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For lovers of lattes and cappuccinos, it’s easy to grow tired of the daily coffee shop run, as well as the four-dollar-plus price tag. But purchasing a separate milk frother can save time and money, allowing users to make delicious coffeehouse drinks right from home. "Frothing is when you fold in or incorporate air into your milk to create an airier texture," said Paulo Asi, Director of Training at the Seattle Barista Academy. "Steaming milk can mean you froth it too, but it usually means heating it up, basically like you’re microwaving the milk."
Our tester loved the PowerLix Handheld Battery Operated Milk Frother and chose it for best overall, for its ability to get a good foam in mere seconds, and for its affordability and lightweight, portable design. The Nespresso Aeroccino 4 Milk Frother came in second as the runner-up, offering versatility and the ability to make two levels of foam density, but at a higher price.
There are three main varieties of frothers: manual, handheld, and automatic. Manual is typically the cheapest, as you have to use a little elbow grease to froth the milk yourself. Handheld frothers are small electric devices that are also affordable and easy to store in cupboards or drawers. The final category, automatic, has the largest and priciest items, but they are the easiest to use and provide the best quality milk froth.
You’ll also need an espresso machine or coffee maker that can produce rich coffee concentrate. After that, you can whip up specialty drinks any time of the day.
Here are the best milk frothers to buy.
Best Overall: PowerLix Handheld Battery Operated Milk Frother
Saves counter space
Doesn't heat beverages
Must purchase batteries
The PowerLix Handheld Battery Operated Milk Frother earns top marks for its slim, portable design and ability to create delicious foam (even with non-dairy milk) in a matter of seconds. After testing the product, our reviewer said the process is simple from start to finish and that it took just 15 seconds to get "a good foam going with lots of volume."
The wand is made from 18/10 stainless steel that won’t rust, tarnish, or stain, and it won’t bend or break in normal use. The motor provides 19,000 rpm's and runs quietly, so you can have your early-morning latte or late-night hot chocolate without disturbing anyone’s sleep.
The power button is conveniently located on top, and the sleek black body looks good in any kitchen. It’s lightweight, ergonomic, and cleans easily. After use, our reviewer said the best way to clean the frother is to "take the whisk end of the wand and place it into a glass of hot water and turn it on." When coffee hour is over, you can use this for mixing milkshakes or blending cocktails, as well. Two AA batteries are required; they are not included. The frother body should not be immersed in water.
Type: Hand-held | Capacity: N/A | Heating: No | Dimensions: 2.7 x 3.1 x 10 inches | Weight: 5.3 ounces | Warranty: Lifetime
"The low-cost, low-risk frother creates a good microfoam for espresso beverages but does require the extra step of heating the milk first." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Nespresso Aeroccino 4 Milk Frother
Multiple options for foam consistency
Small opening if cleaning by hand
For coffee lovers who prefer their milk foam a specific way, the top-rated Aeroccino4 Milk Frother is a truly excellent tool. This high-quality frother can make either hot or cold milk foam and can also heat milk, offering you a wide range of options for your next latte or cappuccino.
In terms of foam consistency, it’s versatile—you can choose between two levels of foam density, to make either lattes or cappuccinos. Our product tester described the cappuccino foam as "airy" and the latte foam as "velvety smooth and dense."
The Aeroccino4’s sleek design also renders it easy to use and simple to clean (it's dishwasher safe). If washing by hand, our reviewer cautions not to "submerge the carafe nor the base in water, as it can cause damage."
Type: Automatic | Capacity: 8 ounces if heating and 4 ounces if frothing | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 7.1 x 7.1 x 8.3 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Warranty: 2 years
"Offers a variety of functions—from hot milk to cold froth and two foam consistency options—but the high price tag makes it more suitable for the seasoned coffee drinker." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Design: Secura Automatic Electric Milk Frother
Heats and froths milk
Only one foam setting
Difficult clean-up process
Small pieces are easy to lose
If you're looking for a frother that can be displayed on your kitchen counter, this one is a great option. The carafe is made from beautiful stainless steel, which is also vacuum insulated to retain temperature.
