How to cook rolled oats in the microwave (easy + mess free)

white ceramic bowl with rice and brown bread

I know overnight oats are having a moment, but for me, a warm cut of oatmeal is a staple food for me – especially in the winter. Whether it’s as a break fast food or snack, at home or at the office, it’s the perfect vehicle for fruit, healthy fats, even protein. The truth is oatmeal is a nutritious food enjoyed by many, but cooking oatmeal on the stove can be time-consuming and messy. That’s why learning how to make oatmeal in the microwave is a great way to save time and hassle, especially on busy mornings. In this blog, I’m sharing an easy microwave oatmeal recipe that results in a delicious bowl of oatmeal with no mess involved.

What type of oats should you use? 

Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s talk about the type of oats you should use. There are a few different kinds of oats, including quick oats, old-fashioned oats, and steel-cut oats. What’s the difference?  

Quick Oats – AKA quick-cooking oats were made for perfect microwave oatmeal. Quick oats are essentially rolled or old fashioned oats that have been chopped up to have a higher surface area.  They offer the same fiber and nutrients as other oats, your body simply doesn’t have to work as hard to break down.  Generally this type of oats is usually found in those little packets.  

Old-Fashioned Oats – For me, these make the perfect oatmeal.  Not too mushy, and still cook quickly in the microwave. Old-fashioned or rolled oats are steel cut oats that have been flattened by large drums to increase the surface area. The cooking time is much faster than steel-cut oats. 

Steel-cut Oats – are nubs of oats or oat groats that have been toasted and cut to the size of a pinhead.  They have a hard exterior that takes some time to soften when cooked.  

I recommend sticking to quick oats or old-fashioned oats for the best results when cooking oatmeal in the microwave.  

​How to cook oatmeal in the microwave

Step 1 – combine oatmeal and liquid

To start, you’ll need a microwave-safe bowl and a cup of oats. For a single serving of oatmeal, use 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of liquid. The liquid can be water, milk (dairy or non-dairy), oat milk or even a combination of these, depending on your personal preference. You can go up to 2 cups of liquid if you prefer a larger volume of oatmeal.  

Step 2 – season and microwave

Add a pinch of salt and microwave on high power for 6 minutes, stirring every minute to ensure even cooking. The actual cooking time will vary depending on the type of oats you’re using and your microwave’s power, so it may take some trial and error to find your perfect cooking time.

I find that cooking for 2 minutes and then stirring works best. Stopping every minute during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Step 3 – add protein if desired

To make your oatmeal extra creamy, try adding a scoop of protein powder or a tablespoon of peanut butter to your cooking liquid before microwaving. This will give your oatmeal a protein boost and a delicious flavor.

Step 4 – add flavor

Once your oatmeal is cooked, it’s time to add your favorite toppings. Consider adding some fresh fruit, peanut butter powder, dash of vanilla extract, even some extra milk to your bowl of oats. The best part of oatmeal is that it can be customized to your personal taste preferences, so get creative with your toppings.

​How to prevent oatmeal from spilling over in the microwave

Ensure your oatmeal doesn’t spill over the bowl while cooking by using a large bowl.  Much larger than you think you need.  

Next, it’s critical to stop and stir your old fashioned oats frequently while they are cooking.  This means you should stop the microwave every one to two minutes of cook time, especially during the last minute when it is the hottest!  

​My favorite way to eat oatmeal

I’ve said it before, oatmeal is such a great vehicle to balance macros. (All this means is that you are eating a combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat at each meal). 

Oatmeal + collagen + almond milk + frozen blueberries

Oatmeal + banana + peanut butter 

Oatmeal + 2 egg whites 

Oatmeal + sautéed spinach + fried egg

Oatmeal + diced apple + cinnamon + milk of choice

​Oatmeal tips if your trying to lose weight

Common toppings like chocolate chips, maple syrup, brown sugar even peanut butter should be added to oatmeal in a limited capacity. Honey, maple syrup, agave and brown sugar are all simple sugars and a simple form of energy.  Instead add flavor to your oats with spices like vanilla or cinnamon, fresh berries or protein powder.  

I’m not saying you shouldn’t sweeten your oats at all.  I just want to caution you that these ingredients should be used with caution.  

Full disclosure, microwaving oatmeal may not be the traditional way of cooking oatmeal, but it’s a good idea for people who want to save time and hassle. Plus, by using a microwave you can enjoy a delicious bowl of oatmeal in just a few minutes, without the mess – ANYTIME!

​I’d love to know if you try to make oatmeal in the microwave!  Let me know!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Hello & Welcome!!

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.

If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

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