Microwave Oatmeal with Whole Oats

(11 votes)
7 minutes
October 9, 2022
Carole JonesJump to Recipe

Microwave oatmeal that doesn’t turn out all mushy is a real thing….you just need to use whole rolled oats instead of that nasty prepackaged stuff! If you hate having to boil water on the stove to make your favorite old-fashioned oatmeal, then read on to learn how to make oatmeal in the microwave in just 2 minutes! Included are the different ratios and instructions on how to make oatmeal in the microwave using steel cut oats, rolled oats, and quick oats.

Microwave Oatmeal

Why I Love Microwave Oatmeal

I make oatmeal for my kids at least twice a week and since morning time is not known for being calm and peaceful around here, speed is of the essence. I have no time to waste standing over the stove waiting for water to boil. And I’ll give a big “no thank you” to the artificial flavorings and the sugar they add to the packages of instant oatmeal. And don’t even get me started with the texture of instant oatmeal….or even quick oats for that matter. I’m a bit of an oatmeal snob and perfectly ok with that 🙂

This microwave oatmeal recipe uses whole rolled oats because that is what we like. Yes, you can use quick oats but know that the texture will be mushy. Or steel cut oats but they will take longer to cook. This recipe is really flexible, so if you like your oats with more texture, use a bit less water. If you want your oatmeal with less texture, add a bit more water. Have fun with the toppings and add-ins! 

If your kids think they don’t like oatmeal, it’s just because they haven’t found the right toppings yet. Each of my kids like their oatmeal slightly different, so I pull out all the topping options and let them create their own personalized oatmeal bowls:  apples, raisins, craisins, almonds, pecans, dried cherries, fresh berries, cinnamon sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and honey are our favorites.

Microwave Oatmeal Instructions & Ratios

Cooking oats in the microwave couldn’t be more simple! It’s an effortless combination of water, oats, and a pinch of kosher salt. The only difference is in the type of oats you choose to make and their ratio of oats to water. Listed below are the three types of oats, their ratios, and microwave cooking instructions.

Old-Fashioned or Rolled Oats

Rolled oats start out whole. Once the husk has been removed, the oat grains are steamed and flattened between heavy rollers, hence the name rolled oats. They are a whole grain and do extremely well in the microwave for oatmeal. It is my favorite type of oat to use in microwave oatmeal because it gets soft without losing all its texture.

  1. Combine ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup water, and a pinch of kosher salt.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are processed after the husk has been removed by chopping the oat grain into several pieces, rather than rolling as described above. This type of oat takes the longest to cook because of the thickness of the whole grain. It has a toothsome, chewy texture that still remains after it is cooked. I really enjoy the texture of these oats, but don’t always have the extra time to make them.

  1. Combine ½ cup steel-cut oats, 2 cups water, and a pinch of kosher salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir, cover again, and microwave for another 5 minutes.

Quick Oats

Quick oats are rolled oats that have had one more processing step, which decreases their cooking time. They’re partially cooked with steam, then rolled even thinner than old-fashioned oats. They cook the fastest of all the varieties and have a soft, mushy texture. Because of this texture, it is my least favorite option for microwaving oatmeal. 

  1. Combine ½ cup quick oats, ½ cup water, and a pinch of kosher salt
  2. Microwave on high for 90 seconds
uncooked rolled and steel cut in small glass dishes

Oatmeal Topping Suggestions

For most of us, what goes on top of our oatmeal bowl is more important than the actual oatmeal itself. That is where the fun and variety come into our breakfast menu. Below are a few oatmeal toppings to try out:

  • Apples, raisins, cinnamon, & nuts are the classic oatmeal toppings, especially in the fall season when the warm spice and autumn flavors are comforting.
  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries make the perfect oatmeal topping during the warmer months when berries are the sweetest and most inexpensive.
  • Diced mango and coconut give your oatmeal a tropical vibe. Toss in some toasted macadamia nuts for some needed island texture!
  • Peanut butter, banana, and honey for a throwback to that classic Elvis flavor profile.
  • Nutella and banana make a yummy breakfast with a delicious burst of chocolate flavor. 
  • Peaches and cream with some toasted almonds for a great crunch in your bowl.

