How to Make Oatmeal In The Microwave Without Boiling Over

Categorized as Microwave Cooking
Making Oatmeal In The Microwave Without Boiling Over

Oatmeal has become the breakfast of the moment, with countless Instagram and Pinterest posts extolling its virtues (not to mention those steel-cut oats overnight oats that everyone seems to be making). But while oats are tasty and versatile, they also have a tendency to erupt like a volcano in the microwave. So, how do we microwave our oatmeal without ending up with a sink full of dirty dishes and splattered milk?

That’s what we will explore in this article. We’ll look at five different ways to prevent oatmeal from boiling over in the microwave and discuss which methods work best. We’ll also take a closer look at the nutritional benefits of microwave oatmeal, as well as some tips on how long you should cook your oats and how to make variations like adding toppings or making overnight oats.

Whether you’re a busy parent, a student on the go, or simply looking for a quick and healthy breakfast option, learning how to make oatmeal in the microwave is a skill that will come in handy time and time again. So, read on to discover these useful tips and start enjoying a hearty bowl of oatmeal

Why Does Oatmeal Boil Over in the Microwave?

The reason why oatmeal boils over in the microwave is because of the way that the starch in the oats reacts to the heat. When the water reaches a boiling point and starts to create bubbles. The starch in the cereal swells and forms a gel, which in turn traps the bubbles. If left unchecked, these bubbles can quickly grow and lead to a messy overflow of oatmeal.

5 Ways to Prevent Oatmeal from Boiling Over and Which Method Works Best

Here are some of the most popular methods for preventing oatmeal from boiling over in the microwave:

1. Use a Larger Bowl or Container for Cooking the Oatmeal

The first and easiest way to prevent oatmeal from boiling over is to simply use a larger bowl or container. This might seem like an obvious solution, but it’s often overlooked. A larger bowl will allow more room for the oatmeal to expand without creating too much pressure, which can help keep it from spilling over.

2. Stir Regularly During the Cooking Process

Another simple way to prevent oatmeal from boiling over is to stir it regularly while it’s cooking. This will help to evenly distribute the heat and prevent hotspots from forming. Additionally, stirring will help to release any built-up steam, which can also contribute to boiling over.

3. Add Butter to the Oatmeal Before Cooking

Adding butter to your oatmeal before cooking can also help to prevent boilovers. The fat in the butter will coat the starches and prevent them from forming a gel. However for this trick to work, you’ll need to add a lot of butter, which can add unwanted calories and fat to your oatmeal.

4. Cook the Oatmeal in a Lower-Power Setting

The fourth method to prevent oatmeal from boiling over is to cook it in a lower-power setting. This will help to slow down the cooking process and prevent the water from reaching its boiling point too quickly.

5. Lay a Wooden Spoon Across the Bowl

Last but not least, if you don’t have time to stand at the stove and watch your oatmeal cook, try laying a wooden spoon, chopsticks or other wooden utensils across the top of the bowl. In theory, this should help to break up any bubbles that form before they reach their absolute breaking point.

The best methods to prevent oatmeal from boiling over are using a larger bowl or container for cooking the oatmeal and stirring regularly during the cooking process.

Although adding butter to oatmeal before cooking and cooking it in a lower-power setting may help prevent the oatmeal from boiling over, there are some nuances to consider with each method.

With method no. 3, if you add too much butter, the oatmeal will become greasy and difficult to stir. Method no. 4 can also be tricky because power can vary between different microwaves. What is considered a “low-power setting” in one microwave may not be a low enough setting in another.

Finally, my experience has been that laying a wooden spoon or chopsticks across the bowl is not always effective.

How Long Should You Microwave Oatmeal?

Basic oatmeal will take anywhere between 11/2 minutes to 3 minutes. However, this time may vary depending on the type of oatmeal you are using, the wattage of your microwave, and how thick you like your oatmeal. It is always a good idea to start with a lesser amount of time and then add more time if necessary.

Listed below are cooking times for various types of oatmeal:

  • Rolled oats: 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
  • Quick-Cooking oats: 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

How to Make Microwave Oatmeal: Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Start by adding 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of water, and a pinch of salt to a microwave-safe bowl or container.
  2. Stir the oatmeal ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Microwave the oatmeal on high for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes, depending on the type of oatmeal you’re using.
  4. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir in your desired toppings, such as milk, sweeteners, nuts, fruit, or spices.
  5. Let the oatmeal cool slightly, then enjoy!


Ultimately, the best way to prevent oatmeal from boiling over in the microwave is to use a larger bowl and stir regularly during the cooking process. The larger surface area will allow more room for the oatmeal to expand, while frequent stirring helps to alleviate any pressure that can cause boilovers.


1. Is Microwave Oatmeal Healthy?

According to studies, microwave oatmeal may be better for you than stovetop oatmeal. The microwave cooks food faster, which can help to retain more of the nutrients in the oatmeal.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!