Skills

Yes, You Can Freeze Milk. Here’s What You Need to Know.

updated Sep 16, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Milk has always been hit or miss in my house. We either drink down the whole carton in just a couple of days (leaving us to wonder if we should actually be buying more), or we find ourselves scrambling to finish it off before it totally spoils. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you buy milk for a recipe and have a hard time using up the rest. 

I’ve often wondered if you can freeze milk, and the idea has crossed my mind even more these days as the supply of milk at many grocers is unpredictable. Sometimes the milk case is stocked and other times it looks totally wiped out, without a carton of milk or heavy cream in sight. 

I have good news, though — whether you’ve been considering stocking up on extra milk or simply have a tough time going through the whole carton before it spoils, you can freeze milk for later to make it last even longer. And that goes for all types of milk: dairy milk and plant-based milks, alike. Here’s what you need to know about freezing milk. 

How to Freeze Milk

Don’t be so fast to slide that carton of milk into the freezer. It’s a good idea to freeze milk in a separate container (or multiple containers) than the one it was packaged in, especially if it’s cardboard or glass. Milk expands when frozen, which will likely cause cardboard or glass containers to break, leaving a real mess in your freezer. 

Instead transfer the milk to an airtight plastic container, or multiple containers, and leave one to two inches of room at the top of the container. Be sure to also freeze milk before the expiration date. If you buy extra milk with the intention of freezing, there’s no reason to wait. The sooner you can stash it in the freezer, the better.

Thawing and Using Frozen Milk

Frozen milk will keep for up to three months in the freezer, although it’s best to use it sooner than later, as it can absorb odors from other foods in the freezer the longer it’s in there. 

When you’re ready to use the milk, place it in the refrigerator to thaw. Depending on the size of the container, it may take a day or longer to defrost. And once thawed, it’s best to use the milk within several days. 

You might notice that the thawed milk is separated or looks like it has a grainy texture. This goes for both dairy milk and plant-based milks. It’s totally normal; this happens because the fat separates during freezing, which causes the milk to look grainy.

The higher the fat content, the more you’re likely to notice this. So because of their lower fat content, low-fat and skim milk tend to freeze a little better than whole milk. To restore some smoothness after thawing, you can stir, shake, or beat it with a hand mixer or immersion blender.

While it’s perfectly safe to drink milk that’s been frozen, since the texture isn’t quite the same, frozen milk is best suited for cooking, baking, and making smoothies.