Don’t let the name fool you. Tiger nuts (or chufas) are actually tubers, not tree nuts, and they’ve been enjoyed in countries around the world for hundreds of years. Traditional tigernut milk is typically known as Spanish-style horchata, but it’s gradually coming into it’s own as a dairy-free milk alternative. Tiger nuts appear quite hard, but once soaked, they blend into a rich, creamy, and naturally sweet beverage.
Tigernut Milk is Almost Too Good to be True for Food Allergies
This homemade tigernut milk is a recipe from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. I tested over 25 dairy-free milk bases (yes, twenty-five), and tiger nuts were one of my top picks. Through research and kitchen experiments, I actually learned quite a bit about tiger nuts. So I was able to put together this quick Q&A section.
If they’re Nut-Free, Why are They Called Tiger Nuts?
There are a lot of “nuts” that aren’t technically tree nuts, like coconuts, butternut, and nutmeg. Botanically speaking, tiger nuts are more akin to sweet potatoes, but they are small, hard, and rich, much like nuts. I’ve read that the “tiger” part of the name comes from the mottled or striped look of the outer skin.
Is Tigernut Milk Healthy?
Tiger nuts do have a pretty nutritious profile. They are rich in monounsaturated fats and have a nice array of micronutrients, including vitamin E. But their biggest claim to fame is for digestive health. Tiger nuts are a good source of insoluble fiber, which keeps things moving. They’re also rich in resistant starch, a prebiotic that feeds probiotics, and enzymes that help break down food. Some research shows that tiger nuts may also help to regulate blood sugar, but these little tubers are naturally higher in sugar. Speak with your physician before making any changes in your diet.
What Does Tigernut Milk taste like?
Tigernut milk is full-bodied, smooth, and creamy, yet somehow has a light finish that doesn’t weigh you down. It is naturally sweet, much like yams, but with fruity notes in the flavor and a distinctive finish.
Why are Tiger Nuts So Great for Making Dairy-Free Milk?
Aside from the nutrition perks, tiger nuts are special little oddballs. They are essentially in the potato family, so they are quite allergy-friendly, but they are higher in fat, so they can achieve a creamy finish without the need for adding oil or tree nuts. And unlike seeds, tiger nuts aren’t bitter at all. They have a natural sweetness that’s quite pleasant.
Where Can I Get Tiger Nuts?
They haven’t hit the mainstream in North America, yet. You might find them in some natural food stores, but they are more readily available online. I get them on Amazon, where a handful of brands are available. Other online natural food, supplement, and commodity shops also carry them. Tiger nut products are slowly emerging, and tigernut milk demand is expected to grow quite a bit, so we should hopefully see them in more stores soon.
Can I Buy Tigernut Milk?
There are just a few brands available in the U.S. Organic Gemini is a very clean option. And Rude Health imports their tigernut milk, which is also made with rice. As mentioned, the market is expected to grow, but you can easily make your own!
Can I Use Unpeeled Tiger Nuts in this Recipe?
I have also tested this recipe with unpeeled tiger nuts and sliced tiger nuts, which do work. But the whole peeled ones yielded superior results. It’s up to you! The picture with tigernut milk in it shows unpeeled tiger nuts, and the bowl picture above shows peeled tiger nuts.
Can I Use Tigernut Flour?
I haven’t tried tigernut flour as of yet. It might work well. Sometimes the flours are a bit too dry, and don’t “milk” well. If experimenting with the flour, skip the soaking step.
What Can I Do With the Leftover Tigernut Pulp?
Because tiger nuts are so tough, you’ll have quite a bit of leftover pulp. It has a coconut-like texture, but not much flavor. You can add it to recipes in place of coconut, or toss it into homemade granola.
What Can I Use Tigernut Milk For?
My favorite ways to use tigernut milk is in smoothies. But it’s also great splashed on cereal or oatmeal, in homemade ice cream, or as the liquid in baked goods. It will also work in sweet sauces and does help in thickening. It can work in some savory applications where the light sweetness complements – like in dishes using sweet potatoes or carrots. But tigernut milk isn’t my favorite as a creamer. Since it’s high in resistant starch, it has a relatively thick consistency that must be stirred well to emulsify into hot beverages.
Special Diet Notes: Tigernut Milk
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, and paleo friendly.
- 1 cup whole peeled tiger nuts
- 4 cups water, plus additional for soaking
- 1 to 2 soft pitted Medjool dates
- 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla, almond, or hazelnut extract
- Put the tiger nuts in a container and cover with a few inches of water. Cover and place in the refrigerator to soak for 12 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse the tiger nuts.
- Put the soaked tiger nuts in your blender with about 2 cups of the water. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups water. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Pour the milky mixture through a nut milk bag or a few layers of cheesecloth lining a sieve to strain. Squeeze the pulp to extract as much milky goodness as possible.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Stir before each use; it will separate as it sits.
- Rinse your blender jar and pour about ⅓ of the strained tigernut milk back into your blender jar.
- Add any of the flavor options and blend until smooth or combined.
- Add the remaining strained tigernut milk and blend to combine.
- If using dates, you might want to strain the mixture again.
Nutrition Note: Some of the calories and nutrition will be lost in the pulp, but it's hard to say which nutrients and how much. The nutrition facts listed are based purely on the tiger nuts nutrition.