You bought milk, haven’t had a chance to use it, and don’t want to waste it. Can you freeze it?
Yes! Will there be a loss in quality? Depends—but in general, it’s worthwhile.
What Kind of Milk Can You Freeze?
You can freeze any kind of dairy milk: skim, 2%, whole milk, even cream. The higher the fat content, the more the milk will change after thawing (the fat will separate out), but a good shake post-thaw will fix it for more uses.
What about non-dairy milk? Yes, you can freeze non-dairy milk. It, too, will separate when thawed but should come together after shaking.
How to Freeze Milk
- Make sure the milk is still good. The best-by date is a guideline, since how the milk is stored is what most affects its freshness. Smell and taste the milk. When in doubt, go by the best-by date or toss it.
- Option 1: Freeze the milk in a clean glass jar or bottle. Transfer the milk to a clean, odor-free glass jar or bottle, which will protect it from fishy or meaty aromas that may be in your freezer. (Fishy milk isn’t good for much besides fish chowder.) Milk expands as it freezes, so leave some empty space in the top of your container—about an inch and a half, to be safe. (Yes, you can freeze milk directly in its plastic jug or carton after removing enough of it to create space for expansion, but plastic jugs and cartons can split and leak once the milk is thawed, which is why we recommend freezing milk in a glass bottle.)
- Option 2: Freeze the milk in an ice cube tray. If you don't have enough milk to fill a whole glass bottle or jar, you can also freeze milk in an ice cube tray. Just pour the milk into the tray and, when it's frozen, pop the milk cubes out and store in the freezer in a Ziploc bag or other sealed container. Each cube is roughly two tablespoons, so two milk cubes equals about 1/4 cup of milk. Take out what you need as you need it!
For the least freezer-y taste, use the milk within 3 months of freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Milk
Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator.
Depending on the volume, milk can take 8 to 48 hours to thaw. If you froze it in a carton or jug, put a plate or tray underneath to catch any liquid, just in case there’s a new leak in the packaging.
How Milk Changes After Freezing
If the frozen milk has a higher-fat content, the fat may separate out once it’s thawed. It’s not a thing we’re used to seeing with homogenized milk and can be off-putting if you’re planning on using it by drinking the milk or pouring it on cereal or in coffee.
To remedy this, shake the milk right before using it or blend briefly with an immersion blender.