13 Ways to Use Up a Gallon of Milk

updated Nov 28, 2023
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Do you ever struggle to use up the milk in your fridge? Sometimes we buy milk for a recipe or a weekend brunch, and then it lingers in the fridge, half-used, with the expiration date barreling down upon our guilty heads. It’s a sad waste to pour sour milk down the drain, and we’re here to tell you that you never need to do that again.

Here are 10 simple ways to use up leftover milk, from quick and practical projects like homemade mozzarella and yogurt, to treats like homemade strawberry milk and a sweet, smooth liqueur (yes, booze!). And if all that fails, we have one simple tip that will make sure you never waste milk again.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

These tips range from projects like simple homemade cheeses that are surprisingly quick and easy to make at home — mozzarella, ricotta, paneer — to fermented foods like kefir and yogurt (hello there, probiotics!). There are some dazzlingly fun treats too, like strawberry milk, milk liqueur, and Mardi Gras punch.

My favorite, though, is a big pot of masala chai, which soaks up plenty of milk and is a lovely treat for a crowd of friends or work colleagues (just fill up a thermos).

Ways to Use Up a Gallon of Milk

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Homemade Mozzarella

Knowing how to make your own mozzarella is a dangerous thing. Knowing that at any moment, should the desire present itself, you could whip up your very own ball of creamy mozzarella, still warm from the whey whence it came? Yes. Very, very dangerous. Here’s how to do it.

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2 / 13
Homemade Ricotta

Milk, lemon juice, and about a half-hour of your time — that’s all you need to make a batch of fresh, creamy homemade ricotta. You’re not going to believe how easy and foolproof this is! And trust me — once you make your own ricotta, it’s hard to go back to the stuff from the tub.

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3 / 13
Paneer Cheese

Paneer is the star ingredient in some of my most favorite Indian dishes — and probably yours too! I often find myself scooping just one more nibble of chewy, milky-tasting paneer from the dish long after I’m officially full. Sure, you can buy this firm cheese at the store to make your own homemade curries, but where’s the fun in that?! If you have a pot, a strainer, and some cheesecloth, you can have fresh homemade paneer cheese in about 30 minutes.

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4 / 13
Homemade Yogurt Recipe
A basic method for homemade yogurt — no special heirloom yogurt cultures or fancy incubating equipment required.
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5 / 13
A Quick & Easy Buttermilk Substitute
It's easy to make a very quick buttermilk substitute in less than 10 minutes. Here's how.
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6 / 13
Homemade Milk Liqueur

Say hello to the newest addition to our liquor cabinet! This rather improbable combination of vodka and milk makes a liqueur so smooth and perfectly sweet that you’ll want to sip it straight. To make one, simply mix vodka or grappa with an equal amount of milk and sugar.

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7 / 13
Milk Kefir

Milk kefir is a fermented dairy product similar in many ways to yogurt and buttermilk. It’s how kefir is cultured that makes it really unique — instead of heating the milk, adding a culture, and keeping it warm as you do with yogurt, all you need to make milk kefir are kefir grains.

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8 / 13
Strawberry Milk

After I made this crazy hot pink Valentine’s confection, one of the comments on the strawberry milk required for the cake was, “Why not make your own?” Now that was a great idea! Creamy, smooth and straight from the diner of my dreams, a glass of chilled, pink, and homemade strawberry milk will make your after-school snack gee whiz terrific!

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9 / 13
Mardi Gras Milk Punch

Mardi Gras season is upon us down South (with Fat Tuesday quickly approaching), which really just means an excuse to party hard and eat more food. Well, more than usual.

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10 / 13
Masala Chai Tea

Chai literally means tea to much of the world, but most English speakers think of chai as the spiced tea drink Masala Chai. So yes, technically Chai Tea means “tea tea.”

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11 / 13
Lemon Rice Pudding

If you like rice pudding, this is the ultimate comfort food, scented with lemon, and not very sweet, so perfectly acceptable for breakfast. The best part is the creamy texture, with the rice dissolving into transparent bits that melt on the tongue, and strips of lemon peel are practically candied.

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12 / 13
Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

This is a secret opportunity for you as a cook, because pudding is special and unusual, and yet a snap to make. Pudding is simply milk and cream, sweetened and thickened by a brief bout of cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. Knowing how to make pudding from scratch is like having the golden key to winning dessert.

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13 / 13
Basic Oven Omelet

This recipe is really just a template for a baked egg dish that comes out creamy and fluffy inside — like a traditional American diner omelet — and that can be filled with anything you like. I call for ham, Parmesan cheese, and parsley here, but you can add anything! And the best part is that this literally takes 5 minutes to throw together.

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Yes, you can freeze milk too: Got (Too Much) Milk? Freeze It for Later!

Now let’s all go make cheese… just don’t let the milk boil over! → Why Milk Boils Over…And How to Stop It!