Can You Microwave Milk? (And Is It Safe?)

Not everyone has the patience or time to wait beside the stove for the milk to heat-up. What is the other alternative? How about heating your milk in the microwave? If you have not done this before, you might be thinking about whether or not it is safe to microwave. In this detailed article, we explore the answer to this question and many other related ones as well.

Is It Safe To Microwave Milk?

Yes, you can microwave milk safely if you are using the right technique. When you are heating milk, irrespective of the means you are using, there are two risk factors that you should consider. In the first case, the milk may scorch at the bottom of your container, and in the second case, you may see the development of protein film on the surface.

If your milk is scorched, you cannot reuse it. Although you can blend back the skin formed on the heated milk, this way, you will be compromising its texture. The process of pasteurizing milk involves heating it up to 145-degrees Fahrenheit and then letting it cool to 40-degrees Fahrenheit before storing it.

But that is not the only thing that is needed to pasteurize milk, so be mindful of doing it properly, or else you will get sick.

You get already chilled pasteurized milk that you can store in your fridge. However, the shelf life of milk is typically around two weeks from the date of packaging. So when you get the milk and only use a part of it, the milk that is leftover can develop a different taste and should not be used again.

How To Heat Milk With a Microwave The Right Way?

When you are heating the milk in the microwave, it is important to keep the temperature low. If you are in a hurry and feel the microwave temperature at high, the milk will boil and spill inside. So if you do not want to clean up the mess afterward, be patient.

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If you stir the milk every five seconds, then the process can take even longer. But if you ever had scorched milk spill over your microwave, you already understand how important it is to take this process slowly and steadily.

Coming to the steps, here is how you should be heating the milk in a microwave –

  • Use a microwave-safe container to pour in the milk. And make sure not to fill it all the way up.
  • Set the temperature at medium-high and timer at 15 seconds.
  • After 15 seconds, take out the container and gently stir, and put it back in the microwave.
  • On the same temperature level, heat the milk for another 15 minutes.
  • Take it out again to stir and put it back at the same time and temperature.
  • Continue this process until steam is coming from the milk.
  • If you are using one cup of milk, this process should be done within 45 to 60 seconds.
  • This slow process will avoid uneven heating, which may result in the formation of the skin.

How Long To Heat Milk in The Microwave For Hot Chocolate?

When making hot chocolate in the microwave, you can either add the cocoa and other ingredients like cinnamon, sugar, etc. part way during the heating process or mix it once the milk is heated and taken out of the microwave.

When you add in the ingredients in the middle of the heating process, the process may take a little longer. You can expect your hot cocoa to be done in 60 to 90 seconds.

Adding ingredients partway is a good option as it will ensure even mixing and maintain the hot temperature of the milk.

How Safe Is Microwaved Milk? Does Milk Lose Nutrients When Heated In The Microwave?

While milk can be easily microwaved, does it lose its vital nutrients in this process? The safety of microwaves in cooking, heating, and defrosting beverages and foods continues to be a debatable issue. There have been multiple types of research in this regard with different outcomes.

A study, which was posted in the Journal of Dairy Research on Effect of Microwave Heating on Vitamins A, E, B15, B2 and B6 in milk reported that the investigation revealed that heating milk in the microwave oven does not take away the vitamins such as A, B2, Bj, B6, and E.

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Similar results were found in another research that was published in the US National Library of Medicine. This study examined the balance of minerals in the milk that is being heated in the microwave. As per the research, the heating did not show any significant changes to the milk as opposed to conventional heating.

Which Materials Are Safe To Use in a Microwave Oven?

Not all utensils can be used while cooking in a microwave oven. If you use unsafe utensils, it can damage your microwave. Following are some of the materials that you can be used in the microwave oven –

  • Microwave safe dinnerware, but do not use if the dishes are chipped or cracked.
  • You can use aluminum foil (shielding only) in a small amount. For instance, your small piece of foil to cover the thin part of the cooking meat.
  • Heat resistant glassware. When putting it in the oven, make sure that it does not have metallic parts. Also, avoid using glass jars if they are chipped or cracked.
  • Microwave-safe plastic, and when using it, ensure to follow the instructions laid out by the manufacturer.
  • You can also use microwave-safe plastic wraps as well. These are generally used to retain the moisture in the food while cooking it. But make sure that the plastic wrap is not touching the food.
  • When using oven cooking bags, read the instructions and follow-through. Ensure to make slits to let the steam pass through and do not use metal ties.
  • Microwave-safe thermometer

What Should You Not Put in The Microwave Oven?

When you are running late and want to get things done quickly, you end putting just about anything to get everything prepared timely. But if you are not careful of what goes into your microwave oven, you might end up damaging the oven and even injuring yourself. The following are somethings that you should not be putting in the microwave oven.

1. Paper Bags

All paper bags are made the same way. For instance, popcorn bags feature susceptors, a material that is designed to consume waves generated by microwaves. But paper bags like the ones that you get in grocery stores are not manufactured using suspectors; therefore can emit toxins and fumes when heated. And this can result in the bag catching fire.

2. Aluminum Foil

If used in large quantities, sparks can fly. The interior of the microwave oven is made of metal, which enables it to work as a mirror. In place, casting a reflection on the face, the metal reflects on the microwaves. These waves emit electromagnetic energy to warm up the items. When you place metal inside, the waves tend to reflect off of it, resulting in the foil to burn.

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3. Travel Mugs

Generally, made from steel or plastic, these mugs should never be placed in the microwave. As microwaves are made from metal, steep cups will protect the beverages from heating up and even cause friction from the emitting energy. When using a plastic mug, ensure that it is microwave safe.

4. Takeout Boxes

If you are thinking about warming your takeout Chinese food in the microwave, then take it out of the box. Generally, these takeout boxes come with handles made from metal, which is not safe for microwave use.

5. Butter or Yogurt Containers

Yogurt and buttercups come in plastic containers that are meant for one-time use. They cannot stand high temperatures so putting them in microwaves to heat is not a smart decision. The container is just going to melt and release the harmful chemicals in the food.

Important Microwave Safety Tips

Taking some safety precautions while using microwave ovens can help in preventing damage and injuries. Following are some safety tips –

  • Make sure that you only put microwave-safe containers in order to ruin the appliance and contaminate food. 
  • Ensure that when cooking, the door of the microwave oven is closed. In some cases, its sensors fail while operating without closed doors.
  • Clean your microwave oven using water, mild detergent, and a soft sponge. When you do not clean out the old food particles regularly, you are risking contaminating the new food that you are heating.

Final Thoughts

Microwaving your food is one of the fastest ways to prepare your meal. But is heating your food safe in the microwave oven? Answer to the question depends on the kind of food you are heating, the container you are using, and whether or not you are using the right temperature and time.

You can safely heat milk in the microwave, granted that you are doing it rightly. Above, we have mentioned the right way to heat milk and also some other information that will help you use your microwave in a safer and better way.


About Sylvette Brown

Sylvette is a homemaker and is passionate about cooking and other kitchen-related stuff. She also loves to do home improvement related tasks and keeps on writing about food and cookware on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her 2 little kids. :)