How to Scald Milk

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Learn how to scald milk, a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you’ve ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it’s remarkably easy to do.

If you've ever wondered what it means to scald milk, it's a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you've ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it's remarkably easy to do. 

Scalding implies that something is ruined or burned, but with milk, that’s just not the case. Heating milk up can kill off enzymes that keep bread dough and batters from fully rising, but there are some other good reasons to scald milk, too. Instructions for scalding milk on the stove and in the microwave are included down below; all you have to do is grab some milk and start baking.

Tutorial notes:

  • Scalding temperature: Milk scalds at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cool before using: Yeast dies at 138 degrees Fahrenheit, so allow the scalded milk to cool before using.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Choose a sturdy stainless steel pot with a heavy bottom; this will heat the milk evenly without burning. Over medium heat, cook the milk and watch for bubbles.
  2. You don’t want the milk to fully boil, but you definitely want the milk heated through. When a skin of congealed proteins forms across the top, you know you’re done. To be doubly sure, use a reliable thermometer to check the temperature (milk scalds at 170 degrees). Allow to cool to about 110 degrees before using in a recipe (yeast dies at 138 degrees F).
    If you've ever wondered what it means to scald milk, it's a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you've ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it's remarkably easy to do. 

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Microwave: Pour milk into a microwave-safe container and microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power, stirring every 15 seconds, just until steam begins to rise from the milk. To scald milk for custards or yogurt, heat 1 cup on HIGH (100%) power for 2 to 2 ½ minutes.
  • Better flavors: Vanilla bean, cinnamon, orange zest, and herbs can all be steeped in warm milk and bring extra flavor to a recipe. This is very important for ice cream recipes, custard, and pastry creams.
  • Proofing dough: Heating milk deactivates the proteins in milk whey that can keep gluten from forming properly. It can also help activate yeast for sweet breads and cakes.
  • Yogurt making: To make yogurt, sometimes dairy milk is scalded to kill off other bacteria that could compete with the yogurt culture.
  • Melting fats: At its simplest, scalded milk helps warm ingredients up. It can help dissolve sugar in custards and other baking recipes. It can also assist in melting butter or chocolate.
  • No curdling: Warm milk can gently heat up eggs in custards so they don’t curdle later in the process. It can cut down on cooking time a little bit, too.
  • In coffee: The French breakfast pick-me-up, cafe au lait, uses scalded milk blended with hot coffee.

Delicious baking recipes:

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If you've ever wondered what it means to scald milk, it's a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you've ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it's remarkably easy to do. 

How to Scald Milk

Learn how to scald milk, a tried and true technique that yields the fluffiest breads, rolls, and cakes you've ever tasted. This old-fashioned technique still has its place in the kitchen, and it's remarkably easy to do.
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 37
5 from 15 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add milk and heat until a skin forms on top of the milk, about 170 degrees.
  • Watch carefully to make sure the milk doesn’t boil. Remove immediately from heat and cool to 110 degrees before proceeding with your recipe.

Notes

  1. Scalding temperature: Milk scalds at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cool before using: Yeast dies at 138 degrees Fahrenheit, so allow the scalded milk to cool before using.
  3. Microwave: Pour milk into a microwave-safe container and microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power, stirring every 15 seconds, just until steam begins to rise from the milk. To scald milk for custards or yogurt, heat 1 cup on HIGH (100%) power for 2 to 2 ½ minutes.
  4. Better flavors: Vanilla bean, cinnamon, orange zest, and herbs can all be steeped in warm milk and bring extra flavor to a recipe. This is very important for ice cream recipes, custard, and pastry creams.
  5. Proofing dough: Heating milk deactivates the proteins in milk whey that can keep gluten from forming properly. It can also help activate yeast for sweet breads and cakes.
  6. Yogurt making: To make yogurt, sometimes dairy milk is scalded to kill off other bacteria that could compete with the yogurt culture.
  7. Melting fats: At its simplest, scalded milk helps warm ingredients up. It can help dissolve sugar in custards and other baking recipes. It can also assist in melting butter or chocolate.
  8. No curdling: Warm milk can gently heat up eggs in custards so they don’t curdle later in the process. It can cut down on cooking time a little bit, too.
  9. In coffee: The French breakfast pick-me-up, cafe au lait, uses scalded milk blended with hot coffee.

Nutrition

Calories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 26mgPotassium: 81mgSugar: 3gVitamin A: 99IUCalcium: 69mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for your comment. When you’re able to come back to this post, you can access the directions by clicking the “Jump to Recipe” button towards the top of the page or by scrolling down to the beige recipe which has the directions listed. (A little above these comment boxes.) I hope this helps! – Meggan

  1. Hi! Thanks for the informations!
    Can I scald the milk and store it in the fridge before using it? Generally I use cold milk in my recipe.

    1. Hi Jeane, what recipe are you using the scalded milk for? We cool the scalded milk some to make sure it doesn’t kill the yeast in a recipe, while still making sure it is warm enough to make the yeast happy. Sorry I’m not able to help more with your question. – Meggan

  2. Thank you for the information on scalding milk abs why it is important for baking. I always skipped that step but not anymore…

    1. Hi Kel, if the scalded milk forms a skin, you can just stir it back in. It’s a result of the proteins in the milk coagulating. Thanks – Meggan

  3. Thanks, very helpful. Though I have been cooking/baking for many years, I was surprised when I bought some NORPRO English Muffin Rings and, in the recipe on the back of the box, it called for scalded milk. So, after a quick Google search to remember how it’s done, I came across your site, it was the best. Very informative, straightforward and, helpful and pleasant to read. Good job, thanks!5 stars

  4. Thank you for the info! I found a recipe that required scalded milk. You made it easy. Gave me options. And told me what success looked like. Awesome!!! Thank you!!! I discovered you via search and now will have to spend more time cruising your website. Thanks!!!!5 stars