These are the Best Store-Bought Dairy and Non-Dairy Milks for Frothing

Did someone say latte art?!

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July 23, 2021
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Photo by: Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

If you're looking for an easy way to jazz up your morning or afternoon cup of coffee, adding a fluffy layer of foamed milk does wonders. But with so many alternative milks now available in grocery and online retailers nationwide, figuring out which milk froths up the best can be a real challenge. From dairy milk to nut milk to plant-based milks, the options are truly limitless, but not every milk froths up the same. That's why we set out to find out which milks work and which milks don't. Here's our “best to worst” frothing list.

The Milks:

Photo by: Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

Whole Milk: Whole milk reigns supreme when frothed thanks to the sugar, fat, water and protein that makes it up. When whole milk is frothed, small micro bubbles begin to form, giving the milk a lovely creaminess without being too over-the-top. Remember to be patient when frothing your whole milk — the larger amounts of fat weigh down the air bubbles. It may take a few extra seconds, but rich froth perfection is attainable!

2% Milk: When frothed, 2% milk acts similarly to whole milk, but it froths quickly, creating very stable microbubbles. Frothed 2% milk is equally rich and decadent, and acts as a wonderful substitute for whole milk, if you’re looking to reduce your fat intake.

Skim Milk: Skim milk effortlessly foams when frothed, producing larger bubbles than its fattier counterparts. After you gently tap the cup holding your milk on the counter, you’ll be left with a beautifully rich foam that’s very stable and keeps its frothiness for a really long time.

Oat Milk: Oatmeal was made for frothing — in fact, it might just be the best alternative to dairy milk. It produces a beautifully rich, sweet, and creamy foam. These were the brands that worked the best:

Almond Milk: Almond milk froths best when it’s at room temperature. Since it has a higher fat content than other plant-based options, almond milk froths up well and creates dense, creamy microbubbles with a light feel when drinking. These brands were the most successful:

Soy Milk: Soy milk froths beautifully and quickly. In the same amount of time it takes to froth dairy milks, soy milk creates a near carbon copy of creamy, stable foam. The bubbles created by frothed soy milk are very pillowy and not very pourable, so you’ll want to skip the latte art with this one. Some great soy choices include:

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is high in fat, which aids in creating a wonderful froth for your coffee cup. Avoid canned coconut milk and go with a carton of coconut milk instead. If you can’t find it in a carton, blend a can of coconut milk with water and watch as your frothy coconut milk dreams come true!

Hemp Milk: Barely any bubbles appear when you try to froth hemp milk. It also curdles if you add it into your coffee cold, so you’ll need to heat it up a bit before adding it into your mug of joe. Some hemp milks we found to be successful include:

Rice Milk: Unfortunately rice milk does not froth well at all. This is due largely to its low fat content. Though the taste is lovely and neutral, it really shouldn't be used if you’re trying to attain nice latte art.

Macadamia Milk: Milkadamia Milk Latte Da Barista Series was the only brand that we found frothed enough, however the amount of bubbles did not last long. The milk itself wasn't the most pleasant tasting in coffee either — it’s pretty bitter and leaves a somewhat dry taste in your mouth.

Cashew Milk: We’re sad to say cashew milk absolutely did not work. Not only was it too thin and watery to froth, it barely created any bubbles.

How to Froth Your Milks Without a Steamer Wand:

Handheld Frothing Wand

There are many brands you can find online that are wonderful to froth milks.

French Press

Just add milk into your French press and pump until air is incorporated and microbubbles form.

Mason Jars

Add milk into a mason jar and seal tightly, then shake until dense bubbles are created.

Immersion Blender

Add your milk to a deep metal container then fit your immersion blender inside and pulse until frothed. This method can be messy, so go slow at first to gage liquid displacement!

Whisk

Though this is by far the most time consuming and vigorous method, you'll still achieve a lovely froth. Simply whisk your milk by hand for a few minutes in a shallow bowl to create a foam.

The Do's and Don’ts of Frothing:

Photo by: Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

Photograph by Matthew Skrincosky

When frothing, do not push the frother wand too deep into your cup, as you will not incorporate enough air into the milk. In the same vein, not inserting the wand enough into the milk will inhibit air from penetrating the milk. Finding the right balance is key here!

If you’re using a steam wand, make sure the milk is fresh and very cold. If you’re using a handheld wand, French press or any other form of frother, gently warm your milk first before frothing. Do not let the milk simmer or get to a boil, as it will scald and destroy any chance of bubbles.

The Bottom Line:

All in all, some milk brands work better than others when it comes to frothing. Using a steam wand (like at your favorite cafe or coffee shop) will absolutely give you the most “professional” foam vs. using a handheld wand, immersion blender or any other homemade frothing device. All these factors lead to different outcomes for different milk brands. As far as taste, that truly comes down to your personal preference. Find what tastes best for you! When all else fails, look for barista brands because these companies have created formulas that support more stable bubbles for every type of frothy coffee.

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