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Published Jul. 29, 2021

That creamy, frothy foam you enjoy in your morning cappuccino or flat white—the natural crema—doesn’t come from the coffee beans. That tasty, bubbly foam comes from frothed milk. To properly froth milk, you need a milk frother. The best milk frothers offer fast, simple operation and easy cleaning. Many of these handy machines are small and affordable. But if you’re making drinks for a crowd (or several for yourself), a larger countertop electric frothing machine can make enough for a crowd. We’ve researched the best milk frother models for making cups of deliciously creamy, silky steamed milk or for adding to coffee, tea, and more of your favorite at-home hot drinks. 

The basics of the best milk frothers

Milk frothers come in three basic types: electric milk frothers, motorized whisk frothers, and hand-pump milk frothers. Each one has its own pros and cons. The kind that fits your lifestyle (example: several drinks a day) and drink preferences (cappuccinos or lattes?) will be the best milk frother for you.

Electric milk frothers come in pitcher-like designs with a spout and handle, as well as single-piece designs the size of a food processor. Some electric models hold up to three or four cups of milk, while others are single-service, only holding eight ounces. Electric models come in a wide price range. Of all of the milk frother types, electric ones are the fastest and most efficient. 

Next, handheld milk frothers, sometimes called a milk-steamer wand or motorized-whisk frother, look like a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. They can be corded or cordless, with cordless models offering better portability. They typically work in warm or cold milk, but you’ll need a separate container for the milk. You insert the frother into the milk to do the frothing. These handheld frothers are affordable and easy to use and store, though they don’t make large quantities at once. 

Finally, hand-pump milk frothers take electricity and batteries out of the equation. The frother’s lid features a hand pump that connects to a plunger that moves through the milk to aerate it.  This process can take three to ten minutes, which is much longer than either of the other frother types. However, these inexpensive models offer simple operation and portability. 

When to pick an electric milk frother

Electric milk frothers have some distinct advantages over other milk frothers. They make quick work of large quantities of milk. Many, though not all, can heat the milk while they aerate it, providing the option of adding hot or cold milk to your drink. Some of these models can also make deliciously frothy hot chocolate, tea, or cold drinks.

Electric frothers come in many designs. Some look like a tall coffee mug or a pitcher, while some are bigger and similar in size to a blender. Consider how much counter or cupboard space you have for one of the larger machines. Some only make about a cup of frothed milk, but others may make a quart or more and require the counter and storage space for that capacity. 

Speed and portability—When to choose a handheld milk frother

If you’re not the type of person who makes their own drink every day, an electric milk frother may be more of an investment than you’d like to make. Handheld milk frothers include electric whisk frothers and pump milk frothers. Handheld frothers make about eight ounces or one cup’s worth of frothed milk. They’re generally smaller than electric models, taking up less space on the counter or in the cupboard. 

These smaller models usually make enough frothed milk for a single drink. Electric whisks do that fairly quickly. If you opt for a hand pump style, you’re in for three to ten minutes of manual labor before the milk is ready. However, pump frothers can go on the road, creating delicious drinks without requiring electricity. 

Milk steamer and frother—For those who don’t drink alone

The number and volume of drinks made each day should influence your milk-frother choice. Devoted home baristas may need more than a hand-pump or single-serving electric milk frother. A milk steamer and frother combo, which typically has a higher capacity than the average milk frother, makes three cups to over a quart of steamed milk. These high-end machines may offer adjustable temperature control, letting you create the perfect warm or cold concoctions.

Models with a removable jug make it easy to pour into several mugs. They work well if you’re making drinks for several people or several drinks for yourself, because you’ll only have to froth one batch of milk. However, a combo machine also gobbles up counter and cupboard space. Expect them to be about the size of a food processor or blender.

Milk frothers that keep things simple and unplugged

Corded and cordless (battery-powered) frothers bring milk to a creamy, air consistency fairly quickly. But what if you’re camping, off-grid, or want to skip another electric device in the kitchen? When there’s a desire for simplicity, a pump milk frother should be on your shortlist. These designs feature a handle, plunger, and tight seal. 

As you depress the plunger, it presses a plate and whisks through the milk to aerate it. The milk takes anywhere from three to ten minutes to get the right consistency with a manual model. However, these frothers work with warm or cold milk and various other drinks. They’re an excellent addition to a camp kitchen or for the home kitchen where frothy drinks are an occasional indulgence.

What is the point of frothing milk?

We’ve been discussing milk frothers, but many coffee makers (well, espresso machines) include a built-in frother to add the final touches to each drink. Froth develops the drink’s mouth-feel, a factor in the overall satisfaction of the coffee. The foam created by the process also creates tiny bubbles in the milk, some of which are too small to see. These bubbles alter the surface of the drink, potentially putting more contact between the taste buds and the mix of flavors. 

