How long to heat milk before frothing?

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How long to heat your milk before frothing depends on whether you are using a microwave or saucepan on the hob to warm the milk. On an 800-watt microwave I heat the milk for two minutes whereas it takes around three minutes on the stove. However, because appliances vary it is better to think in terms of how long it takes your milk to reach 75°C (167°F) which is the sweet spot for frothing warm milk.

Best way to heat milk for frothing

Personally, I always use the microwave. It is so much cleaner, easier, and quicker than warming milk in a saucepan on the stove. It only takes two minutes, and you’ll have lovely hot milk which is at the perfect temperature for frothing.

There is a big caveat here of course. As I mentioned above all appliances differ and I can confirm this from my own experience.

My old 800-watt microwave would take 90 seconds to heat milk. My current one takes 130 seconds – slightly over two minutes.

If you do use your microwave, and as I say I highly recommend you do so, do some testing to find the optimum time. And, of course, the hotter you want your milk the longer it will take to heat. But do be careful not to burn it. Your coffee will taste horrible if it’s made with scalded milk.

Burning or scalding the milk is the big issue when heating milk on the hob. Or at least it is for me. You must constantly keep stirring the milk as well as keeping an eye on the temperature.

And, whilst I acknowledge that many people still like to heat milk on the hob, I’m not a fan and believe it is far easier and much less hassle to use the microwave. You’ll also get more consistent results.

A milk frother thermometer is your friend

If there is one piece of kit which isn’t used as often as it should be – it’s the milk frother thermometer. It’s such a handy little device and extremely easy to use. You just pop the probe in the milk and read the temperature.

You can see how easy it is to use a milk frother thermometer in the video above. If you don’t have one in your kitchen drawer you should definitely get one. I would recommend this Andrew James thermometer.

What’s the right temperature to heat milk before frothing?

I said at the start of this article that the best temperature to heat your milk before frothing is 75°C (167°F). I find this temperature works well but will often go as high as 85°C. It doesn’t make any difference to the taste of the milk, but many will prefer hotter milk.

Most electric milk frothers will heat the milk to 65°C. This is too low in my opinion but it is probably a way to reduce the risk of burns to the user should a mishap occur.

But, as with anything, you should experiment to find which temperature works best for you. I would suggest that you will find the sweet spot is in the 75-85°C range.

OK – how long to heat milk before frothing?

Considering everything we’ve talked about and if you put me on the spot; I would say the optimum time for heating milk before frothing is two minutes in an 800-watt microwave.

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