I often eat porridge for breakfast, and the way I've been cooking it is by adding oats & milk/water to a bowl, putting it in the microwave until it boils, and waiting for it to cool.

The problem with this method is that the whole process takes 20-25 minutes, mostly due to the time taken for everything to cool down to a level that doesn't scald my moth.

Unfortunately this amount of time is often unacceptable in the mornings. Is there an alternative way that is faster? I could shave a few minutes by adding boiling water to dry oats, but there is still 15-20 minutes to wait for everything to cool.

  • 2
    what type of oats? rolled or pinhead? If pinhead, you need a lot of time for the oats to cook. If rolled, you can short the liquid a little, then add it in cold after a few minutes to bring it to the temp / consistency you like.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 18:21
  • For rolled oats, the fastest way to eat it is uncooked. Just pour cold or warm milk or water to the oatmeal and eat straight away. The oatmeal is much less fluffy and slightly less sweet if you don't boil it, you can compensate for the roughness by adding more water/milk. You can use regular or instant rolled oatmeals. Much less washing up too.
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:23
  • This question would be so much more fun if it was asked in Physics StackExchange.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:31
  • 2
    Cooked oatmeal takes some time to cool down completely, but it forms a cool top layer very quickly. Instead of letting it cool down before you start eating, just skim a thin layer from the top to get a spoonful. If you eat at a moderate pace, by the time you take the next spoonful, a new cool top layer would have formed. It also helps if you use a flat plate. Total time eating a plateful should be around 7 minutes, no cooling down is necessary.
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 12:00
  • How hot does your moth like it's oatmeal to be?
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 20:44

11 Answers 11


For my daughters, I usually have a speedy porridge process that goes like this:

  1. Oats, sugar and water to cover (we don't use milk, but it would be the same) in the bowl.
  2. About 3 minutes in the microwave, just to boiling point.
  3. This makes a fairly thick porridge, which is stirred for a minute to let steam out.
  4. Drop an ice cube into the bowl and stir until it's gone.

Voila, edibly warm porridge that isn't scalding hot.

The whole thing takes about five minutes, and for the three of those that the bowl is in the microwave you can do other things.

  • Awesome, Thanks! But holy ****, I can't believe I didn't think of ice cubes.. I feel ashamed :( Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 19:40
  • Cooks even faster if you grind the oats in the blender first. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 4:19
  • 2
    @ssdecontrol: I'm sure it does, but you have to account for the time spent blending (and cleaning the blender) over x bowls...
    – Carmi
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 13:59
  • @Carmi I was thinking more like, grind up a week's worth at a time and keep it in the fridge. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 18:22

If you want to save time in the morning, you can do so by doing it overnight and avoiding cooking all together. Combine it cold and leave in the fridge. Obviously, you can also elaborate on that for more interesting results.

  • To be honest, I find that oatmeal tends to get too mushy and gets a "soggy bread" type feel after it's been left for a long time. (Especially since I typically eat it without any sugar or anything else added) Am I doing something wrong? Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 23:44
  • 1
    @CaptainCodeman If you put it back on the stove and add a bit of water to it, it becomes edible again. As a bonus, you don't need to boil long the second time around, just enough to warm it up.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:33

My strategy:

1. Cook in microwave

Cook porridge in microwave as per packet instructions (quick oats are obviously quicker).

2. Add cooling ingredients

Add the right amount of cooling ingredients.

I typically add a splash of extra milk and a few frozen berries.

Around 10 frozen blueberries for a good serve of porridge adds a few extra vitamins, more taste, and makes it ready to eat straight away. Adding frozen Rasberries, nutella, and pistachios is also delicious.

Mix it up and it's ready to eat straight away. It's a two-minute process from preparation to starting eating.

  • love the idea of using frozen berries to cool it Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:56

I may be a heretic, but I use quick oats. It takes about a minute and a half in the microwave and I let it cool, covered, for about another minute.


When I want to have oatmeal porridge, I cook it in my rice cooker. It has a timer and a porridge setting, so I can set it up the night before, have it run at 6am or whatever is appropriate, so it finishes 15-20 minutes before I am ready to eat it. That way it cools off appreciably, and I can add milk/etc. to cool it further.

Disadvantage of this is you can't cook it with milk as the liquid, since that would go bad (similarly to cooking bread in bread machine overnight, no egg/liquid milk allowed).


There are two options as near as I can see:

  1. Switch to quick/instant oats - they are cut much finer, so they have a higher surface area and absorb liquid much quicker. You can usually cook quick oats to the consistency of porridge in 2-3 minutes. Pour some cool milk on top and you are at optimum eating temperature within 5 minutes.

  2. Buy a thermos and cook your oats over night. This is cheap effective and use can use higher quality or less processed oats. Before you go to bed pre-heat your thermos by letting some boiling water stand in it for a few minutes. Then pour in oats and boiling hot water at the right ratio before quickly sealing the container and leave it to cook overnight.

The second option gives you slow-cooked oats without the cost of running a slow cooker overnight.


Related to @AlexandreRafalovitch's answer: Hot cereals such as oatmeal can be slow-cooked overnight in a crockpot. The amount of water may need adjusting... but it does work.

  • That's a huge amount of energy use for one bowl of cereal. A crockpot uses about 100W so, over 8hrs, you're using about 800 watt-hours. A typical microwave draws about 1100W (not all of that goes into the food) so three minutes in the microwave uses 55 watt-hours. That means crockpotting a bowl of porridge uses about 15 times as much electricity as microwaving it. Crockpots are very energy-efficient for cooking large quantities of food that would otherwise be done in the oven but they're a very inefficient replacement for a small quantity of food that would otherwise be done in the microwave. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 12:37

Don't use a bowl to cool them in, use a large baking tray or flan dish

By spreading them out they will cool in a couple of minutes

Also be more precise in the amount or milk/water you add, and cook in the microwave for the minimum time required (usually three minutes). Some experimentation will usually show you can get away with less added liquid, and less time in the microwave


Cook the porridge before you shower, so you have something to do while it cools. The porridge will also cool faster in a shallower bowl with a spoon in it: shallower gives more surface area for conducting heat away and the spoon acts as a heat sink.


Easy 4 minutes

Get your bowl and measure out enough rolled oats.

Put oats in pot.

Add milk - no water - enough to cover - you don't want them swimming - but you don't want them gluggy.

Turn on heat and stir gently until steam just starts rising.

Here is the tricky bit: You need to catch them before they boil. You will get a couple of glugs as steam pushes through the oats - this is ok - keep stirring - just don't let the milk burn - the volume of steam will get quite high.

Remove from heat - add sugar.

Mmmmmm Enjoy.

One of the universe's greatest simple foods - oats, milk, sugar - the other being homemade custard - eggs, milk, sugar.


Oatmeal, like many foods, cooks faster in a pressure cooker.

To cool quickly, place near a fan to speed the diffusion of heat.

  • It cooks in a few minutes in the microwave. That's not the problem. The problem is the time taken to cool from cooking temperature (which would be higher in a pressure cooker!) to eating temperature. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 10:52
  • "What's the fastest way to cook oatmeal porridge?"
    – Epanoui
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 11:48
  • Read the whole question, not just the title. But thanks for adding the suggestion about cooling, even though I don't think it's a particularly good one. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 12:27

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