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Oatmeal boiling over in microwave

Every time I cook oatmeal in the microwave it boils over ALOT. I use the regular oats (not the quick oats) and mix them with a little milk (half the recommended amount on the Quaker oat box). I don't want to have to put my cup of oatmeal in a huge bowl to cook it in the microwave, so I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to keep it from boiling over so bad.

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    1. re: marthadumptruck

      I was looking for a suggestion BESIDES a bigger bowl (see my post above).

    2. i stop the process every 30 seconds to stir it before it boils over. that works for me.

      4 Replies
      1. re: raybird

        short of a bigger bowl, this is exactly what I do to ensure no boil over!

        1. re: mshpook

          Ditto. The only thing I'd have to add is watch your microwave and determine the boil-over point. On mine, if I use a small bowl I can microwave for 1 minute, stir and finish up with a thirty second blast.

          1. re: rworange

            I have found that cutting the temp by 1-2 power levels and adding 2 minutes to the cooking time will l minute will reduce the boil over. stirring every 30 seconds helps as well.
            A coffee or desert saucer placed under the bowl will make any spill-over easier to clean up.

          2. re: mshpook

            I watch the oatmeal and stop it whenever it "puffs up" and looks about to boil over. I give it a stir and start it again. Of course, this means I can't walk away from it, but I bet cutting the temp, as Kelli2006 said, would help, too.

        2. How long are you doing it for? I do mine for one minute and never have this problem.

          1. I always have followed the package directions....2 1/2 minutes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sunshinedrop

              Try no more than 1.5 minutes for the first cooking, then a second blast ofs 1 minute you're satisfied with the consistency. (Stir inbetween blasts)

              Or you could watch it the first time and write down the boilover time(s) and then just don't exceed those, it should be fairly consistent if you always use the same bowl.

            2. It's possible that the milk proteins increase the boilover, as opposed to pure water. When I scald milk in the micro, it can easily reach a point where it foams and rises over the rim in a matter of seconds.

              If you are after a soupy porridge, maybe do the bulk of the MW with only water, then when it's almost done add the milk?

              1 Reply
              1. re: FoodFuser

                Another alternative is to cook a big batch on the stovetop and then re-heat individual portions in the microwave.

              2. I use water...not as much as the box says, to 1/3 c. oatmeal. I zap for 2 minutes and then thin a little w/milk after cooking. I agree that milk boils over much more easily than water.

                1. omg i know the answer to this one. i eat oatmeal every morning and i cook it for 2.5 min in the microwave. the secret to it not boiling over is to find a bowl with straight up sides so the oatmeal is forced to stay in when it bubbles up. works for me every day and i used to have trouble with it boiling over. finding this bowl is hard but corningware has this extra deep bowl that has pretty straight sides and it does the trick. you can sometimes find it at some 99 cent stores. oh one more thing is that i cook it with water.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: choctastic

                    Same routine here. You still need a bowl maybe 4X the volume of ingredients.

                    Using a huge bowl seems to me like a lot less hassle than having to fiddle with things while it's cooking.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      actually if the bowl has very straight sides it need not be huge. i happen to have a non-corningware glass bowl with sides that go straight up and the oatmeal never boils over in it, even thoug the sides are only about 2 inches high from the bottom. that said, you still need to leave at least a good inch and a half for expansion.

                      i actually have watched the oatmeal sort of fold over in the really straight up sides bowl. good stuff.

                      1. re: choctastic

                        wow, it would be great if you could take a quick picture of the bowl that you use (with the uncooked oatmeal mixture in it) so I can see what you mean. I think I get it, but a picture is always worth the thousand words we don't have room or time to type! ;-) Thanks for the tip!

                        1. re: gomer999

                          I use a Pyrex quart measure for 1/3 cup oatmeal + 2/3 cup water.

                    2. re: choctastic

                      Ditto. I switched to an old, small Pyrex bowl. It's no bigger than a cereal bowl, just has higher sides that taper down to the base. This bowl: http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/vinta...

                      I used water in my oatmeal and still had the boil over issue. The tall, tapered bowl resolved the issue for me. I didn't like having to stop after a minute and stir and then re-heat while watching for the boil over.

                    3. At work I use a company supplied paper bowl and paperplate underneath; stop, mix and check every 10 secs. If it does go over, I spoon the boiled over stuff back in the bowl and throw away the paper plate so there is no micro cleanup. This seems to be the best after several boilovers. I think a paperplate under a regular bowl should avoid the micro cleanup if it goes over, or if it doesn't you can save the paperplate for another time.

