How to heat milk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast milk doesn’t require heating. One can feed room temperature or cold breast milk to their baby (1). Yet, several parents prefer warming refrigerated or frozen breast milk mainly for two common reasons.

Firstly, warming stored breast milk helps to mix fat layers that tend to separate during storage. Secondly, some babies like consuming warm milk rather than cold, so warming milk in such cases becomes necessary. Thus, knowing the safe ways to warm breast milk can be helpful for parents feeding stored breast milk to their babies.

This post tells you about the methods and ideal temperature to warm stored breast milk and precautions to take while warming milk.

What Is The Ideal Temperature To Warm Milk?

Experts suggest putting the milk bottle or milk storage bag in lukewarm water (98.6°F to 104°F or 37°C to 40°C) for a few minutes. The ideal time would be 20 minutes for warming thawed milk (2). Alternatively, you can use a bottle warmer to warm up the milk. But if you do so, ensure the temperature does not exceed 104°F (40°C).

The milk should feel lukewarm or comfortably warm to the touch. Avoid overheating breast milk since it alters its nutritional and immunological properties (3). In case you accidentally overheat breast milk, you can still cool it down and feed the baby.

Different Ways To Warm Breast Milk

Here are some methods to warm refrigerated or frozen milk (1) (4).

1. Warm running water: Place a tightly-sealed bag or bottle of breast milk directly under a running tap for a few minutes until the bottle starts feeling warm. Ensure the tap water is warm or lukewarm but not hot. Once you reach the desired temperature, swirl (not shake) the bottle or bag to mix the fat layers. Although the method looks quick, it wastes a lot of water, and holding the bottle under the tap for long may not be comfortable.

2. Warm water bath: Heat water in a pan or bowl to 98.6°F to 104°F (37°C to 40°C) and then switch off the heat. Place tightly-sealed milk bottle or bag into the bowl/pan for a few minutes until it feels warm to touch. Once the milk container feels warm, take it out, and swirl. Check milk’s temperature by dropping a few drops at the back of your hand or on your wrist. The milk must feel neutral or slightly warm but not hot.

3. Bottle warmer: A bottle warmer is a convenient electrical appliance to warm breast milk. You need to place a milk bottle in the warmer and select the desired warming setting. The milk is warm and ready to feed within a minute to three minutes. However, overheating is a concern that often arises with bottle warmers, so reading the user instruction manual before use is necessary.

Additionally, keep a food thermometer handy to check the milk temperature before feeding it to the baby.

You can use the same methods to warm frozen milk, but you need to thaw the milk before warming. You can thaw frozen milk in several ways, such as thawing in the refrigerator or putting the milk bottle or bag under warm running water (1).

What Not To Do While Warming Breast Milk?

Warming breast milk at the right temperature and for the appropriate duration is imperative to maintain breast milk quality. Here are some don’ts that you need to follow.

1. Don’t use boiling hot water to warm the milk. Using hot water overheats the breast milk, changing the milk’s composition. It destroys heat-sensitive nutrients, such as folate, fat, enzymes, and beneficial probiotics (5) (6) (7). It also breaks down and inactivates milk’s bioactive proteins (3). Loss of these key components may affect the baby’s total nutritional intake, affecting their overall health over time.

2. Never heat breast milk directly on the stove. You should never pour the breast milk into a pan or bowl and heat it over the flame. Doing so exposes the milk to high heat that does extensive damage to the milk’s composition. Besides, it could increase the risk of bacterial contamination of breast milk.

3. Don’t microwave breast milk. The microwave generates high heat that alters breast milk’s nutritional composition and degrades its anti-infective properties. Besides, the milk heats unevenly in a microwave, creating hot spots that can scald your baby’s mouth and throat (8) (9). Additionally, placing ordinary plastic bottles in the microwave could cause BPA and phthalates to leak into the milk (10). It is why experts recommend using BPA-free plastic bottles to store milk (11).

It is essential to follow the right method to warm breast milk, like how it is important to choose an appropriate breast milk storage method. You may consult your lactation consultant or healthcare provider to clear your doubts.

How Long Can Heated Breast Milk Stay Outside?

