How to Scald Milk for Baking

The secret ingredient to delightfully fluffy cakes, bread, and cupcakes is simple – scalded milk. As long as you have a steel pan or a microwave-safe container, milk, and a kitchen thermometer, you can scald milk in no time.

Hi! I’m Michelle, and I love baking! Some recipes call for scalded milk, and some people might skip it because it’s too much “extra” work. But let me tell you, I have tried recipes with and without scalded milk. Trust me, take the extra few minutes to scald the milk, and you’ll be happy.

Today, we’re looking at the right way to scald milk for baking. Bakers, seriously, it’s so easy. By the end, you will be asking yourself why you haven’t been scalding milk more often.

Ready to turn up the heat?

Why Scald Milk for Baking?

Before we jump into the how-to guide for scalding milk, let’s take a closer look at why you should. After all, I know plenty of people who see “scalded milk” in a recipe and simply bypass it. Is this bad? Well, you will get good results, just not amazing results. Why settle for less?

Back in the day, scalded milk served a specific purpose. It was necessary to add scalded milk to kill any type of bacteria in the milk. It also destroyed enzymes that could prevent thickening in certain recipes.

Nowadays, milk is pasteurized, so scalding milk for health purposes isn’t required. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable technique for baking.

Scalded milk will ensure that there is no whey hindering the proofing process. Scalded milk simply equates to a fluffier result. That said, if your recipe calls for scalded milk, just do it. You will be shocked at how light, fluffy, and delightful your baked goods become.

How to Scald Milk for Baking

There are two ways to scald milk – stovetop and microwave. You will learn both methods below. Both are simple to accomplish. However, microwaving can be a bit quicker, ideal for bakers with a strict time limit.

Stovetop Method

To do the stovetop method, you will need two items: a stainless steel pot (preferably with a heavier bottom for even cooking) and a kitchen thermometer. Then, do the following:

  1. Pour milk into the pot and turn the stove on medium heat.
  2. Wait for bubbles to form in the milk.
  3. When the milk is properly scalded, a ‘skin’ of proteins will form on top.
  4. When you see this skin layer, double-check the temperature with a thermometer.
  5. Allow to cool before using.

The key temperature you’re looking for is 170 F. You must wait for the milk to cool off before using it in your recipe, as yeast dies at 138 F. So if you add the scalded milk too soon, you will end up ruining your recipe entirely. 

Microwave Method

In a pinch? Don’t worry. The stovetop isn’t the only reliable method to use to scald milk for baking. To do this quick and easy method, you will need a microwave-safe container and a kitchen thermometer. Proceed to the steps:

  1. Pour milk into the container.
  2. Microwave on medium-high (70%).
  3. Open the microwave and stir the milk every 15 seconds.
  4. Remove from the microwave when you begin to see steam released from the milk.
  5. Check the temperature with your thermometer.  
  6. Cool before using.

As you can see, the microwave is even easier for scalding milk. It just takes a few minutes, and you will have scalded milk that will completely change your recipe – for the better, of course.


Still curious about scalding milk? I have got your answers! Keep reading to check out some of the most frequently asked questions regarding how to scald milk for baking.

Do you have to scald milk to make bread?

No, not necessarily. But if your recipe calls for scalded milk, why wouldn’t you want to? You’re following every other part of the recipe to the tee. Don’t expect pristine results without using scalded milk, especially if the recipe calls for it.

What can you use instead of scalded milk in a recipe?

There is no substitute for scalded milk. You can simply use regular milk (not scalded) in your recipe. However, the milk should at least be at room temperature to not inhibit the yeast from activating properly.

What would be the result of adding the yeast to the scalded milk before the milk was cooled?

Combining scalded milk and yeast is a recipe for disaster. Yeast can’t handle high temperatures. It will not activate properly, and you will be left with a very dense and coarse finish. 

Final Thoughts

Scalding milk is quick and simple and only takes a few minutes of your time, but the results are incredible. Next time you bake, don’t skip the scalded milk and enjoy a fluffy texture unlike you’ve ever had before.

Do you scald milk for baking?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Tammy

    If a recipe calls for scalded milk, we always scalded it. Oh, and since our family bread recipe called for melted butter beat into the cooled milk, we always put the butter into the hot milk to melt and help cool the milk. And my grandmothers (both sides and were actually from two different generation–Grandma Croft learned to cook on a wood stove!) always insisted on removing the protein skin, calling it ‘garbage’.

  • Steve P

    Do you remove and discard the skin that forms during scalding, or do you stir it back in?

    • Michelle

      Hi Steve,
      I remove it, but it’s entirely up to you.