                      1. If you can plan ahead a few minutes, (admittedly not always a possibility in the AM) try cooking your oats in a double boiler. I find this by far the easiest way to make steel cut oats. Works well for the rolled oats too. No boiling over, impossible to burn them.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: soundpost

                          I use an old pyrex 4 cup measuring cup covered with a plastic microwave plate cover. I heat for 2.5 minutes and use water. Of course, then I scrape the oatmeal into a regular cereal bowl so I have two dirty dishes. But if wiped right away, the measuring cup is not hard to clean.

                          1. re: dfrostnh

                            My 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup works fine uncovered for one serving.

                            1. re: dfrostnh

                              Why not just eat it out of the measuring cup? I do this all the time, especially when I am away from a table, or counter. The handle makes it easy to eat from the hot cup.

                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                My soulmate. Exactly what I might think of.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  This comes from 23 years in the Boy Scouts. When you are on a campout you try any way to minimize washing dishes , as water can be scarce at times. Morning routine was mix the instant oatmeal in a mug, eat the oatmeal, then mix the hot chocolate in the mug which washed out the oatmeal when you drank it. A quick rinse, and you had a clean mug.

                                  Being a bachelor I am constantly eating out of pots, pans, skillets, or over the sink to reduce dirty dishes. Couldn't do this if friends were over---orrrrrr could I ? Will have to look into that a bit more =)

                          2. Wow! I knew there would be some simple ideas I had overlooked. Thanks a bunch for all the suggestions. I'll be sure to try them!

                            1. I have been having a bowl of oatmeal several times per week for several years now. I switched from quick oats to regular oats some time back. I have a recipe that includes dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon and salt. I used milk with my oatmeal and microwave it for 2.5 minutes at 50% power - stir and then do 2.5 minutes at 40% power. The size bowl makes all the difference. I experiemented and found a size of bowl at our house that generally won't spill over. Depending on what's clean - I may use a smaller or larger bowl than usual. It's the oatmeal that matters - not the size bowl. Bowl size only determines amount of cleanup.

                              1. But, what if it's organic rolled oats (ORO) rather than Oatmeal? I find that ORO when cooked on the stove takes at least 20 minutes to reach the normal creamy and thick consistency (2 cups ORO + 3 cups water added periodically). However, the microwave process takes forever and never seems to reach the proper consistency. Has anyone had any experience with microwave ORO? I need help with this.

                                1. I'm like an idiot standing in front of the microwave allowing it to boil up just to the edges before sending in rescue crews. What I started to do was mix in the water or milk in batches, thirds actually. Then again, this may not be what you have in mind, as you probably want the solution so that you can throw the stuff in the microwave, and then go finish getting ready whilst the meal cooks, leaving you just ample time to down it before heading out... Nonetheless, the adding liquid in turns definitely avoids overflow...

                                  1. Have you tried just boiling the water and then add the oatmeal to it?

                                    1. You will get way way better oatmeal by cooking it slowly and carefully on stove top in water. Scrape out of pan and fill pan with water immediately; cleanup is very easy. Use good long-cooking oats and don't overcook, for a chewy texture. It will keep 3-5 days in fridge, well covered (add cold water to seal top once it stiffens up). Reheat individual portion in microwave briefly. This is the quickest breakfast if you're half awake to start with. If you must cook it in microwave from scratch, add a teaspoon of butter to reduce frothing, and great taste. Oats contain a lot of glutinous soluble fiber which is really difficult to cook with milk that tends to froth on its own.

                                      1. I micro ORO several mornings a week. 1/2c ORO in 1c water in a 4c Pyrex measuring cup. Cover with paper towel. 3 minutes at 30% power, then 2.5 min at 50%.
                                        No stirring. No watching. No boiling over. Then add fruit, honey, soy milk, whatever.
                                        I add those in cooking container because plain cooked ORO are gelatinous, and it's easier to move mixture into eating bowl with liquid, etc added first. Immediately placing cooking container in sink and filling with water makes cleanup so easy after you've eaten.

                                        1. Sprinkling a tiny amount of salt on top before zapping helps reduce the mushroom effect.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sheilal

                                            I know that this isn't what you asked.... but you can have perfect oatmeal on the stovetop in 5 minutes.

