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The Best Milk Frothers

Last updated on January 21, 2024

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Anyone who doubts the appeal of the mighty latte should try to drive a couple of miles in just about any town and avoid seeing a Starbucks. It’s not just marketing that made the latte (and its airier sibling, the cappuccino) a hit among post-1980s American coffee drinkers. The sublime layering of espresso, milk and froth makes a tasty team that can appeal to almost anyone, even on hot days.

 

Of course, the novel ingredient in that mix is froth. It adds a crucial bit of lightness and hint of bubbly texture to the drink, and it’s a big reason why most of us keep dropping by the local coffee shop. After all, who has time to foam up their own milk?

Apologies to our favorite barista, but the answer is just about anybody can if they want to. There are milk frothers on the market to suit nearly every need, budget and level of beverage obsession. And with a bit of practice, you can use them to make your own lattes and cappuccinos just like the ones at your favorite café.

Frothing milk does not involve any complex chemical transformation. Agitate the milk to add air bubbles and voila: You’ve got froth. This can be done while the milk is hot or cold, and there are a few basic types of frothers that can accomplish it.

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Handheld frothers are the simplest in design and also generally some of the cheapest. They include a whisk attached to a long handle and a motor to vibrate the whisk. They’re mostly battery-operated, which allows for plenty of mobility and control over the whole process.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Manual frothers look a lot like a French press but use the filter mechanism in a completely different way. To froth milk, you pour it into a carafe, then plunge a specially-designed filter down through the liquid, then up and down again, as many times as is necessary. With each plunge, the filter pushes and stirs more air into the milk while a lid keeps the entire process from spilling onto your counter.

Some manual frothers might incorporate a heating mechanism, but you’ll usually have to warm things up yourself — either at the beginning or end of the process, depending on instructions. This can seem like a chore, but it’s a great way to work up a nice, thick head of long-lasting foam. And since there’s typically no electrical components to worry about, the cleanup is super easy. Manual frothers tend to be roughly the same price as handheld frothers, though fancier models with sturdier materials might run a few dollars more.

The third type of frother is referred to as automatic or electric. As the name implies, they’re tailor-made for busy latte lovers. Just pour the milk into the frother, push a button and wait. Thanks to a high-speed whisk inside, you typically won’t need to wait long, and most models will heat your milk at the same time. Though convenient to use, certain parts on these items may be harder to clean. Still, for on-the-spot drinks, they’re hard to beat.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

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No matter what type of frother you choose, they’re all bound to make your morning cup of joe a lot more luxurious — and they’re just as great at whipping up hot chocolate, too.

Our Picks For The Top Milk Frothers

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Product Overview
Our Take
 Top Pick

Zulay Kitchen High Powered Milk Frother

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Zulay Kitchen

High Powered Milk Frother

Skip the coffee shop and make a delicious cappuccino or hot chocolate at home with this milk frother. The frother features a sturdy stainless steel whisk, an ergonomic handle and an easy on/off swtich. It even comes with a stand for storage on any countertop or cabinet shelf.

Overall Take

Elegant DesignSurprisingly, this milk frother is available in 39 different colors, including matte sky blue, lime green, Caribbean aqua and blue metallic.

 Runner Up

PowerLix Stainless Steel Ergonomic Milk Frother

PowerLix

Stainless Steel Ergonomic Milk Frother

With an ergonomic design and cordless operation, this milk frother allows for great control over the frothing process. The impressive motor makes thick, long-lasting foam in under a minute, and cleanup afterward is a breeze. Its looks are worthy of display, and we like that the accompanying stand makes it easy to reach on the counter.

Overall Take

Impressive ControlThis milk frother is easy to handle and has a powerful motor.

 We Also Like

SimpleTaste Multifunctional Electric Handheld Milk Frother

SimpleTaste

Multifunctional Electric Handheld Milk Frother

Whether you want to whisk a few eggs or create the perfect latte, this milk frother has you covered. It's battery operated and works with just the press of a button. Storing the device is also a breeze, as it comes with its own stand. You can even get the frother in gray, white or black.

Overall Take

Budget-Friendly PickYou'll love the affordable price tag on this versatile milk frother.

FrothBlast Handheld Compact Milk Frother

FrothBlast

Handheld Compact Milk Frother

Constructed from a durable stainless steel, this milk frother for latte is strong and durable. In fact, the motor is made from titanium, so you know it has the capability to effortlessly froth milk, mix a Shirley Temple and whisk a few eggs. To operate the tool, all you need to do is press the bottom on the top of the handle.

Overall Take

Small Yet MightyThe compact design of this milk frother for latte won't take up much space in your utensil drawer.

What to Look For

  • The first thing that health-conscious or allergy-prone latte drinkers will notice about frothing milk at home is that it requires a bit more work. Whole or 2% milk usually foams up quickly and stays thick well after the pour, if done correctly. Non-fat or skim milk might bubble up quickly, but the froth won’t be as thick. Soy milk, almond milk or other non-dairy alternatives will heat up fine, but just don’t hold the bubbles as well. Those beautiful hearts, birds and other mini-paintings you see baristas making in their latte art? Chances are good they were drawn in whole milk. Until science gets around to finding a solution, the healthier milk options aren’t as ideal for froth — though some high-powered frothers can make the most of them.

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  • Those in the market for a frother will probably know this already, but the difference between a latte and a cappuccino is in the foam. Lattes are chiefly espresso and steamed milk, with a bit of foam on top. Cappuccinos are equal parts of all three. If you’re going to make the latter, get a frother that can deliver plenty of thickness. (And if you’re able to digest it, use whole milk.)
  • For some, fresh cappuccino at home is a luxury to enjoy solo, maybe on weekends. For others, it’ll be a joy to be shared with the entire family or a gaggle of friends at parties. If you’re making drinks for others regularly, consider capacity. Handheld frothers can be great for individual cups but will take a lot longer for a large pot of milk. Latte parties are a job for manual frothers or larger electric models.
  • Another area where handheld frothers really shine is the cleanup process. With fewer parts and (usually) no delicate electrical components to worry about, they will rinse right off in soapy water after use. Automatic models are largely at the other end of the spectrum, though some well-designed types include removable electronics that make the process easier. Whatever the routine, it’s best to make sure they’re cleaned off relatively quickly. Caked-on traces of milk can spoil, affecting the taste of your next batch of froth.

More to Explore

Latte art might be a charming perk for your local barista, but it’s serious business for the judges at the annual World Latte Art competition. Manuela Fensore of Italy created complex portraits of an eagle, a horse and a parrot to take home the crown at the 2019 championship in July, using nothing more than espresso and steamed milk. It just goes to show that anything can be a canvas for a truly artistic mind!

Simplemost Media

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