Handheld milk frothers let you make your favorite hot drinks for a fraction of the coffee shop price. Roughly the size of a toothbrush and only slightly heavier, handheld milk frothers are easy to use and portable. The best ones can help you out with other kitchen tasks as well, from scrambling eggs to mixing a protein shake or even whipping up a good Hollandaise.
And if you dream of impressing your friends and family with latte art, well, some handheld frothers can do that too.
While they don’t heat up milk like an espresso machine’s steam wand does, with some practice they can certainly deliver on that frothy, cloud-like consistency of a great cappuccino.Types of milk frothers
If you don’t have an espresso machine with a steam wand — or if you do but want something portable — a variety of gadgets that can do the job.
Manual milk frothers look much like a French press and work in the same way: you push a plunger up and down forcefully, which froths the milk. These are effective, but do require some muscle and practice to get optimal results.
Automatic frothers, countertop contraptions that are also roughly the size of a French press, require very little work on your part — you simply pour the milk in, and it will steam and froth it. Really good models consistently deliver great froth and, sometimes, even different types of it, like airy, cold or dense.
Handheld milk frothers, on the other hand, can only handle enough milk for about one small latte at a time. They don’t actually heat the milk, but they do have other advantages.
For one, portability. They’re battery-powered and weigh only ounces, and you can easily take them to work or while traveling.
They’re also extremely fast; most are able to froth a cup of milk in under 30 seconds.
Finally, with prices ranging from about $6 to a bit over $20, these little devices can be a pretty cost-effective way to replace those expensive coffee shop drinks.Handheld milk frother buying guide
There are hundreds of handheld milk frothers on the market. So what makes a really good one stand out?
Here are some things to look for:
• Revolutions per minute (RPM). This figure, typically between 10,000 to 22,000 for handheld frothers, indicates how many times the device can spin in a minute. However, while many machines tout their high RPMs, a powerful, well-made motor is also important so that the wand will maintain a fast speed when it encounters the natural resistance of liquid. This is why it’s important to stick to well-known brands, with plenty of positive consumer reviews that back up their performance.
It’s a plus when a frother offers multiple RPM or speed settings. These machines can be much more versatile, as they can probably handle mixing liquids other than milk.
• Customer service and warranty. These types of gadgets aren’t known to be particularly long-lasting, but you should expect it to work for at least two years with minimal issues. The brands we feature here have solid warranties and customer reviews praising how the manufacturers went above and beyond to solve any problems.
• Batteries or USB. Most handheld frothers use either AA or AAA batteries, but some — like our Editor’s Pick by FoodVille, for example — are USB rechargeable.
For those that use traditional batteries, we suggest buying rechargeable batteries, especially if you use the frother multiple times a day. The little motor uses quite a bit of energy and, by most accounts, their batteries will run out after 60 to 90 minutes of use.
• Added features. Many devices come with attractive stands or travel cases; some include different attachments like whisks or dough hooks. Additionally, you might find frothers sold as part of full sets with metal pitchers (recommended for frothing) and even stencils and pens for latte art.Tips for perfect froth every time:
• First, a reminder: handheld milk frothers don’t heat or steam milk, and steamed milk is what is traditionally used for lattes and cappuccinos. This means that, if you’re making a hot drink, you need to heat your milk before using the frother; if you heat it after, you’ll lose the frothy consistency.
• Use a metal pitcher if possible, and don’t fill it up more than halfway. The milk can easily double in size during the process.
• Make sure to dip the frother about an inch below the surface of the milk before turning it on.
• Some people find it helpful to tilt the container with the milk to an angle of 45 degrees or so.
• Keep the frother constantly in movement, dipping down and up and to the sides.
• Remember that you’re aiming for microbubbles — if you see large bubbles forming, adjust your angle and go slightly deeper into the milk.Using frothers with non-dairy milk
If you’re having trouble making a good almond milk latte at home, you’re not alone.
While the process for frothing veggie milks is the same as it is for dairy, results will range from the coveted pillowy foam to nothing at all, depending on the type and brand of milk you’re using.
The reason for this is simple: the higher the protein and fat content, the easier it is to get good foam out of milk. Most brands of almond milk are fairly watery; many soy, oat or hemp milks, on the other hand, have more fat or protein, and will tend to yield better results.Best handheld milk frothers 1. Best overall: GRUNEN WOLKEN Milk Frother
At a glance:• One of the fastest out there, can foam milk in under 10 seconds• Batteries (not included) are said to last almost 6 hours of use• Includes 16 stencils for latte art• Comes with its own metal stand
Some milk frothers come with multiple attachments, such as a whisk and a dough hook. The GRUNEN WOLKEN has only one attachment, but thanks to its powerful motor, that’s all it needs to handle even thick dressings and sauces.
Despite its strong motor, though, this model is much quieter than many others, so you won’t be waking anyone up first thing in the morning.
The GRUNEN WOLKEN takes about half the time that others do to froth a cup of milk, and it does so (almost) to the level you would get with a steam wand from an espresso maker. According to testers, it produces perfect microbubbles with enough solidity for even a dry cappuccino (a drink that is mostly foam).
