Weekend Musings: How to Microwave Oatmeal (Successfully)

Let me be the first to openly proclaim my dislike of microwaved oats. Maybe I just don’t have the skillzzz, but my attempts at microwaved oatmeal have always resulted in a gummy or dry mess that resists all attempts of flavoring. Or worse, it results in an overflowing bowl and a mushy, messy puddle in the microwave.

Stove-top oatmeal for LIFE.

Kiwi Coconut Fudge Oatmeal by The Oatmeal Artist

However, I’ve recently learned that a huge chunk of my readers DO make my recipes in the microwave, and another chunk of my readers are curious about how to do it. Since I clearly haven’t mastered this skill, I turned to the real masters: my readers. Special thanks to all of you that helped me out with all the great advice!

PSSST. . . you’ll notice that some readers’ tips contradict each other. That’s fine! It’s called “personal preference.” 😉 It just goes to show you that there is always more than one way to accomplish something!

Rolled oats take about a minute longer to cook than quick oats. You also have to watch them closely to make sure they do not bubble over. That can be an issue with quick oats, but it’s more of a problem with rolled oats. My recommendation is to keep an eye on your oats and stop and stir when necessary. – Christina C.

Banana Mango Cardamom Oatmeal #oatmealartist

I add about half the liquid and fruit to it (and all of the spices and extracts), then microwave for one minute. Then I stir and add the other half of the liquid and microwave for another minute or until the right consistency is there. And then I add the other half of the fruit and things like cocoa nibs and nuts and shredded coconut, just stir them in and enjooooy! – Anne K.

Cinnamon Zucchini Oatmeal with Cherry-Rhubarb Compote by The Oatmeal Artist

Use an oversized bowl, particularly when cooking with rolled oats, to help prevent spillover. – Christina C.

1/2 cup of old fashion oats + 1/2 cup of water. Microwave for one minute and 10 seconds. Add a tablespoon of milk and all natural peanut butter stir it up. Yummy! If I need it to be a bit sweet I add about 1/2 teaspoon of pure maple syrup! – Jill H.

Strawberry Applesauce Oatmeal by The Oatmeal Artist

With whole oats, I cook it at 50% power for 3-4 minutes so the oats still have the texture and are not mushy. – Anne G.

I often use Chocolate Covered Katie’s voluminous oatmeal trick, which can be done with a microwave. – Eveline D.


For fruit, I add half before microwaving, and half after (so that there is a variety of texture). The only exception is that dehydrated fruit is best if it is all microwaved the entire time. – @kathrynjoye

I let my [instant] oats soak overnight and then just put them in the microwave for about 2 minutes on 700 watt. But I always stay close to the microwave to ensure my oats won’t explode. I let them rise to the top and just before they’re about to overflow, I turn off the microwave. [It] sinks right back in the bowl. But you won’t get the beautiful ‘clean bowl’ result if you put them in the microwave. – @n_edrecovery


The perfect water to oat ratio is 2:1. Simply microwave for one minute, and you are good to go. Always put a plate under the bowl in case it overflows. – @kathrynjoye

[It’s] even better if you mash a banana in the oats beforehand! – @phoebevthomas

Blueberry Cashew Oatmeal #vegan

I always add the dash of salt when the oats are still raw. For best results, add extracts, spices, fruit, etc toward the end – but not at the end – of cooking time. That means when the oats are about 30-45 seconds from being done. That helps make the flavored more prominent. The main exception is apples. I put the apples in the bowl along with the water and oats. The extra cooking time allows the apples to soften.– Christina C.

Snickers Oatmeal

Oatmeal made with milk always takes longer to cook than oatmeal made with water. That’s particularly true with rolled oats. It takes awhile to get rolled oats made with milk to thicken when you cook them in the microwave. – Christina C.

chocolate banana overnight oatmeal (1)

@berries_n_greens does something similar to what I do. Instead of making oats in the microwave, I prepare overnight oats and microwave THAT instead. Much easier. Much less messy. Here’s how she does it:

I eat my breakfast at work. I soak the oats in cinnamon and ~1/2 cup almond or cashew milk overnight (and if I’m adding raisins or other dried fruit, I soak that in there, too, because I like when the raisins get plump from the soaking) and then add ~1/2 cup water in the morning right before microwaving. If I’m making oats with banana, I cut up the banana also in the morning and add it into the bowl to be microwaved with the oats. You have to have a good sized bowl and it takes a few tries to figure out the timing because every microwave is different, but it basically involves heating and stopping to stir every so often and watching to make sure it doesn’t overflow. – @berries_n_greens

And don’t forget to participate in the contest to become December’s Oatmeal Enthusiast!

All you have to do is leave comments. See details here.

Open floor: do you have any other tips for microwaving oatmeal? Comment below!

About Lauren Smith

Lauren is a herbivore, Slytherin, and connoisseur of oats. She is a former teacher who is currently studying to earn a master's degree in curriculum development. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

28 Responses to Weekend Musings: How to Microwave Oatmeal (Successfully)

  1. Angela L says:

    I’m with you Lauren! The only time I used the microwave for oatmeal was when I did the instant stuff. Now I wake up early (on most days) just to use the stove for my oatmeal!

  2. Ellie says:

    Here in Germany they sell a certain kind of oats, for which they give instructions on how to make them in the microwave. (But you can make them on the stove top just as well.)
    A few times they bubbled over, but mostly because my bowl was too small.
    They do come either plain, or pre-seasoned (but without added sugar).
    I prefer them in the mornings, because breakfast is ready in less than five minutes, I can sleep a bit longer, and they’re organic.

