How to Froth Milk

 Frothed milk is a substitute for steamed milk. Learning how to froth milk is easy and does not require an espresso machine. This makes it popular among home coffee enthusiasts who want to make lattes without investing in the required equipment.

Steamed Milk

Steaming milk requires special equipment

To make proper steamed milk, pressurized steam is forced into milk at just the right angle and velocity. This gently heats the milk, bringing out its natural sweetness, and texturizing it so it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. It is then combined with espresso to make lattes, cappuccinos and a host of other specialty coffee drinks.

Unfortunately for home enthusiasts, making steamed milk requires special equipment and a certain level of skill. For those who don’t want to invest in an espresso machine, frothed milk is a good alternative. Frothed milk is milk that is warmed and then agitated in some way to incorporate air bubbles. The result is similar to steamed milk, but it has an entirely different texture. Frothed milk is more bubbly and foamy (think soap bubbles rather than whipped cream) and doesn’t mix with the coffee in the same way. It produces a beverage that is basically coffee mixed with warm milk with some foamy milk on top; not quite what you get when you order a latte at a coffee shop. Still, if you want to make lattes (and other specialty coffee drinks) at home, and don’t want to buy an espresso machine, it is a passable substitute.

If you are interesting in learning how to make steamed milk rather than frothed milk, check out the page “How to Steam Milk

How to Froth Milk

There are many different ways of making frothed milk. For best results, we recommend using an actual milk frothing device. There are a variety of such devices available, and most are fairly inexpensive. There are also ways to froth milk with supplies you probably already have on hand.

Here are some of our favourite milk frothing methods:

1) With a battery operated frothing whisk

Milk Frothing WhiskThese handy little devices are designed specifically for frothing milk. They are battery powered and use a specially designed whisk which creates a pretty decent froth.  They are inexpensive and fairly small—which is convenient for storage. Note that these whisks only froth the milk, you will still have to heat the milk either in a microwave or stove-top. Tutorial coming soon!


2) With an electric milk frother

Breville Milk FrotherElectric milk frothers are a step up from frothing whisks. They are fully automated, both heating the milk and frothing it at the same time. This makes them very simple to use; just pour in the milk, push a button and the frother does all the work. This greatly speeds up the process of making a latte; you can let the frother take care of the milk while you brew the coffee. If you plan on making lattes on a regular basis, this is definitely the way to go.

3) With an electric hand mixer

Hand MixerIf you don’t have a milk frother, you can use an electric hand mixer. This method is quite simple, but the froth it produces is a little on the bubbly side. Such froth doesn’t mix with the coffee particularly well, the foam just sort of floats on top. Still, for the occasional latte or if you just want to give frothing a try, it gets the job done. Learn how to froth milk with a hand mixer here.

4) With a mason jar

How to Froth Milk with a Mason JarAnother way to froth milk with standard kitchen supplies is to use a mason jar. This simple method requires only a mason jar and a microwave. Oh, and a bit of sweat equity. As with the hand mixer method, using a mason jar makes overly bubbly froth.

Tutorial coming soon!


Note: Some people used the term “frothed milk” or “milk froth” to refer to regular steamed milk. We like to keep the two terms distinct.

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