How to Make Oatmeal

Welcome to a comprehensive guide to oatmeal! If you’ve ever wondered how to make oatmeal, you are in the right place.

Here we are taking every variation of oatmeal (steel-cut, rolled, and quick-cooking) and teaching you how to make it in every method (stovetop, slow cooker, Instant Pot, overnight, and microwave). We also outline the benefits of oatmeal, answer FAQs and even share the best oatmeal recipes on the planet.

5 bowls of oatmeal

All About Oatmeal

Oatmeal is hands down my favorite healthy breakfast idea. Whether it’s overnight oats, steel-cut oats, or crockpot oats, we love oatmeal…and for so many reasons.

Quick and Easy: From 2 minutes in the microwave to completely hands-off in the slow cooker, oatmeal might be the easiest breakfast on the planet to make!

Great for Meal Prep: Need to make breakfast for a whole week? Oatmeal is your girl! You can double, triple, or quadruple most oatmeal recipes! Plus, a lot of recipes will last in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be frozen for later.

100% Whole Grain: If you’re looking to start your day off with a whole grain, choose oatmeal! It’s soft, chewy, and slightly nutty…plus 100% good for you.

Delish: On top of all of these reasons…oatmeal is delicious! We’re big fans of making oatmeal taste good, and you’ll see that connection throughout this post.

Types of Oatmeal

In this post, we’ll be covering 3 different types of oatmeal. All of these oatmeal variations are derived from the oat groat. Oat groats are the whole form of oatmeal because they contain all parts of the grain and are NOT processed. Since it takes a lot of time and energy to cook whole oat groats, they have been processed to produce 3 well-known forms of oats that we consume every single day.

  1. Steel-cut oats
  2. Rolled oats
  3. Quick-cooking oats
3 kinds of oatmeal in jars

Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are essentially whole oat groats cut into 3 or 4 pieces to create smaller oat groats. Steel-cut oats are also referred to as Irish or Scottish Oats. They feel like thick pieces of rice when uncooked and their cooked texture has a chewy bite to it. A typical bowl of stovetop steel-cut oats can take around 40 minutes to cook because it is less processed than rolled or quick-cooking oats.

Nutrition per 1/4 cup, uncooked | 170 calories | 3.5g fat | 31g carb | 4g fiber | 1g sugar | 4g protein

steel cut oats in glass jar

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are another by-product of the oat groat. They are steamed and then rolled to produce a thin, flat, rolled oat. Rolled oats are also referred to as old-fashioned oats. This type of oatmeal cooks much faster than steel-cut oats and is easily found at pretty much every supermarket in America.

Nutrition per 1/2 cup, uncooked | 150 calories | 3g fat | 27g carbs | 4g fiber | 1g sugar | 5g protein

rolled oats in glass jar

Quick Cooking Oats

Quick-cooking oats or “Instant Oats,” are the most processed byproduct of the oat groat, but take the least amount of time to prepare. Essentially quick-cooking oats are just rolled oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces so that they cook faster. When cooked, they have a creamy texture and can be cooked as fast as 2 minutes in the microwave.

Nutrition per 1/2 cup, uncooked | 150 calories | 3g fat | 27g carbs | 4g fiber | 1g sugar | 5g protein

quick cooking oats in jar

Nutrition & Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Are you wondering…is oatmeal good for you? Is oatmeal healthy? The quick answer is YES! In this section, we’re going to examine why oatmeal is healthy and what kind of nutrition you get from a single serving of oats.

Nutrition

Whether you’re a steel-cut girl or a quick-cooking oats kind of girl, all 3 types of oatmeal have similar health benefits.

  • Calories: Oatmeal is a nutritionally dense whole grain, but lower in calories compared to many other grains. Per 1/2 cup of uncooked rolled oatmeal, there is only 150 calories compared to 1/2 cup uncooked white rice where there is 360 calories.
  • Sugar: Oatmeal is low in sugar with just 1g sugar per serving.
  • Protein: Per serving, rolled oats have 5g protein which is an excellent amount of protein to start your morning off!
  • Fiber: One of oatmeal’s best attributes is its fiber content. Per serving you get 4g of fiber, which really helps keep your body regulated.