You must feed breast milk to your baby as soon as you warm it. If the baby isn’t ready to feed, the milk can stay outside for one to two hours. Throw away any leftover breast milk after it has stayed at room temperature for over two hours (1).

Do not refreeze or reheat/rewarm the milk that has already been heated once. Doing so could deteriorate milk’s quality. It could also expose the baby to germs that might have contaminated the milk while it was outside.

Breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for babies. Feed freshly expressed breast milk whenever possible. Store expressed milk properly and warm it appropriately. When milk is heated correctly, it conserves its nutritional value. Therefore, warming breast milk to the right temperature and appropriate duration is imperative for the baby’s nourishment.

It is common to find yourself in a situation where you are in such a hurry that you do not have the time to prepare a huge breakfast. Sometimes you just need the quickest way to create your breakfast so that you can get going.

For milk, for instance, you might want to heat milk and have it in the shortest time possible. However, is it bad to heat up milk in a microwave oven?? There are concerns that the milk’s taste and quality might change. I felt the same way before taking on this research.

The information compiled in this article aims to help you understand how to heat milk in the microwave and what happens when you do so. You have to microwave milk in a special manner. Otherwise, it will have a scorched taste and you will not enjoy the results.

Table Of Contents

The Container you Heat Milk in

Before you heat milk in the microwave, you need to be attentive to the container that you will use. Microwave-safe containers are those manufactured using a material that you can place inside a microwave safely. It means that no chemicals will be able to sip into your food while microwaving. There are no chances of the container blowing up or starting a fire. Some materials will melt or dry, resulting in a fire. You should avoid these containers.

Some of the microwave-safe containers include paper towels, ceramics, cooking bags , oven glassware , and plastics with the microwave-safe label . Most of the companies that produce these microwave-safe containers will include a label that helps you identify them with ease.

There are also materials such as aluminum trays, paper bags, wood, metal, and cartons with metallic handles. You should avoid these materials because they put you and your family at risk when used.


  • Is It Safe To Put Tupperware In The Microwave?!
  • How to Thaw Cool Whip

The Right Way to Heat Milk Using a Microwave

Microwaving milk is not the same as microwaving other types of foods and juices. You have to take special care and pay attention to the milk while it heats up in the microwave. You cannot leave the milk in the microwave and forget about it until when you think it is time.

This is a method to help you warm a 250 ml cup of milk using a microwave.

The first thing you should do is pour it into a cup or container that is microwave safe. You should know that milk boils up fast once it reaches the boiling point. You might not have adequate time to get to it before it pours.

Therefore, you need to ensure there is room in the container. Do not fill it. ¾ or half would work perfectly to avoid the milk boiling over.

Microwave the milk for 30 to 60 seconds at 70 percent power. Ensure that you stir the milk after 15 seconds. Stirring it helps avoid proteins and sugars forming at the top or scorching at the bottom.

When you see steam coming from your milk, you can know that the milk is ready and you can remove it and use it the way you wanted.

How long you should Microwave Milk

If you are wondering how long to microwave milk, you should know that it might be different for everyone. The timing depends on the amount of milk you want to microwave, as well as the type of microwave you are using. Microwaves are different . Some have a higher power.

However, if you are heating a cup of about 250 ml, you can use up to around 45 to 60 seconds. However, this time includes the process of stirring. You would have to stop every 15 seconds to stir the milk.

If you are warming the milk for warm chocolate, you can consider adding the ingredients after warming the milk in the microwave or add them after. You can also add it in the middle of the cooking process. Regardless of the method you choose, the milk should be ready in sixty to ninety seconds.

Important Thing to Consider

If you fail to watch your milk closely when heating it in a microwave, you will regret it.

The milk’s boiling point is the most important thing to consider.

When the milk reaches its boiling point, it tends to foam up. It does so at such a high speed that you might not be able to remove it from the microwave in time. You will have milk spills in your microwave, which will be a real problem. Pay close attention to the milk as it boils.

How to Avoid Spilling when Microwaving Milk

Most people who have boiled milk in one way or another might have spilled it at some point. If you want to avoid spilling the milk, you can use any of the following methods.