This versatile frother can heat milk if you enjoy lattes, or it can make hot or cold milk froth for cappuccinos. It holds about one cup for heating and a half cup for frothing, since the volume doubles.
It's easy to operate, relying a single, straightforward button. It also features a detachable base for easy pouring, and a brush that you can use to clean your machine. After testing the item, our reviewer wrote that the automatic features are "the best thing about the frother" and that users have to do little more than press a button. Setup might require a bit of time, however. Our reviewer recommends cleaning all components before use and consulting the included instruction manual.
Type: Automatic | Capacity: Available in 250 and 500 milliliters | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.3 x 7.1 inches | Weight: 2.42 pounds | Warranty: 2-year limited
"For a low price, the Secura MMF-015 Automatic Electric Milk Frother and Warmer heats and froths milk at the touch of a button with excellent results every time." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Temperature Control: Breville Milk Cafe Frother
Two different foam options
Easy to use
Milk minimum can lead to waste
If you’re serious about coffee, you need a serious, high-end frother that makes tiny bubbles for the smoothest, thickest foam. This electric frother includes two separate frothing discs for different types of froth. The latte frothing disc produces a smooth, creamy milk, while the cappuccino frothing disc creates a thick, creamy froth. There’s onboard storage for the discs, so you won’t lose them in the bottom of a drawer.
Besides frothing milk, you can use this to make smooth creamy hot chocolate or other hot drinks. It’s easy to use, too. Just choose the proper disc, fill with enough milk to create one to three cups of foam, select the temperature, and start the machine. The temperature is variable from warm to hot, and machine will turn itself off when the proper temperature is reached. There is also a cold-stir option that will mix cold beverages and provide a little froth, but it won’t make a cold foam.
This uses induction heating to warm the jug and control the spinning frothing disks. Since the jug doesn’t need to have any electronic components, it means the metal jug is dishwasher safe.
Type: Automatic | Capacity: 25 ounces | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 6.4 x 6.1 x 10.3 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Warranty: 1-year limited
"The Breville Milk Cafe Frother offers the luxuries of temperature control and several foam consistency options, but these features come at a high price." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Hand-Held: Aerolatte Milk Frother
Lightweight and portable
Froths non-dairy milk well
Must purchase batteries
Doesn't heat milk
Whisk can't be removed
One of the very first hand-held frothers on the market, aerolatte has continued to improve the product over the years, including versions that feature stands, cappuccino art stencils, and quirky decorative bodies. Meanwhile, they’ve engineered the tiny motor to operate at a speed and torque that is ideal for foaming milk, and the spring coils are just as specifically produced. It's one of the handiest coffee tools you can have in your kitchen.
This frother leaves out the extras, but does exactly what it’s supposed to: create frothy milk in 20 seconds or less. It can handle almost any kind of milk, either hot or cold. All you need is a reliable espresso machine and you can whip up lattes and cappuccinos right from the comfort of home.
The whisking head and shaft are made from 18/8 stainless steel that won’t rust, corrode or stain. The shaft is reinforced to protect against bending. This operates on two AA batteries that are pre-installed and has a simple toggle switch to turn it on and off.
The body should not be immersed in water. To clean, just rinse under hot tap water or operate it in a glass of hot soapy water for a more thorough cleaning. This handheld frother is available in a variety of different colors and designs.
Type: Hand-held | Capacity: N/A | Heating: No | Dimensions: 8.7 x 3.6 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 0.2 pounds | Warranty: 2 to 5 years
Best Value: Miroco Milk Frother
Sleek matte design
Expenses can quickly mount depending on how much you add to your coffee set-up: espresso maker, coffee grinder, a steady supply of coffee beans, etc. So it's nice to save a little money and still get good value when you can, like with the Miroco Milk Frother. The compact pitcher has four drink settings and three texture settings, giving you a lot of versatility, especially considering the reasonable price. The capacity is average to slightly below average—it can froth up to 3.9 ounces of milk and heat up to 8.1 ounces—but this is sufficient for coffee drinks or hot chocolate.
