Can You Freeze Milk?

Is freezing dairy liquids like milk and heavy cream a do or a don't? Here are our thoughts.

Related To:
The bottle of frozen milk

The bottle of frozen milk

Photo by: Qwart/ Getty Images

Qwart/ Getty Images

Get a Complimentary 1-Year Subscription to the Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen to sign up and get access to daily live classes, thousands of on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering and so much more. Own a Fire TV or Fire tablet? You can now get a 1-year complimentary subscription to the app — read here for more details. Terms and conditions apply.

Whether you're approaching the best-by date or have to dash out of town before opening a new carton of milk, it can be tempting to pop milk and heavy cream in the freezer to save for later. But is it safe to freeze milk and heavy cream, and will it taste the same once thawed? Here’s what we found.

Milk

You can safely freeze milk — whether it's regular dairy milk (skim through whole) or buttermilk — for 1 to 2 months, but once thawed, it will only last a few days. It’s best to store milk in an airtight plastic jug or bottle with at least one-third of the container empty. Milk will expand as it freezes, and you want to make sure there’s enough room for it expand, without the bottle exploding.

There are some downsides to freezing dairy milk. To start, both milk and buttermilk will likely separate once thawed, so you will need to whisk the whey and the cream of the milk back together or shake well before using. It’s also best to thaw milk slowly in the refrigerator to lessen the separation. Finally, it’s important to note that dairy milk will change slightly in taste and texture once thawed, so it’s best to use thawed milk for cooking and baking (rather than drinking).

Heavy Cream

Similar to milk, heavy cream can be frozen for 1 to 2 months. It will also separate once thawed, but heavy cream's higher fat content does fare better — it separates less than lighter dairy products. To freeze, place your heavy cream in a plastic jug or carton, but make sure to leave some room for the heavy cream to expand once frozen.

It’s important to note that frozen-then-thawed heavy cream will not whip as nicely as fresh heavy cream. The heavy cream will develop ice crystals the longer it sits in your freezer, and the added water content will prevent the cream from becoming as voluminous as a carton of fresh heavy cream. If you plan to whip your cream, it’s best to do so in advance of freezing: Whip your heavy cream to soft peaks, dollop the mixture onto parchment paper-lined sheet trays, then freeze until firm and transfer to zip-top bags until ready to use.

Non-Dairy Milks

If non-dairy and plant-based milks are a part of your regular diet, these can also be frozen and stored for about 2 months. Whether you have almond, soy, oat or even coconut milk, you can freeze all of these liquids, just be sure to store them in a plastic container and not in an aluminum can or glass jar.

Unfortunately, most non-dairy milks will also separate and become grainy once thawed because of the added water content needed to thin them. However, they are all each easily whisked or shaken back together once completely defrosted. A great method for storing non-dairy milk is in ice cubes trays; that way you can easily pull them from the freezer and pop them into smoothies and other blended beverages.

The Gist

Yes, you can freeze milk, heavy cream and non-dairy milks. However, the overall taste and texture may change once thawed, resulting in a product that’s best for cooking and baking. If you have a surplus of dairy that you want to freeze before it goes bad, we suggest saving this product for future cooking and baking projects.

Great Recipes:

Related Links:

Next Up

How to Freeze Sauces

Have Sunday gravy any night with these freezing tips.

How to Freeze Baked Goods

Extend the life of breads, bagels and cakes with a few simple tips.

The Rules of Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Meals

With this extensive guide, there’s no need for you to — er — freeze up.

How to Freeze Mushrooms

Find out how to make the most of that earthy flavor.

How to Freeze Fresh Spinach

The best way to freeze those leaves while they're still fresh.

How to Freeze Fresh Berries

How to be sure those berries will be ready for pies, smoothies and more.

The Best Way to Freeze Asparagus

Save that spring bounty!

5 Tools for Easier Baking

Avid bakers know that their most important tools are patience and an attention to detail. These items below, however, do simplify the baking process and will quickly become indispensable.

Fighting Summer Stains: Barbecue

When it comes to barbecue stains,we’ve got you covered with these removal tips.

The Best Baking Powder Substitute

No powder? No problem. Make your own leavener with pantry staples.

Latest Stories