How to Sweeten Oatmeal

Depending on the toppings you choose for your hot bowl of microwave oatmeal, some type of sweetener might be needed. Below are a few oatmeal sweeteners to try out:

  • Brown sugar is the classic source of sweetness in a bowl of oatmeal because the molasses in the sugar adds a more complex flavor profile. 
  • Granulated sugar is another option, especially if your toppings have quite a bit of personality and you don’t want to cover them up.
  • Honey is very sweet so it won’t take more than a small squeeze but it has a great depth of flavor compared to the previous two options.
  • Agave nectar will provide a similar sweetness as honey but with a more neutral flavor. It is also a better option for those who have to be cautious of their blood sugar levels. 
  • Fruit jams and preserves not only add sweetness but a great fruity flavor as well. 
  • Peanut butter can add both some protein and some sweet but it should be sweetened peanut butter.
  • Nutella provides a delicious kick of sweet chocolatey goodness. 
  • Monk fruit is a calorie-free sweetener that is a more natural product than other artificial sweeteners, which I am never a fan of using.
how to make oatmeal in the microwave

Microwave Oatmeal Recipe FAQs

How Long to Microwave Oatmeal

The length of time to microwave oatmeal depends on the type of oats you are using. Generally, the following times will work for single servings cooking on high in the microwave:

  • Rolled oats – 2 minutes
  • Steel cut oats – 10 minutes
  • Quick oats – 90 seconds

How to Microwave Oatmeal Without It Boiling Over

The most simple solution is to be sure you use a large enough microwave-safe bowl so there is room enough for the water and oats to rise as they boil, without it going over the sides. You can also reduce the power level on the microwave by 25% but you’ll need to add about 30-45 extra seconds to the cooking time. Or, add a dash of butter to your bowl before it goes in the microwave. That addition of fat allows the air bubbles to escape the bowl easier. 

Is Microwave Oatmeal healthy?

Definitely! Oats in the microwave are a whole grain breakfast cereal that will keep you full until lunch. Each ½ cup of rolled oats contains 300 calories, 13 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber. Those whole-grain carbs are the perfect way to get your body the quick energy it needs without burning away too quickly as simple carbs do.

Watch How to Make Oatmeal in the Microwave

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Microwave Oatmeal

Microwave Oatmeal Recipe

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How to make oatmeal in the microwave in 2 minutes using whole rolled oats! My favorite healthy breakfast recipe!

  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x




1.  In a microwave safe cereal bowl, place all the ingredients together and stir.

2. Place uncovered in the microwave for two minutes on high.

3. Add milk and your favorite toppings to serve.  Some of our favorites are apples, raisins, craisins, almonds, dried cherries, brown sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, pecans and cinnamon.


For steel cut oats, Combine ½ cup steel-cut oats, 2 cups water, and a pinch of kosher salt in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir, cover again, and microwave for another 5 minutes.

For quick oats, Combine ½ cup quick oats, ½ cup water, and a pinch of kosher salt. Microwave on high for 90 seconds

  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 150
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Fat: 3g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

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Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.


11 years ago

I eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast. Started on January 1, 2012. I also used the old-fashioned, half a cup with one cup stirred in and zap in the microwave for 2 minues and 44 seconds. Take out and stir in fresh fruit.

I’m with you on the quick oatmeal. Can’t stand the mushy texture.

Made From Pinterest
11 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Made From Pinterest
11 years ago

Thanks, now I know what I am going to have for breakfast! Sherri@MadeFromPinterest

11 years ago

Hi Carole,

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We have done the same for RecipeGirl, Simply Recipes, Steamy Kitchen, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart, epicurious, Baked by Rachel, Baked Bree, Kalyn’s Kitchen, Taste & Tell, Our Best Bites, Southern Plate, Two Peas and Their Pod, among many others.

I could not locate your email address, so if you can please email me at [email protected] that would be great!

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[…] confidence and skills in the kitchen.  Their favorite breakfasts to make on their own include  2 Minute Oatmeal, Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs, or just a simple bowl of cold […]

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