Another small downside is that the item is hand-wash only, which will add a minute or so to the process once you're finished using it, yet customers still give the item high marks for its ease of cleaning. Many also praise how quiet the item is, which is extra convenient if you're making coffee in the morning with the kids still asleep.
Type: Automatic | Capacity: 8.1 ounces if heating and 3.9 ounces if frothing | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 4.41 x 5.63 x 7.83 inches | Weight: 1.96 pounds | Warranty: 18 months
"Microfoam is basically thousands or millions of very small bubbles that form through the steaming process. It looks like velvety wet paint. You actually can't even see the bubbles. If you're trying to make microfoam at home, be sure to heat up the milk first, then run the milk frother. It won’t work if it’s not heated up." — Paulo Asi
Best for Beginners: Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother
Froths non-dairy milk well
Auto shutoff doesn't turn switch off
There are more affordable milk frothers out there, but the Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother is our best pick for beginners because of its simple, one-touch convenience. While many frothers in this price range are manual or hand-held, this one is electric and froths milk in roughly one minute. All you have to do is plug it in and toggle the only switch that's on the sleek and simple matte black device. The milk heats up as it froths, so users can seamlessly pour it over espresso for delicious lattes and cappuccinos. The frother holds a maximum of 13.5 ounces, but 8 ounces is recommended for best results; there are clear markings inside to indicate proper fill levels.
While the majority of reviews are five stars, some note durability concerns, as a number of customers say performance declined after several months. The item also isn't equipped with different settings like higher-tier options, so those interested in more versatility may need to consider pricier alternatives.
Type: Automatic | Capacity: 13.5 ounces | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 4.21 x 4.21 x 8.46 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds | Warranty: 1-year limited
Best Manual: HIC Harold Import Co. Milk Creamer Frother
Top-rack dishwasher safe
Easy to use
Not the sturdiest material
Doesn't heat milk
Even though it's manual, it still creates a rich foam in a minute or less. The lid has a built-in double mesh aerator that easily creates foam, and the carafe has an easy grip handle. It holds up to 14 ounces. This can froth cold or warm milks. To use, just add warm or cold milk, place the plunger and lid on top, and pump the handle for 30-60 seconds to create the ideal foam. In a pinch, a similar trick can be performed with a French press plunger, though not as effectively.
Th item is top-rack dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Since it doesn’t require electricity, it’s very portable, and the stainless steel carafe is durable enough for travel anywhere.
Type: Manual | Capacity: 14 ounces | Heating: No | Dimensions: 5.25 x 3.625 x 4.25 inches | Weight: 0.7 pounds | Warranty: 1 year
Best Splurge: Smeg Milk Frother
Seven different settings
Stylish design, multiple colorways
Two whisk attachments
Lightweight plastic base
Takes up counter space
The Italian manufacturer Smeg is widely beloved for making high-quality appliances with a signature 1950's-style aesthetic. Items are often high-priced, this milk frother included, but the craftsmanship means they stick around for years to come.
This milk frother is equipped with several useful features to ensure café-quality drinks. To start, there are seven different settings from which to choose, all controlled with a simple dial. Options cover everything from temperature control to milk consistency. Customers especially love the preset function for hot chocolate.
On top of that, the item comes with two different whisk attachments: a notched whisk for frothing and a flat whisk for when you simply want to heat up milk without frothing. The stainless steel jug can froth up to 8.5 ounces of milk at once or heat up to 20 ounces. It's also dishwasher safe, which makes clean-up that much easier after you enjoy your delicious latte, cappuccino, or hot chocolate.
