If you’re not drinking milk every day, the idea of finishing off a whole gallon, or even a pint, can be daunting. After all, you don’t have much time to waste; milk lasts only four to seven days past its use-by date once opened. Learn more about decoding expiration dates.
Luckily, we know a simple trick to avoid having to pour your milk (and money!) down the drain. Follow along to learn how to freeze milk.
Can You Freeze Milk?
Yes, milk can last for several months in the freezer, but for the best quality, we advise consuming it within the first month. After that point, milk will begin to separate and turn grainy.
Because freezing changes the texture of milk, most people prefer to cook with thawed milk instead of drink it. Thawed milk works well in baked goods, like this classic hot milk cake, and even in the perfect roast chicken.
Tips for Freezing Milk
Freezing milk is simple, but you need to avoid a few pitfalls.
- Always leave 1 to 1-1/2 inches of headspace in the container before freezing. Like other liquids, milk expands when it’s frozen. Having too much in the container can cause it to crack.
- Store milk in an airtight container. Milk is highly susceptible to picking up odors from other foods in the freezer. This can change the milk’s flavor once thawed.
- Skim milk is more freezer-friendly than full-fat milk. Milk with a higher fat content separates more readily when thawed.
The Best Way to Freeze Milk
Our favorite way to freeze milk was brought to us by reader Ruth M. of Tunnel Hill, Georgia:
“To save it, I pour it into clean ice cube trays and freeze them. When they’re frozen, I put the cubes in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags or containers. When a recipe calls for milk, I take out just the number of cubes needed.”
Using Ruth’s tip can help you save freezer space, plus it lets you thaw exactly the amount of milk you need.
For reference, two cubes in the average ice cube tray will equal about 1/4 cup milk. If you’re looking to use larger portions of milk at a time, try this 1-cup ice cube tray set that’s great for freezing soup and stock, too.
Learn more great tips with our complete guide to freezing food.
How to Thaw Frozen Milk
Simply leave frozen milk in the fridge to thaw overnight.
If you’re running low on time and need to defrost frozen milk quickly, you have two options. The first is to submerge your frozen milk (in an airtight container) in a bowl of cold water placed in the fridge to defrost in about an hour, just make sure to change the water after 30 minutes or so.
The second, and fastest, option is to microwave frozen milk. To do so, transfer the frozen milk to a microwave-safe container and microwave it in 15-second intervals. Once the milk has melted, it should be cooked immediately.
One method that you definitely shouldn’t use is setting frozen milk out on the counter. Since bacteria multiplies between 40-140°F, defrosting frozen milk on the counter puts the milk in a bacteria “danger zone” which can make it unsafe to ingest, according to the USDA.
After you’ve safely defrosted your milk, it’s likely that you’ll see some separation or graininess. Simply give it a vigorous shake before using, and you should be good to go.
Can you Freeze Non-Dairy Milk?
For the most part, yes, you can freeze non-dairy milk following the same steps you would for freezing dairy milk. Just note that freezing and defrosting these will make them separate and get slightly grainy, so only use defrosted non-dairy milk for things like smoothies or to cook with.
Still looking for ways to use up a bit of milk? These recipes all call for a half cup: