If you’ve got no stovetop or you’re short on time, then heating milk in a pan won’t be an option. But can you microwave milk safely and will it retain its nutritional value? We did some research and then reached out to some milk experts to get their opinions. Here's what we found.
Tip: check out our handy interactive infographic further down the page to get all the answers.
Can you microwave milk?
Whether you’re heating cow’s milk or a non-dairy alternative, milk can be heated in the microwave for hot chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, and much more. Like heating milk in a pot, it'll taste a little sweeter, but will retain its nutritional goodness. When possible, avoid microwaving milk for babies as it heats inconsistently, increasing the risk of scorching your baby.
Is microwaved milk still healthy?
The microwave is a quick and easy way to heat milk for most applications, but will the valuable nutrients remain intact? We found an authoritative study by the Journal of Dairy Research which looked at the Effect of Microwave Heating on Vitamins A, E, B15, B2, and B6 in milk. Their studies concluded that microwaves do not affect these vitamins. Source: Pdf of Research.
The US National Library of Medicine researched whether minerals in milk were different when heated using a stovetop or a microwave. They concluded that there were no significant changes between the two heating methods. Source.
Related reading: Can you microwave cookie dough? We tested it in the kitchen and also asked some of the major cookie dough makers what they thought.
Advice from the big brands
We reached out to a few milk brands, dairy and non-dairy, to get their opinions on whether milk can be microwaved. Here’s what they advised us.
The Australia Milk Company
“It’s safe to microwave milk but if you don’t know how to manage your microwave then never use a microwave to boil milk. Like if you boil in a saucepan, take it off before you boil or it will spoil.”
“Yes, you can heat soymilk in a microwave. However, microwave the soymilk on low heat as it will likely curdle on high heat.”
“The Almond Breeze cartons are not microwaved safely, but our almond milk can be used in just about any recipe calling for traditional cow's milk.”
How to heat milk in a microwave (Not for Babies)
The secret to heating milk in the microwave is to heat it slowly and avoid boiling. Follow these simple steps for perfectly heated milk that isn’t scorched.
- Pour the refrigerated milk into a microwave-safe container that has plenty of extra room in case the milk boils up.
- Heat on medium-high power for 15 seconds then remove and stir.
- Return to the microwave and heat for a further 30 seconds. The milk should be getting warm by now, depending on how much you’re heating, so handle with care.
- If necessary, continue heating in 15-second intervals until steam is rising from the milk. You may see a few tiny bubbles on the surface.
- Remove the milk and stir thoroughly to ensure it is at a consistent temperature throughout. Carefully test a small amount before taking a large mouthful.
Tips for microwaving milk
Find out when milk is suitable for the microwave and when it isn't. We also reached out to some big brands to get their answers.
Commonly asked questions
How long should I microwave milk?
To heat one cup (250ml) of milk in the microwave, it should usually take between 45-60 seconds. It is best practice to heat in 15-second bursts to avoid scorching the milk.
Can you microwave milk for a baby or toddler?
The FDA does not recommend heating formula or breast milk for babies. Studies show the milk can heat unevenly with the potential to scald the baby.
Can you microwave milk glass?
Although glass is suitable for microwaving, chilled glass from the fridge is likely to crack when heated on high in a microwave.
Can you microwave milk for oatmeal?
To make a quick and easy breakfast, add quick oats and milk to a large bowl and mix until well combined, then heat for one minute on medium-high. Stir the oatmeal, then microwave in 30-second intervals until the texture thickens. Allow the oats to sit for one minute before adding brown sugar, cinnamon, or any of your favorite extras.
Can you microwave milk for a latte?
A microwave can be used to heat milk and provide the foamy topping for coffee. Half fill a jar and seal, before shaking until foamy bubbles fill the jar. Next, remove the lid and heat in the microwave until hot. Finally, pour the liquid into a cup of espresso coffee, while using a spoon to hold back the foam; spoon the bubbles over the top.
Can you microwave a milk carton?
Although there may be some exceptions, most milk cartons are not designed for heating in microwaves. The packaging can catch on fire and chemicals within the packaging may leach into the milk.
Does milk change flavor when heated?
Cold milk has a slightly sweet flavor that intensifies after heating. The natural sugars in the milk (galactose and glucose) become more soluble after microwaving, enhancing their sweetness.
What are the best uses for microwaved milk?
The most common use for heating milk in the microwave is for making hot cocoa or hot chocolate. Other popular uses include lattes, oatmeal, and many baking and food recipes.
Related reading: Are mussels okay cooked in the microwave?
If you need warm or hot milk, then the microwave is a handy option for heating it faster than on the stove. You also don’t have to waste time washing a pot, which usually has a line of milk that’s awkward to clean off afterward.
Research shows that milk heated in the microwave does not lose any of its nutritional value. However, it’s important to use a microwave-safe container that won’t crack or leach out harmful toxins.
Most importantly, take care when heating milk as it can cause serious burns. Heat it slowly and gradually, and always stir the milk to ensure there are no extra-hot zones.