What’s the difference between full-cream, low-fat and skim milk?

Find out the difference between full-cream, low-fat and skim milk, plus what they taste like, their health benefits and what to cook with milk.

Rate this Article
Average: 3.6 (12 votes)
FacebookPintrestTwitterGoogle ClassroomShare via Email

What’s the difference between full-cream, low-fat and skim milk?

Good old fashioned dairy milk has only one ingredient; milk! It’s simple, delicious and spoils us for choice. With the option of full-cream, low-fat or skim, which should we choose and what purpose does each play in the kitchen?

The most important thing to acknowledge in the dairy aisle, is that there is no wrong choice. These three types of dairy milk all contain 8 essential nutrients and contribute to a balanced diet. In addition, a building body of evidence now shows that it doesn’t matter whether it’s low fat or full cream, enjoying dairy as part of a balanced diet doesn’t lead to weight gain and can actually help you lose weight. So, simply make your selection based on what you like best.

A guide to help with your choice:

Full-cream milk

This classic style of dairy milk has on average 3.8% milk fat, with a minimum of 3.2% milk fat. In other words, full-cream milk is 96% fat free.

Cooking ideas with Full-cream Milk

The higher fat content of full cream milk is perfect for creating tender baked goods and creating thick and creamy sauces. Add it into soups and risottos for a creamy texture, flavour and nutrient boost.


Low-fat milk

Low-fat is also called lite milk or reduced-fat milk. It contains less than 1.5% fat unless otherwise specified. It has the same great health benefits and contains the same nutrients as full cream milk.

Low-fat milk naturally contains slightly more calcium than full cream. Imagine taking the fat out of a glassful of milk, the glass will be slightly emptier, so, to get the same volume in the glass the concentration of other nutrients goes up per glassful. Confusing? Trust us, there’s just naturally more calcium.

What does low-fat milk taste like? Low-fat milk still has a creamy flavour like full cream milk, with a texture that is slightly thinner and less rich in taste.

Cooking ideas using low-fat milk

Low-fat milk can be used in just about everything that regular milk is used for, it just won’t have quite as creamy taste, and baked goods will have a slightly less tender result. Try low-fat dairy milk in a breakfast cereal, overnight oats, béchamel sauce and custard or drinks like tea and coffee.



What is Skim Milk?

Skim milk has less than 0.15% fat. Some milks might have extra milk solids (like lactose and protein) added to optimise the taste and texture due to its very low fat content. Skim milk is a great option if you prefer the taste in smoothies or in your coffee.

Ways to cook with Skim Milk

Skim milk isn’t recommended for baking, but if you only have skim milk on hand but need full cream for a particular recipe, simply add two tablespoons of melted butter per cup of milk.


To round up the differences between full-cream, low-fat and skim milk have a look at this video.

Never lose a recipe again
Join thousands of home cooks and collect recipes you'll not only love, but are sure to make over and over again! Organise favourites, set reminders to shop, create and share your own eBooks with a free membership!