The Ultimate Guide on How to Make Oatmeal

This post is all about How to Make Oatmeal! We tested so many different types of oatmeal recipes with different cooking methods until we found the three that produced the best oatmeal! We used both old fashioned rolled oats (on the stovetop and instant pot) and steel cut oats (in the instant pot) and perfected recipes that are great for a warm hearty breakfast or make ahead prep for the week!

the best oatmeal recipes

How to Make Oatmeal

It’s another How to Wednesday post and today we are talking all about How to Make Oatmeal. But not just any oatmeal, we set out in search of the best oatmeal and the best cooking method! There are so many different choices out there and we tried them all to pick which ones were no only the tastiest, but also for the easiest and quickest cooking method to get you a whole grain, gluten-free, easy breakfast on the table, with leftovers serving as meal prep.

For a few weeks in a row, we made A LOT of oatmeal. We tried and tested every type of oatmeal and every method we had heard of. After eating lots of oats (so much so that we haven’t eaten any since) we have decided on two methods (stovetop and Instant Pot) using two different types of oats (rolled oats and steel cut oats) as the BEST METHOD of How to Make Oatmeal. Each recipe produces a slightly different taste and texture of the oats and each has it’s own redeeming quality and characteristics.

Our favorite oatmeal recipes are for:

  • Stovetop Rolled Oats: This is hands down the quickest method to cook rolled oats. It’s done in under 15 minutes and results in nicely textured creamy oats.
  • Instant Pot Rolled Oats: This is the easiest method to make rolled oats that results in a super creamy oatmeal that doesn’t require any stirring and is done in around 30 minutes, which means you can start it as soon as you wake up and breakfast will be done for you (and your family) by the time you’ve showered and gotten ready!
  • Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats: This is the quickest and easiest method to cook steel cut oats! The hands-off cooking method takes almost the same amount of time as rolled oats and is super creamy. The texture of steel cut oats has more bite to it!

best oatmeal recipe with toppings

You may notice some omissions in this post and that’s because we tried them, and didn’t like it. The biggest omission from here is that we did not include slow cooker overnight oats. We tried making them more than 4 times with both rolled oats and steel cut oats and in the end we just felt that they tasted like they were overcooked. We even tried making them with the “warm setting” on the slow cooker and they still were not to our liking.

This is obviously a matter of preferences, but we preferred to have oats that still kept a nice texture so we are not including instruction on cooking them overnight in a slow cooker. We also are not including quick oats here, because we felt it did not take much more time to make the old fashioned rolled oats  and felt they have a far better texture. Are you sensing a theme here? We prefer the oats that keep there structure well and do not get cooked so much that they turn into one mass and so that is why we are recommending these three methods to make the best oatmeal.

Does Oatmeal Taste Better with Milk or Water?

When oatmeal is cooked with just water it is REALLY plain. We preferred a combination of almond milk and water in our recipes, but you can feel free to sub in other milk whether it be dairy or dairy-free. We like the combination of milk and water because it was perfectly balanced and the flavor didn’t overwhelm the oats, but also brought some creaminess to them.

Tips for Making Rolled Oats Recipe

We are recommending to make old fashioned rolled oats with two methods: stove top and instant pot! The stove top is the quickest method with oatmeal ready in about 15 minutes. If this still feels like too much than you can make ahead of time and simply reheat it! The other method is in the instant pot which is the easiest method. It requires no stirring and you can accomplish other things while it’s cooking!

How to cook oatmeal

How do you make the best steel cut oats?

The instant pot is the best method to cook steel cut oats! It’s the quickest method, that produces the best taste and texture. But there is a catch: you can’t cook them straight inside the pot! We found that some parts of the oats got overcooked and produced a rubber-y oatmeal, so we used the pot-in-pot method to make the oatmeal. This simply means we cooked the oatmeal inside of a bowl that sat on a trivet! It produces the most luxuriously creamy oatmeal, without any cream!

Are oats gluten free?

Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they can sometimes be processed in a facility where wheat products are also processed so there can be cross-contamination. If you are sensitive to gluten be sure to purchase oats that are labelled gluten-free!

cooking oatmeal in instant pot or on stove top

What can I put on top of oats?

There is an endless number of toppings you can add to oats! Below find some examples with a suggested amount for a typical serving bowl of oatmeal. Have fun and mix and match these serving suggestions!

Sweet:

  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup / honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, nuts, shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tablespoons drizzled almond butter, peanut butter or sun butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons cashew cream
  • 1/4 fruit like berries, banana or chopped apple (you can also add the apple while cooking for a twist)
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 2 tablespoons seeds (such as chia, flax, pumpkin or sunflower)
  • 1 scoop protein powder or collagen peptides (add while still hot and stir to combine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Savory:

  • 1 strip crumbled cooked bacon or sausage
  • 1-2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon spices like cumin or chili powder

How do you make oatmeal

If you like this oatmeal post, check out these others:

How to Make Oatmeal

Prep Time 00:05 Cook Time 00:10 Inactive Time 00:10 Total Time 00:30 Serves 4

Ingredients

Stove Top Rolled Oats

  • 4 cups water (or water and milk combination)
  • 2 cups (old-fashioned) rolled oats
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (optional)

Instant Pot Rolled Oats

  • 2 cups (old-fashioned) rolled oats
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • pinch of salt

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup milk of choice (we used almond milk)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

For Serving for each portion

  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup / honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, nuts, shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tablespoons drizzled almond butter, peanut butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons cashew cream
  • 1/4 fruit like berries, banana or chopped apple (you can also add the apple while cooking for a twist)
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 2 tablespoons seeds (such as chia, flax, pumpkin or sunflower)
  • 1 scoop protein powder or collagen peptides (add while still hot and stir to combine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 strip crumbled cooked bacon or sausage
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoons sliced green onion

Directions

Stovetop Rolled Oats:

  1. In a pot over medium heat bring water to a boil with salt
  2. Add oats and lower the heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until the oatmeal is creamy and tender. Stir in maple syrup, if using.
  3. Serve immediately with toppings, as desired or for make-ahead place in individual containers and let cool completely before covering. Oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop with a little extra water or milk, or using preferred method.

Instant Pot Rolled Oats:

  1. In a 6 or 8 quart instant pot, place metal steaming rack and 1 cup of water inside the inner pot.
  2. Inside a heat safe medium bowl mix together oats, remaining water, milk of choice, pinch of salt and maple syrup, if using. (see note about bowl)
  3. Place the bowl on top of the rack, place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
  4. Cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, and then release any remaining pressure.
  5. Remove bowl from Instant Pot and serve with desired toppings.
  6. If preparing make-ahead oatmeal, place into individual containers and let cool completely before covering. Oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently on the stove top with a little extra water or milk, or using preferred method.

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats:

  1. In a 6 or 8 quart instant pot, place metal steaming rack and 1 cup of water in the inner pot.
  2. Inside a heat safe medium bowl mix together oats, remaining water, milk of choice, pinch of salt and maple syrup, if using. (see note about bowl)
  3. Place the bowl on top of the rack, place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
  4. Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, and then release any remaining pressure.
  5. Remove bowl from Instant Pot and serve with desired toppings.
  6. If preparing make-ahead oatmeal, place into individual containers and let cool completely before covering. Oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently on the stove top with a little extra water or milk, or using preferred method.

Recipe Notes

  1. If you are strict gluten-free make sure to buy oats that are labelled as being gluten-free!
  2. We used stainless steel and pyrex bowls during testing. 
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