                                          2. Good friends were over this weekend and the subject of oatmeal boiling over happen to come up and he mentioned that when he put in the cinnamon before he cooked it, it wouldn't boil over. I went online trying to see why this happens, and I came across your post. This is probably something worth trying. Good luck!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: pjka

                                              I know your post is over a year old, but for anyone reading this ... the cinnamon doesn't work. I hae put a teaspoon of cinnamon with my oatmeal before cooking it for years and if I don't watch it it still boils over.

                                            2. You might try experimenting with the power setting. If, for example it takes 2 min to fix your oatmeal, and it boils over at 1.5 min, then you might try 5 min @ the 40% setting, or 10 min at the 20% setting.

                                              There is some % setting where it's almost impossible for it to boil over. Because, by the time it gets hot enough to boil over there's not enough liquid to overflow.

                                              You also might consider fixing the bowl of oatmeal the night before (without heating it at all), and then heating it in the morning at the regular setting & time. You may find that the oats have absorbed enough liquid that it's practically impossible for it to boil over.

                                              1. I believe I know the real answer to this question. The problem isn't the size of the bowl nor too much stuff in the bowl nor your power setting or cook time. Not having enough liquid is the problem. Once the oatmeal soaks up the liquid, what little liquid is left starts to rapidly boil into steam and it is this steam that forces the oatmeal out of the bowl. So, add more liquid to your ratio and the problem will stop. I now cook oatmeal in all shapes and sizes of bowls filled close to the brim and no boil over.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: dpinky

                                                  What ratio do you use? Doesn't that give you watery oatmeal?

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    When I say filled close to the brim, I don't mean with mostly water, I mean that I can cook a lot of oatmeal in a small bowl.
                                                    The ratio depends on your microwave, your water hardness, your oatmeal brand and type, your altitude, etc.

                                                    My point is that near the end of the cooking, the small amount of moisture remaining turns to steam and that steam is what pushes out the oatmeal.

                                                    Thus the solution is do what is counter intuitive and that is to increase your water to oatmeal ratio.

                                                    1. re: dpinky

                                                      Sounds more complex than just using a large bowl.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        To each his own but I found that a larger bowel doesn't address the fact that the mixture is running out of cooking moisture before the oatmeal is done cooking.

                                                        The problem may seem complex but the solution (a little more water) isn't.

                                                2. The secret of great oatmeal is to cook it SLOWLY. Here's how: In a 1100 watt microwave oven, use a glass or microwave safe container, add one half cup dry OLD FASHIONED oat meal. Add 3/4 cup water and mix well. Put in microwave oven and cook for six minutes at 3 POWER. That is, set your microwave to cook slowly at a setting of about 30 percent power. (If you don't know how, check your owner's mnual) You will hear it cycling on and off as it cooks. The oatmeal will cook slowly without boiling over and is much better in body than quick cook high power oatmeal. Serve with rice milk, cinnimon, and half a small banana. Sweeten with Stevia. It's great. (If your microwave is lower powered, you can adjust your power setting accordingly. e.g. for a 900 watt oven I would set the power at 4 or maybe 5 instead of 3. Experiment.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: hyperdrive

                                                    Thank you! THIS IS THE ONE. I misplaced the printed copy I made of this, and a search on CHOW didn't turn this one up. Other suggestions for 50% power must have a lower wattage microwave. I use Turbinado sugar and Lactose-free milk in a Fiesta chili bowl with straight sides. .

                                                    1. re: Ronnie from FL

                                                      Thanks for these great tips! I like McCann's steel cut Irish oatmeal with either soy milk, flax milk, or almond milk (all vanillas). I cook mine for about 6 minutes to get it to my preferred consistency. I added a little water at the beginning and it boiled over a little less than before. I microwave for 3 minutes. After that, I have to keep on stopping and stirring every 30 seconds or so. I will continue to experiment.

                                                      1. re: honeylocs

                                                        Somewhere in this thread was a suggestion about the shape of a container. I think it was square. That worked but then the real revelation for me was it didn't matter. What you need is a bowl, ,whatever shape, that is deep enough to handle the boil. After I stopped using bowls that were too shallow, I never had a problem with this.

                                                  2. Mine boiled over badly when I followed the recipe on the Old Fashioned oatmeal box: 5 minutes at full blast. We have an instant hot water dispenser, so now I put 1/2 cup of oats in a generous bowl and pour over it one cup of steaming hot water. Then I cook it for five minutes at thirty percent power. It cuts off just as the swelling oatmeal reaches the top of the bowl.

