Can You Warm Up Almond Milk?

Just like regular cow’s milk, almond milk can be heated and frozen. But many people find their milk curdles during the heating process.

Similar to any food product containing protein, almond milk can curdle when exposed to hot temperatures, high pressure, and acidic content.

So can you warm up almond milk without it curdling?

The best way to warm up almond milk is to start with a store-bought brand that includes a stabilizer to prevent milk from curdling and separation. Because all types of plant milk curdle at 65°C, you should never bring the milk to a boil.

You can warm almond milk at low to medium heat settings at 15-seconds intervals in the microwave. Or you can heat it in a saucepan, double boiler, or a steamer at a low heat setting on the stovetop. Never heat almond milk at temperatures higher than 150°F.

You can also use a steamer wand to create steamed milk for coffee and tea.

And for heating almond milk in hot chocolate, porridge, and oatmeal recipes, using a crockpot at low-heat setting can help you create the creamiest treats.

Differences Between Homemade and Store-Bought Almond Milk

The difference between homemade milk and store-bought milk is that the store-bought milk usually contains added stabilizers, such as xanthan gum, lecithin, and carrageenan, to create a thicker consistency product and extend the shelf-life.

These added ingredients also help prevents plant milk separation and curdling.

Consequently, store-bought almond milk makes a better choice for making hot chocolate and adding to coffee and tea.

Why Does Almond Milk Curdle?

Curdling is a process in which milk turns into clumps and forms a solid mass. It can happen when milk is heated, mixed with an acidic ingredient, or put under high pressure.

Under these conditions, the chemical bonds between amino acid molecules lose their structure and break apart. This process is also known as denaturation.

When almond milk curdles, it looks like clumps of cottage cheese floating in liquid.

The taste of the milk is still the same, but the texture becomes unpleasant. And the more heat, pressure, or acidity is applied, the more rubbery the clumps become.

Temperature RangeProtein Reaction
55 – 65°CMilk thickens.
65-75°CSmall clumps begin to form from protein denaturing.
85-95°CBigger clumps form and their texture become very rubbery.

As a result, the best temperature to keep almond milk warm is between 55 to 65°C.

How To Warm Up Almond Milk with Microwave?

First, pour almond milk into a microwavable mug.

Please do not attempt to heat the milk in its original paper carton because it is lined with plastic that may melt and leech into the milk during the heating process.

If your microwave has heat setting options, choose the low to medium heat settings for the best result.

Warm the milk in 15-second increments until it reaches your preferred temperature.

Between each increment, take the mug out of the microwave. Stir the milk to allow even heat distribution of the liquid within the mug.

If you do not have a heat option setting, lower the increments to 10 seconds instead. Remember not to let your milk reach beyond 65°C.

How To Warm Up Almond Milk On the Stovetop

Stovetops can be a better option when incorporating milk into a recipe. Here are three options:

Single Pan Method

If you want to warm the milk for your tea or coffee, you can pour the milk into a pan. It is important to set the heating level to a low setting and be patient with the process.

While you wait for the milk to warm up, stir the liquid frequently to prevent hotspots from forming at the bottom of the pot.

Double Boiler Option

The double boiler method is a better option if you need to mix other ingredients into the milk. It can prevent the content from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

To begin, pour a cup of water into a pot. Stack an equal size or slightly smaller pot on the first pot.

Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the top pot. The idea of this method is to allow the hot water vapor to heat the upper pan content.

Pour the milk into the upper pot. Set the stove on medium-low heat and allow the water to heat to a rolling boil.

While waiting, stir the milk frequently to allow even heat distribution. You may want to use a candy-making thermometer to keep track of the temperature as the milk slowly warms up.

Steamer Option

You can also use a stovetop steamer to warm up your almond milk. Set the heat setting to medium-low and allow the water vapor to heat up the milk slowly.

How to Warm Almond Milk With a Steaming Wand?

Steaming wands heat ‌milk by infusing steam into the liquid, causing it to bubble and froth.

And it works with almond milk as well. If you have an espresso machine that comes with a steaming wand, you can easily steam and froth your almond milk the same way with dairy milk and other types of plant milk.

To steam the milk evenly, pour cold almond milk into a steel pitcher. Angle the pitcher as you position it under the want.

Ensure that the wand sits just below the milk surface and is not completely submerged in the liquid.

As the steam heats the milk, slowly swirl the pitcher so that the heated content can distribute evenly.

Will Heat Decrease Almond Milk’s Nutritional Value?

Food nutrients tend to disintegrate when they are exposed to high heat. Almond milk’s best heating temperature is between 55 to 65 °C. Within this range, there is very little breakdown of the nutrients.

Almond Milk

On the other hand, heating the almond milk to a temperature of 65 °C can eliminate the phytic acid in almonds.

Although phytic acid is an antioxidant, studies show that the chemical blocks the absorption of calcium, zinc, and iron.

The heating process can minimize the plant milk’s antinutrient effects and maximize our bodies’ absorption of beneficial minerals and nutrients.

Does Hot Almond Milk Taste Different From Cold Almond Milk?

Almond milk contains a lot of water content. Consequently, it has a relatively watery texture compared to the consistency of dairy and other plant milk options.

And because of the same reason, cold almond milk tends not to froth well. When served cold, it has a pleasant nutty flavor.

When warmed to 65°C, the milk develops a thicker consistency with a little grainy texture from the minute crumple formation.

This reaction allows a much better frothing result. When heated over 65°C, the grainy texture becomes more evident as small lumps form.

What’s more, the heating process brings out a sweet aroma from the nut residue. But a longer heating process can create a slightly bitter after-taste.