First, you should stir it every 15 seconds. This not only helps prevent scorching of the milk but also improves the heat distribution in the milk. If you are worried about being burned by the microwave, you should know that you could open the door whenever you want in the cooking process. The microwave switches the energy immediately but maintains the time setting until you close the door.

You can also apply some cooking oil at the container’s edge. Alternatively, you can apply butter as it works in the same manner. You should then place a wooden stick or spoon in the container.

Can We Heat Baby’s Milk In The Microwave?

It is completely safe to microwave milk if you pay close attention to the milk, as it boils. You can also use a microwave to heat a baby’s milk, even though this is best if you do not have another option. Milk might have certain warm spots that might burn the baby. It is advisable that you let the milk cool down for a while before you give it to the baby.

Also, Read

  • Is There A Non-Dairy Substitute For Buttermilk?
  • The Complete Guide on How to Reheat Dumplings
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk Shelf Life

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Does anyone have a lifehack for heating milk without scalding? I make paneer two or three times a week and it’s a real pain cleaning that scalded milk from the bottom of the pan every time.

The two methods I am aware of are:

  1. Heat on medium-low and stir constantly
  2. Add cold water to the bottom of the pan before adding milk

#1 sort of works(reduces scalding, doesn’t eliminate it), but I’m looking for something that doesn’t require me to stand over the stove stirring for an hour.

#2 has never worked for me

How to heat milk

3 Answers 3

I have always heated milk using a double boiler. My family has always had dedicated double boiler pots (two pots that stack; put water in the bottom pot and milk in the upper pot, and boil the water on the stove). That gives a gentle heat to the milk. If you want to try before you buy, take a look at for something you can rig up from items which are probably already in your kitchen.

How to heat milk without scalding?

While living France, I noticed the French using a milk watcher while cooking their milk in order to avoid this very thing.

How to heat milk

Glass Milk Watcher

The above glass milk watcher is the one I am personally familiar with.

How it works

Normally, boiling water does not boil over. When fats, starches, and some other substances are present in boiling water, for example by adding milk or pasta, boiling over can occur. A film forms on the surface of the boiling liquid; for example, cream can boil over as milk fat separates from the milk. The increased viscosity of the liquid causes the steam bubbles to form foam trapped under the film, pushing the film up and over the lip of the pot, boiling over. A milk watcher disrupts this process by collecting small bubbles of steam into one large bubble and releasing it in a manner which may puncture the surface film. The device also rattles when boiling occurs, alerting the cook who may then lower the heat setting of the stove.

By circulating fluid around the bottom of the pot the device may also prevent material from being deposited and eventually burned on the pot’s bottom.

How to heat milk

Want to make a latte at home but don’t want to commit to buying an espresso machine with a steam attachment? No worries! You can make one just as easily without fancy equipment.

We’ll show you several different ways to steam and froth milk at home — we guarantee that you already have the supplies for at least one of the methods!

3 Easy Ways to Steam Milk at Home:

1. Microwave

How to heat milk

This is a quick and easy way to steam milk, and once you figure out the proper time needed for heating milk in your microwave, you can repeat it every morning. The first time, though, we recommend using a thermometer. You want the milk to be about 150°F.

1. Fill a microwave-safe container (like a coffee mug) with the desired amount of milk.

If you’re going to be using a frother, you don’t need much milk at all, maybe around ¼ cup.

2. Heat for 20-30 seconds.

If you have a larger amount of milk, like ½ to 1 cup, you may need to heat for 30-45 seconds.

3. Note the time and insert a thermometer.

If it reads 150°F, you’ve found your perfect amount of time. If it’s too hot, reduce the time by 10 seconds the next time you heat milk. If it’s too cold, put it in the microwave for another 10 seconds.

4. Add the steamed milk directly to your freshly brewed coffee.

Enjoy! No complicated steam attachment needed.

You can also use a milk frother or immersion blender before adding it to your coffee to make your microwave-steamed milk foamy.

