Can You Freeze Milk? Here Are Our Test Kitchen's Tips

If you've got a milk surplus, you can avoid dumping it down the drain if you know how to freeze milk to use later. We're sharing our best advice on freezing milk to ensure the best quality.

It happens to the best of us: we grab that gallon of milk, forgetting we're going out of town and won't be able to use it up before we get back. Or perhaps a storm is rolling in, or there's a public health concern, meaning it's time to stock up on staples. So if you've got a stash of milk with fast-approaching "best if used by" dates, we have good news: you can freeze milk. However, the best way to freeze one type of milk (with all the different fat percentages and non-dairy milk options) may not be the best for another. Here's what our Test Kitchen learned about freezing milk.

Freezer jars
Examples of safe freezer containers include airtight plastic containers and wide-mouth canning jars. Jason Donnelly

Best Containers for Freezing Milk

Canning Jars

Select canning jars specifically approved for freezing (this is on the jar packaging). These Ball mason jars ($14, Target) are a good option. Use only wide-mouth glass jars as the jars with necks (regular mouths) are more likely to crack when the milk expands. Don't fill jars to the top; leave about an inch of room for expansion.

Ice Cube Trays

Fill an ice cube tray with your milk. Once frozen, transfer frozen cubes to plastic freezer bags.

Original Container

If you've got space in the freezer for the gallon or half-gallon container you have on hand, you can put it in the freezer. But as with every option here, the container can't be totally full. The best thing to do is open the container and pour out about an inch of liquid to make space for expansion.

Plastic Containers

Rigid plastic containers with airtight lids, such as Ziploc containers, are a great choice for freezing milk in smaller containers. The smaller containers will fit more easily in an already-full freezer.

Plastic Freezer Bags

Don't use your typical sandwich baggie to freeze milk. Instead, opt for plastic bags designed for freezing like these Harmon zipper freezer bags ($4, Bed Bath & Beyond) or vacuum freezer bags. The freezer-safe bags are thicker and more resistant to moisture or oxygen. Remove as much air as possible from the bags, and don't forget to leave room for expansion.

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Blaine Moats

How to Freeze Milk

The method for freezing milk will be the same for dairy, nut, and soy milk. How long does it take milk to freeze? It doesn't matter which type of milk you have. It takes 3 to 4 hours to freeze completely.

  • For all milk types, pour milk into your desired container, leaving an inch or so of headspace to allow for expansion. (This does not apply if using ice cube trays.)
  • Freeze up to 3 months from the date of purchase. Some sources suggest using frozen milk within one month for the best quality.
  • Thaw milk in the refrigerator for at least three days and shake well before using.

Freezing Different Kinds of Milk

While you can freeze any milk, some hold up better than others. The best kinds of milk for freezing are regular dairy.

Dairy Milk

Skim, 1%, 2%, and whole dairy milk all held up great in our testing. They froze and thawed well without signs of deteriorating quality, such as color changes and curdling. So drink it, add it to cereal, use it in recipes—use frozen thawed dairy milk just like you would fresh dairy milk.

Nut Milks

The almond milk and refrigerated coconut milk we tested appeared curdled when thawed. Manufacturers of almond milk advise not to freeze it because it causes separation and change in texture. In general, nut milks and oat milk don't freeze well. They will likely separate and take on a grainy texture, so they aren't suitable to drink on their own. However, go ahead and freeze some in ice cube trays as mentioned above to add to smoothies or recipes for sauces and blender soups. You won't notice the off texture when the frozen nut, coconut, and oat milks are incorporated into recipes like those.

Soy Milk

Like the nut milks we tested, soy milk appeared curdled when thawed. The soy milk, in particular, took on an unappealing light coffee color. So we don't recommend freezing soy milk, nor do the major manufacturers. But also, like the nut milks, if you freeze it in ice cube trays and add it to blended recipes like soups and smoothies, you won't notice the changes. This is a good alternative to tossing out soy milk that would go to waste.

How Long to Freeze Milk

Use frozen milk in the first month for the best quality. However, you can store it in the freezer for up to three months from purchase.

Now you'll never have to waste a dime or succumb to the dreaded sniff test to see if your milk is spoiled. Instead, get it in the freezer, using our methods, before the "best by" date on the container to safely freeze your milk for later.

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