The bitterness juxtaposed nicely as a pastry and dessert ingredient depending on the usage.

At What pH Level Does Almond Milk Curdle?

The curdling effect quickens when heat and acidity are present in the equation. Without heat, almond milk curdles when the pH level hits 5.5 (also known as curdle point).

Because of this reason, almond milk is not suitable for recipes that include acidic ingredients such as honey, tomatoes, lemon, and vinegar.

This raises an important problem for coffee. Many types of black coffee sit below pH 5 past the curdle point of almond milk.

When combined with the heat of freshly brewed coffee, these two factors rapidly curdle the almond milk.

The same goes for many black teas and some red tea options. On the other hand, green teas, white teas, and some non-citric herbal teas have pH levels between 7 to 10.

So if you do not mind switching tea blends, green tea and white tea are better selections to avoid clumps.

How To Stop Almond Milk From Curdling in Coffee?

A cup of freshly brewed coffee is magical. But allowing it to cool down to a lower temperature can quickly eliminate the curdling problem.

Almond Milk in coffee

By making sure that the coffee and almond milk are at relative temperatures, the milk protein has less chance of creating unwanted lumps in your drink.

The other trick to deal with the coffee acidity is to pour the almond milk into the mug first. Afterward, slowly add coffee to the milk.

By gradually adding small amounts of acidic content into the milk, the molecules have an easier time adjusting to the pH level change and are less likely to curdle.

Other Tips To Stop Almond Milk From Curdling in Coffee

  • Choose a brand of almond milk with stabilizers included.
  • Choose almond milk that has been fortified with calcium to neutralize the coffee.
  • Choose a low-acidity coffee brand.
  • Use cold-brew coffee as they have lower acidity than hot-brew coffee.
  • Consider using monk fruit as a sweetener and acidity neutralizer.

Can You Heat Up Almond Milk Creamer?

You can easily heat almond milk creamer in the microwave with the 15-second increment rule.

The trick to stop the creamer from curdling is to cool the coffee down to 65°C (similar to the heated creamer) before pouring.

Can You Warm Up Almond Milk for Hot Chocolate?

Although it is possible to warm up milk for hot chocolate using a microwave, this may lead to clumps of cocoa powder sticking to the mug.

Instead, it is much easier to use the saucepan or double boiler methods because you can easily whisk the cocoa powder until it is totally dissolved into the milk.

If you need to make a large batch of hot chocolate for an event, there is always the option of using a crockpot. Whisk all ingredients into the pot and set the heat to low for two hours.

 Can You Warm Up Almond Milk for Babies and Toddlers?

Same as warming milk and formulae, do not use the microwave to warm up almond milk for babies and toddlers.

Microwaving and pan heating milk can create hot spots of scalding milk that burn your little one’s mouth.

Instead, warm up a bottle of almond milk by placing the bottle in a warm water bath for less than 15 minutes.

The water should be cool enough to touch but hot enough to warm up the milk. You can also use an electric baby bottle warmer to warm the milk to the perfect temperature for your children.

Can You Heat Up Almond Milk for Oatmeal?

Just like dairy milk, almond milk starts to curdle at 65°C. The easiest way to heat almond milk for making oatmeal is to warm the milk in a saucepan at medium-low heat.

Stir in oatmeal once you see slight steam arising from the milk. Add sugar and salt only after the oatmeal is mixed into the milk.

Can You Heat Up Almond Milk for Porridge?

Porridge differs from culture to culture. Western cultures tend to use oatmeal in their recipes, while other cultures use rice, wheat, corn, or buckwheat as the main ingredient.

Using a crockpot to cook these hardy grains in almond milk over low heat for seven hours will create delicious porridge with no curdling and separation.

Chinese Almond Porridge and Almond Tea Are Different

As food lovers branch out to other cultures’ recipes, there are often misinterpretations of food names and ingredients.

One of them is the Chinese almond porridge (often referred to as almond tea).

Although it appears similar in appearance, the main ingredient used for these recipes are not almonds but apricot seeds.

Heating Tips for Almond Milk

Heating MethodSettingTips
MicrowaveLow – MediumSet timer to 15-seconds increments.
Stovetop Single PanLowStir constantly and be patient.
Stovetop Double BoilerMedium-lowDo not let water touch the upper pot.
Stovetop SteamerMedium-lowDot not let water reach the steamer rack.
CrockpotLowLow heat and longer cooking time churn out creamier milk.
Steamer WandLow pressure settingDip the want slightly below the milk surface.
Hot Water BathCool enough to touch but hot enough to warm the bottleDo not heat milk for more than 15 minutes or bacteria may start to grow.

Can Curdled Almond Milk Make You Sick?

Curdled milk does not necessarily mean it is spoiled. The clumping caused by heat, acid, and pressure only changes the texture of the milk.

If the taste and smell remain the same, the milk should still be safe to consume.

As a matter of fact, vegan food manufacturers are using these methods to create vegan cheese products (6).

Many vegan recipes also use these same techniques to create a vegan alternative to buttermilk by adding a small amount of lemon juice into the almond milk.

On the other hand, bacterial growth can also cause a curdling reaction. It means the milk has gone bad and is no longer safe for consumption when it happens.

If the milk smells sour or has mold floating on the milk surface, these are the signs that the milk has spoiled, and the milk should be discarded.

Final Thoughts

Almond milk is a fantastic cow’s milk alternative. It is low in carbohydrates and calories; and it provides many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants missing in dairy milk.

By remembering to heat the milk slowly at low settings and never allow the milk to reach past 65°C, you can guarantee to have perfectly smooth, warm almond milk every time.

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