2. Stovetop

How to heat milk

Image: Didriks, Flickr, CC 2.0

Using your stove to heat milk gives you more control over the temperature, but it involves a little more work on your part. Still, this is a great method because you can put the thermometer directly in the pot and remove the milk as soon as it reaches 150°F.

1. Add the desired amount of milk to a small pot, and place it on your stove’s heating element.

The smaller the amount, the more you’ll have to stir to keep the milk from scalding, so keep that in mind when you measure.

2. Keep your heating element on low-medium.

Milk scalds easily, and you definitely don’t want to add burned milk to your coffee.

3. Stir the milk gently until the temperature reaches 150°F.

Depending on your stovetop (gas vs. electric), this could take anywhere from one to three minutes.

4. Add the steamed milk to your freshly brewed coffee, or froth as desired.

Note: If you find that you’re struggling with the milk scalding too easily, then you can use a double-boiler. You’ll need two pots, one slightly larger than the other. Fill the larger pot halfway with water, and bring it to a gentle boil. Place the other pot with milk on top, and stir gently until it reaches 150°F.

3. Mason Jar

How to heat milk

This method allows you to both heat the milk and froth it afterward, so this is helpful if you don’t have a milk frother or immersion blender. You’ll need a microwave and at least a pint-size mason jar with a lid and ring.

1. Fill a large mason jar with about ¼ cup of milk.

You’ll also need the lid and ring later, but for now, leave it uncovered.

2. Heat the milk in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Depending on your microwave, this may take more or less time, so make a note of it so you can do the same thing every morning.

3. Check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer.

You’re looking for 150°F, so you may need to add more time in 10-second intervals until the milk reaches the optimal temperature.

4. Once it reaches 150°F, remove it from the microwave and screw on the lid.

5. Shake the mason jar until the milk has doubled in size or until you have your desired amount of froth.

6. Add to your freshly brewed coffee. Enjoy!

This is a great method if you don’t want to dirty up too many cups, pots, or bowls in the morning, as you can do both the heating and frothing in one container.

You can’t just heat your baby’s dinner with the microwave or stovetop. Learn how to warm up breast milk safely and effectively.

It’s nearly impossible to feed Baby straight from the boob at every single meal. Your job, social obligations, sleep schedules, and plenty of other things will inevitably get in the way. The solution? If you don’t want to stop breastfeeding, you can pump and store your breast milk.

Pumped milk will stay good for 3 to 5 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer, although it may lose some nutritional and antioxidant properties. (Baby will still get plenty of benefits, though!)

Before serving stored milk to your little one, you’ll probably warm it somewhere between room temperature and body temperature. Aim for around 99 degrees Fahrenheit as a guideline. Here’s how to warm up breast milk safely and effectively. 

Why Should You Warm Breast Milk?

There’s no harm in giving your baby cold milk. But breast milk is warm when babies nurse, so they'll prefer the familiarity of the temperature. Warming the milk also helps mix everything together (fat tends to separate when milk is cooled down in the fridge or freezer). 

  • RELATED:How to Store Breast Milk

Be careful not to go overboard, though: Too much heat can destroy the milk's enzymes and immunizing properties. Plus, warming milk above 104 °F might scald your baby.  

How to Warm Breast Milk

There are several effective methods for warming breast milk. Make sure you follow the instructions properly so you don't scald your little one. 

Use warm water. Get a bowl of warm water; you can gently heat the water on the stove or source it directly from the faucet. Place a tightly-sealed bag or bottle of breast milk into the water. Let the milk sit for a few minutes until it reaches body temperature. If the water cools too much, replace it with more warm water until the milk is warmed properly. Swirl the milk to incorporate the separated fat.  

Run under the tap. As another method, you can run tightly-sealed breast milk directly under the faucet. Make sure the tap water is warm (not hot) and swirl the bottle before feeding it to your baby. This method works well, but it wastes plenty of water. Therefore the first method is preferred when warming breast milk. 

  • RELATED:Breast Pump Pointers: Your Ultimate Pumping Guide

Invest in a bottle warmer. This is probably the easiest way to heat up a bottle of breast milk, especially for middle-of-the-night feedings when you don't want to wait long. You can buy a warmer at stores like Buy Buy Baby, and be sure to follow the directions closely to avoid overheating.