                                                    1. Though this be an old post...i use defrost timer setting for about 7-8minutes,Check at about 6.Stirr,return til done....no boil over...works with rice as well..

                                                      1. So many years since this question, but... I had this problem with Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned rolled oats who recommends 1/2 cup oats with 1 cup water in microwave and microwaving 3 to 5 minutes. Using a 8 1/2 cup Tupperware bowl with the "air spout" on top, it all overflows at 3 minutes. I find that microwaving for 2 minutes is fine; I remove the bowl from the microwave and let it sit for maybe three minutes and then I can return it to the microwave for 1 minute and about 20 seconds. I add milk (I use soy milk) when I'm ready to eat.

                                                        1. So staying true to the original question, a combination of a little more liquid and microwaving longer at a lower power setting is the ONLY correct answer. Again based on the original question

                                                          1. If you cut up some banana's or use boiling stones, this will not happen. It needs something in the bowl to dissipate the large bubble that occurs as it boils over. Usually if I cook with chopped up banana's, this will not happen.

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  A lid would just make more of a mess to clean up.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    Uh yeah- why get all scientific about ratios and cooking times?
                                                                    Put a lid on and done!!!!

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      It would still boil over. The lid would just be one more thing to clean.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Never had that happen using a fitted glass lid.

                                                                        I just don't get how this is so complicated!

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          How big is your container and how much liquid and oatmeal do you have in it?

                                                                2. When cooking half cup of old fashioned oatmeal with one cup of water... I microwave on high for one minute and then four minutes at a microwave setting of 3 (out of 10). This heats it up then simmers without the boil over. Works perfectly 96% of the time. :-)

                                                                  1. At the end of the day, basic science prevails (at least in my house). Using an old Tupperware container (6 " high and 6 3/4" diameter), a ratio of 2:1 water to rolled oats, 7 minutes in the microwave on high, it comes out perfectly every time. No watching, adjusting, or mess. I'm sure that varying the time, ratio or ingredients to taste will also work equally well.

                                                                    1. Solution is to cook it slower and longer. I cook mine at "3" power, i.e. that's 30% of full power but I cook it for 8+ minutes. it comes out great and no boiling over. Start cooking the oatmeal first before you start setting the table etc. and it will be done when you are ready for it.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: hyperdrive

                                                                        Hyperdrive is right... that seems to be the best solution to this nagging little problem. -:)

                                                                        1. re: hyperdrive

                                                                          That's how I do it too. My microwave overcooks everything so I do oatmeal at 30% power for 5 minutes and it usually works great with no mess.

                                                                        2. Easy, use a wooden spoon across the bowl.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                              Try it. I've had my oats now few days after hearing about this. Standard bowl, nearly full to the brim, microwave full power for about 3-4 min no mess. Should work on the hob too.

                                                                              1. re: inc21

                                                                                I'm fascinated- will try.

                                                                                Wooden spoons are magical ;-)

                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                  And the beauty is that it does't need to be wooden spoon necessarily. This morning had wooden butter knife handy and it worked just as well.
                                                                                  Very impressed!

                                                                          1. As you may know, oat meal will boil over in a pot on the stove if not monitored. A vessel that will hold at least 16 ounces is recommended. Next using the about 1/3 cup of oatmeal, add 3/4 cup of water. Add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter, as an oil is needed to prevent it from foaming and boiling over. Cook in the microwave for approximately 3 minutes, based on a 1000 watt oven.

                                                                            1. I had this same problem until I tried putting a large dinner plate under my bowl. It never boils over. I use a large salad bowl. Interestingly, if I use a luncheon plate it boils over. This also works for making rice in the microwave.

                                                                              1. Another solution: Soak your oats. Mix up the oatmeal and liquid the night before in a microwave-safe bowl or Tupperware. The oats will soak up the liquid and become tender by morning (same concept as overnight oats) and then they only need a minute or so in the microwave to reheat.

                                                                                1. NordicWare 2-qt. casserole or Pyrex measurer work for me. Some very useful advice here!

                                                                                  1. How long is cooking time and at what temp/power? Don't have experience with oatmeal boil-over, but have had that happen cooking rice/pasta mixes. If something starts out with a relatively high liquid content and calls for say 5-6 minutes on HIGH... I'll set it for 2-3 minutes or so on high and then 10-12 minutes on power level 1-2 (on 1-10 scale). The first few minutes brings stuff up to about boiling & the lowering of the temp makes it so ya don't have to baby-sit it.