How to Heat Milk Without Scalding

Warm milk is useful in recipes, to coax yourself to sleep, and as food for an infant. Don't let impatience ruin a whole pot of milk, heat it properly and carefully.


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    To heat milk for a recipe or for child/adult consumption, use a small stove top pot. There are proper milk saucepans which you can purchase if you wish.
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    Heat low. If milk gets too hot, it bubbles over before you even know it has happened. Use a low heat and keep your eye on it.
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    Heat slow. Exercise patience. Ignore the temptation to raise the heat to cook it faster. Stir it continuously to avoid solids sticking to the bottom and burning.
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    Test the temperature. Make sure it's warm, but not so hot it will burn your mouth. Use a teaspoon to collect some milk from the pot, hold your wrist over the spoon to check the temperature, and if it isn't ridiculously hot, give it a taste.
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    To heat milk for infant consumption, put the milk in a sterile bottle. Heat the bottle in a pot of water, the microwave (if the bottle is microwave safe), or in a bottle warmer.


  • If you let the milk cool for a moment, often a film or "skin" will develop on the surface. Just skim it with a utensil and dispose of it in the sink. Run water over the skin to make it run down the drain.
  • If the milk scalds, dispose of it. Scalded milk tastes burnt all the way through, not just the bit that's at the bottom of the pot. It is not suitable to bake with either, as the taste permeates the baked item. Wash the pot in warm water and start again.
  • When heating milk, pay attention to it and stir constantly. Milk boils over quickly, which means burning and a big mess to clean up on the stove (not to mention possible burns if you or someone else are too close by).
  • Bottle warmers cost anywhere from $20-30.00 for a basic model, and up to $150.00 for a model with many features. Determine your price range and required features before you decide which to buy.


  • Keep a long-handled metal spoon near the stove and add it to the pot if the milk starts to boil. This will immediately transfer some of the heat to the metal spoon, a heat conductor, and help lower the heat in the pot.
  • Use extreme caution when heating milk for a baby in the microwave oven. Microwave ovens tend to heat unevenly and the milk could burn the baby's mouth or lips if the milk is too hot. Also, the uneven heating may cause some of the milk to get too hot, reducing its nutritional content, even while the average temperature of the milk remains below cooking temperatures.
  • If the milk does bubble and boil over, do not grab the pot. Turn off the stove, and let it simmer down. Then remove it from the heat and when it is cool enough, dispose of it in the sink.
  • Be careful not to burn yourself on the stove or with the hot milk.

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Categories: Food Preparation