Test the temperature. Never feed Baby without checking the temperature of the milk. To do this, shake a few drops onto your wrist. The liquid should feel neutral—not too hot or cold.

You can heat frozen breast milk. Defrost frozen breast milk in the refrigerator before warming it. Use defrosted milk within 24 to 48 hours, advises says Kelly A. Hightower, R.N., a certified lactation counselor. You can also heat frozen breast milk with the warm water method outlined above; however, it will take significantly more time.

Use within two hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should use warmed breast milk within two hours. Never refreeze breast milk that’s been thawed.

  • RELATED:What's In Your Breast Milk?

What Not to Do

Want to avoid burning your baby or putting her health in danger? Avoid these methods of warming your breast milk.

Skip the microwave. This appliance will distribute heat unevenly, increase the chances of burns, and also deplete the nutrients in the formula. What’s more, a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published in the August 2018 edition of Pediatric says this practice isn’t best. “Since heat can cause plastics to leak BPA and phthalates into food, avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic when possible,” says an accompanying report, adding that these chemicals have been linked to health problems.

Never use the stovetop. Never place your bottle in boiling water on the stovetop. You can easily overheat the formula this way, and it's not safe with plastic bottles, which can melt in the extreme heat

I recently chatted with my friend Margaret Roach on her radio show, A Way To Garden, about yogurt making. One of the things we discussed was if home yogurt makers can skip the traditional step of heating the milk to 180-degrees and then cooling it back down to 110-degrees for culturing.

As it turns out, yes. Sometimes. But first, a little background.

Yogurt making is insanely easy once you get the hang of it. Fresh milk is inoculated with thermophilic (heat-loving) beneficial bacteria. The bacteria culture the yogurt by eating milk sugars and making lactic acid. As the lactic acid builds up in the milk, the pH drops until eventually the milk proteins coagulate into the soft, tangy curd we know and love as yogurt.

Those beneficial yogurt-makin’ bacteria are a bit like Goldilocks. Too hot and they die, too cold and they don’t work fast enough to protect the milk from spoilage organisms. They are happiest at around 110-degrees. That’s their “just right” zone. The only real trick to yogurt making is figuring out how to keep the inoculated milk at 110 degrees for several hours. On her show, Margaret and I discussed several methods to keep the yogurt at the right temperature, so take a listen if you don’t have your personal yogurt mojo dialed in yet.

How to heat milk

Okay, back to that question of heating milk intended for yogurt making to 180 degrees. There are two reasons why milk is traditionally scalded – brought to a simmer – before being made into yogurt.

The first is to kill off any wild bacteria, yeast or mold spores that might have fallen into the milk. This is important because you want your preferred lactic-acid bacterial strains to do the culturing of the milk, not get outcompeted by various mystery microbes.

The second advantage to the heating stage is that the most abundant protein in the whey of in milk – lactoglobulin – fully denatures and unfolds at about 172-degrees. This allows those proteins to bind to some of the other proteins in milk, called caseins. Ostensible result: a firmer, thicker yogurt curd.

Since I last demonstrated yogurt making on this blog several years ago, I’ve refined my own yogurt making technique and one of the things I’ve stopped doing is first heating the milk to 180, then chilling it to 110.

I start my yogurt making with fresh, store-bought, pasteurized milk. When milk is commercially pasteurized, there are a few combinations of time and temperature that can be used, and the most common of those is called High Temperature, Short Time (HTST) or “flash” pasteurization. In HTST pasteurization, the milk is brought up to between 160 and 165-degrees for about 30 seconds. This creates a milk that is reasonably sterile, which means we can ignore the first reason to heat the milk.

So that leaves the issue of the thicker curd. I wondered if heating the milk really mattered that much, so I did an experiment where I made two batches of yogurt with the same milk and same starter.

For one batch I followed the traditional method of heating the milk up to 180 then chilling it to 110 before adding the culture. The second batch I simply warmed the milk to 110 then added the culture directly. Both batches were cultured for about 8 hours before being chilled overnight.