Type: Automatic | Capacity: 20 ounces if heating and 8.5 ounces if frothing | Heating: Yes | Dimensions: 5.625 x 7.25 x 9.875 inches | Weight: 4 pounds | Warranty: 1 year
The PowerLix Handheld Frother is a great starting point when looking for a frother because it's affordable, easy to use, and saves counter space; the downsides are that it's manual and lacks versatility. The Breville Milk Cafe, on the other hand, is a high-end alternative that offers multiple settings and the convenience of automatic frothing. Both are excellent options, but the final decision comes down to individual frothing needs.
What to Look for in a Milk Frother
There are several types of milk frothers. Some are electric and require a power supply, while others run on batteries. Certain models are manual, running on nothing more than human power. Think about how much frothing you expect to do—if it's a lot, an automatic model might work better.
Some milk frothers can heat milk for even more java options. Others can customize the type of froth you like, as well as the temperature. More features generally means a higher price tag, so consider your budget—and how you like your coffee—when shopping.
If you’re planning to store your frother in a cupboard or drawer, its style may not matter so much to you. However, if you plan to display your coffee gear on a counter or in another noticeable place, consider its look as well. Some frothers are sleek and sophisticated while others have more of an old-school or functional feel.
What drinks can I make with a milk frother?
There’s no shortage of drinks that can be made by combining milk and espresso or milk and coffee concentrate, many of which you’ll recognize from coffeehouse menus. We’ll briefly touch on a few of the most popular here. First, we have the cappuccino. The rich Italian specialty is made with three equal parts, which, going from the bottom of the cup to the top, are espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Next is the latte, which is similar to a cappuccino but instead made of one part espresso, two parts steamed milk, and a thin layer of milk foam on top. A macchiato, simple but delicious, is comprised of an espresso shot and a thin layer of milk foam. And the drinks don’t end there. Other options include mochas, latte macchiatos, cortados, café au lait, and more.
What’s the difference between frothed and steamed milk?
Frothed milk is always injected with air. Compared to steamed milk, it typically has larger bubbles, greater volume, and a lighter mouthfeel. Steamed milk, on the other hand, isn't always injected with air. When it is, it's more delicately aerated, so it has smaller air bubbles and a creamier texture. Another small difference is that steamed milk is always heated, while frothed milk may or may not be heated. Two of the most popular devices for making steamed milk are electric pitcher-style milk frothers and steam wands like the ones found on espresso machines.
"Frothing is when you fold in or incorporate air into your milk to create an airier texture. Steaming milk can mean you froth it too, but it usually means heating it up, basically like you’re microwaving the milk." — Paulo Asi
What kind of milk can I use with my frother?
Unless otherwise specific, you should be able to use any kind of milk in your frother, whether it be dairy or non-dairy. That said, there are differences in texture and taste between milk types and some are better suited for frothing than others. Asi recommends whole milk above all but adds that reduced fat milk is a good option too.
"You want three things to intermingle if you're looking for the best foam and to produce the best latte art," he says. "Sugar, proteins, and fats." Regarding non-dairy options, Asi prefers oat milk. He suggests looking for milk alternatives that say barista blend, barista friendly, or barista edition on them to know that they are suitable for coffee drinks.
Other options like coconut milk, cashew milk, and almond milk aren't ideal for lattes and cappuccinos, largely due to their lower fat and protein content, but they are still worth a shot if any are your preferred milk alternative.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of "Make Ahead Bread" (view at Amazon), a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He uses the Bialetti Moka Express (view at Amazon) at home, complementing it with a separate Keurig milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos.
Paulo Asi, the Director of Training at the Seattle Barista Academy, was interviewed for this piece. He has worked in the coffee industry for more than 12 years. Founded in 2013, the Seattle Barista Academy is a multi-dimensional program that trains baristas who are committed to the professional preparation of espresso drinks.