How to Use a Milk Frother

by Véronique Raymond
froth milk with milk frother at home

There’s no denying that a flavorful macchiato, latte, or cappuccino is the perfect way to start your day. However, buying one every day from your local coffee shop can be costly in the long run, even though it doesn’t seem so at first.

Fortunately, there’s a viable solution. You can froth milk and whip up your favourite beverages right from the comfort of your home. The best part is that you don’t need an espresso machine to get the job done.

If you’re wondering what the secret is, read on as we delve into a step-by-step process on how to use a milk frother the right way.

A Step-by-Step Process on How to Use a Milk Frother

Frothing milk is an easy process that doesn’t call for unique equipment. Here’s how to froth milk in three ways.

  • A frothing wand
  • A manual milk frother or French Press
  • An electric milk frother

If you make a ton of delicious milky drinks, investing in a machine that can craft beverages is more convenient. To get started, follow the steps below.

1. Select a Milk Temperature

Frothing milk with a separate gadget besides a steam wand on an espresso maker gives you free rein to froth hot or cold milk, depending on the type of milk you intend to make. The next time you crave an iced latte on a sweltering afternoon, you’ll be happy that you have a milk frother.

If you’re crafting a cold coffee drink, all you need is milk from your fridge. As a tip, if you’re frothing cold milk, it’s always a wise move to chill the pitcher as well. Doing so keeps your milk cool while making it a breeze to foam.

More effort is required if you’re whipping up a coffee drink with hot milk. The most suitable temperature for frothed milk ranges from 140°F to 155°F. If you have your beverage to go, we recommend making it a tad bit hotter to 165°F. However, be careful not to scald your milk, negatively impacting the flavour. By monitoring the temperature, you’ll avoid detracting from the coffee flavour.

You can heat the milk to the ideal temperature in two ways. For starters, you can microwave it, which is the simplest method. Secondly, you can pour the milk into a saucepan and use low heat. The most reliable way to get the desired temperature is via a thermometer.

If you’ve never frothed milk, we recommend using the second method. With more practice, you’ll learn the time to heat the milk in your microwave and how to tell when it’s frothed. As a rule of thumb, it takes 30 seconds in a microwave, after which when you dip your finger in the milk, the ideal temperature should feel hot to the touch without burning you.

It’s worth noting that milk scalds at 180°F. Therefore, if you gravitate more toward an overly hot latte, you can heat the milk to 165°F but make sure the temperature doesn’t rise to 180°F.

2. Froth the Milk

This step will explore the best milk frother to achieve frothy milk, each having a different method.

An Electric Milk Frother

Using this type of frother is the easiest method. If you invest in a machine of excellent quality, it’ll do the heavy-lifting as it has a built-in heater that allows you to set the desired milk temperature.

To use an electric milk frother, add milk to the chamber, shut it with the lid, set your preferred temperature, and press the start button. Some units have the option of selecting your desired milk texture.

As a tip, if you’re making a latte, you want creamy and thick foam that mimics the texture of house paint. For a cappuccino, an airy froth is more suitable.

view of pouring matcha tea into foamed plant based milk

Source: Shutterstock

A Handheld Milk Frother

It’s a compact, battery-powered whisk that comes with a single-speed setting. To use a handheld frother, you’ll need to immerse it in the milk and switch it on. It’s not 100% waterproof, so you must immerse it up to the recommended depth to avoid damaging it.

That’s particularly important if you intend to add latte art to your beverage. It calls for a silky micro-foam texture. If you’re crafting a cappuccino, there’s more room for mistakes.

If your frother is the ideal depth, you’ll notice a swirling but steady swirl of milk. However, if it’s overly close to the surface, you’ll end up with splashing and big bubbles. If the frother is overly deep, you’ll notice little movement. Once you get the swirl motion, it only takes around 30 seconds to complete.

A handheld frother is also perfect for whipping up chocolate drinks. Once you add sugar coupled with cocoa powder to your milk and froth the mixture, you’re good to go. You can add brewed coffee to your hot chocolate for an easy yet affordable mocha.

As a tip, if you want to practice art, froth the milk in a pitcher to make it easier to pour. If you’re not big on aesthetics, a handheld frother allows you to conveniently froth the milk directly into your cup. You can then top it off with coffee.

A Manual Frother

The most complex way to froth milk is using a plunger-based system such as a French Press. A French Press is also commonly referred to as a manual frother as it calls for effort using your hand without a power outlet or a set of batteries.

To use this frother, add cold milk (cold foam is better if you’re using cold brew coffee) or hot milk and swiftly move the plunger up and down. Doing so infuses air into the milk, slowly converting it from liquid to foamed milk. Frothing for longer means more air is infused into the milk, making it frothier. It should take up to 30 seconds of brisk plunging to achieve the desired consistency.

What sets a manual frother apart from the pack is that you’ll need some endurance to perform this rapid piston action for 30 seconds. As a tip, if you’re purchasing a French Press for frothing, factor in the material it’s made of.

A glass counterpart is perfect as it allows you to see the frothing in action. However, it’s worth noting that glass isn’t a great conductor of heat, which means you’ll need to microwave the milk again for a few seconds after frothing.

Alternatively, you can choose an insulated model for your milk to remain at a higher temperature. However, you won’t see the frothing process.

3. Clean Up

It’s a no-brainer that you should clean up after frothing. Once milk froth dries, it hardens and becomes hard to get off your frother. It’s also a breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, soak the frother in warm water after each frothing process and clean it thoroughly with dish soap.

Barista Tips

Let’s delve into a few tricks that expert baristas implement to get the best milk foam while ensuring the frother remains in tiptop condition.

  • If you notice large bubbles on the froth surface, tap the pitcher gently against the kitchen countertop and swirl the milk around it. Doing so gets rid of the larger bubbles.
  • Avoid taking too long to pour the froth; otherwise, it disintegrates.
  • Leave some milk in the pitcher to make sure you’re only pouring the foam rather than untextured milk.
  • Clean the steam wand with each use as it’s the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mould. That entails filling the pitcher with water and running the wand just as you would when frothing milk. Empty the water and repeat the process twice or thrice to ensure your wand is spick and span.


Let’s look into some of the frequently asked questions about frothing milk.

1. Is milk froth sweeter?

No matter what type of milk frother you use, frothing doesn’t sweeten your milk. However, heating milk infuses sweetness into it. That’s because the human tongue is more sensitive to sweetness at higher temperatures. The kind of milk you use will determine how sweet the froth ends up being. For example, skim milk will be much less sweeter than oat milk.

2. Can you froth milk without using a frother?

Yes! Pour milk into a generic mason jar that comes with a lid. Microwave it to the ideal temperature, screw on the lid and shake the jar vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. The milk will turn into airy foam. On the flipside, regulating the milk texture is harder to control compared to using a frother.

3. Can you froth half-and-half?

Yes! You can froth it just as you would whole milk, with the only difference being that you’ll get denser and thicker foam. You can also froth other types of milk, like almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk.

To Wrap Up

If you’re looking to revel in a delicious cup of coffee to kick off your day without breaking the bank, then taking the time to learn how to use a milk frother is worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, crafting excellent milk foam is convenient, fast, and easy. Therefore, it’s worth a try. After all, you have nothing to lose and a wealth of mouthwatering beverages to gain.


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