What is a milk frother?

A milk frother is a simple kitchen appliance that aerates warm milk, this creates a foamy texture, and a lower density for the milk, this is usually used for coffee, however can also be used for a huge variety of other drinks, such as milkshakes and hot chocolates. However, the world of milk frothers can be extremely confusing, there are a huge amount of different types, each designed to do different things, obviously they all make frothed milk!

Some of designed to create a cold froth, whereas others are designed to create a hot froth, all with different densities. So, out of the main two types, the Handheld Milk Frother and the Automatic Milk Frother, which one is right for you?

Within this article we will explore the two types, allowing you to find out the similarities and differences, along with which milk frother is right for you.


Handheld Milk Frother

Automatic Milk Frother

Best Product to Buy

Cafe Luxe Handheld Milk Frother

Breville BMF600XL Milk Café Milk Frother

Ease of Use

A handheld milk frother is extremely easy to use, it simply features a spinning disc that you submerge into the milk, the disc tends to have a coil wrapped around it, this is basically a small whisk, that will aerate the milk.

You simply submerge the milk frother, and press the button and off it goes, it really is that simple to use, even your children could manage it.

An automatic milk frother is also incredibly easy to use, this is because it operates in the same way as a handheld milk frother, except you pour the milk into the appliance, which then has a spinning disc at the base, which aerates the milk.

You simply pour the milk in, press a button, and off it goes!

Frothing & Steaming Milk

A handheld milk frother is fairly capable at frothing milk, due to the amount of power it can receive from the integrated batteries, however, it cannot steam milk.

It has no heating element, and if you want to froth hot milk, you need to heat the milk before. This is unfortunate, but expected due to the low cost of a handheld milk frother.

High-end Automatic Milk Frothers are extremely good at frothing milk, and much better than a handheld milk frother.

However, some feature heating elements, in which you can heat/steam the milk at the same time, whereas some don’t.

Therefore, it is essential that you do your research, and make sure you find a milk frother for your needs.

Types of Milk to Use

You can use any type of milk with the handheld milk frother, this is because it doesn’t heat the milk, it simply is a motor that spins a disc that in turn, aerates the milk.

This extra versatility is extremely good, as the whole family can use it with ease, with full fat milk, 2%, 3% or skimmed, any type of milk can be used with the handheld milk frother.

Most automatic milk frothers accept any milk, however some have specific requirements, so make sure you do your research, and read any documentation that comes with your automatic milk frother.

This will educate you on which types of milk you can use with your frother.

Noise Level

Handheld milk frothers are extremely quiet, which is a great positive.

This allows them to be used early in the morning, for your ritual coffee – without any of the family waking up, they are quieter than a kettle!

As automatic milk frothers are corded, they tend to be more powerful than handheld milk frothers.

Unfortunately, more power means a higher noise level.

Cheaper automatic milk frothers are fairly loud, however the noise is dampened as it is created inside the frothing vessel, premium automatic milk frothers tend to be near silent


The design of the Handheld Milk Frother is fairly good, it features a large handle where the user grips the appliance, then a long, spinning arm which attaches to a disc – the disc is the part which aerates the milk.

Then can come in fairly aesthetic designs, which is a great positive, as this means you don’t need to hide it away, and instead it can be proudly displayed within your kitchen

The designs offered on the automatic milk frothers are much, much better than the designs of handheld milk frothers.

They tend to be small appliances, about ½ the size of a standard kettle.

The lid simply comes off, allowing you to fill the frothing vessel with milk, which is then activated by pressing a button on the front of the device.

They are also much more aesthetically pleasing.


The cost of a handheld milk frother is much less than the cost of an automatic milk frother, this is a positive as the initial cost is much less.

However it doesn’t froth milk quite as well as an automatic milk frother, so it’s best as a beginning appliance, to see if you like frothed milk.

They tend to be much more expensive than a handheld milk frother, however they are still extremely affordable, and definitely worth it for the increased frothing capabilities.

While this may not be a positive, you are paying for the increased quality of the frother.


The handheld milk frother has a large number of positive elements to it, such as the low cost, and especially how easy it is to use!

The low power means the batteries will last longer, yet it is still capable of frothing a small quantity of milk!

An automatic milk frother is incredibly capable, with many of the more premium models being able to heat/steam milk, as well as froth it – which saves you precious time!

They can also come in a huge variety of colours, allowing you to simply buy one that matches the current colour scheme of your kitchen décor.


Unfortunately, a handheld milk frother also has a few negative elements, such as it cannot steam milk as it has no heating element.

It is also not as capable as an automatic milk frother, which is much more powerful and can froth larger quantities of milk, and generate more air.

Unfortunately, an automatic milk frother is also much more expensive than a handheld model, however many are still incredibly affordable.

This is because you are paying for the increased features and capabilities of the frother.

They can also be louder; however, this is not true of all automatic milk frothers.


In conclusion, should you buy a handheld milk frother, or an automatic milk frother?

A handheld milk frother is recommended for user’s who are fairly new to frothing milk for their hot beverages, as it is simple, easy to use – with a much lower price. However, an automatic milk frother has the increased frothing capabilities over the inferior handheld milk frother. In case you haven’t bought any milk frother yet, make sure our in-depth reviews for top 5 automatic milk frothers.

The type of milk frother that actually fits your needs is the milk frother you should purchase. If you only plan to use the frother occasionally, and for light frothing, then perhaps you should purchase the handheld milk frother – it’s lower price, combined with how easy it is to use makes it perfect for you!

Especially when you consider that it is battery powered, this allows you to keep it in a drawer, rather than it taking up precious space in your kitchen, you simply grab it and froth the milk, and place it away. It really is that simple. So if you’re a fan of portable gadgets, check out this exclusive buying guide for handheld milk frother.

However, do you require a milk frother that’s more powerful? Looks a lot more aesthetically pleasing? Can froth a large volume of milk at once, and also heat milk? Then you should go for the Automatic Milk Frother, many have a large number of settings you can customize, in order to get the perfect froth for your drink, including density, and even precise temperature control.

The fact it is corded also means it is much more powerful, and can easily froth much more milk than a standard handheld milk frother.

As you can see, while both frothers are incredibly capable, each are designed for a specific purpose, therefore – you should go for the one that fits your needs the best.