Food & Nutrition

Ovaltine vs Horlicks – comparing these 2 popular malted drinks to see which is best

Published by Finn Hayden

Ovaltine and Horlicks are 2 popular malted milk drinks that are enjoyed by many people in the evenings to help them unwind. While they share some similarities in terms of their ingredients and purpose, there are some pretty notable differences between the two.

For anyone trying to decide between these 2 malted drinks, we thought it would be useful to compare Ovaltine and Horlicks to see which is best. We'll be looking at the quality of the products, as well as the ingredients and other factors.

Let's get into it:

What is Ovaltine?

Many people assume that Ovaltine is a British brand, but the product actually originates from Switzerland and is widely used in the USA. In simple terms, Ovaltine is a malt mix which you mix with water or milk to create a hot malted drink. Ovaltine is intended to be consumed before bedtime, as it is supposed to help you sleep. The product dates from the very early 20th century.


What is Horlicks?

Similar to Ovaltine, Horlicks is a malted mix which can be mixed with water or milk to create a hot malted drink which is intended to be drank before bed. And a further similarity is that Horlicks dates from around the same time as Ovaltine, albeit a bit earlier at the end of the 19th century. The Horlicks brand was founded by English brothers, but first grew in popularity in the USA, and nowadays has global popularity. It's interesting to note that although Horlicks is marketed as an evening drink here in the UK, it is consumed in the morning in other parts of the world, including India.


Which are the nutritional differences between Ovaltine and Horlicks?

Despite the clear similarities between Ovaltine and Horlicks, once you start comparing the ingredients of these 2 products you realise that there are some pretty interesting differences between the 2. Let's get into it:


The first thing which really surprised us about Ovaltine was that it contained cocoa as an ingredient - don't get us wrong, Ovaltine definitely has quite a sweet taste, but we wouldn't have described it as a chocolatey drink. It's also 73% Malt Barley Extract, so actually contains a lot more malt than we expected. But what Ovaltine is really about is all the vitamins and minerals it has been fortified with. In terms of minerals, you'll find Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc in Ovaltine, as well as 11 different vitamins, which is really impressive.

back of Ovaltine tub


Where Ovaltine contains 73% barley malt extract, Horlicks is made using a blend of 31% malted barley and 41% wheat. It's also made without cocoa, and for this reason, we find that Horlicks doesn't have the same sweetness as Ovaltine. Horlicks also differs slightly in terms of the vitamins and minerals found in each packet. For example, Horlicks contains Calcium, Iron, and Zinc, but doesn't contain any Magnesium like Ovaltine does. And as we mentioned in our sleep tea guide, there is some evidence that consuming Magnesium can help you to get a good sleep. We're impressed that Horlicks contains 11 different vitamins, but we noticed that the vitamins found in Ovaltine and Horlicks are slightly different. For example, Ovaltine contains Vitamin A and Horlicks doesn't, and Horlicks contains Vitamin D whereas Ovaltine doesn't. The other 10 vitamins found in each product are exactly the same.

Back of Horlicks

Both products contain sugar, but there is more sugar in Ovaltine compared to Horlicks, with Ovaltine containing 49g of sugar per 100g, and Horlicks containing 39.3g of sugar per 100g. You'll also find more 8 calories per 100g in Ovaltine compared to Horlicks, but Ovaltine is much lower in salt, with only 0.3g of salt per 100g compared to the 1.1g of salt per 100g that you'll find in Horlicks.

Anything else to mention?

Ovaltine definitely has a much more straightforward ingredients list compared to Horlicks, with only 5 ingredients listed aside from the added vitamins and minerals. Horlicks has almost twice as many ingredients listed. We were also surprised that despite the similarities, Ovaltine seems to be quite a bit more expensive compared to Horlicks. From Tesco, Ovaltine costs £1.28 per 100g, whereas Horlicks is just £0.80 per 100g.

You can also buy a vegan version of Horlicks (pictured), which is made without any dairy. We tried this product and we were really impressed by how similar it tastes to the standard variety of Horlicks. As of writing this article, we couldn't find any vegan version of Ovaltine.

vegan Horlicks

Final thoughts

So as you can see, there isn't too much to separate Ovaltine and Horlicks in terms of ingredients or nutrition. But the main difference between these 2 products is the price - Horlicks tends to be cheaper to buy. Let us know what you think of our comparison and if you prefer Ovaltine or Horlicks in the comments!

If you liked this post you may also love our posts about the best weighted blankets and best CBD oils and gummies.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

One Comment

  • Brian Reddish

    I have been drinking an Ovaltine equivalent drink for a while but recently bought some instant Horlick. Both are fine but I agree Horlicks is not so sweet hence less calories. I am happy about that. I like the fact that Horlicks contains zinc.
    Overall I am preferring Horlicks because of the zinc and less calories. The two drinks are similar in many other health – ways.
    I have to say that with both drinks I find the recommended 5 spoons too much and I have 3 heaped spoons.
    Excellent drinks but have settled into using Horlicks.

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