Can You Microwave Milk? Safely Heating It Up

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Not everyone has time to stand over a pan stirring milk as it heats on the oven, so microwaving milk is a fast and easy way to get results.

Microwaving milk is easy and effective if done gradually. In addition to warming milk for treats such as hot cocoa or for cooking purposes, you can also improve the flavor of milk by taking the chill off it in the microwave.

Is It Safe To Microwave Milk?

Whether you’re heating milk in a microwave, double boiler or pot, you’re facing two basic risks; either the milk will scorch to the bottom of the container or develop an unpleasant protein film on the surface.

Scorched milk is very unpleasant and cannot be reused. Sometimes the skin on heated milk can be blended back in, but this can change the texture.

Part of the process of milk pasteurization includes heating milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, then cooling it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for long-term storage.

However, the specifications for pasteurization include many other requirements, so be aware that do it yourself pasteurization is not reliable and may make you and your family very sick.

Purchasing chilled pasteurized milk and keeping it cold is the best way to keep it safe for your family to enjoy. Even when handled with great care, the shelf life of milk is generally two weeks or less from the packaging date.

Additionally, even pasteurized milk can become a haven for harmful bacteria. If you’ve heated a batch of milk and used part of it, the leftover product may develop an odd taste and should be discarded.​

How To Heat Milk In Microwave

No matter which tool you’re using, it’s important to heat milk very slowly. If you try and rush the process, you’ll end up with boiling milk overflowing throughout your microwave.

This process can take a bit longer when you stop to stir your milk every fifteen seconds.

However, if you’ve ever had scorched milk boil over in your microwave or on your stove top, you’re already aware that a slow and steady heating process is critical.​

  1. Pour the milk into a microwave safe container. If you’re planning to make hot chocolate. in the same container, ensure you leave at least an inch at the top.
  2. Set the microwave to medium-high and program it for 15 seconds.
  3. Carefully remove the container and stir the milk gently.
  4. Microwave on medium high for another 15 seconds before removing and stirring.
  5. Continue this process, stopping at 15 second intervals to stir.
  6. Your milk is done when you can see steam emanating from it.

SEE ALSO: Can You Microwave Mason Jars?

How Long To Microwave Milk

Following the above method, one cup (250 mls) should be done in around 45-60 seconds. But make sure you follow our recommendations and remove it to stir every 15 seconds to prevent uneven heating, which will result in scorching or formation of a “skin” on the top.

If you’re warming a bottle of milk or a formula for your baby, stirring the milk is critical.

A microwaved bottle can develop “hot spots” within the liquid and risk burning the baby’s mouth.

Any food for a baby heated in the microwave should be allowed to rest for at least half a minute and should be drip tested on a wrist or other sensitive skin by an adult to make sure the liquid temperature is no more than lukewarm.

Baby bottles and baby food in general should only be microwaved when there is no other option. When possible, heat bottles from the outside in, either by running them under hot tap water or warming them in a water bath. ​

How Long To Microwave Milk For Hot Chocolate

You can either microwave the milk before adding chocolate or cocoa (and extras like sugar and ground cinnamon) as above, or add it partway through the process. It may take a little longer in total – between 60 and 90 seconds.

Final Thoughts

Is it safe to microwave milk? If done correctly, there’s minimal risk.

However, milk is a delicate product and needs to be warmed carefully. Stir it often as it heats to avoid scorching or boiling over, and use it up once it’s been warmed.

Don’t re-chill warmed milk because the risk of bacterial contamination is too great and could make you sick.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.