How to Cook Oatmeal
Making oatmeal is easy, and it's the perfect meal for fast breakfasts. We'll show you how to make oatmeal, including tips for how to use rolled oats, quick oats, and steel-cut oats. Once you know how to cook oatmeal, try our favorite oatmeal recipes.
If you want a grab-and-go oatmeal option there are overnight oats recipes for you. If you've got just a few minutes in the morning to make a hot bowl of oatmeal, turn to your microwave. And if you've got time to boil water plus cooking time, you've got time for stove top oatmeal. You can even cook oatmeal in your slow cooker. Learn all the ways to cook the different types of oats below.
Types of Oats
Cooking oatmeal starts with choosing the type of oats.
- Rolled oats: Also called old-fashioned oats, rolled oats are flattened with large rollers into flakes. They take about 5 minutes to cook on the stovetop. A fun rolled oats recipe is Overnight Oats.
- Quick-cooking rolled oats: These oats are cut into pieces and rolled thinner so they cook in about 1 minute on the stovetop.
- Steel-cut oats: Also called Irish oats, Scotch oats, or pinhead oats, steel-cut oats are cut into several pieces and steamed but not rolled. They offer a chewier consistency. They take about 25 minutes to cook on the stovetop, or they can be cooked in a slow cooker.
How to Make Oatmeal
How to Make Oatmeal with Rolled Oats
- Stovetop: For four servings, in a medium saucepan bring 3-1/4 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling. Stir in 2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned). Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat. If desired, cover and let stand for 2 minutes before serving. This allows the oats to absorb any remaining liquid. For creamier oatmeal, add the oats to the pan along with the water and salt.
- Microwave: For one serving, in a medium microwave-safe bowl combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and a dash of salt. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Stir before serving.
How to Make Oatmeal with Quick-Cooking Oats
This quick oats recipe is ideal for weekday mornings.
- Stovetop: For four servings, in a medium saucepan bring 3-1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling. Stir in 2 cups quick-cooking oats. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat. If desired, cover and let stand about 30 seconds before serving. This allows the oats to absorb any remaining liquid. For creamier oatmeal, add the oats to the pan along with the water and salt.
- Microwave: For one serving, in a medium microwave-safe bowl combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, and a dash of salt. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir before serving.
How to Make Oatmeal with Steel-Cut Oats
- Stovetop: For six servings (2/3 cup each), in a large saucepan bring 4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling. Stir in 1-1/3 cups steel-cut oats. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the oats are just tender and the liquid is nearly absorbed.
- Make-ahead directions: Prepare as above. Place cooked oatmeal in an airtight container and chill for up to 3 days. Place 2/3 cup chilled cooked oatmeal in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, covered with waxed paper, on 100 percent power (high) for 50 to 60 seconds or until heated, stirring once.
- Slow cooker oatmeal: In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine 6 cups water, 2 cups steel-cut oats, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours.
Perfect for weekday breakfasts, oatmeal can take on many different flavor combinations. Mix up your bowl with these sweet toppers.
- Sweeteners such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave
- Dried fruit such as tropical fruit bits, chopped dates, dried cherries, raisins, currants, dried cranberries, snipped dried apple slices, and/or snipped dried apricots
- Try It: Cherry and Tangerine Oatmeal
- Fresh blueberries, sliced bananas, and/or sliced strawberries
- Try It: Baked Oatmeal
- Chopped nuts
- Shredded or flaked coconut
- Milk, half-and-half, Greek yogurt, vanilla yogurt, almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk
- Try It: Pumpkin-Apple Quick Oatmeal
- Pumpkin butter
- Cinnamon applesauce
- Sprinkle of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie seasoning