when stirred into coffee.

Buy: Silk Vanilla Soy Creamer, $4.29 for 32 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Oat Milk Vanilla Creamer

For those opting for oat milk instead, So Delicious Creamy Vanilla Oatmilk creamer really delivered on rich, round creaminess and deep vanilla flavor, even when stirred into coffee. Some other creamers in this category merely tasted sweet. 

Buy: So Delicious Creamy Vanilla Oatmilk, $2.99 for 16 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Almond and Coconut Milk Vanilla Creamer

In the nut milk category, Trader Joe’s Coconut and Almond Vanilla creamer came out ahead of the pack for its lush vanilla flavor and rich texture, without being cloyingly sweet. The blend was perfectly harmonious (some other creamers that blended coconut and almond skewed way too coconut-y). As a bonus, this Trader Joe’s option is super affordable.

Read more: Trader Joe’s Coconut and Almond Vanilla Creamer, $1.69 for 16 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Caramel Creamers 

The delicious, buttery, burnt-sugar notes of caramel go so well with coffee, which is why this flavor category is the second largest we found. To score high, creamers had to go deep on actual caramel flavor, not just taste like sugar. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Dairy Caramel Creamer

It was a tough call between Chobani and Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, but Chobani Caramel Flavored Creamer won out because it tastes like half-and-half mixed with caramel syrup — like a real, well-crafted treat you might get at a coffee shop. We kept wanting to go back for more.

Buy: Chobani Caramel Flavored Creamer, $3.99 for 24 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Plant-Based Caramel Creamer

In the plant-based category, we found that Coffee Mate Natural Bliss Almond Milk Caramel creamer really delivered a wallop of caramel flavor. It was super sweet on its own, but coffee mellowed it out and let those burnt-sugar notes shine. 

Buy: Coffee Mate Natural Bliss Almond Milk Caramel, $3.29 for 16 ounces at Target

Hazelnut Creamers

To make it in this category, the creamers had to deliver on nutty flavor. Many of the brands we tried were only vaguely nutty and extremely sweet (almost indiscernible from the caramel varieties we tried). 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Dairy Hazelnut Creamer

For the dairy category, Starbucks Toffeenut Latte took home the honors. Although not technically “hazelnut” by itself, this tastes like candied hazelnuts — very overtly nutty with a salted caramel-like sweetness — so we decided it counts. And it blew the other official hazelnut diary creamers out of the water.

Buy: Starbucks Toffeenut Latte, $4.69 for 28 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Plant-Based Hazelnut Creamer

Of the plant-based options, Califia Farms Hazelnut Oatmilk Creamer was deliciously creamy and lightly sweet, with a rich, nutty flavor that really came through on the back end. It wasn’t super nutty on its own, but the coffee really brought it out. 

Buy: Califia Farms Hazelnut Oatmilk Creamer, $4.99 for 25.4 ounces

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Plain Plant-Based Creamer

If you like the creaminess of half-and half but want to avoid dairy and sweeteners NutPods Original is the one to buy. Made with a blend of almond milk and coconut milk, this is incredibly smooth, creamy, and rich with no aftertaste.

Buy: NutPods Original, $14.95 for four 11.2 ounce cartons

What’s your go-to coffee creamer?