Leite Frito (Portugese Fried Milk)

Maggie May Schill


There is a yummy little sweet eaten in mainland Portugal and the Azores known as leite frito, better known as "fried milk"! It in fact is not fried milk, but rather, battered and oil fried custard. It is nice and crispy on the outside, and deliciously creamy on the inside. It is traditionally seasoned with either vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg. (Some Spanish versions even season with cocoa or chilli.)

My version uses pure vanilla, lemon peel and just a touch of cinnamon. It is best to serve these leite frito slightly cooled, fresh from the skillet. It is best warm.


★★★★★ 2 votes

5 Min
15 Min
Pan Fry


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1/2 c
white sugar
1/2 c
2 tsp
ground cinnamon, divided
2 1/2 c
2% milk
2 Tbsp
heavy cream
2 Tbsp
unsalted butter
1 tsp
finely grated lemon peel
egg yolks
eggs, well beaten (for egg wash)
1 tsp
pure vanilla extract
3/4 c
plain bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
chocolate sauce or powdered sugar for garnish

How to Make Leite Frito (Portugese Fried Milk)


  • 1Mix sugar & corn starch in a 3-quart sauce pan.
    Gradually stir in milk, 1 tsp of cinnamon and vanilla.
  • 2Boil over medium heat, stir continuously! Stir for one additional minute once milk hits boil.

    Side note: it is very important to keep stirring to keep milk from scorching the bottom of the pan.
  • 3Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and lemon peel. Stir until butter is melted.
  • 4Beat into egg yolk until completely incorporated. The hot milk sugar mix will cook the egg yolk.
  • 5Spread evenly into an ungreased square 8X8X2 (a 9X9 dish will work too if that's all you have.) baking dish. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 3 hours.
  • 6Once custard has set cut with a wet spatula or knife into 2 inch squares.
  • 7In a medium bowl mix bread crumbs with remaining 1 tsp of cinnamon.
  • 8Dip custard squares into egg and then dip into bread crumb mixture.
    Side note: You can double bread it by putting it back into the egg and then back into the bread crumb again if you like a thick crust on your custard.
  • 9Heat about 3/4 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet to about 360'F.

    Fry squares, 2 or 3 at a time so you don't crowd the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes until golden brown.

    Side note: You don't need a fancy thermometer to gauge the temperature of your oil. A good trick that works is to place the handle of a wooden spoon in your oil. Once bubbles form around the oil and begin to float to the top your oil is at the appropriate frying temperature. More reliable of a trick than just throw water droplets in the oil, also safer. Oil and water don't mix and checking your oil with water causes back splatter and spitting, which could cause you to get burned.
  • 10Drain on a paper towel.

    Let rest 3 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar or chocolate sauce and serve immediately.

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