How To Steam Milk At Home: Conventional And Unconventional Ways

Over the majority of coffee, consumers do not drink black coffee. Meaning, everyone likes to use steamed or frothy milk in their coffee. So, you’re already looking forward to steaming milk like a pro at home that will give you a barista-quality look and taste. Here in our how to steam milk at home article, we’ll show you how to steam milk either with a steam wand or without for you with a bit of practice and some decent kitchen equipment. So let’s dive in!

What’s Milk Steaming?

Baristas around the world use 2 milk methods to enhance the flavor of coffee – One is steaming and the other is foaming or frothing.

These 2 forms are used in making both hot and cold milk-based drinks like cappuccinos, mochas, lattes, and shakes. Steaming and foaming milk improves the quality and consistency of your milk and coffee greatly.

Steamed milk is more volumetric than frothed milk. It is created by exposing milk to steam. It slowly breaks down the fats and expands to create tiny microbubbles, also known as microfoam. The end result is silky smooth textured milk ready to complement any espresso-based beverage. Steamed milk-made drinks are often heavy and dense.

How To Steam Milk At Home

With A Steam Wand

Before looking into our home solutions, let’s talk about the most obvious and traditional way of steaming milk. If you have an espresso machine with a steam wand, then these steps will give you perfect steamed milk every time.

how to make steam milk at home
  1. You have to keep the steam wand fully submerged in the milk.
  2. Keep the tip of the wand at or near the side of your milk pitcher. It helps to create that iconic spiral vortex, towards the bottom.
  3. The steam wand will heat up the milk and spiral rotation to generate the microfoam. These microfoams give the milk a silky consistency. For avid latte art students, this is the technique to master.
  4. While steaming, the milk in the pitcher doubles in volume. Only because of the microfoam in the milk.
  5. If some large bubbles remain on the surface, tap the pitcher firmly against your countertop and then swirl the milk. This trick will remove those larger bubbles.
  6. Perfectly steamed milk will have a sweet flavor and creamy texture.

With A Steam Wand And For A Head Of Foam

  1. Yes, we’re talking about foaming the milk. For this, just keep the tip of the wand just barely under the surface of your milk.
  2. Slowly move the wand lower into the frothing pitcher at regular intervals to heat the milk evenly. But leave the tip near the top of the milk. If done accurately, you’ll hear the steam drawing air into the milk.
  3. This will draw the air and steam into the milk. As a result, you’ll have larger bubbles. These bigger bubbles are the actual cloudy milk froth of the milk.
  4. When you are building up the foam, the larger bubbles get expanded and climb the side of your pitcher. So use a large pitcher to contain the expanding milk. Only fill it about 1/3 of the way with cold milk to accommodate for this expansion.
  5. Espresso machines that come with a Pannarello steam wand, are designed specifically to pull air into the milk while steaming, which is a nearly foolproof way of frothing.

With A Mason Jar

how do you steam milk at home

The Mason jar method will not only allow you to steam the milk but also froth it afterward. So this is one of the convenient methods if you don’t have a milk frother or immersion blender.

  1. Fill up a large mason jar with only ¼ cup of milk. For now, leave the Mason jar uncovered.
  2. Heat the milk in your microwave for 20-30 seconds. Depending on your microwave, the length may vary a bit.
  3. Check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer and wait until it reaches 150°F. Once it reaches that 150°F mark, take out the Mason jar from the microwave. Now screw on the jar lid.
  4. Now shake the Mason jar until the milk gets expanded to double the size. You can shake further to achieve your desired amount of froth.
  5. Simply add to your freshly brewed coffee to enjoy!

Considered a great method for those who don’t want to dirty up too many cups, pots, or bowls as you can do both the heating and frothing in one jar.

On The Stovetop

The stovetop method will allow you more control over the temperature. But it involves a little more work compared to the other methods. Still, this is great because you can put your thermometer directly into the pitcher and remove the milk as soon as it hits the 150°F mark.

  1. Add your desired amount of milk to a metal pitcher and place it on your stove.
  2. Note, the smaller the milk amount, the more you’ll have to stir; to prevent any scalding of the milk. So keep that factor in mind when you’re pouring the milk for steaming.
  3. Keep your stove heat on a low-medium level.
  4. Always keep an eye to prevent scalding. Burned milk for your coffee is a big no-no.
  5. Stir the milk gently every now and then. Stir until the temperature reaches 150°F.
  6. Depending on your stovetop (electric or gas), this can take from 1 to 3 minutes generally.
  7. Once steamed to the aforementioned temperature, add the hot milk to your freshly brewed coffee, or shake it in a jar for frothing.

If you’re struggling with the milk scalding too frequently, then go for the double-boiler method. Get 2 pitchers – one slightly larger than the other. Fill the larger pitcher halfway with water only and then bring it to a gentle boil. Now place the smaller pitcher with milk into the bigger pitcher and keep stirring gently until it reaches 150°F.

In The Microwave

This is one of the easier and quicker ways to steam milk at home. Once you figure out the proper time length needed for heating up the milk in your microwave, you can repeat the procedure every morning. For the very 1st time though, we recommend you use a thermometer.

how to steam milk in a microwave
  1. Fill up a microwave-safe container with the desired quantity of milk.
  2. Heat the milk for around 20 – 30 seconds in the microwave.
  3. If you need a larger quantity of milk (such as ½ to 1 cup), you may need to heat it up for 30 – 45 seconds.
  4. Observe the time and insert a thermometer. If it reads 150°F, then you’ve reached your precise amount of time.
  5. If it’s too hot, then next time, reduce the time by 10 seconds. If it’s too cold, keep it inside the microwave for an extra 10 seconds.
  6. Pour the steamed milk directly into your freshly brewed coffee and enjoy!