Aside from high-quality foam, the GRUNEN WOLKEN includes a nice bonus: 16 stencils for latte art. It also guarantees that the batteries will last for at least 6 hours of use and the motor for work for at least 300 hours.2. Runner-up best overall: Powerlix Milk Pro Handheld Frother Set
At a glance:
• Lifetime warranty• Froths milk in under 20 seconds• Over 47,000 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 stars
One of the most well-known frother brands, the Powerlix tops many “best of” lists for good reason. It’s reliable, with a powerful motor and lots of added features.
You can get the Powerlix frother by itself, or you can get this set for under $30, which includes the frother, a metal jar (the perfect kind to froth milk) and three stencils to help you get creative.
The Powerlix is a very fast frother, foaming a cup of milk — even non-dairy ones — in as little as 15 seconds.
What’s best about the Powerlix, however, is its 100% lifetime warranty. Plenty of reviewers praise the company’s responsiveness and how, when they’ve encountered problems, replacements have been sent immediately.3. Editor’s pick: FoodVille MF02 Rechargeable Milk Frother
At a glance:
• USB rechargeable• Versatile, with three speeds and a whisk attachment• Easy to operate• Strong enough to make whipped cream and sauces• Extremely responsive customer service and 3-year warranty
There is so much to love about FoodVille devices, but we’ll start with their unparalleled responsiveness to consumer feedback.
The original MF02 frother had just one button to switch between low, medium and high speeds. But after reviewers said they had to cycle through the high speed in order to turn it off, and doing so would cause splatter in the process, FoodVille issued a new version with individual buttons for each speed. The company also made the wand longer to make splatter even less likely, in yet another response to consumer requests.
While frothers can be finicky and aren’t exactly known for their durability (the motor in some models can burn out within a year or two), FoodVille offers a 3-year warranty. Plenty of buyers have raved about how quickly the company responded when they had a problem, sending new models if a previous one failed.
But, of course, customer service isn’t all the company does well. The M02 is a powerful and versatile little gadget — capable not only of frothing milk, but also making whipped cream, scrambled eggs, thick sauces and protein powder mixes.
The M02 comes with a whisk attachment for added versatility and — another big plus — is USB-rechargeable.4. Best for low prices: Bellemain Professional Milk Frother
At a glance:
• Sturdy construction with stainless steel• Two speeds• Two AA batteries included
The Bellemain milk frother is so beautifully designed and sturdily built, it’s hard to believe it costs less than $10.
For a rock-bottom price, the Bellemain offers features usually reserved for more expensive models, including two speeds and a curved, ergonomic shape that makes it easy to hold. While its top speed (15,000 RPM) isn’t as fast as some of our other picks, its motor is still powerful enough to foam a cup of milk within 20 seconds.
It does have a couple of drawbacks. For one, some users have complained that the battery door can slip off too easily. Second, it requires two AA batteries. Although they are included (another bonus especially given the low price), we recommend looking into rechargeable batteries as frothers do tend to run through those fairly quickly.5. Best for Bulletproof Coffee: Cafe Casa Deluxe Milk Frother
At a glance:
• Ergonomic design, stainless steel• Two speeds• Responsive customer service
Ergonomically designed, Cafe Casa milk frother is comfortable to use, with a sturdy stainless steel construction. Although it doesn’t include a stand, its wide base allows it to stay standing on your countertop.
It’s powerful enough not only for milk, but can also easily handle powdered drinks. And yes, it’s good for making bulletproof coffee, giving it a creamy, latte-like consistency to the rich oil, butter, and coffee combination that is a staple of the keto diet.
Do note, however, that the Cafe Casa is pretty darn powerful. It’s best to use with a container that’s less than halfway full (one-third full is preferable), and only turn on the device when it’s under the liquid’s surface; otherwise, there’s a risk of splatter.
One other potential drawback is that the on/off button is far down the body of the product, which might make it awkward to turn if off.
On the other hand, reviewers praise Cafe Casa customer service and it’s easy to see why — the company carefully monitors reviews and is known to send new models to people who have reported problems.6. Best multi-purpose frother: Sross Handheld Milk Frother
At a glance:
• Three speeds and three attachments: frother, whisk, dough hook• Foams milk in about 20 seconds• Quiet but powerful motor• USB rechargeable
The Sross Frother makes it a cinch to create great foam, and to do it fast. The powerful but quiet motor helps it froth a cup of milk in about 20 seconds and, like other models featured in our list, it offers three speed options.
However, while many models consider 10,000 RPM a low speed, Sross offers a truly low speed of 4,000 RPM. This makes it more effective in handling viscous liquids such as eggs or soups. (You really don’t want to froth soup, after all.)
Our pick from Sross includes frother, whisk and dough hook attachments, which give it even more versatility. Users praise its ability to help them make an entire breakfast, from frothing the milk, to scrambling eggs and whipping up a Hollandaise.
The Sross comes with a charging station as well, and can work for 72 hours on a full charge.More from Money:
The Best Coffee Makers for Your Money — and Barista Tips for Brewing the Perfect Cup at Home
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