This Is How to Make Oatmeal You Actually Want to Eat

how to make oatmeal taste good

Half Baked Harvet

 

When I think of oatmeal, I usually dive head first into the past, remembering gloppy beige messes at the bottom of bowls or a splatter of oats stuck all over the microwave. It was a dish I never really wanted to eat because it was always too bland, too soft, and too boring. But now, thanks in large part to a bowl of steel-cut oats fortified with wild rice and served with lashings of maple syrup, whole milk, sweet dried cranberries, and toasty hunks of walnut, I’ve found myself questioning everything I thought I knew about oatmeal. It doesn’t have to sit like a rock in your stomach for hours on end, a painful reminder of mediocre spoonfuls of overcooked oats. I now believe a place where perfectly chewy, warmly satisfying, deliciously topped bowls exists—and that it can be right in my own kitchen.

Care to join me on the other side? From drab oats to fab oats, here’s everything you need to know to cook up a comforting bowl of oatmeal that you’ll actually want to eat.

oatmeal blueberry cheesecake
Food Faith Fitness

How to Make a Great Bowl of Oatmeal

To make up for the (probably) poorly prepared oats we’ve come to know (and avoid) and get to a place of oatmeal greatness, we’ve got to start with the basics. There are three types of oats that are the most common in grocery stores around the country: quick-cooking (instant) oats, old-fashioned (rolled) oats, and steel-cut (Irish) oats.

They each come with their own health benefits and directions for proper preparation, whether in the microwave, on the stovetop, or (the easiest of them all, overnight). The key to making the simplest bowl that much better? Toasting your oats. Here’s how to prepare all three types of oats, in the best way possible—no toppings necessary.

How to Prepare Quick-Cooking (Instant) Oats…

On the Stovetop

  1. Add 1/2 cup quick-cooking (instant) oats to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly to toast until fragrant, approximately two minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/4 tsp salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for approximately one minute, then remove from heat, cover, and let cook approximately two minutes more.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

In the Microwave

  1. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup toasted quick-cooking (instant) oats to a large microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Stir to combine, cover, and microwave on high for about two minutes.
  3. Stir, serve, and enjoy!

Overnight

  1. Add 1/3 cup toasted, quick-cooking (instant) oats to a resealable glass jar with 3/4 cup milk, 1 tsp honey (or maple syrup or agave), 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp chia seeds.
  2. Seal and shake the jar, then transfer to the fridge to set for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. Stir and enjoy!
oatmeal bowl
Hello Glow

How to Prepare Old-Fashioned (Rolled) Oats…

On the Stovetop

  1. Add 1/2 cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly to toast until fragrant, about two minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/4 tsp salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for approximately five minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let cook approximately three minutes more.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

In the Microwave

  1. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup toasted quick-cooking (instant) oats to a large microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Stir to combine, cover, and microwave on high for about three minutes.
  3. Stir, serve, and enjoy!

Overnight

  1. Add 1/3 cup toasted, old-fashioned (rolled) oats to a resealable glass jar with 3/4 cup milk, 1 tsp honey (or maple syrup or agave), 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp chia seeds.
  2. Seal and shake the jar, then transfer to the fridge to set for at least eight hours, or overnight.
  3. Stir and enjoy!

How to Prepare Steel-Cut (Irish) Oats on the Stovetop

  1. Add 1/4 cup steel-cut (Irish) oats to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly to toast until fragrant, approximately three minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/4 tsp salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

You can also make steel-cut oats in a crockpot, and both quick-cooking and old-fashioned oats make great, custardy baked oatmeal.

How to Make a Great Bowl of Oatmeal Even Better

With a basic bowl of your favorite type of oats under your belt, now’s the fun part: topping up your oatmeal to add more flavor and balance out the texture. Think of this list as your guide, a place for inspiration, but not the end all, be all for your choice of mix-ins and toppings.

Mix-Ins and Toppings:

Top it off with brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut oil, cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, vanilla extract, fresh or frozen berries, jam or preserves. Add some nuttiness with peanut (or other nut) butter, dried fruits (think chopped dates, apricots, cranberries, raisins), almonds, pecans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Bring in some sweetness with cold milk (nut, plant, or otherwise), sliced bananas, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, cocoa powder, popped quinoa or amaranth, yogurt, mascarpone cheese, or chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Or Try it Savory

For a savory take on oatmeal that makes a great, impromptu desk lunch that’s anything but sad, try cooking your oatmeal simply in water, chicken or vegetable broth, or even apple cider.

Then, top it up accordingly with a fried, soft boiled, or jammy egg, crispy bacon, scallions, black beans, pan-fried mushrooms, brown butter, caramelized or pickled onions, grated cheese (think cheddar, mozzarella, or Parmesan), roasted red peppers, pesto, olive oil, black pepper, arugula, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, frozen peas, soy sauce, ground turmeric, chickpeas, fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, tahini.

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