Other Health Benefits

  • 100% whole grain: One of the best parts about oatmeal is that it’s a 100% whole grain, which is a much better option than other refined grains.
  • Rich in antioxidants: Oatmeal is packed with antioxidants that help lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals: Oatmeal contains manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins B1 and B5.
  • Vegan & naturally gluten-free

Your Q’s Answered

Is oatmeal gluten-free? Oatmeal is only gluten-free if the product is certified gluten-free meaning that it was produced in a 100% gluten-free facility. While oats are naturally gluten-free, oftentimes grains can get cross-contaminated outside in the fields or inside of factories with other non-gluten-free grains.

Is oatmeal healthy? Oatmeal is healthy because it’s a 100% whole grain, high in fiber, low in sugar, and has an excellent amount of protein in it.

What is the difference between oats and oatmeal? Oats and oatmeal are the same exact thing! Just make sure you know what kind of oats you’re trying to buy such as steel-cut, rolled, or quick-cooking.

How do you make oatmeal taste good? You can make oatmeal taste good by adding different sweeteners, such as maple syrup or honey, fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, spices, etc.

Which type of oatmeal is healthiest? All three types of oatmeal are healthy and have similar nutrition profiles. However, if we were to suggest which one is the healthiest, we’d say steel-cut oatmeal due to the fact that it’s the least processed.

How do I decide what type of liquid to use in my oatmeal? Unsweetened almond milk is our go-to for oatmeal, but you can use any type of milk you’d like! Whether cashew milk, dairy milk, or oat milk is your go-to, any of these will work just great. Or, if you don’t tolerate non-dairy or dairy milks, subbing equal parts water for your liquid also works, but will result in a less creamy oatmeal.

Cooking Methods

There are many different ways to prepare oatmeal. From the stovetop to the microwave to the Instant Pot, we’re going to teach you how to make oatmeal in every way possible!

  • Stove-Top
  • Slow Cooker
  • Overnight
  • Instant Pot
  • Microwave

Stovetop

If you’ve got the time, stovetop oatmeal is the best way to get fluffiest oats in the world. Because you constantly have to mix stovetop oatmeal, the outcome is airy, fluffy oatmeal that everyone will love.

Good news, you can easily make quick-cooking oats, rolled oats, and steel-cut oats on the stove. Keep reading to find the standard ratio of oats to liquid. Recipe used in photos: Banana Bread Stove-Top Oats.

stove top oatmeal how-to

Stovetop Steel-Cut

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup steel-cut oats and 3 cups liquid into a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat while continuously stirring. Then, reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often. Cook until steel-cut oats are thick and creamy.

Stovetop Rolled Oats

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup rolled oats and 2 cups liquid into a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat while continuously stirring. Then, reduce heat to low and continue to stir for around 3-5 minutes, or until oats have thickened.

Stovetop Quick-Cooking

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup quick-cooking oats and 2 cups liquid into a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and continuously stir for 1-2 minutes or until oats have thickened.

Slow Cooker

Slow cooker oatmeal is one of my favorite ways to cook steel-cut oats because it’s very hands-off and easy to make. Add your steel-cut oats and liquid to the slow cooker, give it a mix, turn it on and in just a few hours you’ll have a hearty breakfast ready to go!

While you can make both instant oatmeal and rolled oatmeal in the slow cooker, we only recommend cooking steel cut oats because of the amount of work it eliminates in the cooking process. Recipe used in photos: Crockpot Maple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats.

slow cooker oats

Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups liquid
  • Instructions: First, spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Then, place 1 cup steel-cup oats and 4 cups liquid into the slow cooker and mix. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. If possible, stir steel-cut oatmeal every hour or so to prevent sticking. Remove from slow cooker once thickened.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a fun twist on classic oatmeal. Soak your oatmeal for at least 2 hours or overnight with milk and chia seeds and you’ve got yourself a chewy, healthy breakfast option! 

