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The 8 Very Best Milk Frothers

We’ve got electric, handheld, stovetop, and manual options for all your milk-frothing needs.

The best milk frother is the Nespresso Aerocinno 4 Frother.
Photo: Marcus McDonald
The best milk frother is the Nespresso Aerocinno 4 Frother.
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

In general, I roll my eyes at one-trick-pony kitchen tools. No one needs a dedicated avocado or apple slicer. But sometimes you do, in fact, run into a single-use item that actually does its job in a way nothing else can. And a milk frother, it turns out, is one of those items.

Since researching milk frothers for this article and testing several myself, I’ve become a total convert. I used to simply splash milk in my coffee cold from the fridge, but the ritual of frothing has now become so much a part of my morning routine that I’ve made space for two frothers in my kitchen: there’s our best overall model that plugs in and heats the milk, and then a slim battery-charged stick that’s handy for iced coffee and especially convenient for traveling to a house rental.

Here, you’ll find those frothers along with several others that run the gamut in terms of how they work. I’ve included a stovetop contraption for the real gearheads, one where you can control the exact temperature if that’s important to you, and a manual option that works surprisingly well, among others. The models on this list also satisfy a range of budgets and technical preferences — and are each tested by me or endorsed by coffee pros and folks who regularly use and love the one they have. And if you’re interested in completing your coffee setup, you can read my guides to the best coffee makers, coffee grinders, and electric kettles, too.

What we’re looking for

Steam creation

Frothers don’t inherently heat up milk. Some of them are frothers and steamers, performing both tasks at the same time. Others, though, only create air bubbles, requiring you to heat up your milk first, either on the stove or in the microwave.

Frothing technology

Electric frothers (the ones that usually also produce steam) need to be plugged into an outlet. You push a button, they do their thing for a minute or two, and then stop. Battery-operated frothers look like little sticks with a flat whisk on the end that whirs when you hold down a button. These are two types you’ll see most. But one product on this list is a stovetop contraption, and another is completely manual.

Best milk frother overall

Steam creation: Yes  | Frothing technology: Electric

The Nespresso Aerocinno is the milk frother I use the most — several times a week, in fact. It has four settings: hot dense foam, hot airier foam, cold foam, and heated milk with no foam at all — so if you’re a person who likes to change up their coffee or tea drink, the range on this little machine will certainly be useful. The small buttons, denoted by clear illustrations, are all on the front of the machine; you click one, it blinks until the liquid is done heating and/or frothing, then stops when it’s time to open and pour.

I particularly appreciate the difference between the dense and airy settings, the former of which produces a really luscious mouthfeel with a sizable pile of foam on top, and the latter of which I use when I want the majority of my milk to disperse into my coffee. The no foam setting is also much appreciated. I don’t own a microwave, so when an afternoon coffee craving strikes, I simply pour a mug of cooled-down brew into the vessel (sometimes even without milk) and press the button. What results is a perfectly hot cup of fresh-tasting coffee. The spout is defined, too, resulting in a clean pour, which I especially like given the thicker consistency of the frothed liquid. And a final note: It’s super-easy to clean with a hot-water rinse (and maybe a quick wipe with a sponge on the bottom if I’ve accidentally let it sit for too long).

A frothy coffee, made with the Nespresso Aerocinno 4 Frother. Photo: Emma Wartzman

Best less expensive milk frother

Chinya Milk Frother

Steam creation: Yes | Frothing technology: Electric

When I tested the Chinya, which is less than half the price of the Aeroccino, I found it to be a super-solid machine. It has three modes: hot foam, cold foam, and heated milk with no foam at all (for this last setting, you just remove the stainless-steel whisk). The consistency of the frothed milk is creamy and rich, but not so thick that I don’t get any actual coffee in those first few sips. The heat disperses evenly, and the wide basin — larger than that of the Aeroccino — is easy to clean because there’s more room to get my hand in there with a sponge.

It’s also the machine of choice for creative consultant and writer Harling Ross Anton, who I spotted using a slightly older model on Instagram. “I bought it after reading tons of glowing reviews, and it has definitely lived up to them,” she told me. “I make myself a matcha latte every morning so a good frother is critical. I like a decent layer of foam, but not so much foam that it’s all air and no milk. I also like my milk to be quite hot. This frother gives me the perfect foam-to-milk ratio and temperature every time.”

Best milk frother with adjustable temperature

Steam creation: Yes | Frothing technology: Electric

This setup costs more than the other two similarly sized and shaped frothers above, but that’s because it gives you a maximum amount of control. “It can go between 120 and 160 degrees,” says Cary Wong, a member of the Partners Coffee education team, so you can find the perfect temperature for yourself. To adjust the temperature, you use a dial that can be set at 140 degrees (designated as the “optimum milk temp”) or turned up or down depending on how hot or cool you prefer your milk. There’s also an option to froth cold milk for iced coffee. And, Wong notes, “it’s stainless steel for easy cleaning, with parts that can go into the dishwasher.”