How to heat milk

There were some minor differences in the final yogurt. The scalded-milk yogurt was a bit thicker, but not in any kind of dramatic or show-stopping way. And I actually preferred the texture of the un-scalded milk yogurt. It had a silken, very smooth texture that made the scalded-milk yogurt seem just a bit coarse in comparison.

So why was the difference in final yogurt thickness so minor, when every yogurt recipe seems to say that the initial 180 heat is somehow essential to making good yogurt?

As I see it, there are two possible reasons.

It’s possible that the HTLT pasteurization heat-chill cycle does enough to denature the lactoglobulin to make scalding the milk unnecessary.

It’s also possible that, when compared to the acidulation of the milk that takes place as the lactic bacteria culture the milk, the denaturing (or not) of the lactoglobulin just doesn’t make that much difference. Sometimes things are done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done and they become dogma. Starting with scalding the milk might just be yogurt dogma.

One more note about how I make and use yogurt that affects my decision to skip that heat-cool cycle: I strain almost all my yogurt to make a rich, Greek-style product and provide me with whey for breadmaking.

Lactoglobulin is one of the proteins in the whey, or the liquidy part of the famous “curds and whey” equation. Since I strain off a fair bit of the whey from my yogurt curd, any minor difference between scalded milk and non-scalded milk yogurt just doesn’t seem to matter.

Cutting out that heat-cool cycle has made my DIY yogurt making far faster. Instead of shepherding milk gently up to 180 degrees without allowing it to burn, then stirring it to speed chilling back down to 110, I just warm it to 110 over medium heat. One or two stirs at this gentle heat is enough to keep the milk at the bottom from scorching.

This streamlined process cuts the hour-plus commitment of yogurt prep down to a quick ten or fifteen minutes plus inactive culturing time.

If I were starting with milk of unknown quality or raw milk, I would certainly still scald it before starting yogurt making, but if you start with freshly opening, pasteurized store-bought milk and plan on draining your yogurt anyway, you can reliably skip the scalding step.

What about you guys? Do you heat your milk to 180 degrees for yogurt making? Why or why not?

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slideshare.netTo warm breast milk from the fridge:

  • Take breast milk from the fridge and set it aside.
  • Heat water using either a teakettle or microwave. Pour very warm (not boiling) water in a mug or bowl.
  • Place sealed bag or bottle of breast milk in the bowl of warm water. The milk should be kept in a sealed container for warming.
  • Leave the milk in the warm water for 1-2 minutes until breast milk reaches desired temperature.
  • With clean hands, pout breast milk into a bottle, or, if it’s already in a bottle, screw on the bottle nipple.
  • Swirl breast milk (never shake it) to mix in the fat, if it’s separated.

Table of Contents

How do I heat up my breast milk after its been in the fridge?

To warm breast milk from the fridge: Take breast milk from the fridge and set it aside. Heat water using either a teakettle or microwave. Pour very warm (not boiling) water in a mug or bowl.

How long is warmed breast milk good for?

If the room is warmer than 85℉, 3-4 hours. Reheated breast milk should be consumed within one hour, if possible. If your baby doesn’t finish the bottle, refrigerate it again within 30 minutes of your child finishing, and it can be reheated one more time. Refrigerated breast milk will stay fresh for 3-5 days.

Do you have to heat up refrigerated breast milk?

No matter if you are heating frozen or refrigerated breast milk, the key is to heat it gradually and evenly. Failure to do so can lead to overheating. Also, no rule tells you that you must heat up breast milk. Some babies will drink it cold, but most prefer it to be warm just like it would be out of the breast.

Is it safe to refrigerate breast milk?

Refrigerated Breast Milk. Once you refrigerate breast milk, the guidelines become less clear. Refrigerated breast milk is best used within three days of pumping, but it’s generally safe for up to five days if it is stored in clean conditions at the back of the refrigerator.

How do you heat up breast milk?

If you have to heat up the frozen breast milk right away, place the milk in a cup of cool water. You want it around room temperature, not hot or warm. You may need to change the water because frozen milk will change the temperature of the water. Now that the breast milk is thawed, start to gradually increase the temperature of the water.

