Does anyone have a lifehack for heating milk without scalding? I make paneer two or three times a week and it's a real pain cleaning that scalded milk from the bottom of the pan every time.

The two methods I am aware of are:

  1. Heat on medium-low and stir constantly
  2. Add cold water to the bottom of the pan before adding milk

#1 sort of works(reduces scalding, doesn't eliminate it), but I'm looking for something that doesn't require me to stand over the stove stirring for an hour.

#2 has never worked for me

  • 2
    Hi Hal, Welcome to Lifehacks. This might be a better question to ask on our sister site, cooking.stackexchange.com where such questions are handled daily. Good luck. Visit Help center and Tour for more information about Lifehacks.
    – Stan
    May 13, 2021 at 16:21
  • @Stan Thanks, I considered posting there but felt lifehacks was more appropriate because this is specifically about finding a solution outside of the normally recommended solutions.
    – hal
    May 14, 2021 at 0:03
  • Microwaving works well for me. May 26, 2021 at 10:36

3 Answers 3


I have always heated milk using a double boiler. My family has always had dedicated double boiler pots (two pots that stack; put water in the bottom pot and milk in the upper pot, and boil the water on the stove). That gives a gentle heat to the milk. If you want to try before you buy, take a look at https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Double-Boiler-(Bain-Marie) for something you can rig up from items which are probably already in your kitchen.

  • Thanks for the suggestion! I had considered this, but I have been unable to find a double boiler big enough to boil a gallon of milk., and I don't think I have anything big enough to use as a make-shift double boiler.
    – hal
    May 14, 2021 at 0:42
  • Now that I say that, I just did another search and did find some 8qt options. There seems to be a weird gap between 3qt and 8qt. I may just buy the 8qt even though it's bigger than I need.
    – hal
    May 14, 2021 at 0:52
  • @Hal Ad hoc you may use two pots. E.g., one large enough to contain a gallon of milk (actually, a little more), which then is immersed partially into a second one (e.g, the lower part of a pressure cooker). To separate the two from direct contact, you place the stand below the smaller one which otherwise would support the basket of the pressure cooker. Then you fill the outer, larger pot with water such that the inner pot is in contact with the water.
    – Buttonwood
    May 14, 2021 at 17:58

How to heat milk without scalding?

While living France, I noticed the French using a milk watcher while cooking their milk in order to avoid this very thing.

Milk Watcher

Glass Milk Watcher

The above glass milk watcher is the one I am personally familiar with.

How it works

Normally, boiling water does not boil over. When fats, starches, and some other substances are present in boiling water, for example by adding milk or pasta, boiling over can occur. A film forms on the surface of the boiling liquid; for example, cream can boil over as milk fat separates from the milk. The increased viscosity of the liquid causes the steam bubbles to form foam trapped under the film, pushing the film up and over the lip of the pot, boiling over. A milk watcher disrupts this process by collecting small bubbles of steam into one large bubble and releasing it in a manner which may puncture the surface film. The device also rattles when boiling occurs, alerting the cook who may then lower the heat setting of the stove.

By circulating fluid around the bottom of the pot the device may also prevent material from being deposited and eventually burned on the pot's bottom.


Milk scalds at or above 180°F or 82°C. The easiest hack is to use a surface thermometer to find the setting on your burner dial that will not heat above that temperature.

Surface/Grill top thermometer

Place the thermometer in the middle of a dry pan. Put your dry pan on the burner and turn on the burner to its lowest setting. Wait a few minutes until the thermometer needle stops rising. Turn up the heat a slight bit. Wait a few minutes until the needle stops rising. Repeat this until you reach the setting where the pan reaches ~170°F or so.

Mark this setting so that you can set this temperature consistently. Good Cooking.

I did this to get exactly 325°F for perfect grilled cheese sandwiches without burning the bread. I consistently get perfect pancakes at a slightly different setting.

Good luck.

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