Here’s how to make oatmeal! This master recipe makes rolled oats with the best chewy texture. It’s the ideal healthy breakfast.
The ideal healthy breakfast? Oatmeal. We are big fans in this household. Why? It’s whole grain, filling, healthy, gluten-free and plant-based. It powers us every day! (In fact, you really could say this website is powered by oats.) We’re also pretty opinionated about our oatmeal. No gloppy or soggy oats allowed. Oatmeal with a chewy texture and a toasty flavor is what makes our perfect bowl. Here we’ll break down the different types of oats and share our master recipes for how to make the best oatmeal around.
Types of oats
There are two main types of oats you can use to make oatmeal: rolled oats or steel cut oats. There are a few sub-types of rolled oats that you can find at the store. Here’s a breakdown:
- Rolled oats: Rolled oats are whole oat grains that are pressed flat with rollers. Pressing them flat shortens the cook time vs steel cut oats. This is what you’ll typically think of when you think of oatmeal. There are a few types of rolled oats:
- Old Fashioned oats: These are the whole, circular oats with the most texture. These are our preferred oats for all of our oat recipes.
- Quick cooking oats or Instant oats: These oats are rolled thinner and cook faster, but they have powdery texture and can become mushy when cooked. We suggest avoiding this type of oats.
- Steel cut oats: Steel cut oats are whole grain oats that are cut into nubs: they look like brown rice or barley. These oats take 30 minutes to cook, and have a very chewy texture.
Can you substitute steel cut oats for rolled oats? No! Steel cut oats are more like rice and need to be cooked for at least 30 minutes. Rolled oats cook much faster. The amount of liquid needed for each are also different. Do not substitute one for the other!
Steel cut oats vs rolled oats: which is better?
Steel cut oats and rolled oats are made out of the same whole grain oatmeal. Nutritionally, steel cut and rolled oats have the same benefits: lots of fiber and plant-based protein to start your day. A possible benefit of steel cut oats is that since they are processed the most minimally, they may have a lower glycemic index. This may allow you to feel fuller and have less of a “spike” of energy after eating. But the overall differences are very slight! Go to Steel Cut vs Rolled Oats.
1. How to make oatmeal: master method! (10 minutes)
The master method for how to make oatmeal uses Old Fashioned rolled oats. Here’s the way we like our oatmeal: with a chewy texture and lightly toasted flavor. This method is less creamy and gloppy, more textured and chewy. If you’ve never tried it this way, we promise it’s worth a try. Here’s the basic method (or jump to the recipe below);
- Toast the oats in butter for 2 to 3 minutes. This enhances the flavor and makes your kitchen smell amazing! Use coconut oil for vegan.
- Add water and milk and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Then add the liquid, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. No need to stir! This results in the tastiest, chewiest most delicious oatmeal recipe you can imagine.
- Stir in a little more milk to make it creamier if desired. You can stir in a little more milk for a creamier texture.
Or, make our Best Vegan Oatmeal using a similar method without the milk. (This one’s my personal favorite!) The PB&J topping is outrageously good.
2. How to make oatmeal in an Instant Pot (10 minutes)
You can also use your Instant Pot to make oatmeal! We love this method because it’s totally hands off: it’s great for make-ahead breakfasts or for entertaining company. Here’s the method that uses Old Fashioned oats:
- Easy Instant Pot Oatmeal Quick and easy! Top with bananas and maple syrup.
3. How to make oatmeal in the microwave (2 minutes)
An even quicker way of how to make oatmeal is in the microwave! Mix up a batch of our “Instant oatmeal,” which is like a homemade version of those packets you can get at the store. Add water and microwave for 2 minutes! It comes out impressively delicious: and flavored naturally.
4. How to make baked oatmeal (1 hour)
Another way of how to make oatmeal is baked oatmeal! Baked oatmeal is baked with milk, eggs and a little sugar so that it solidifies into a solid texture. You can cut it into pieces and serve it on plates or in a bowl. It’s incredibly tasty and great for making ahead. It takes 45 minutes to bake the oatmeal, so we prefer making it in advance. You can add any sort of fruit or nut mix-ins. Here are our favorite baked oatmeal recipes:
- Everyday Baked Oatmeal Our master recipe! Cinnamon-spiced and cozy. It’s got apples and pecans, but you can change up the fruit: blueberries, raspberries, etc.
- Banana Baked Oatmeal Vegan and plant based, full of big banana flavor. A hands down favorite!
- Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal When it’s the right season, this cozy, spiced oatmeal hits the spot.
5. How to make steel cut oats (30 minutes)
Steel cut oats have a texture like rice: they’re very tough and require a good simmering on the stove. The main steel cut oats ratio is 4 cups liquid to 1 cup steel cut oats. Steel cut oats have a much chewier texture than rolled oats: you’ll feel a little like you’re eating porridge or a bowl of barley. But cooked up with a creamy texture, they’re just as tasty! You can make them on the stove or in a pressure cooker. Here are our favorite steel cut oatmeal recipes:
6. How to make baked steel cut oats (1 hour)
You can also make baked steel cut oats! It’s the same method as baked oatmeal. Bake them with milk, eggs and seasonings, and they come out with a texture almost like a gooey cake. Here are a few of our favorite baked steel cut oats recipes:
- Pumpkin Baked Steel Cut Oats Tastes like pumpkin pie! Beautifully moist and pumpkin-spiced.
- Carrot Cake Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal Same idea as above, but with carrots and spices! So delicious.
Is oatmeal healthy? Nutrition info
Yes, oatmeal is part of a healthy diet. Here are a few of the main nutritional benefits of oats (source):
- Oats are high in plant based protein. 1 cup of raw oats have 11 grams protein. That’s about 20% of your daily need!
- Oats are high in fiber. 1 cup of raw oats have 8 grams of fiber, which is about 30% of the daily value.
- Oats are very filling: they may reduce appetite and help you eat less calories.
For more benefits, go to Oats 101: Nutrition Facts.
Best oatmeal toppings
Once you’ve mastered how to make oatmeal, you get the fun part: all those toppings! Here are our favorite oatmeal toppings:
- Maple syrup & cinnamon
- Peanut butter and strawberry jam
- Toasted coconut
- Fresh raspberries or blueberries
- Glazed pecans
- Banana slices and toasted almonds
- Blueberry compote
- Greek yogurt mixed with maple syrup
- Strawberry sauce and chopped pistachios
- Almond butter and dried cherries
- Chopped apples and cashew butter
- Raspberry compote
What’s your favorite combination? Let us know in the comments below.
This oatmeal recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free. For plant-based, dairy-free and vegan, see the substitutes below.Print
Here’s how to make oatmeal! This master recipe makes rolled oats with the best chewy texture. It’s the ideal healthy breakfast!
- 1 tablespoon salted butter (coconut oil for vegan)
- 2 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats (do not use instant oats or steel cut oats)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk, plus more for serving (non-dairy milk for vegan)
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats and toast for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant.
- Add the salt and cinnamon. Turn the heat to low and carefully pour in the water and milk, stirring. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until tender, then remove from the heat. Serve immediately for a chunky texture, or stir in another 1/2 cup milk for a creamier body. The texture is intentionally chewy (not gloppy or soggy!). Top with desired toppings and serve.
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Oatmeal, How to make oatmeal
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.