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Oatmeal boiling over in microwave

sunshinedrop Nov 7, 2006 02:23 PM

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.

  1. marthadumptruck Nov 7, 2006 02:26 PM

    Use a bigger bowl.

    2 Replies
    1. re: marthadumptruck
      sunshinedrop Nov 7, 2006 02:40 PM

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

      1. re: sunshinedrop
        marthadumptruck Nov 7, 2006 02:41 PM


    2. r
      raybird Nov 7, 2006 02:27 PM

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: raybird
        mshpook Nov 7, 2006 03:09 PM

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

        1. re: mshpook
          rworange Nov 7, 2006 04:13 PM

          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
            Kelli2006 Nov 7, 2006 07:09 PM

            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
            Neuromancer Nov 27, 2006 01:26 PM

            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. c
          cackalackie Nov 7, 2006 03:14 PM

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

          1. sunshinedrop Nov 7, 2006 03:26 PM

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: sunshinedrop
              mlgb Aug 7, 2007 09:23 AM

              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. FoodFuser Nov 7, 2006 03:27 PM

              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
                cackalackie Nov 7, 2006 03:51 PM

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

              2. s
                sudiepav Nov 7, 2006 04:17 PM

                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. choctastic Nov 7, 2006 07:03 PM

                  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.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: choctastic
                    Robert Lauriston Nov 7, 2006 07:17 PM

                    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
                      choctastic Nov 7, 2006 07:29 PM

                      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
                        gomer999 Oct 26, 2009 08:58 AM

                        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
                          Robert Lauriston Oct 26, 2009 12:45 PM

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

                  2. d
                    DonnaB Nov 7, 2006 07:12 PM

                    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. s
                      soundpost Nov 7, 2006 07:46 PM

                      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
                        dfrostnh Nov 7, 2006 08:16 PM

                        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
                          Robert Lauriston Nov 8, 2006 07:36 PM

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

                          1. re: dfrostnh
                            BIGGUNDOCTOR Jan 14, 2012 10:48 AM

                            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
                              rworange Jan 14, 2012 11:17 AM

                              My soulmate. Exactly what I might think of.

                              1. re: rworange
                                BIGGUNDOCTOR Jan 15, 2012 09:15 AM

                                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. sunshinedrop Nov 8, 2006 02:14 AM

                          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. m
                            Milt Nov 8, 2006 10:48 PM

                            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. a
                              abjsg Nov 27, 2006 04:23 AM

                              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. Emme Nov 27, 2006 09:42 AM

                                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. h
                                  HillJ Nov 27, 2006 02:51 PM

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

                                  1. l
                                    LindaJ Nov 27, 2006 04:03 PM

                                    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. k
                                      kathling Aug 7, 2007 08:13 AM

                                      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. sheilal Aug 7, 2007 09:36 AM

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

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sheilal
                                          Texchef Aug 7, 2007 10:08 AM

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

                                        2. p
                                          pjka Apr 28, 2008 10:41 AM

                                          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
                                            rworange Oct 26, 2009 10:59 AM

                                            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. c
                                            Chip.Black Aug 15, 2008 12:30 AM

                                            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. d
                                              dpinky Feb 17, 2009 04:17 AM

                                              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
                                                rworange Oct 26, 2009 11:00 AM

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

                                                1. re: rworange
                                                  dpinky Jan 14, 2012 04:43 AM

                                                  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
                                                    rworange Jan 14, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                    Sounds more complex than just using a large bowl.

                                                    1. re: rworange
                                                      dpinky Jan 14, 2012 04:39 PM

                                                      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. h
                                                hyperdrive Jan 23, 2010 12:42 AM

                                                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
                                                  Ronnie from FL May 14, 2011 08:59 AM

                                                  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
                                                    honeylocs Oct 10, 2011 04:09 AM

                                                    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
                                                      rworange Oct 10, 2011 09:52 AM

                                                      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. Father Kitchen Oct 10, 2011 03:18 PM

                                                  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. c
                                                    condocook Jan 13, 2012 07:55 AM

                                                    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. f
                                                      FayeAn Aug 25, 2013 04:13 AM

                                                      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. s
                                                        Sointense Dec 25, 2013 05:40 AM

                                                        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

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