We love overnight oats because they’re served chilled instead of hot and we recommend always using chia seeds during this process so they get nice and fluffy! Good news, you can use all 3 types of oats for overnight oats. Keep reading to learn how. Recipe used in photos: Classic Vegan Overnight Oats.

overnight oats

Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal (or quick-cooking steel-cut)

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup steel-cut oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1.5 cups liquid into a glass container and mix. Place in the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. Mix again. Then, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Overnight Rolled Oats

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1.5 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1.5 cups liquid into a glass container and mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Overnight Quick Cooking

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1.5 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup quick-cooking oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1.5 cups liquid into a glass container and mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Instant Pot

Instant Pot Steel-cut oatmeal is a great way to cut the cooking time down, while still getting that chewy delicious texture you get from the stovetop or slow cooker.

While you can make both quick-cooking oatmeal and rolled oatmeal in the Instant Pot, we only recommend cooking steel cut oats because of the amount of work it eliminates in the cooking process. Recipe used in photos: Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats.

Instant Pot Oatmeal

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup steel-cut oats and 3 cups liquid into Instant Pot and mix. Close Instant Pot and turn the valve to seal. Set Instant Pot to high pressure for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, quick release by opening the valve to vent. Mix steel-cut oats and serve.

Microwave

Only have a couple of minutes for breakfast? Make either rolled oats or quick-cooking oats in the microwave in under 2 minutes! Recipe used in photos: Cookie Dough Microwave Oatmeal. microwave oatmeal how-to

Microwave Rolled Oats

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 and 1/3 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup rolled oats and 1.33 cups liquid into a microwave-safe bowl. Then, microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Place back into the microwave for another 1 minute on high.

Microwave Quick-Cooking

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 and 1/3 cups liquid
  • Instructions: Place 1 cup quick-cooking oats and 1.33 cups liquid into a microwave-safe bowl. Then, microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and stir.

How to Make Oatmeal Video

Recipe

Basic Oatmeal Recipe

Looking for a basic oatmeal recipe that can be made in less than 10 minutes? Try this super simple stovetop oatmeal recipe made with rolled oats!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Lee Funke
Yield: 2 1x
Category: Breakfast
Method: Stove-Top
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups milk (any kind)
  • optional add-ins: 1 medium mashed banana, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup.

Instructions

  1. Place 1 cup rolled oats and 2 cups liquid into a medium pot.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat while continuously stirring.
  3. Then, reduce heat to low and continue to stir for around 3-5 minutes, or until oats have thickened.

Notes

  • Nutrition information is without add-ins and uses unsweetened plain almond milk.
  • Storage: store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2
  • Calories: 180
  • Sugar: 1
  • Fat: 6
  • Carbohydrates: 28
  • Fiber: 5
  • Protein: 6

Healthy Sweeteners, Toppings, & Mix-Ins

Don’t let oatmeal get a bad rap for tasting bland because you can always mix it and top it with so many delicious things!

All-Natural Sweeteners

We love using all-natural sweeteners in our oatmeal over refined sugars not only because it’s better for you, but it just tastes better! Really, is there anything better than the sweet and savory taste of maple syrup? Here are some of our favorite way to sweeten oatmeal using all-natural sweeteners.

  • Mashed banana
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Coconut sugar

Toppings & Mix-Ins

We’re all about the toppings and mix-ins because it gives your oatmeal texture and an additional flavor profile. From pureed fruits and veggies to nuts and seeds, there are so many different ways to “spice up” your oatmeal!

  • Fresh fruit
  • Seeds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Spices
  • Extracts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Coconut flakes
  • Protein powder
  • Dried fruit

Popular Flavor Combos

Never get sick of oatmeal for breakfast with these delicious oatmeal flavor combinations that you will absolutely love!

More Healthy Oatmeal Recipes

Looking for more healthy oatmeal recipes? Check out some of our other popular posts about oatmeal below.

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