How to Froth Oat Milk Without a Steam Wand: 9 Great Techniques

If you are a lactose intolerant or vegan coffee lover or prefer plant-based milk, you might wonder how to froth oat milk at home. The obvious answer would be to use a steaming wand.

But what if you don’t have an espresso machine with a steaming wand? Frothed milk is one of the essential ingredients in many coffee recipes, like lattes and cappuccinos. Are you just out of luck?

Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless! Read on to learn different ways to froth oat milk at home so you can make delicious lattes in no time.

What makes milk froth?

Before you start frothing oat milk — or any milk, for that matter — it’s good to know a bit about the science of milk froth. Understanding why and how you get that foamy layer can help you perfect your frothing technique.

Don’t worry, this won’t be anything too complicated!

The foam in steamed and frothed milk (oat or dairy) results from protein. In dairy milk, the protein is mostly whey, while in oat milk, it is plant-based.

You force air into the liquid when you froth milk and bubble it. Form enough bubbles, and voilà — perfectly foamy, airy, and light milk froth!

milk froth on top of coffee

How temperature affects frothing

There’s more to milk frothing than just introducing air into it. Two other factors have a significant effect on how well your milk froths. The first is milk temperature.

Proteins in milk are polar, meaning one end is attracted to water and repulsed by it. When milk heats to about 140°F (60°C), the proteins denature and unfold, exposing both ends.

As you froth warm milk, the proteins attach to the air bubbles, giving them a stronger structure. This is why frothing heated milk makes the foam last longer.

frothing milk temperature

How fat affects frothing

Fat content is another factor that affects how well milk froths. Fat prevents milk from bubbling, which is why low-fat milk is easier to foam.

However, things change if the dairy milk fat content exceeds 5%. After this point, more fat will give you better foam. Just think of whipping cream!

But if milk temperature goes past 104°F (40°C), the fats will melt and form a protective layer around the foam, preventing it from coalescing. This is another reason hot milk stays frothy longer than chilled milk that just came out of the fridge.

pouring frothed milk into coffee

Frothed milk vs. steamed milk

Frothed milk often gets confused with steamed milk. Although the two might resemble each other somewhat, professional baristas will tell you there’s a world of difference between them.

Making steamed milk involves heating milk with a steam wand. Steaming aerates the milk lightly, making it heavier and giving it more volume for coffee drinks like a flat white. Steamed milk will have delicate, light microfoam on its surface.

On the other hand, frothed milk is not necessarily warm like steamed milk — although it can be. Frothing milk involves stronger aeration. It creates a thick foam with larger bubbles and an airy but creamy mouthfeel and texture.

steaming milk with coffee machine

Can you froth oat milk?

So, here we are, faced with our ultimate question — can you froth oat milk? The short answer is yes, you can!

That said, it does take more effort to create oat milk froth. Unlike dairy milk, oat milk has certain properties that make it a bit stubborn when it comes to frothing, and it can also curdle in coffee if not handled properly. It is still the best choice for coffee out of all non-dairy milk, though!

Let’s take a closer look at oat milk and see what makes it froth.

What is oat milk?

Oat milk is plant-based milk produced by soaking whole oats, blending them with water, and straining them. There’s not much to the process, so you could easily make oat milk at home from just two ingredients. The blend does leave small amounts of grainy residue and pulp from the oats, so it needs to be strained with a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

One cup of oat milk consists of 16 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fats, and roughly 2 grams of (non-soluble) fiber. Oats also have a good amount of calcium, potassium, and other minerals. Most oat milk in the market is also fortified with vitamins.

Depending on the manufacturing process, oat milk color is usually somewhere between gray and tan. The relatively high carb content gives it a natural sweetness and creaminess that can be a welcome addition to coffee drinks.

making oat milk

Oat milk vs. dairy milk

Oat milk is a great substitute for dairy milk — whether in coffee or cooking recipes — for a few reasons. In terms of texture, oat milk is similar to cow’s milk.

You will likely notice a familiar flavor close to real dairy when you taste oat milk. It’s not quite the same since the higher carb content in oat milk gives it a naturally sweeter flavor (think half-and-half). Additionally, there will always be a mild aftertaste of oats.

If you try frothing oat milk, you’ll notice that it takes longer than dairy milk. This is due to them consisting of different elements. Oat milk has less protein than a cup of dairy milk (3g vs. 8g), so it won’t support good foam as easily.

Finally, oat milk has no lactose, making it suitable for lactose-intolerant people or those with milk allergies. However, it has beta-glucan, a fraction of fiber that can cause some stomach issues. Additionally, not all oat milk brands are gluten-free due to cross-contamination with other grain ingredients.

coffee with frothed oat milk

Oat milk vs. other plant-based milk

Is oat milk good for frothing compared to other plant-based milk? The answer is “Yes.” In fact, it’s even better!

Oat milk is much closer in consistency and texture to dairy milk than other plant milk, such as coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Since oat milk is thicker, you can froth it easier than soy or other non-dairy milk.