  3. Kelsey says:

    I don’t microwave oats often anymore, but I often found that adding chia seeds helped with the texture a lot when cooking rolled oats in the microwave. Without them my oatmeal always ended up soupy, even though I was always using the amount of water/milk called for on the package. I do agree, though, that stove top oats turn out better and much more consistent. I think its worth the extra time in the morning!

  4. Cassie says:

    I HATE microwaving oatmeal because it explodes half of the time for me! I just try to microwave in small intervals, and I slowly add in a little bit of water as I go!

  5. Amanda C. says:

    When measuring the half a cup of oats, I make about a third of it oat bran. Doing that thickens it up and helps it cook a lot faster

  6. Molly M says:

    I prefer stove-top too. I only use the microwave when I travel. I usually put everything in the bowl and keep and eye on it so it doesn’t explode.

    • Lauren Smith says:

      Same! I use the microwave when I’m “camping” (my parents have one of those luxury RVs that has a kitchen nicer than the one in their actual house. Can you really call that camping?).

  7. Christine says:

    Great article! Thank you for quoting me too. 😉 I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has successfully made baked oatmeal (or a mug cake using raw oats) in the microwave. That’s something I haven’t figured out yet.

  8. Karen says:

    I noticed a lot of people mentioned having issues with their oats spilling over in the microwave, but I microwave my oats all the time and I rarely have issues with them spilling over, this is probably because I usually only do 1/3 of a cup of oats and 2/3 of a cup milk and or water in a regular sized cereal bowl (a full serving with mix ins is a bit much for me). Then I microwave it for 2 minutes (but I have a not super powerful microwave, so others may want to start with less time), then, if I’m adding banana or cocoa powder or anything else that should be fully mixed in to the oatmeal, I add it then . Then I put it back in for 30 seconds and then it’s done.

    • Sandra says:

      Wow, Karen! I can definitely relate to your comment!! I also use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to oats! A full serving is also way too much for me too so I have to use a little less. It is also because I use very hefty mix-ins like frozen fruit and bananas. I love your time saving tip!! It takes me at least 8 minutes to prepare oatmeal because I microwave on two minute intervals and do two bowls at the same time. I will definitely try your tip next time I make oatmeal for my mom and I!!

      • Lauren Smith says:

        Yeah, I make less than a full serving, too. I write the recipe for a “regular” serving, but when I make it for myself, I make it smaller. Oatmeal is so filling!

        • Sandra says:

          Oatmeal is indeed filling for it is packed with protein and fiber!! Since I can never eat a full serving, I always share with my mom because she is my BFF, and sharing is caring.

        • Christine says:

          I didn’t realize you normally make less than a serving for yourself. Do you still use the same amounts of fruits, extracts, nut butters, etc called for in your recipes, or do you lower the amounts for a smaller serving of oatmeal?

  9. Vic F. says:

    Well, what works for me,( unless its overnight oats) is I generally have it with something else,so the amount I have is less-So I measure out 40 grams, add a pinch of salt,a splash of vanilla,about a 1/4 t of cinnamon , about 8 semi-sweet chocolate chips & 1/2 cup almond milk. I cook it in the microwave for 2:10 at 50% power. when its done ,stir it all up and add some pecans,sunflower seeds & a few raisins and maybe a sprinkle of raw pumpkin seeds.If its a bit dry, I spoon some of my morning coffee into it till it gets to the right consistency-my personal heaven…

  10. I cannot be trusted with a microwave. Every single time I tried to microwave oatmeal, it would either (a) explode; (b) turn into goo; or (c) both. I’m 100% with you: stovetop oatmeal for life!
    However, I do use the microwave to reheat my baked oatmeal (with a splash of almond milk), since baked oatmeal has yet to explode on me.

    Both my parents have been microwaving their oatmeals for years. My Dad uses a glass bowl, so he can see if it’s going to bubble over. My Mum microwaves the milk first, then adds it to the oats, and then microwaves the two together – that’s because she prefers her oatmeal with more texture.
    Personally, I’d rather just wake up 10 minutes earlier and get out the saucepan.

  11. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much for acknowledging my favorite cooking method Lauren!!!!! I understand that trying new or challenging cooking methods is very daunting but you should never feel discouraged. Before my mom claimed that I was “the world’s best oatmeal chef” I started at the very bottom. I had major flops that needed to be dumped. It broke my heart because I hate throwing out food. When I got back up from the heart break, I learned to further prevent mistakes. Always watch the oatmeal when it cools in the microwave. If standing too close to microwave scares you, there is no need to worry about the microwaves being carcinogenic because I just learned in my Intro to Chemistry class that the energy of microwaves are too small to cause any damage. My second piece of advice is to have the mix ins added as early as possible, that way the flavors are properly absorbed by the oats. Third always be willing to experiment. And finally have fun, optimisism is key!!! Thank you again for making the post Lauren!!! Not only am I benefiting by knowing that I’m not the only microwave-junkie, you will benefit by being able to expand your horizons. Keep up the great work!!!!!!

  12. Valerie says:

    Just discovered your blog and am enjoying the many flavor variations and the photography! I cook my rolled oats in the microwave and am able to maintain its texture by cooking it “low and slow” – 3-4 minutes at 30-40% power (my microwave is 925watt). Repeat this, stirring in between, until your desired consistency is achieved. It may take a little longer but it’s a hands-off cooking method with no risk of boil-overs. It allows me to do other things as my oatmeal cooks (prep toppings, wash some dishes, etc.). Give it a try!

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