If you want to froth this steamed milk, heat up only around ¼ cup of milk, to begin with. Microwave-steamed milk can be frothed with an immersion blender or a regular frother before adding it to your coffee.

How To Steam Milk For Latte Art

Almost any milk can be used for creating latte art. The crucial difference will be in the taste and the milk texture. To make the milk frothing easy, we recommend using fresh 3 – 3.5% fat-content milk. Please note that you must keep the milk refrigerated to maintain an approximate 4 degrees Celsius temperature before steaming or frothing.

  1. If you have a 12-oz. pitcher, fill it with milk up to 10 oz. For any other pitcher sizes, always keep about a pinky’s width below the bottom of the nozzle.
  2. Angle the pitcher so that the steam wand can create a diagonal lower right quadrant within the pitcher.
  3. Place the wand’s tip 1 or 2 centimeters below the milk’s surface and turn it on. After about 2 seconds, quickly submerge the wand below the milk’s surface.
  4. But not so deep that you hit the side or bottom of the pitcher. Also, avoid submerging so shallowly that you keep making bubbles.
  5. Submerging the steam wand will make the “whirlpool” motion. This action will create the microfoam.
  6. Once the milk achieves the appropriate 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, turn off the wand. Purge the wand and then wipe it with a clean towel.
  7. To break any remaining bubbles, tap the pitcher on a flat surface. A few swirls will equalize the texture. The milk should resemble the wet paint look.
  8. Begin pouring the milk slowly. Begin with a narrow stream to preserve the espresso’s crema.
  9. Once the cup/mug is about half full, lower the pitcher’s spout as if it’d almost touch the liquid. Continue pouring to guarantee strong contrast.
steam milk at home

How To Steam Milk For Cappuccino

When steaming milk for your cappuccino, you’d want to add extra air to the milk. Try to incorporate as many air bubbles as when texturing/stretching the milk. When air is going into your milk will hear more hissing sounds and the milk will gain volume. Once incorporating more air into the milk, you should continue with the spinning stage to combine the microform.

Frothing VS. Steaming

During the milk steaming process, the air is pulled into the milk. But at the same time, it heats up the milk. This double act will help you create a creamy glossy texture.

On the other hand, when it comes to frothing the milk, you’d want to create large air bubbles. Because large air bubbles will become the fluffy foam on top of the milk. Frothed milk can be applied for both hold and cold coffee drinks.

There is no right or wrongness and superior or inferiority between these 2 methods. Everybody has their own preference according to their tastebuds. But we recommend you start your journey with milk steaming as it gives that rich and creamy mouthfeel to your coffee.

Ideal Milk Characteristics For Steaming

Always use fresh and cold milk – the freshest you can buy and regardless of the milk type. As milk nears its best-by date, its ability to make foam also deteriorates. You’ll be able to bake, make chocolate milk with it, and even use it for your cereal too. But it’ll never give you the optimal results you want in your coffee. So, just as with coffee beans, buy only fresh and as much as you’re going to use in a week.

If you use whole milk, you’ll get a thicker and creamier consistency because of the extra butterfat in it. You can still get a lot of foam too. But it takes a little more effort. And if you’re looking to make steamed milk with the lightest layer of microfoam but with a creamier texture, whole milk is your best bet.

The fat content affects the flavor and the texture. If you want more foam and stiff bubbles, best go with skim milk or 2% milk. These are relatively higher in protein content. Thus able to create more bubbles. Also, the higher proportion of sugar in them will give you a hint of extra sweetness.

If you love to use plant-based milk, be careful while using soy milk. Because it burns at a lower temperature than dairy milk. Coconut milk does offer a higher fat content. So it makes a very creamy texture as well as a tropical flavor to your cappuccino, latte, and flat white.

In summary, non-fat, 2% milk, organic milk and lactose-free milk, and whole milk will provide excellent results for your latte. Soy, almond, rice, and coconut milk are also eligible to be used and heated for dairy-free latte alternatives.


Can You Steam Milk On The Stove?

Yes, of course. But it requires thorough care and observation to avoid milk getting burnt.

Is Steamed Milk The Same As Frothed Milk?

No, they are not. Frothed and steamed milk both need the addition of air to change the texture. But frothed milk requires bigger air bubbles because froth needs a larger volume and a lighter feel.

Which Two Factors Must Be Controlled When Steaming Milk?

Aerating the milk (also known as stretching) and then emulsifying (also known as texturing).

Can You Steam Milk In A Microwave?

Yes, you can steam milk in a microwave.

Is Steamed Milk Just Heated Milk?

No, steamed milk has small air bubbles in it, which gives it a hot velvety texture.

How Hot Can You Steam Milk?

Depending on the amount of milk and atmospheric pressure, the temperature range is 145 – 155 Fahrenheit.

How Do You Steam Milk Without Bubbles?

Give only 3 to 5 seconds for creating the microfoam. And once done, tap the milk jar on a flat surface and then swirl to remove all the uneven bubbles.


Steaming milk at your home doesn’t have to be a stressful task. You can do it almost anytime and anywhere as long as you have a heat source. Practice and perfect our milk steaming methods to reach your cappuccino or latte zenith. We hope, this how to steam milk at home article has shown you that with simple pre-existing equipment in your kitchen, you can steam milk for your coffee! So enjoy making and drinking them with no fear from now on!

Enjoy Your Coffee!

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