The quality of milk powder is largely determined during it manufacture process by the morphological characteristics of powder particles. Considering that, the main research objective of this study was to determine whether parameters of the production process contribute to differences in the microstructure of the manufactured powders, and by this means affect their functional traits. To diversify the milk powder production process, various temperatures of the inlet air were used during drying, i.e. 140, 150 and 160 °C. An image fractal analysis was employed and powder particle sizes were compared with respective results achieved in the instrumental analysis using the laser diffraction method. Values of fractal dimensions decreased slightly along with drying temperature increase, what demonstrates that the technological parameters are reflected in the microstructure of milk powders produced. Although particle sizes determined with both methods fitted within the same range of values, the contribution of particular fractions slightly differed and the choice of the appropriate approach may not always be unambiguous. Finally, the fractal dimension is a precise parameter which provides the accurate and explicit characteristics of milk powder microstructure and as such should be recommended for the characterization of irregular structures of different food products. © The Author(s) 2020.