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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.

The Dairy Kitchen meal planner

To help with your choice – here is a guide:
Full-Cream milk
  • This classic style of dairy milk has on average 3.8% milk fat and with no less than 3.2% or 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
  • Scones made with full cream milk served with jam and cream
  • Creamy Carrot Soup served with parmesan toasts
Low-fat milk
  • Lite Milk has less than 1.5% fat unless otherwise specified
  • Contains the same great health benefits and 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

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 an array of smoothies or in your coffee

Ways to cook with Skim Milk

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


Learn about the processes of pasteurisation, homogenisation and UHT/Longlife milk

Learn about the different terms of dairy milk






Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)

By enjoying that milk in your coffee or smoothie – you are fueling your body with 8 essential nutrients. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended dairy foods as part of a balanced diet, while you might remember the catchy ‘3 serves everyday’ recommendation, this has recently changed and the recommendations are different for each age group, so check to see if you’re getting enough.


To help you get the recommended servings of dairy and other food groups everyday, The Dairy Kitchen along with a group of dietitians have designed these meal plans  with a delicious range of meals and recipe ideas that are great for the whole family. Sign up below to receive your 5 day plan.

The Dairy Kitchen meal planner


Enjoying dairy foods is a fantastic way to support our Australian dairy industry and farming community. Remember to choose Australian branded milk and dairy when you’re next shopping!

Source – Dairy Health Fact Sheet

*DISCLAIMER – Dairy Kitchen is a contributing recipe Partner at myfoodbook.com.au. This feature includes a mix of content sourced from Dairy Kitchen and our own opinions.  Find out more about The Dairy Kitchen.

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1 Response

  1. Wow!!! I am trying to reduce my waistline to below 40 inches but I love drinking milk.
    For years I have been buying milk labelled as ”Lite” and I prefer that to any other types
    of milk. There now seem to be many different viewpoints about milk on the Internet
    ( many with their own agenda, no doubt) but I cannot establish if lite milk is a good,
    safe choice. I used to enjoy Tonic Water with ice and Lime Cordial with ice water, but
    have stopped them because of the sugar.

    So, I enjoy drinking a lot of lite milk out of the fridge but can you advise me if this is a
    good and safe choice for an older man going onto a simple diet???

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