Can you freeze lactose-free milk?

In this article we will answer the question “can you freeze lactose-free milk?” and discuss what are the benefits and drawbacks of freezing lactose-free milk, what is the shelf life of frozen lactose-free milk and how to freeze lactose-free milk.

Can you freeze lactose-free milk?

Yes, you can freeze lactose-free just like any other milk in the freezer (1). Freezing the lactose-free milk increases its shelf life for up to 3 months (2). 

The shelf life of the packaged lactose-free milk also depends on the product. UHT (shelf stable) lactose-free milk has a shelf life of 90 to 120 months when stored at room temperature (3).

What happens when you freeze lactose-free milk?

When you freeze lactose-free milk, the water presint in the milk is converted to the solid phase and creates ice crystals. The ice crystals damage the fat globules, disrupting their homogeneous distribution in the milk emulsion.

As a consequence, there is a loss of quality and decreased sensory properties, leading to the low product acceptability. This issue can be reduced by lactose-free skim milk, as the nutritional changes due to freezing storage are minimum (1). 

In addition, enzymatic reactions continue to occur. Although at a decreased rate, they can cause the oxidation of lipids, leading to the generation of off-flavors related to degraded lipids (4).

What are the benefits of freezing lactose-free milk?

The benefits of freezing lactose-free milk are (1,2,3,4):

  • Freezing can extend the shelf life of milk. Although new methodologies are being developed to improve milk and dairy preservation, freezing is still one of the most commonly used methods to preserve food
  • Freezing can halt the growth of microorganisms. Although not able to reduce the amount of microorganisms already present in the food, freezing inhibit their development  
  • Freezing can also reduce the rate in which degradation reactions occur, including chemical and enzymatic reactions. These cause loss of nutritional properties, as well as changes in the flavor, color and texture. Upon freezing, these reactions are slowed down

What are the drawbacks of freezing lactose-free milk?

The drawbacks of freezing lactose-free milk are (1,2,3,4): 

  • Freezing lactose-free milk can alter the texture, flavor, color and odor of the milk. Enzymatic and chemical reactions cause lipid oxidation and other alterations that lead to the quality loss of the milk during frozen storage, especially when the storage time exceeds 3 months
  • Freezing can keep the nutrients preserved to a relatively good amount. Although some nutrients are lost, such as vitamin C, B-vitamins and proteins, which suffer denaturation due to the freeze-thawing procedure, calcium, phosphorus, iron and copper can be preserved, as related in studies 

How to freeze lactose-free milk?

To freeze lactose-free milk, choose a milk of a good quality. The quality of the milk after the frozen storage is directly related to the quality of the original product.

You can freeze lactose-free milk in its original boxes or you can also transfer them to a plastic bottle for storage. You should follow the following guidelines while freezing your lactose-free milk (2,5):

  • If you want to store milk in portion sizes then divide them into portion sizes and store them in glass bottles or plastic bottles.
  • Keep them in the portion of the freezer where the temperature does not fluctuate because milk is very portable to spoilage.
  • You can also freeze lactose-free milk in the ice cube tray if you want to store it for your smoothie or if you want to add it to your cold coffee.
  • Once the milk cubes are properly frozen transfer them to a zip lock bag and freeze them immediately.
  • When you are ready to drink frozen milk just defrost it in the fridge or the microwave if you want to drink warm milk.

How can you use frozen lactose-free milk?

It is recommended to use frozen lactose-free milk in cooked dishes and to prepare cakes, sauces and cooked desserts, due to the texture damage and possible flavor alterations caused to the milk by the freeze-thawing procedure (1,2,4). 


In this article we answered the question “can you freeze lactose-free milk?” and discussed what are the benefits and drawbacks of freezing lactose-free milk, what is the shelf life of frozen lactose-free milk and how to freeze lactose-free milk.


  1. Püssa, Tonu. Nutritional and toxicological aspects of the chemical changes of food components and nutrients during freezing. Handbook of Food Chemistry, 2015, 867. 
  2. Maddox, M. Freezing Milk and Dairy Products. University of Florida. 
  3. Bottiroli, Riccardo, et al. Chemical and sensory changes during shelf-life of UHT hydrolyzed-lactose milk produced by “in batch” system employing different commercial lactase preparations. Food Res Int, 2020,136, 109552. 
  4. Berry, Mark, et al. Effects of freezing on nutritional and microbiological properties of foods. Frozen food science and technology. 2008.. 
  5. Garden-Robinson, J. Food Freezing Guide. North Dakota State University. 2019.

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