Microwave porridge isn't exactly rocket science (or even an exact science for that matter), but the simplest of recipes can still benefit from extra tips and tricks you might not have considered.
Here, I share my thoughts on the equipment to use, various topping ideas, and how different plant-based milks will affect the final flavour and consistency.
This recipe is to provide one serving, but you can easily scale up the amounts and increase the cooking time slightly to ensure everything is cooked through. Do away with those packs of shop-bought "instant" porridge and start creating your own oat-standing breakfasts today!
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Is it okay to microwave porridge?
Absolutely! It's how I usually make porridge since it's quick, convenient, doesn't rely on the gas hob, and saves on washing up. It's ideal when you're in a hurry and only cooking for one or two people (although you can still scale up the amounts).
At the end of the day, you're simply applying heat to the ingredients and microwaves are an efficient way to do this.
Is microwave porridge good for you?
While "instant" porridge sachets often include additives such as sugar and other flavourings, homemade porridge is a healthier option that puts you in control of the ingredients.
What's more, there's an argument that microwaving is even better than the stovetop since the shorter cooking time results in lower nutrient loss. That's a win-win when you consider that there's less washing up involved.
The health benefits of oats are wide-ranging, with research pointing to positive outcomes in relation to heart disease, diabetes, weight control, and digestive health. In one serving of this basic microwave porridge recipe, you'll find:
- Calories: 194 kcal
- Protein: 9 grams (18% of RDA)
- Fibre: 5 grams (21% of RDA)
- Iron: 2 mg (11% of RDA)
Nutrition information based on a third-party calculator.
Which oats should I use?
Quick microwave porridge requires porridge oats (as pictured on top in the image below). These have been rolled flat into thin flakes and will cook relatively quickly.
Coarser varieties such as 'steel-cut' or 'pinhead' oats (pictured at the bottom in the image below) require more cooking and won't work in the same way. You can still make porridge with them, but it'll take longer. You could also use them in recipes such as vegan white pudding, vegan skirlie, or this fan-favourite vegan haggis.
Which plant-based milk is best?
It comes down to personal preference, but different plant milks will give you slightly different results (and you could always just use water).
You can also go half/half with water (as I do) or go with all milk. Here's a quick rundown of a few different ways to do vegan porridge:
- Oat milk: That's right, double oat. It's the one I often tend to have at home, and makes the final porridge slightly creamier than if you just used water.
- Soy milk: High in protein and other nutrients, and gives a thicker, creamier porridge. A good choice.
- Coconut milk (the beverage, not tinned): Also creamy but with a hint of coconut.
- Cashew milk: Quite creamy, so works pretty well.
- Almond milk: I've never been a huge fan, but go wild if you like that almond flavour.
- Water: I'll sometimes just use water. It doesn't have the nutrition or fortified elements in the milks, but you're still getting all those oats. Besides, plant-based milks are getting pretty expensive these days...
Oats to liquid ratio for porridge
As a general starting point, use ½ cup oats to 1 cup liquid. In metric terms, this equates to around 40 g oats to 240 ml liquid.
In imperial terms (a.k.a. 'old' units), this works out at 1.4 oz oats to 8.4 oz liquid. In other words, you can take the metric or imperial amount of oats (40 g / 1.4 oz) and multiply by 6 to get the corresponding amount of liquid (240 ml / 8.4 oz).
When it comes to porridge, it's worth noting that it's not an exact science and the final texture is much more about personal preference. I personally tend towards slightly less than 1 cup of liquid, but we're talking very small margins.
The best solution? Try it enough times to find out what you like and you'll soon be able to eyeball the amounts without any measurements necessary!
Equipment to use
- Measuring cups: If you're new to the world of porridge then measuring cups will help you get used to the amounts (they're also just handy to have in general).
- Microwave-safe bowl: Use a bowl that's labelled as microwave-safe. These will usually be made of ceramic, glass, or plastic, and won't contain any metal (including metallic paint, rims, or inlays).
- Bowl size: Make sure the bowl is large enough to allow plenty of space when the porridge cooks.
- Cling film (plastic wrap): This is optional, and I find it's not necessary when making just one serving.
How to make porridge in the microwave
Add the oats to a microwave-safe bowl, ideally with plenty of space to let the porridge expand slightly during cooking.
Add the plant-based milk and water and stir to combine.
Cook in the microwave on high power for 1½ minutes. Give it a quick stir.
Cook for another minute, stirring again if necessary to prevent expanding or spilling over in the microwave.
At this point, I'd suggest only continuing with short 30-second blasts until you have the consistency you want. 3 minutes total cooking time is usually enough for me, but it does depend on your microwave (bear in mind the porridge will also thicken as it cools).
Note: The bowl will likely be hot, so remove carefully and allow to cool slightly before eating.
Porridge topping ideas
Remember, it's okay to be beige and just eat microwave porridge as it is. You don't need to be lighting up people's feeds on Instagram to enjoy some good ol' oats. Maybe push the boat out with a bit of peanut butter, jam, or mashed banana?
If you are in the mood to recreate the Sistine Chapel inside your breakfast bowl, here are a few edible building materials to work with:
- Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, chia seeds. You could even make your own super seed mix.
- Nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter.
- Fresh fruit: Banana, apple, peach, mango.
- Fresh berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries.
- Dried fruit: Raisins, cranberries, goji berries, prunes, apricots.
- Jam: Strawberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, blueberry.
Use a large enough bowl and stop to stir during cooking. You could also cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and poke a small hole in the top, but I find that this isn't necessary for one serving (just keep an eye on it instead).
Yep, I sometimes do! Or you can go half and half with your favourite dairy-free milk (see section above on plant-based milks).
Oats are naturally gluten-free, however there's sometimes a risk of cross-contamination in the environment where they're processed. To ensure that your porridge is 100% gluten-free, use oats and a plant-based milk that are certified GF.
Once the porridge has cooled down, store in the fridge for three to four days or freezer for three to four months. Reheat thoroughly before eating, adding a little extra liquid if necessary.
Variations and tips
- Larger quantities: To scale this up, use a larger bowl and consider covering with cling film (pierced). You'll also want to microwave for slightly longer and give the porridge an additional stir.
- Spices: A small pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg works well.
- Flaxseed: Stir in some ground flaxseed for extra nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids.
- Vegan cocoa powder: Mix through for a chocolatey twist.
- Vanilla extract: A few drops of this will add a sweet, warming flavour.
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4-Minute Microwave Porridge
- ½ cup (40 g) porridge oats (see notes)
- ½ cup (120 ml) plant-based milk (see notes)
- ½ cup (120 ml) water (you can start with slightly less and add as desired)
- Add the oats, plant-based milk, and water to a microwave-safe bowl (use a bowl with plenty of space to let the porridge expand slightly during cooking). Stir to combine.
- Cook in the microwave on high power for 1½ minutes. Give it a quick stir.
- Cook for another minute, stirring again if necessary to prevent expanding or spilling over in the microwave.
- At this point, I'd suggest only continuing with short 30-second blasts until you have the consistency you want. 3 minutes total cooking time is usually enough for me, but it does depend on your microwave (bear in mind the porridge will also thicken as it cools).
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