Best battery-operated milk frother

Steam creation: No | Frothing technology: Battery-operated

In general, battery-operated handheld frothers (which pretty much all have a small flat whisk at the end of a long handle that whirs quickly when you press a button) are weaker than their electric counterparts. That’s why Suyog Mody, founder of Driftaway Coffee, and James McCarthy, coffee educator at Driftaway Coffee, are amazed at the performance of the NanoFoamer. Over the course of many tests, it was able to produce a texture surprisingly close to café-quality foam — what the pros call “micro bubbles” or “microfoam”. It’s a consistency difficult to achieve without the force of a steam wand, but McCarthy swears this stacks up. “It kind of blew my mind honestly,” he says, noting that the whisk comes with three different-sized heads, and that the middle “fine” one was his and Mody’s favorite for traditional microfoam. (See Driftaway’s reel for even more detailed instructions on how to use the gadget.)

Best less expensive battery-operated milk frother

Steam creation: No | Frothing technology: Battery-operated

If you don’t want to shell out so much (and you don’t feel picky about microfoam), there are many other battery-operated milk frothers out there. The Aerolatte is one such simple, compact, and easy-to-store contraption. Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso, says he originally scoffed at the idea (he’s a real industry professional, you know). But since his daughter uses this one every morning for her own coffee, even with a fancy espresso machine at home, he’s come around: “She broke me down over time and I must admit, the results are pretty good after a little lighthearted practice.” A similar recommendation I got for another handheld frother is this one, from Sarai Reed, the interior-design consultant behind Apron Saint. “I like that it’s lightweight and has a sleek stainless-steel design,” she says.

Best rechargeable milk frother

Steam creation: No | Frothing technology: USB-rechargeable

Golde, a Strategist-favorite brand for all things wellness, sells a rechargeable milk frother — another option I personally love. It looks and acts similarly to the battery-operated models above, but its power comes from plugging it into a USB. The handle is a long cylinder, which provides a comfortable grip. And the metal parts — the thin line that attaches the handle to the whisk and the whisk itself — are exceptionally sturdy. There are two speeds: what Golde calls “powerful” and “very powerful.” That’s an apt description — I tend to use the latter, but either way, the foam always turns out fluffy, never dense or stiff, and without large air bubbles. (Be careful not to fill your mug or glass more than 40 percent full with milk, the brand says, as it will splatter. I always eyeball it, and it’s fine.) Beyond the performance, my favorite feature is the cylindrical cap, which fits to fully cover the metal parts and clicks in securely with the handle. I have no counter space to spare, but this leaves the tool protected when I throw it in a drawer.

Best stovetop milk frother

Steam creation: Yes | Frother technology: Stovetop-operated

The closest you’re going to get to a milk frother attached to an espresso machine is the Bellman Stovetop Steamer, which “mimics a steam wand,” says Kyle Ramage, co-owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s quite an impressive contraption that uses the heat from a burner to build up steam pressure in a chamber filled with water. Once enough pressure has been created, you release it from an attached wand directly into a cup of milk. (There’s a video on their site if you want a visual.) The downside is that this whole process can take about 15 minutes. But if you really want to get as close to café-quality foam as possible — what the pros call “micro bubbles” and what Marco Suarez, one of the owners of Methodical Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina, says almost has the texture of paint — this is your best bet.

Best manual milk frother

Steam creation: No | Frothing technology: Manual

I was surprised to hear nearly all of the experts I spoke with recommend a straight-up French press (the kind you make coffee in) or this Bodum Milk Frother that works in exactly the same way. “Just heat your milk to 130 to 140 degrees in the microwave, and then use the press plunger to texture it,” explains Nye. “There are plenty of videos online that show the technique.” In my own testing, I found it easy to get the hang of. I heated my milk over a low flame in a small pot on the stove for about five minutes (I didn’t take the exact temperature) and then frothed. There’s a line on the jug that shows you exactly where to fill the liquid to so you won’t spill, and the handle on the plunger is smooth and large enough to be comfortable to hold. After about 45 seconds of moving it up and down, it results in a nice foam. I was worried it would yield larger bubbles than desired, but I could both see and feel the liquid getting thicker as I went along, surprisingly similar in texture to that which the Golde whisk achieved. Ramage goes so far as to say he’s seen people pour impressive latte art with milk frothed in a French press, and it’s a method that Wong himself often uses at home.

Some other coffee products we’ve written about

Our experts

• James McCarthy, coffee educator at Driftaway Coffee
• Suyog Mody, founder of Driftaway Coffee
• Sahra Nguyen, founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply
• Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso
• Kyle Ramage, co-owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters
• Sarai Reed, interior-design consultant at Apron Saint
• Harling Ross Anton, consultant and writer
• Cary Wong, member of the Partners Coffee education team

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The 8 Very Best Milk Frothers