What to expect from a frother that’s under $15

With the exception of larger electric models, most milk frothers are a relatively inexpensive investment. However, when budgets are tight, every dollar counts. Models under $15 will either be a handheld, battery-powered whisk frother or a pump milk frother. These models are often reliable and froth milk within a few minutes, though the hand-pump models may take up to ten minutes. 

All these machines will deliver a good froth, but expect their material quality and durability to be less than more expensive models. The casing and plunger materials may break or bend if they’re not used carefully. Expect single-serving frothers at this price, too. 

The best milk frothers:

Best electric milk frother: Miroco Stainless-Steel Milk Steamer

Simple, Smart Design 

This device’s speedy heating delivers a creamy froth in minutes. Miroco

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The Miroco Stainless Steel Milk Steamer makes quick work of eight  ounces of milk. In less than two minutes, it creates the perfectly frothed addition for coffee, tea, and other drinks. The heating function turns on or off for cold or hot drinks. Quiet operation rounds out the list of features for this simple, but effective machine. 

Best handheld milk frother: Zulay Original Milk Frother

Tiny and Colorful 

This little battery-powered device whips your beverage into deliciousness and offers numerous uses. Zulay

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The Zulay Original Milk Frother certainly is petite, but don’t let that deceive you about its power. It runs on two AA batteries, making it a good option for travel or camping. This frother also comes with a stand for more convenient storage. It’s designed to froth the milk alone, or it can mix and froth coffee, smoothies, or protein shakes. Large quantities aren’t this model’s forte, but it can froth single drinks in a hurry. And if you love color, this frother offers more than 20 options to choose from.

Best milk frother for coffee drinkers: Breville BMF600XL Milk Cafe Milk Frother

Sturdy and Versatile

This device brings premium features to the table with adjustable temperature control. Breville

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The Breville BMF600XL Milk Cafe Milk Frother uses induction heating for fast, even temperature changes. Induction heating provides the adjustable temperature control, which opens the door to cold or hot drink-making and mixing. This model makes three cups at a time and automatically turns itself off once it reaches the set temperature. Each machine comes with two frothing discs. The cappuccino disc makes a creamier, thicker froth, while the latte disc creates a froth that leans toward smooth and silky. When one disc is in use, the other attaches to a magnetic storage plate on the back of the base. 

Best milk frother with a pump: Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Milk Frother

Lightweight and Portable

A microwave-safe glass and easy-clean design make pick a fun way to expand your drink repertoire.  Ninja

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The Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Frother features a design that’s meant for convenience. The glass container is microwave-safe, so you can warm milk directly in the frother. A sturdy build lets you put muscle power behind the plunger without damaging it. Finally, the whole thing is dishwasher safe, taking cleanup out of your hands.

Best milk frother on a budget: Bosenkitchen Electric Milk Frother

The Bosenkitchen Electric Milk Frother is the best budget pick.

Conveniently Affordable 

This handheld device’s stainless-steel whisk and one-handed operation leave you free to mix and add as you please.  Bosenkitchen

The Bosenkitchen Electric Milk Frother features a BPA-free shaft and high-speed rotation of the stainless steel whisk. It runs off of two AA batteries and gets the frothing done in under a minute. It’s designed to mix and foam all kinds of drinks, not just milk. One-handed operation of the on/off button leaves you free to hold your drink or make additions to it while you froth.

FAQs

Q: How do I choose a milk frother?

Base your choice on your personal preferences and lifestyle habits. Start by asking yourself how often you make frothed milk. Every day? Once a week? Special occasions? Everyday use warrants an electric milk frother, or maybe even a steamer/frother combo with a removable jug. 

The next determining factor lies in how many drinks you make at one time. If you’re making more than one, you’ll need a frother with a greater capacity. For those who only intend to make one drink at a time, consider design convenience. An electric whisk frother can mix protein shakes, hot chocolate, and other drinks. A hand-pump model reduces energy use and could be useful while camping or traveling. 

Q: Is it better to froth milk hot or cold?

You can froth milk hot or cold. The temperature won’t affect the frothing. The milk’s temperature depends on how you want to use it. Coffee aficionados who monitor the temperature of their coffee drinks like the safety valve of a nuclear reactor will probably be happier with hot milk. Hot milk will have less of an impact on the final drink’s temperature, thus protecting the flavor nuances of the coffee grounds. 

However, if you’re adding the milk to your tea, frothy cold milk may cool it to a more palatable temperature. Cold frothing is also great for mixing protein drinks and other shakes. It comes down to how you want to use the milk, since temperature does not inherently make milk good or bad. It will just have a different effect on the final product.

Final thoughts on shopping for the best milk frother

The best milk frothers don’t waste time in creating a bubbly addition for tea, coffee, and other drinks. Whether you choose to add a countertop machine or a small tool to the kitchen drawer, there’s a frother out there that will complete your morning drink. Personal taste and preference make a difference in terms of the model that will work best for you. Everything from the kinds of drinks you enjoy and how often you make them helps to determine whether a simple or sophisticated frother is best for you. 

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