How To Keep Oatmeal From Boiling Over In A Microwave 

How To Keep Oatmeal From Boiling Over In A Microwave: Solved

Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Shari Mason

Microwave speeds up cooking oatmeal and preserves some of its nutrient contents. 

However, there are times when the oatmeal boils over and makes a complete mess of your microwave. By then, you will spend more time cleaning than cooking your food.

So, how to keep oatmeal from boiling over in the microwave? Here are some of the common ways to keep oatmeal from spilling. 

7 Ways To Keep Oatmeal From Boiling Over In Microwave

oatmeal on a white bowl

1. Add Butter

One of the ways to prevent boiling over when cooking oatmeal is by adding 2 ½ tablespoons of butter. The fats coated some of the starch in the oatmeal, letting the formed bubbles escape and preventing spillage.

The amount of butter needed is quite hefty for a single serving of oatmeal, whereas you will need ten tablespoons of butter when cooking four servings.

2. Place Chopsticks On Top of the Bowl

Placing chopsticks on top of the bowl can help prevent your oatmeal from spilling over to a certain extent. Laying a chopstick across the bowl can help break the surface tension while cooking.  

The chopsticks will burst the water bubbles formed once the oatmeal is exposed to heat. You can also use other options, like a wooden skewer or spoon, when doing it.

However, the oatmeal may still spill over in the microwave once the boiling process begins. 

3. Use Bigger Bowls 

Oatmeal can form big bubbles, causing a boilover if you use a small bowl in the microwave [1]. To avoid that, use bigger, deeper, and microwave-safe bowls to prevent spillover. 

You should not fill the bowl with oatmeal and leave some space for expansion. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend more time cleaning than cooking your meal. 

4. Interrupt the Boiling Process

Break down the cooking time by 15 to 30 seconds intervals and stir the mixture.

“Studies suggest that cooking oatmeal in a microwave may be better than boiling them over a stove.”

– Shaziya Allarakha, M.D., Medical Writer 

If the oats are getting on top of the bowl, you can take it out to stir. Then continue cooking until it’s done.

5. Boil It Longer in Low Temperature

Microwaves are different because some types can undercook the oats, while others can cause a boilover. Following the instructions accurately, like the temperature and cooking time, may cause a messy outcome. 

That’s when you need to make a little adjustment. Lower the power setting to at least 50% and add a little extra to your normal cooking time [2]. The oatmeal will boil less vigorously and form fewer water bubbles.

6. Don’t Cover the Bowl

Covering the bowl would only lead to accumulated steam that can burst anytime. That’s why it is ideal to leave the bowl uncovered and let the steam freely flow outward. 

It is the easiest step to prevent a boilover when cooking oatmeal. Moreover, you could stir the oatmeal and see if it nears the top of the bowl, preventing spillage.

7. Soak Oatmeal in Water

If you plan to eat oatmeal for the next day, you can soak the oats overnight in water. It would soften the oats, making them quicker to cook, more tender, and easier to digest. 

You can soak for about 7 to 24 hours as it also helps break down the oats’ starch.

Other Tips & Tricks You Can Try 

Oatmeal in the Microwave
  • You must familiarize yourself with your equipment first (most modern microwaves can be too powerful), lower the temperature, and increase the cooking time to prevent spilling. 
  • Stir the oatmeal every 15 to 30 seconds to interrupt the boiling, distribute heat evenly, and disturbs the formation of bubbles inside the bowl.


How long should I microwave oatmeal?

You can microwave oatmeal for 60 seconds to 3 minutes. The time varies depending on the type of oatmeal and the microwave’s heat.

You can microwave traditional oats for 2 ½ to 3 minutes and about 60 to 75 seconds for instant oats.

Why does oatmeal boil over in the microwave?

Oatmeal boils over in the microwave because of the starch in the cereal that forms a gel and traps the water bubbles. It is the oats’ reaction to the heat.

Eventually, there would be so many bubbles that they would spill over the sides of the bowl.

Should you rinse your oatmeal before cooking?

No, it is not necessary to rinse oatmeal before cooking. However, some preferred rinsing the oats to remove dust or other particles.

Is it better to cook oatmeal on the stove or microwave?

Studies suggest that cooking oatmeal in the microwave is better than cooking on the stove. Aside from faster cooking, microwaves may also preserve more nutrients in your oatmeal [3]

What is the best container to microwave oatmeal?

A large microwave-safe bowl is the best container when cooking oatmeal in the microwave. Heat-resistant materials like glass or ceramic are also safe in the microwave. 

How to cook steel-cut oats in the microwave without boiling over?

Microwave the steel-cut oats for 2 ½ to 3 minutes with 50% power to avoid boiling over. You should also avoid adding milk before cooking the oats.

In A Nutshell

Microwaving oatmeal is a convenient way of cooking when you want to preserve some nutrients in your oats or are simply in a hurry. But cooking oatmeal tends to make a mess when it starts boiling.

Fortunately, there are certain ways to help prevent that from happening. Use a large deep bowl, cook the oatmeal on low heat, and stir every 15 to 30 seconds. 

Closely observing your bowl of oatmeal would help prevent spilling. 


Shari Mason

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