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Credit: Sarah Crowley

We Frothed Milk Using 5 Different Gadgets — And the Winner Works Ridiculously Well

published Oct 10, 2021
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If I’m ordering an iced coffee, I’m getting cold foam on it. That thick layer of pillowy dairy just makes the entire drink. All you latte-lovers and cappuccino-drinkers out there get it. The love for the foam is fierce.

But, too often, we treat foam like a special treat we can only get from coffee shops — like baristas are the only ones who can froth milk. Well, guess what? They aren’t! You can easily make foam yourself at home. There are tons of gadgets and tricks out there that can help. Not all are as effective, though. So, I set out to find the best gadget for frothing milk. Read up and then froth away to your heart’s content.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How I Tested the Milk Frothers

I gathered five different frothers (and tools that are often used as frothers) and got to work. With each tool, I frothed 1/2 cup of cold (straight-from-the-fridge) oat milk and 1/2 cup of hot whole milk. I scooped out the foam, recording how much each gadget produced.

The ratings: Each method received an overall rating, with 1 being my least favorite and 5 being the best. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one considered the final results, ease, and price. Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Milk-Frothing Method: Mason Jar

  • Ease: 2
  • Frothing: 1.5 (produced about 1/4 cup of cold and hot foam)
  • Price: 5 (assuming you already have a Mason jar)
  • Rating: 2

For both the cold oat milk and hot whole milk, I poured the milks into the Mason jar, added the lid, and vigorously shook the jar for about 30 seconds. This technique worked better for cold milk (but still didn’t produce much foam) and very badly for hot milk. When I began shaking the hot milk, the milk spewed under and out of the top of the lid, sending a smattering of milk everywhere. (Perhaps it was just my jar’s lid, but still … not really a risk you want to take!) It was also uncomfortable to hold onto the hot jar.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Method: Immersion Blender

  • Ease: 3
  • Frothing: 2 (produced about 1/4 cup of cold foam and 1/3 cup of hot foam)
  • Price: 5 (if you already own an immersion blender and if not, well, one of my favorites costs $100)
  • Rating: 3

This method didn’t make a ton of foam, and the foam it did produce was really light and hardly felt like frothed milk. Bringing out a larger immersion blender certainly feels like a lot of work for frothing milk — especially if you plan on doing so on a semi-regular basis. And, if you are, one of the gadgets below are probably a better fit. While I love an immersion blender for soups and sauces, I say skip it in this instance.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Method: French Press

  • Ease: 3.5
  • Frothing: 3 (produced about 1/3 cup cold foam and 2/3 cup hot foam)
  • Price: 5 (If you already have a French press — I used this mini model, which is actually meant specifically for frothing milk)
  • Rating: 3.5

To use a French press-style milk frother, you add the milk, put the lid on, then pump the plunger up and down repeatedly to aerate and froth. It worked alright for cold oat milk and much better for hot whole milk. However, you do have to pour the hot milk into the French press or pop it in the microwave and then froth, which is an extra step.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Method: Countertop Frother

  • Ease: 5
  • Frothing: 5 (produced 2/3 cup cold and hot foam)
  • Price: 1 ($149.95 for this model)
  • Rating: 4.5

If you’re serious about frothing milk, then an electric machine is a worthwhile investment. (I love this model from Breville, as well as this awesome, retro-looking one from Smeg.) With just the press of a button, you can make cold or hot foam. I love that it’s quiet, hands-off, and contained (no milk spatters to worry about!). If you want to invest in your at-home coffee setup, a countertop electric frother is a great addition. You can also use this type of machine to make hot chocolate.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Method: Handheld Frother

  • Ease: 4.5
  • Frothing: 5 (produced more than 1 cup cold and hot foam)
  • Price: 5 ($19.99 for this model)
  • Rating: 5

If you want a milk frother that really froths and is inexpensive, this is the gadget for you. With just the press of a button, this handheld frother does all the work for you and produced the most foam out of all the gadgets I tried. Because you can easily move the stick up and down, you really can froth every last bit of milk. It does sputter a little when you initially start frothing, sending a few drops of milk upwards (much like when you add ingredients to your stand mixer while it’s running). But, otherwise, it works perfectly. And because it’s small, it’s a cinch to store, easily fitting in a drawer.

Do you have a favorite milk frothing gadget? Tell us about it in the comments!