There are a number of reason you may need to thicken milk. And no matter the reason, you will find the simplest and best methods right here.
There are many recipes that call for thickened milk. Some popular recipes that you may encounter this include roux, soup, and even custard based dishes.
And if you’ve never thickened milk yourself, no need to fear! There are multiple simple methods you can use. Learn more about each of those methods below.
Best Methods for Thickening Milk
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Related: How to Thicken a Milkshake
The most common method you can use for thickening milk is reducing it. This ubiquitous cooking technique is used by chefs the world over in all types of cooking. And it is a great way to thicken milk for all types of recipes.
The best part is, it’s incredibly easy to do!
Simply add your milk to a saucepan and simmer it over medium low heat (be sure your milk doesn’t boil as this can lead to curdling).
This will cause some of the moisture in your milk to evaporate leaving you with a thicker version of milk, perfect for all types of cooking.
Reduced milk also offers a creamy and fuller flavor. This occurs because when the moisture leaves, the fat, sugar, and protein is left in higher concentrations than un-thickened milk.
This method for thickening milk is quite popular in Indian cuisine and is growing in popularity in Western cooking and baking as well.
Reduced milk and canned evaporated milk are the same ingredient. But sweetened condensed milk should not be confused with reduced or evaporated milk. Condensed milk has been sweetened, generally with table sugar, and cannot be used interchangeably with evaporated or reduced milk.Important Note
Thicken Milk with Starch
Probably the most popular way to thicken milk in the US is by adding a starch. This is a great way to thicken milk that is used in soups, sauces, and roux.
The most commonly used thickeners are corn starch and all-purpose flour. But other flours can be used such as potato flour, rice flour and even tapioca flour.
The most common way to thicken milk with a starch is to add a tablespoon of butter and your starch to a pan while heating it on medium low.
Stir your mixture, creating a roux. Then add your milk to the mixture and continue to stir until it is well blended. You will now have a well thickened milk perfect for all types of sauces.
Starches are composed of tiny granules that absorb, or bond with liquid. There are many starches you can use to thicken milk including cornstarch, flour, and tapioca starch.Tip
Related: Cornstarch vs Corn Flour
Thickening Milk for Desserts
You may find that your dessert recipe calls for thickened milk. This is particularly common in custard recipes.
If you are making a baked recipe that calls for thickened milk, but it does not specify how to thicken it, you will want to use an egg.
Eggs are common thickeners in many desserts. The protein in eggs make it a great binding and thickening agent.
You can thicken milk in a dessert by adding one egg and mixing it in with your milk, stirring by hand. Be sure that when using egg to thicken milk it is only in recipes that are heated.
If you prefer not to use an egg, you can use a starch instead. See above for instructions on how to thicken milk with starch.Tip
Thickening Milk FAQ
How can I make my milk thicker fast?
The quickest way to thicken milk is by stirring in xanthan gum until desired thickness is achieved. The second fastest way to thicken milk is by adding in corn starch or all-purpose flour.
What causes milk to thicken?
In the case of reducing, the addition of heat to milk is the cause of it thickening. This is the most common way to thicken milk in many parts of the world.
Adding a thickening agent is another common way to thicken milk. Some of the most popular thickening agents for milk are corn starch, all-purpose flour, eggs, and xanthan gum.
How to thicken milk for coffee?
The most common way to thicken milk for coffee is by frothing it. Adding heat to milk will create a thick and full milk ideal for coffee.
This can be done using a dedicated milk frother or you can heat your milk in a saucepan on the stove.
How to thicken cold milk?
You can thicken milk without heating it up by adding xanthan gum. This is the best method for thickening cold milk without altering the flavor. Slowly stir in xanthan gum until desired thickness is achieved.
How to thicken milk for latte?
There are a number of ways to froth milk without a latte machine.
The simplest is by putting your milk in a mason style jar and securing the lid. Then vigorously shake your milk until it is frothy.
The next method is to slowly warm your milk in a saucepan and then either with a mixer or hand whisk, whipping your milk until it is thick and frothy.
How to thicken milk in microwave?
To thicken milk in the microwave, pour milk in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 6 minutes, stopping to stir at the 3 minute mark.
Depending on your microwave power, it may take more or less time to thicken your milk.
How to thicken milk without flour or cornstarch?
You can thicken milk without flour or cornstarch by adding xanthan gum or by reducing it on the stove.
When using xanthan gum, gradually stir it into cold milk until desired thickness is reached.
When reducing milk, heat it in a saucepan over medium low heat until it simmers. Stir while it simmers until desired thickness is achieved.