Some brands, however, manufacture thinner oat milk than others, so pay attention to which one you buy. If you prepare oat milk yourself, you can adjust the water-to-oats ratio to make it thicker.

different plant based milk bottles

9 ways to froth oat milk without a steam wand

So, you are ready to make a latte at home with oat milk. Or maybe you want to whip up some dairy-free cappuccino or macchiato. But you have a lever espresso machine or a handheld espresso maker with no milk steaming wand. How can you achieve that perfect creamy froth for your coffee drinks?

Luckily, there are so many ways to froth oat milk. Give any of these options a try, and soon you’ll be an oat milk frothing master.

1. Hand pump

A hand pump frother is a handy device. You can froth oat or dairy milk in a couple of minutes, and you’ll get some arm exercise!

  1. Pour oat milk into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it to a scalding temperature (about 150°F/65°C). Use a thermometer to get the temperature right.
  2. Fill the frothing pitcher or carafe, leaving about 2/3 of it as an empty room.
  3. Start pumping the device with quick, short plunges for about 10-15 seconds.
  4. If you have enough foam, let the frothed oat milk rest for 1 minute before serving.
  5. Swirl and pour the froth on coffee for a delicious non-dairy drink.

hand pump milk frother

2. French press

French press coffee makers are another quick way to froth oat milk. They work with the same method as hand pumps and are also useful for brewing coffee.

  1. Heat the milk in a pot or microwave.
  2. Pour it into the French press with enough room for foam to form.
  3. Pump the plunger for 10-15 seconds and check the amount of foam.
  4. Let the milk rest for 1 minute.
  5. Use the oat milk in your favorite coffee drink recipe.

frothing milk with french press

3. Handheld milk frother

A handheld milk frother will probably get out the best foam from frother oat milk. A frother creates uniform foamy bubbles and will get you coffee drinks as close as possible to the barista version you’d get at coffee shops.

  1. Warm the oat milk to 150°F/65°C.
  2. Pour the oat milk into a mug or a pitcher.
  3. Tilt the pitcher upwards and submerge the frother into the milk.
  4. Move the milk frother vertically until you see froth forming.
  5. Continue until you produce the desired amount of foam.

frothing milk with handheld milk frother

4. Whisk

Almost every kitchen has a whisk so you can froth oat milk practically anywhere. You won’t get the same amount or as rich foam as with some other methods, but it’ll do in a pinch.

  1. Warm the oat milk.
  2. Pour it into a bowl.
  3. Vigorously whisk for several minutes until you have the froth you need.
  4. Pour the frothed oat milk into a pitcher.
  5. Shake and tap carefully against a kitchen counter to break large bubbles.
  6. Use the frothed milk to make a latte, cortado, or coffee drink.

wire whisk next to a bowl of milk

5. Jar

What if you don’t have any special tools for frothing milk? Here’s a good tip — a simple jar is all you need to make froth, even if it won’t be as creamy as whipped up using other mechanical methods.

  1. Pour oat milk into a sealable jar, filling it 1/3 of the way.
  2. Tightly close the lid.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously. It can take several minutes to froth the oat milk, which can replace your gym session!
  4. Once you have sufficient froth, warm the milk in a microwave.
  5. Prepare your coffee drink and enjoy.

mason jar with oat milk

6. Electric mixer

What is an electric mixer but an oversized milk frother? Pop the whisk attachments into a hand or stand mixer and get to frothing. Just be careful because this could get messy!

  1. Pour oat milk into a well-sized bowl to avoid splattering.
  2. Submerge the mixer in the oat milk. Mix at high speed until you see bubbles forming.
  3. Warm the frothed milk in a microwave to your desired temperature.
  4. Use the froth for making coffee in your favorite style.

electric mixer and milk bowl

7. Immersion blender

A hand immersion blender will froth oat milk much in the same way as a hand electric mixer. It will prepare perfectly frothy oat milk ready for pouring over espresso for a tasty latte or other coffee recipes.

  1. Pour oat milk into a spill-proof dish.
  2. Plunge the blender into the milk and turn it on.
  3. Keep blending until you have sufficient foam.
  4. Heat the milk and serve it with coffee.

hand blender on wood background

8. Food processor

Using a food processor is a great method for frothing milk. It can incorporate more air into oat milk than others and create froth with a fantastic creaminess. This method can produce froth good enough for latte art.

  1. Pour oat milk into the food processor, leaving enough space for the foam.
  2. Turn the device on at high speed.
  3. Run the processor for about 2 minutes.
  4. Microwave the froth and use it in your favorite milky coffee drink.

turning on food processor

9. Butter churner

A butter churner is not a very common thing to have at home. But if you are lucky to own one, you can froth oat milk with it.

  1. Heat oat milk.
  2. Pour the oat milk into the churner’s basin.
  3. Start cranking the lever (or turn the machine on if it’s electric).
  4. Stop churning once you have adequate froth.
  5. Use the froth in your favorite coffee recipes.

You now know how to froth oat milk, even without a steam wand. The amount of froth you get will vary depending on your method. But whichever you choose, you’ll still get quality oat milk foam. So whether you are vegan or lactose-intolerant, you can enjoy flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or other delicious milky coffee drinks.

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