Oatmeal is a comforting, nutritious breakfast any time of year. And lucky for us, it’s simple to make! That said, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of gluey, bland oats and ... life is just too short for that.
So today, I’m excited to share my tips and tricks to ensure you always have truly superior oatmeal at your breakfast table.
Steel-Cut Oats Make the Best Oatmeal
In my cookbook Whole Grain Mornings, I talk about oatmeal and the importance of choosing the right oats.
Occasionally marketed as Irish or Scottish oats, steel cut oats are made when the whole oat groat is chopped into tiny pieces. These are my favorite oats to use for oatmeal as they yield a toothsome, chewy texture and don’t break down like other oats when cooked. (In other words: no gummy oatmeal here!) Steel cut oats definitely take the longest to cook, so they’re typically not a part of my weekday routine, but come the weekend, they’re always on the agenda.
Is Oatmeal Gluten-Free?
Oats are considered a gluten-free grain. The confusion comes in for folks with the packaging and processing of oats.
Oats are sometimes packaged in facilities that also package other grains containing gluten, in which case there could be cross-contamination. Or, when being rolled and processed, a plant could use the same machinery they use to process, say, barley or another grain containing gluten.
So, if you’re extremely sensitive to gluten, it’s a good idea to be safe and purchase certified gluten-free oats, typically guaranteed to be processed and packaged in a safe facility.
The Best Pot for Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Oats need a little bit of real estate to cook well. So, it’s always best to use a larger pot than you think you need, so they can cook in a thin layer. If you can swing this, you’ll have more of a toothsome porridge than if you used a small pot where they’re all jammed on top of one another and you have to stir more frequently (and vigorous stirring can be the enemy of delicious oatmeal).
Toast Your Oats
A common complaint with oatmeal is that it’s mushy and gluey, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of this type of warm cereal. But when I moved in with my now-husband Sam, he introduced me to the fine (and simple) art of toasting your oats in a little bit of butter before making your porridge.
This draws out their nutty flavor and also helps them keep their integrity in the hot cooking liquid so they don’t just collapse into one another. It’s the only way we do it around here.
Do this for either steel cut or rolled oats!
Stir Steel-Cut Oats Gently
Somewhere at some point in time, people began to think that you should really vigorously stir your oatmeal and porridge. But if you do this, you will 100% of the time have gummy, unglamorous porridge.
Stirring oats (and most grains) will slowly break them down; they’ll lose their shape and delicious, slightly chewy porridge will elude you forever.
Dress Up Your Oatmeal
True oatmeal enthusiasts have strong preferences about how they choose to top their morning oats. Traditionally, a little brown sugar or maple syrup is popular, but don’t feel limited or constrained!
Here are a few of our favorite toppings:
- Toasted nuts like pecans, walnuts or almonds
- Fresh fruit like berries, bananas or sliced pears
- Peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower butter
- Chia or flax seeds
- Dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, cherries, chopped dates, apricots or coconut flakes
- Tahini or miso for a savory spin!
- Chocolate chips (why not?!)
Instant Pot Steel-Cut Oats
Steel cut oats cook really well in a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot. Steel cut oats take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes on the stove-top to cook, but only take around 30 minutes in the pressure cooker – plus you can get on with your morning rather than tending to the pot on the stove.
- To get started, try: Pressure Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
How to Make Overnight Oats
For busy families or anyone with a little extra hustle in their morning, overnight oats can be a real savior. At the simplest level, you simply combine the oats and water and pop in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, you microwave and dress up your oats (fresh berries, toasted nuts or seeds, maybe a little maple syrup) and get on your way.
- To get started, try: How to Make Overnight Oats
How to Reheat Oatmeal
Both steel cut oats and regular rolled oats reheat beautifully! In fact, I often make a big pot on the weekends with the intention of reheating it for a few mornings during the work week.
When reheating, simply add a bit more milk or water (start with a few teaspoons and you can increase from there as needed) and warm on the stove-top over low heat (or in the microwave) until the oatmeal is warm and creamy.
More Oatmeal Recipes to Make!
- Oatmeal Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies
- Grab-and-Go Oatmeal Chia Cups
- Oatmeal Muffins with Raisins, Dates, and Walnuts
- Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins
- Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancake
Steel-Cut Oatmeal: 3 Ways
For rolled oats: Use 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of milk. Toast the oats and warm the milk and water mixture as below. Once you add the oats, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the oats sit on the burner for 7 minutes – no peeking or stirring! Check the oats after 7 minutes and let them stand a few more minutes if needed.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Brown sugar, honey, or other sweetener
Heavy cream or milk
Toast the oats:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring occasionally, until they begin to smell fragrant and nutty, 5 to 7 minutes.
Cook the oats:
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, bring the water, milk, and salt to a low simmer. Add the toasted oats and gently stir a few times.
Bring the oats to a slow boil, then decrease the heat to low and partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or clumping, until the oatmeal is thick and the oats are softened, 25 to 30 minutes.
The porridge may still be a little loose at this point, but will continue to soak up liquid as it sits.
Let the oatmeal sit:
Remove the pot from heat, and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve the oatmeal:
Divide the oatmeal between bowls, top with brown sugar and cream, and serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 7g||9%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||15%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|