Homemade French Cafe au Lait Recipe

French Cafe au Lait Recipe

In France, equal parts of steamed milk and strong hot coffee are combined to make the perfect mellow beverage known as a café au lait.

Prepare this easy recipe at home and serve it at a traditional French breakfast with flaky croissants or as an after-brunch coffee with a single square of dark chocolate. Your guests will think they’ve been transported to a sidewalk café in Paris.

This recipe makes one serving, but the proportions can be increased for multiple cups of this gentle pick-me-up. 

In Spain, this identical drink is known as cafe con leche, while Germans call it milchkaffee. Vegans need not feel left out of this cafe au lait recipe. For those who like to eat their coffee for dessert, don’t miss this café au lait creme brulée.


  • 1 part hot strong coffee (French roast)
  • 1 part steamed milk

Steps to Make It

  • Gather the ingredients.
Ingredients for cafe au lait
  • Into a large cup, pour equal parts of strong hot coffee and steamed milk, reserving the foam.
Pour coffee in cup
  • Stir.
  • Spoon reserved foam on top and serve hot.
Spoon foam on top
  • If you’re artistic, you might want to try your hand at using the steamed milk to create latte art.
Serve a cup

How to Make Steamed Milk Without an Espresso Machine

You don’t need a fancy steam wand or an espresso machine to make steamed milk at home. Here’s a foolproof technique that produces great results.

  • Pour the desired amount of milk into a glass jar (a Mason jar works well).
  • Screw on a cover and shake the jar hard for 45 seconds. This will incorporate air (similar to what happens when heavy cream is whipped). Stop shaking when the milk has doubled in volume.
  • Unscrew the cover and place the jar in a microwave and heat on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Watch it carefully. If the milk gets too hot, the air you’ve shaken into it will deflate. A good rule of thumb is to heat until the jar is hot to the touch but not so hot that you need a pot holder.
  • Remove from the microwave and move the foam on top to a side while you pour the steamed milk into the coffee. Then spoon that highly prized foam on top.
  • Total:5 mins
  • Prep:5 mins
  • Cook:0 mins
  • Yield:1 coffee (1 serving)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)

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