Does powdered milk have lactose? (3+ alternatives)

In this article, we are going to answer the question “Does powdered milk have lactose?” and discuss the lactose amount in different dry milk powders and the possible substitutes for powdered milk that are free from lactose.

Does powdered milk have lactose?

Yes, powdered milk is produced by the process of drying regular milk, therefore it does contain lactose (1). There are many types of powdered milks and the amount of lactose in these products varies (2).

There are also lactose-free powdered milk products available in the market, which are produced from the drying process of the previously treated whole milk with and enzyme called lactase.

This enzyme breaks down the milk lactose into two sugars, glucose and galactose, generating a milk which contains a minimum amount of lactose and can be consumed by lactose-intolerant individuals. By the enzymatic hydrolysis of lactose, about 99% of the lactose is converted (3).

How much lactose does powdered milk contain?

The lactose amount in different types of powdered milk varies, because when the fat from milk is reduced, the amount of the other components, such as protein, minerals and lactose, increases in percentage.

In this way, skim milk has a higher quantity of lactose in the same mass of milk and the powdered milk will have a higher quantity of lactose than of whole powdered milk.

In whole milk powders, the lactose content ranges from 35.9% to 38.1%. While the lactose content of nonfat milk powders is more than that of the whole milk powders. Non-fat milk powder contains approximately 50.4% to 52.3% (2).

Can lactose intolerant people consume milk powder?

Yes, lactose intolerant individuals can consume powedered milk in a very small quantity when considering the regular lactose-containing powdered milk or in larger amounts when considering the lactose-free powdered milk (1,3).

As powdered milk has lactose present in it therefore it is not suitable for people having lactose intolerance. If lactose intolerant individuals consume milk or milk-related products, they can develop several gastrointestinal issues including gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, belching, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain (1). 

However, the level of tolerance to lactose may vary among the population. In general, lactose intolerant individuals can ingest an amount of 5 g of lactose per dose without having any adverse consequence.

Many non-dairy products contain lactose, as this sugar is used in the food industry as a food additive. Meat products and processed products are examples of these foods that contain lactose in their composition and can be well tolerated by lactose intolerant people (1,2).

In addition, lactose intolerant individuals can consume lactose-free powdered milk, which is free from lactose. There are many other options of lactose-free dairy products to susbtitute powedered milk and offer the nutrients provided by powdered milk (1,3).

What are some lactose-free alternatives to powdered milk?

Other alternatives to powdered milk that are lactose free are:

Milk alternatives based on cereals: oat milk, rice milk

Milk alternatives based on nuts: almond milk, coconut milk

Milk alternatives based on legumes: soy milk, peanut milk

All these alternatives are, however, not in the form of powder. The powder form of plant-based milk alternatives is difficult to be produced, because these products are in general not heat-stable and undergo severe chemical changes during the drying processes (4).

In addition, due to their chemical composition, they are less stable during storage in the powdered form and may develpo off-flavors. These milk alternatives vary significanlty in their nutritional composition and cannot totally substitute milk.

The best substitute for powdered milk for a lactose intolerant person is lactose-free powdered milk.

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can you freeze Almond milk?

What does lactose-free milk taste like?

How long does lactose-free milk last?

Does Milk Contain Protein


In this article, we answered the question “Does powdered milk have lactose?” and discussed the lactose content of different dry milk powders and the possible substitutes for milk that are free from lactose.

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Facioni MS, Raspini B, Pivari F, Dogliotti E, Cena H. Nutritional management of lactose intolerance: the importance of diet and food labelling. Journal of translational medicine. 2020 Dec;18:1-9.


Mehta BM. Chemical composition of milk and milk products. Handbook of food chemistry. 2015:511-53.


Rodrigues L, Paiva G, Lisboa HM, Pasquali M, Gusmão R, Duarte ME, Cavalcanti-Mata ME, Abrantes T. Impact of spray drying parameters on lactose-free milk powder properties and composition. J. Agric. Stud. 2020;8(3):32.


Sethi S, Tyagi SK, Anurag RK. Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review. Journal of food science and technology. 2016 Sep;53:3408-23.