How to warm breast milk from the fridge?

To warm breast milk from the fridge: 1 Take breast milk from the fridge and set it aside. 2 Heat water using either a teakettle or microwave. 3 Place sealed bag or bottle of breast milk in the bowl of warm water. 4 Leave the milk in the warm water for 1-2 minutes until breast milk reaches desired temperature. More items…

Can You Heat breast milk straight from the freezer?

If you need milk right away and all you have is frozen milk, you can heat the breast milk straight from the freezer using the same method you’d use to heat from the fridge. The only difference is that you’ll need to keep it in the warm water for 10-15 minutes, or longer.

Can I put refrigerated breast milk on the stove?

You can also immerse the storage container in a pot of previously heated water but do not heat refrigerated breast milk directly on the stove. Tip: Some babies don’t require that their refrigerated milk be warmed. Try giving the refrigerated milk to your baby to see if he or she will accept it.

How to heat milk

As any cheese, yogurt, or kefir maker knows, temperature is one of the largest factors in whether a recipe succeeds or fails. Temperature can make the difference between a mozzarella that stretches perfectly, and one that turns to mush when the pizza hits the oven. It is even, occasionally, the difference between a dairy product that is safe to eat and one that can make you sick.

Getting your milk to the proper temperature is essential, but isn’t always easy. This article will help you navigate this area, so that your recipes turn out the way you want them to, each and every time.


Every stove is different. Gas stoves work differently than electric. Settings and flame height are adjustable on some models, but are not on others. Luckily, there are a few easy tests that you can do to become familiar with your stove.

First, do a test with your thermometer and your cheesemaking pot. How fast does a pot of water go from tap temperature to 70 degrees F, with the burner on low? Try the same test with water that starts at 40 degrees F, which is the temperature of most refrigerators. If your answer is more than 1 degree per minute, the burner is set too high for direct-heat cheesemaking. You will need to have it adjusted or use a double boiler.

Second, get an excellent thermometer and calibrate it. This is something that should be done at least every other time you make cheese. Simply heat a pot of water to boiling and check the temperature. Your thermometer should read 212 degrees F.

Consider Variations in Milk

In our CFH experiments, goats’ milk heated to testing temperature slightly faster than cows’ milk, so when using goats’ milk, the heat setting needs to be a little lower. Of course, the composition of milk (especially raw milk) varies based on season, the animals’ feed, and solids content, so keep an eye on temperature and stir often.

Instructions for Heating Milk

Milk for cheese or yogurt should be heated at a rate of one degree per minute, unless otherwise noted in the recipe. On most stoves, this correlates to medium low, and can take 30-40 minutes. When in doubt, keep the temperature low. Milk that is heated too quickly will give an unpleasant bitter or cooked flavor to your final product. Your recipe may take a little longer, but it will be more likely to turn out beautifully and taste delicious.

Milk can be heated in a pot directly over the flame, or a smaller pot can be placed inside a larger one, to use as a double boiler. If your stove is set high and can’t be adjusted, this is the best option. The extra insulation will slow the rise of the temperature and ensure even heating. Remember that smaller quantities of milk will take less time to reach the proper temp, so don’t walk too far away from your stove. As always, check your thermometer often and stir frequently.

Food Safety and Other Reminders

When heating milk for cheese or other dairy products, trust your instincts. Never use milk that is sour, rotten, moldy, or expired. Never use milk that smells bad or has been forgotten in the back of the fridge. The bacteria that grow at refrigerator temperatures are not safe to consume. If you choose to use raw milk, buy from a farmer that you trust, who uses safe, clean milking practices.

In the CFH experiments, we continually found that the best way to ensure even, gentle heating of milk (as well as excellent cheese and yogurt) was to stay close, stir often, and check our thermometers every 2-3 minutes. We cannot reiterate this too many times.

What’s Next?

It is tempting to jump right in to home dairying, without testing your stove, experimenting with simple recipes, or investing in good equipment. We understand! Cheese and yogurt making is so exciting and so much fun, that we wanted to dive in too. But taking the time to learn these skills will serve you well, and ensure more successful homemade goodies for you!